Primal Carnage Review

Primal Carnage

  • Platform: PC
  • Developer: Lukewarm Media
  • Publisher: Reverb Publishing
  • Release Date: October 29, 2012
  • Price: $14.99
  • Official: Primal Carnage

“Shoot or chomp to victory”

I love dinosaurs. I love Jurassic Park and can even enjoy The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 for the visual eye candy of extinct creatures wrecking havoc on pathetic easy pray. I’ve searched and played several dino themed games over the years hoping to find a good one, but sadly, almost all fail to impress. Why is it so hard to get this idea right? Well I am now very thankful for the new and small group at Lukewarm Media for delivering to us Primal Carnage, a multiplayer focused human vs dinosaur blast.

Primal Carnage is a fast paced action romp that throws out any attempt at story and just allows players to live out the fantasy they’ve always had in their heads. Who would win in a fight? The rifle wielding mercenary, or the large angry tyrannosaur? Well if its just one on one then more than likely its the large angry tyrannosaur, but what would happen when its fifteen humans against fifteen dinosaurs? Well then its complete awesome chaos that is always fun to dabble in!

As of right now the only option for players in terms of match type in Primal Carnage is Team Deathmatch, but this mode is so cleverly balanced that for right now that’s perfectly fine. The team at Lukewarm Media announced at launch that they will continue to support the game with additional features, and one such addition set to release very soon is a “Get to the Chopper” mode. When GttC launches it will see the Mercenaries fighting their way through the hostile environment to get to the escape chopper at the other end. They must reach the chopper before they are all taken out by the aggressive carnivores just waiting to attack. Once this feature is added it will provide players with some much appreciated variety, but as of right now Team Deathmatch is still a very fun experience.

When searching for a game you have two options, Server Browser or Quick Match, and both provide a very quick and simple method for joining a game, and thankfully players can come and go in the middle of a match as they wish, so the flow is always smooth and constant in Primal Carnage. As one would expect, the team you play as will greatly alter the experience you will receive, but what one may not expect, is the perfect balance between the two that Lukewarm has managed to nail down. Whether playing as the Mercenaries or Dino’s, you never feel like one side has it easier, and that is something to truly praise.

Each side has five unique class’s that you may choose between, and there is no restriction to how many of one class there can be, so you never feel constrained in any way. When playing as the humans your choices are: the scientist, commando, pathfinder, trapper, and pyromaniac. While the commando carries an assault rifle with a built in grenade launcher, the scientist acts as the teams sniper, while the trapper wields duel pistols and a gas powered netgun that can immobilize smaller threats and wrap around the snouts of the larger dinosaurs preventing them from munching on any partners. The pyro obviously carries a large flamethrower and the pathfinder chooses a high powered shotgun and can throw flares. Each choice fills a team out nicely and each has a perk that can come in real handy in nasty situations. While the class options are well done, its a shame than that the character design leaves something to be desired. The human team visually comes off as very generic, with the tough guy commando being shirtless, the scientist wearing drab clothes and a hat and the pathfinder being a native american. They all come off as typical movie parodies, but perhaps that’s the point.

While the human class’s are familiar, the Dinosaurs get much more interesting. The selection for the carnivore side features a Tyrannosaur, Novaraptor, Dilophosaurus, Pteranodon, and a Carnotaurus. The first four will be familiar to anyone who has seen Jurassic Park while the latter will be familiar if you have seen Disney’s Dinosaur, as its the primary antagonist in that film. The Tyrannosaur can stomp on unsuspecting prey or use its large gaping maw to pick up and devour a human in one motion. The Novaraptor can pounce and immobilize foes while taking bites on their necks while the Dilophosaurus is the small spitting dino that devoured poor Newman in his truck in the original Jurassic Park. The Pteranodon is able to fly high above the map and then quickly swoop down and pick up its prey while the Carnotaurus is best at lowering its head and charging into a pack of Mercs sending them flying in all directions. Each class features a completely different style of play, making each option a blast to fiddle around with.

The action in Primal Carnage comes fast and being able to make quick adjustments is a necessity, that’s why its a relief to say that the five distinct environments not only have great variety, but allow you to understand what is happening around you, even in the dark. My first dip into Carnage took place in the night stage, where the buildings have been overrun by the foliage and the carnivores could be hiding in any shadow. My pathfinder came incredibly useful as I threw down flares that not only allowed my team to see better, but also hampered the Dino’s vision. Being within a pack of humans as we fend off attack after attack was exhilarating and then turning around to see the open mouth of a Tyrannosaur seconds before he gulped down my character was extremely exciting. The atmosphere and tension put many other multiplayer games to shame. That sense of danger and joy has lasted in every match since. Whether flying through the skies as the incredibly awesome Pteranodon, or just picking off Dino’s from halfway across the map as the scientist, Primal Carnage is just fun.

Primal Carnage runs on the Unreal engine, allowing the artists at Lukewarm to really bring these ancient creatures to life like never before. Each scale and spike and tooth is done very well, but just making these predators look lifelike wouldn’t be enough, they have to move and feel real. The animators at Lukewarm deserve special praise as the animations on display here are truly special. Each Dinosaur moves as you would expect, with fluid transitions into their attacks and unique jumps. The animators have even given each beast its own crouching and walking animations, with the Pteranodons being really special. The environments themselves are nicely laid out and the plants and grass look great while building textures look fine, but nothing to write home about.

The sound design is also impressive, with gunfire and human chatter being fine, while the specific roars and animal chatter echoing throughout the environments can send chills down your spine. Footfalls change depending on the surface traversing and weather effects can add nice variety.

Primal Carnage may not have as much as other games when it comes to features, but what it does have is one of the strongest and most exciting foundations I have seen in a game in some time. The balance between these two wildly different teams must have been extremely difficult to achieve, but somehow Lukewarm Media did it. Each class is a joy to play and the ability to switch roles mid match keeps things fresh. It is a shame that Team Deathmatch is the only option as of now, but with Get to the Chopper set to release this month and Lukewarm already showing off a new Dinosaur in the form of the Spinosaurus, content looks to be coming at a steady pace.

The only other downside to this title is the fact that there is no current progression system. For playing matches you do not earn XP to unlock any form of new items or skins, and that is a shame. Carnage goes back to old school fast paced gameplay, and while it is a blast, in today’s world gamers expect to get rewarded in more ways than a high score at the end of the match. With hopes of adding vehicles later on maybe the team will also look into a progression system, but I do not know for sure. If Lukewarm Media can deliver on there promises Primal Carnage can become one of the most diverse and exciting mutliplayer titles around, but as of right now, its just a really good game, but with the added benefit of Dinosaurs!
Chuck

The Rundown

  • + Original concept done well
  • + Balance between teams is fantastic
  • + Animations are great
  • – Features are lacking
  • – Lots of promises that have a chance of not taking shape
  • – Lack of experience gain may turn some off

Final Score

7.5 / 10

“Good”

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