Primal Carnage is an online first-person shooter by Lukewarm Media and Reverb Publishing. You may remember Lukewarm from their work on the Crysis mod, Light Spire: Fortunes Web. In Primal Carnage, the player takes on the role of a human character or dinosaur and fights the other players in online arenas. Released on October 29th of last year, you will find it available for digital download on leading online retailers, such as Steam, RainDG, GamersGate, GameStop and Amazon.
Primal Carnage is a class-based first-person shooter in its purest form. There are two opposing sides with five different classes to choose from. Without any exchangeable load-outs or customization options, other than a handful of hats or minor visual tweaks available to everyone at the character selection screen, there is not much in the way of personalization. This game is about joining a server and then shooting, burning, biting, or tearing the competition apart. Nothing in the game itself hints at any particular backstory: you are simply there to participate in the raw carnage.
[private_insider]At the moment, Primal Carnage contains five large environments and only one game mode: team deathmatch. Lukewarm Media promises long term free DLC support, which will add on more game modes and expand the map list, but there is not a lot of meat in the current package. [Editor’s note: the “Get to the Chopper” free DLC is now available, it was not at the time of the review gameplay] The first-person shooting mechanics feel very arcade-like, which is easy to pick up and play. Anyone who has played shooters casually will feel right at home with the controls.
When you spawn as a dinosaur, the camera shifts to a third-person view, rather than down the iron-sights of a gun. While relatively similar, each dino handles a bit differently, relative to their size and their attack range. The Pteranodon in particular brings an interesting flavor into the gameplay. Being able to swoop down and grab the trailing player in a group of humans and bring the captured back into a crowd of your prehistoric brethren is an incredible rush, and well coordinated attacks, when they happen, keep the matches lively.
The color palette is very bright. Environments are full of lush greens, bright sands, and blue skies. The human characters strike a more cartoony look that fits the tone of the game, leaving the dinosaurs to appear the most realistic of everything in the game. However, the dinos also feature enough color that each class is instantly distinguishable. Effects like the camera flare from explosions and flares as well as the subtle “god rays” add another layer of realism to the already bright canvas. Apart from frequent visual clipping during deaths and post-death camera angles, the visuals are wonderfully unified.
Characters shout panicked cries for you to shoot the hungry raptors off of their backs and the roars and shrieks of the different dinosaurs sound good. It’s a shame that there is no voice support in Primal Carnage. The ability to coordinate on the fly rather than type out messages to your teammates would allow the game to have more flexibility in the gameplay. You can mash the ‘Z’ key to make your avatar call out for help, but players usually can’t hear you over the glorious chaos.
Games are easy to get into with matchmaking as well as support for a server browser. Levels are quick to load and it’s easy to get into the action. Unfortunately during my time with the game I encountered frequent slowdowns online. Tweaking my visual settings didn’t help the performance of the game, so hopefully whatever issues the game is having can be addressed in the next patch.
Primal Carnage is not a bland experience, but it’s not exactly bursting with flavor either. Their are some unique tricks up Lukewarm Media‘s sleeves, but if the dinosaurs don’t particularly appeal to you, there isn’t much else that this game has to offer. Hopefully future DLC will add modes that allow for more interesting game types and flexibility in the gameplay, like a dinosaur versus dinosaur mode or some sort of evolution twist where your score determines your loadout, or what dinosaur you play as. Until the package expands or the gameplay itself more varied, Primal Carnage is merely an adequate shooter that feels like it still has a bit of time left in the development cycle.
[review pros=”Vibrant visuals and sound, Arcade-like style makes it easy to jump in and play” cons=”Limited content, Frequent slowdown, Not a lot of long term appeal” score=70][/private_insider]