The commando stalks his prey, as the rain beats down on him, his eyes darting to and fro at the slightest noise. He’s been separated from his group on this island, hunting down monsters. He hears a soft growl, and turns, firing wildly… only to be quickly ripped to shreds by a raptor wearing a top hat.
Welcome to Primal Carnage.
Indie developer Lukewarm Media‘s new offering (available here on Steam) is a pleasant blend of Team Fortress 2 with Jurassic Park. The story is simple enough: dinosaurs have have escaped on an old military controlled island due to an experiment gone wrong, and a team of mercenaries have been dispatched to contain the threat.
You spend time playing as either a mercenary or a dinosaur, depending on which server you’re on or what round you’re in. There’s no single player mode here; online multiplayer is all you get, and for now, it’s strictly Team Deathmatch, although Lukewarm says new game modes are coming, such as the free Get to The Chopper DLC that almost plays like a game of Red Rover – mercenaries try to get to a helicopter while dinos try to stop them. That being said, the gameplay is fast and frantic, although it would’ve been very nice to have more than Team Deathmatch available at launch… there simply needs to be more to do. The only other problem I noticed with gameplay is the fact that while Primal Carnage apparently does support using a controller over a keyboard and mouse, it only partially works. You can move and shoot, but the game doesn’t recognize the right analog stick, essentially making it impossible to aim.
That’s not to say that what’s there isn’t good; the teams are both surprisingly well-balanced… for example, while the dinosaur team gets the massive T-Rex (provided enough people are playing to allow it to be unlocked), its one-hit kills are balanced by a very slow movement speed and it can’t fit into certain areas. Mercenary players may have snipers who can pick off targets from afar, but dinosaur teammates can use the airborne pteranodons to alert others to any humans they find hiding. I never felt like one team had a distinct advantage over the other.
Graphically, Lukewarm Media did a good job with Primal Carnage: the island’s locales, from a shipyard and dock area to parts of the jungle, are vibrant, well-lit, and beautiful. The models for the five different types of dinosaurs are nicely done and bring the monstrous prehistoric lizards to life.
At $15, Primal Carnage isn’t the best or deepest game in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. While it does have some shortcomings and there’s not much more (for now) than Team Deathmatch to play, it’s still silly fun that is worth your time.