Primal Carnage Review

I’ve played hundreds of online multiplayer matches through more than a decade of shooter franchises. Counter-Strike, Halo, Call of Duty… I’ve done it all. Primal Carnage faces a daunting uphill battle: how can it separate itself from the others, while simultaneously maintaining the elements that make Team Deathmatch games so enjoyable?

Primal CarnageThe solution, I found out, is much simpler than I anticipated: dinosaurs! Primal Carnage lets me commandeer novaraptors, dilophosaurus, even the colossal tyrannosaurus rex itself in familiar multiplayer settings, creating a fun, if limited, experience. Not since the days of Primal Rage has playing as dinosaurs been so satisfying.

At its core, Primal Carnage will seem very familiar: two teams of players, either humans or dinos, engage in one of two standard multiplayer formats, Team Deathmatch or Get To The Chopper. The latter is an multi-stage objective-capturing mode similar to Battlefield’s Rush mode. Each team has five classes to choose from, and each class has distinct strengths and weaknesses. No matter which class I had chosen, I never found myself particularly outmatched, nor did I feel invincible. My human always needed to conserve ammo for the next assault, while my dinosaur had to keep its stamina up by finding carcasses to eat. Either time, if I wasn’t sufficiently prepared, I’d either eat lead or be eaten. There’s not much else to it, which is the game’s biggest downfall. It doesn’t offer a lot of variety, and what it does have is a new angle on the familiar.

Primal CarnageThis lack of variety, thankfully, does not translate into a lack of fun. These deathmatches are everything I’ve come to love about online shooters: mindless, furious fun. When I boot up any game, above all the shiny graphics and explosive action, I just want to enjoy myself. Primal Carnage lets me cut loose; it allows me to sit and just play a game without having to put much thought into my experience. Normally I’m a thinking man’s gamer, but it never hurts to just turn on a game and GO. Primal Carnage has become that game.

When I first approached this review, I thought I might write about how this human vs. dinosaur quarrel severely favors the dinosaurs. They are, after all, giant beasts capable of wanton destruction. However, these humans can more than hold their own against their savage opponents. I’ve actually had more success drawing the human team than I have with the dinosaurs. Now that’s not to say playing as a dinosaur is without merit; quite the opposite is true. Picking up an opponent as a pteranodon, soaring into the sky, and dropping the helpless human to his or her death carries an air of unique satisfaction. Of course, there’s also the ability to play as a t-rex, and I don’t think I need to explain why that is simply awesome.

Primal Carnage isn’t going to revolutionize the way we play online shooters. We’re not going to think back on how this game changed the face of the industry forever. However, Primal Carnage does succeed in being a fun little experience. There’s not a heap of game types to try, there’s no single-player campaign, and there’s no customization to be found. This is a game made in the vein of the development theory of yesteryear: simple, mindless fun to take the edge off of a long day. Every once in a while, it’s nice to go back and play a game like that… especially when there’s a t-rex involved.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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