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Primal Carnage: Extinction

Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Circle 5 Studios
Developer: Circle 5 Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 16 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

True to the genre, Primal Carnage: Extinction is all about its community. A match is only as good as the types of players in it. This was certainly true of my experiences with the game, though even with a great group of players, there are still enough rough edges to make it a "Maybe Play" rather than a "Must Play."

Visually, Primal Carnage: Extinction looks great. Of particular note are the environments, which manage to tell the islandís story even though there isnít an explicit "Story Mode" to the game. Jungles are lush and offer loads of foliage for dinosaur and mercenary alike to hide. These jungles are dotted with huge concrete structures and other buildings, adding a sense of twisted history.

I wasnít as impressed with the dinosaurs and humans populating the matches. Donít get me wrong, they look great, particularly the dinosaurs, though something felt completely "off" about the gameís look. Compared to the environments, characters look a bit blocky and somewhat dated. Some of it has to do with the texture work, which is flat in some places, though I also noticed a distinct lack of personality. This is especially true with the five mercenary classes. Each has a distinct, yet bland and generic, look to them. I also notice a couple of minor visual hiccups and some chugging frame rates in some matches.

Audio is, on the other hand, pretty good. The roars of dinosaurs during matches can be scary if used right by your opponents and guns sound powerful. I really like that every dinosaur has its own roar. Itís a nice touch. Ambient sound is mostly a miss. Background music is forgettable and for as much detail is found in environments, there isn't much else going on to sell the setting.


Gameplay:

Primal Carnage: Extinction is based around a simple concept. On a remote island, a corporation has a secret compound breeding dinosaurs. As these things usually go, the experiments go awry and the dinosaurs overrun the island. A group of mercenaries is sent to the island to contain the incident, or die trying.

First off, Primal Carnage: Extinction is an exclusively multiplayer game, so if youíre the anti-social type that likes dinosaurs, youíll need to jump online if you want to finally live your dream to stalk around the jungle as a T-Rex. Gameplay is split between a couple of different match types, including a standard team Deathmatch pitting mercenaries against dinosaurs or, if you want, dinosaurs against dinosaurs. Surprisingly, the latter Deathmatch variation isnít as fun as the former. Playing as a dinosaur is cool, but there are a couple of dinosaur-related control issues muddying the experience.

The more interesting mode is "Get to the Chopper," which puts the humans on the defensive as they attempt to collect materials to repair their helicopter and escape the island. Meanwhile, the dinosaurs go on the offensive to prevent their escape. I tend to enjoy team-based experiences where the team actually has to act like a team, so the amount of coordination required in this mode was a major draw for me. At the same time, the mode suffers from a predicable spawn-point system. Once a dinosaur player knows where mercenaries will spawn, they can camp to their heartís content. Itís a major wet blanket on an otherwise awesome mode.

Interestingly, Primal Carnage: Extinction includes a "Free Roam" mode, where you can play as a dinosaur and roam maps. Itís meant as more of a role-playing mode than anything else, which held little interest to me personally.


Difficulty:

Surprisingly, Primal Carnage: Extinction is incredibly well-balanced. Each of the dinosaurs has its own strengths and weaknesses, so no one dinosaur can rule a match. At the same time, the mercenaries are powerful enough to hold their own against a pack of dinosaurs. Even better, each side is legitimately fun to play and has their own unique strategies for dealing with the other side.

The downside is some of these strategies seem a little too evenly matched. It is never outright stated, but I always got the feeling there was an underlying "Rock-Paper-Scissors" relationship at play between some of the dinosaurs and the mercenaries. This isn't enough to ruin the experience, but at times, it adds a weird mechanical feel. Certain mercenaries are better suited against certain dinosaurs than others. Although it makes some sense, games get so chaotic, the relationship doesnít work as well as it was designed.


Game Mechanics:

As previously stated, matches are split between two groups Ė dinosaurs and mercenaries Ė each with their own distinct class types. On the dinosaur side, you have your choice of five species, four of which come in two types. These include raptors, flying dinosaurs, and the monstrous Carnotaurus. As with most class-based games, each species fulfills a different role in matches. The T-Rex, for example, is your slow, but incredibly powerful class while raptors are quick, but do less damage. Flyers add some variety to matches while the Dilophosaurus adds a ranged spitting attack.

Unlike mercenaries, dinosaurs are controlled from a third-person perspective, adding a few dinosaur-specific mechanic difficulties. Although the viewpoint looks really cool, especially when pulling off certain attacks, it gets in the way. Movement is akin to trying to drive a truck through a narrow alleyway. Itís hard to navigate some of the denser environments. Youíll also misfire on some of your attacks. Even if it looks like everything is lined up perfectly, thereís always a chance youíll miss. Itís mildly annoying and a bit clumsy.

Mercenary roles should be more familiar to players. Thereís a heavy weapons guy, a scout, a medicÖ you know the drill. I did, however, like how skills are spread across the five classes to make everyone useful in their own way. For example, the medic (a scientist) is also a sniper, adding a unique dynamic to the normally long-ranged class. As the scientist, you canít sit back and snipe from a distance; instead you might need to run into the fray to help out a teammate. Long-time snipers might not like the change, but I enjoyed it. At the very least, it ensures players always have something to do in a match.

As far as I could tell, thereís not one dominant class. Some are stronger than others, but drawbacks are enough that you need to work as a team in order to succeed in most matches. For instance, the Trapper is able to net up dinosaurs. Once trapped, dinosaurs are almost assuredly dead. However, successfully trapping a dinosaur is tricky and requires help from other players.

If anything else, Primal Carnage: Extinction is a different sort of multiplayer offering. The chance to play as dinosaurs is something everyone has, at one time or another, wanted to do in a game. Its great that Primal Carnage: Extinction makes that a possibility. At the same time, playing as a dinosaur can be frustrating Ė which is a problem. On the plus side, the developers seem to still be rather active in development and the community seems active. At the very least, Primal Carnage: Extinction is a game worth keeping an eye on.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



OS:Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1; Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 4800+; Memory:3 GB RAM; Graphics:ATI 3850HD 512 MB or NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB; DirectX:9.0c; Hard Drive:1.5 GB HD space; Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection
 

Test System:



OS: Windows 8.1; Processor: Intel Core i7 2.2Ghz; Memory: 8GB; DirectX: 11; Hard Drive: 500 GB

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