Review – Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter
Publisher: BeatShapers Ltd.
Developer: BeatShapers Ltd.
Release Date: August 16, 2010
What I liked:
Decent 3D engine for a mini
What I disliked:
Graphics like a ‘90s console shooter
Ridiculous points system that requires grinding
Relatively boring gameplay
Carnivores sounds like a winning idea: take the relatively tame hunting shooter genre and spice it up with the addition of exotic dinosaurs. Unfortunately, this formula for success has backfired. Rather than make a dull genre more interesting, Carnivores retains all the frustrating and boring elements of hunting while adding all-new obstacles to enjoyment.
At first, Carnivores impressed me; the game manages to pull off a smooth-running 3D engine in under 100Mb. Begin moving around the levels, however, and you’ll quickly notice the ugly draw-in and even uglier textures. The game resembles an N64-era FPS, which is appropriate, as it is a port of a PC game from 1999. The dinosaur models do look a sight better than the environment, though there’s no variety; each member of a given species look identical, save for slight variations in size.
Since this is a first-person shooter developed primarily for the PSP, it controls rather awkwardly. The nub handles aiming while the four face buttons handle movement. Play this mini on a PS3 and the controls are identical, not utilizing the second analog stick whatsoever. This is more a fault of the medium rather than the game. Left trigger raises your weapon and right trigger fires, although you cannot fire from the hip. The aiming controls slow down while sighted, which is great for precision but lethal when being charged by a carnivorous predator! Honestly, the controls overall are best suited for hunting passive, non-threatening dinosaurs. I was only able to kill aggressive prey by trapping it atop steep terrain, which the AI cannot seem to comprehend (the manual even recommends doing this). If a dinosaur began charging me on open terrain, it wouldn’t matter how powerful a shotgun I was holding. I was dead meat.
The game trades on an unusual currency system. You begin with 50 points; these points are never spent, merely allocated towards which dinosaur you’ll hunt, which map you’ll hunt them on, and which weapon you’ll wield. To start, you only have enough to afford the easiest map, the basic pistol, and a dinosaur with keen enough smell to run away well before you get in range to use said pistol. You can equip things like scent maskers and camouflage to help you get closer to dinosaurs, but doing so subtracts points from each kill. Unfortunately, this equipment is necessary in the early game to build up any points at all. What results is a grindfest: hunting dinosaurs you don’t enjoy for several hours to build up points to hunt the ones you want, with weapons that actually might be effective. The levels are littered with other dinosaurs than the one you’re hunting, but killing them gives you no reward and wastes your limited ammo. Eventually you may build up enough points to hunt more dangerous prey, or use more powerful weapons, but you’ll have to earn even more points to have both at the same time. Finish a hunt alive and you have a chance to view a trophy room, where any dino you’ve killed is put on display in a nondescript metal box. When I hunt dinosaurs in the 22nd century, you better believe I’d display my trophies in a windowless steel cargo crate!
In all, Carnivores drained much of my time without giving me any real sense of accomplishment. No matter how many points I accumulated, no matter how many trophies I racked up, those darned velociraptors still tear me up. If a man can’t stand against velociraptors in the future, what hope do we have today?
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