By: Jeff Cater
Carnivores HD is a prehistoric adventure any trophy seeker would get giddy about: hunting dinosaurs! Originally an indie hit on PC, the game has landed on PS3 and Vita. Should hunters lock and load? Or wait for bigger game to strut by?
Unfortunately, right off the bat the controls aren’t comfortable. In keeping with a current epidemic in lower budget titles these days, you are unable to invert the look stick (though the developer indicated a fix was in the works). Now if you’re one of the “normies,” you won’t have any trouble playing, but any inverted player may as well pass on by. The look sensitivity is adjustable, just not inversion. The face buttons are responsive enough, though, so the game has that going for it.
Impressively, the draw distance in this game is very good, allowing you to spot would-be trophies from afar. The frame rate also runs at a very fast clip and never noticeably drops. While the draw distance does a good job providing trees for dinosaurs to hide behind and the frame rate is admirable, it’s easy to see that other facets of the graphics are lacking. Dinosaurs, trees, rocks, and your character’s chosen gun are all a little “blah” and passable at best. Dinosaur animations seem to vary as well, with some animating with great quality while others “herk and jerk” across the landscape. It’s a mixed bag of mostly bad with a bit of good.
Prehistoric times weren’t known for their jamming soundtracks or aural ambiance, and that is reflected in the development of this title. The lack of sound (other than dinosaurs stomping and bugs buzzing) is very isolating. Maybe that was the intentional tone set by the developers, but in a concept as ridiculous and fun as hunters bagging dinosaurs a little bit more would have gone a long way.
Although the lack of inverted controls largely hampered my experience, the core mechanics and functioning gameplay is decent. Players must hunt various lower-level dinosaurs in order to afford hunting licenses for the bigger trophies. This process is a very slow grind and starts inducing yawns early on.
Moving your way up the chain and taking down larger, more dangerous prey is further darkened by the EXTREMELY limited weapon selection. You can purchase upgrades, but it simply doesn’t provide enough variety. I know that Turok set the standard for weapons in a dino-blasting FPS, but barely having more than two weapon options can make middle and late-game a bit of a chore.
In an effort to make up for that, it seems, the devs give you a set of special power-ups that even the field a bit, such as a slow motion camera effect that highlights the vital organs of any given target. Still, it’s not enough to compensate for the game’s other issues.
Sadly there simply isn’t enough reward in this trip to warrant any hunter partaking. At its core, Carnivores HD is an effective dinosaur hunting “simulator,” but there’s too little substance to warrant such progress-halting grinds the game sets upon players. Someday we’ll get a title that will let us hunt dinosaurs in a more enjoyable manner, and in the meantime you can always pick up an N64.