I’m not particularly a fan of hunting games, because, well, I’m not a fan of hunting. If I want to shoot something, I’ve got a line-up of aliens, zombies and other unfavorables standing in my crosshairs, and that suits me just fine.
All the same, when a new wrinkle is provided in the hunting genre, I’m always eager to give it a try – especially if it gives you the opportunity to mutter “Clever girl” like that unfortunate hunter in Jurassic Park. (With better results, mind you.)
Digital Dreams Entertainment’s Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt gives you the opportunity to hunt some rather big game on an island, including all sorts of dinos. Granted, you start out small with some of the less harmful beasts; but stick around with the game long enough and you’ll soon be going mano-a-mano with a T-Rex. It’s an interesting twist on the genre, but, unfortunately, a couple of severe flaws will probably leave you turning back towards your cherished copy of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
If the game looks dated, there’s a reason for that. It actually came out in 1998, around the same time that the devs were hoping to cash in on the success of Turok. It wasn’t as successful, but did garner enough interest to keep going for a few years. And now, well, better late than never as it arrives on consoles.
That doesn’t mean the game looks bad. The open terrain you hunt in is pretty good (for older standards), and the dinos look pretty good. But it’s also quite uneventful compared to other fast-paced FPS games, as the developers clearly wanted to go for something more “calm” with hunting. That’s a bit odd, considering you’re shooting at, well, dinosaurs.
The sound design is a bit better, with some pretty good effects and an array of tunes that literally keep you in the hunt. That said, it doesn’t really come across as “iconic” as, say, good ol’ Turok. It fits the bill at least.
So how’s the gameplay? Well, the game itself handles reasonably, with the ability to concentrate on your shots with different weapons and even track down dinos with the help of an easy-to-read radar. It’s also cool to take a look at an open map at any time (in case you’re lost trying to find your next target). But the really cool thing is being able to hold your breath for shots, providing you a still grip on your weapon as you prepare to fire. The mechanics are solid.
But the game kind of brings progress grinding to a halt. It’s easy to score the first dino kills, which is cool, but in order to unlock some of the more dangerous dinosaurs (like the T-Rex) or even earn any of the compelling upgrades within the game, you’ll have to play the first missions again. And again. And again. You earn credits, but slowly. As a result, it can take forever to really make progress. That’s a problem, considering Turok’s nature of letting you jump in and wreak havoc.
And considering the game sells for $15 – around the same price as either of the previously released Turok games – it’s a hard sell. You get a game with good mechanics, but also dated visuals and probably one of the slowest progression systems ever put into a hunting title. The question is just how patient you are to get to that T-Rex hunt. It has its moments, but it’s not quite the trophy you think it might be.
Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt might compel fans of the genre seeking something new, or at the very least try to make you feel like a real-life Turok. But it’s heavily dated, especially with its visuals and grueling progression system. It’s not terrible, but it just feels like an also-ran, when a little more tinkering – and fairness – could’ve made it a must-have. Here’s hoping Digital Dreams patches it up with some much-needed features, or the game itself runs the risk of becoming a dinosaur.