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|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release||October 29, 2012|
Primal Carnage is an asymmetrical, class-based, online multiplayer PC game released in October 2012, created by indie development team Lukewarm Media and released by Reverb Publishing. The game pits a group of armed humans against predatory dinosaurs in various combat scenarios. Human gameplay takes the form of a first-person shooter, whilst the dinosaurs are controlled from a third-person perspective.
In Primal Carnage, dinosaurs have been recreated on a remote island by the fictional corporation Phoenix International, only to escape and roam free. Players can choose to fight as one of the escaped dinosaurs, or become part of the human team that is dispatched to exterminate them.
There are currently three game modes: Team Deathmatch, where the human and dinosaur teams compete for the highest number of kills, "Get to the Chopper", in which humans must capture several points on a linear path before signalling for rescue by helicopter, and "Capture the Egg"- a Dinosaur-themed take on the classic Capture the Flag game mode.
Human gameplay is experienced from a first-person perspective, except for when the player's character is immobilized by an event such as a raptor pounce or resupplying at a health crate. The dinosaurs are all controlled from a third-person perspective, giving them greater situational awareness. Both teams have five different classes, each with a unique suite of abilities / equipment that allows them to fill a particular role on their team. All classes have a "stamina" bar, which depletes when sprinting or jumping. Dinosaur players need to more carefully manage their stamina than humans, as without their stamina dinosaurs lose the ability to sprint and perform certain attacks, making them more vulnerable.
Dinosaur gameplay is primarily based around melee attacks and relies heavily upon speed, stealth, and distraction to be successful. All members of the dinosaur team have a standard bite attack, along with a special ability that is activated upon roaring, and with the exception of Tyrannosaurus, a unique secondary attack. Dinosaurs can regain health by either killing a human with direct damage from their bite attack, or eating from stationary Iguanodon carcasses scattered throughout the maps.
There are currently nine playable species spread out across five classes on the Dinosaur team:
- Tyrannosaurus - The Tank class, also known as the Tyrant class, is notable for possessing significantly higher health than any other dinosaur class. Its primary ability is to swallow humans whole, which allows Tyrannosaurs to regain health. It can also easily kill humans by stepping on them and in the sequel swat them away with its tail. Because of the extreme power of this class, it is limited by default so that only one is allowed to spawn for every 10 players in a match.
- Spinosaurus - (currently GTTC exclusive) A 'subclass' of the Tank role that the Tyrannosaur also fills, Spinosaurus differs in that it has a secondary claw swipe attack that sends humans hurtling away and 500 additional health points, this makes up for its longer biting/eating animation.
- "Novaraptor" - The Assault class, "Novaraptor" is not a real species of dinosaur; the name was invented by Lukewarm Media to describe the fictional species which appears in-game. It is described as a hybrid created from the DNA of several different Raptor species. The Novaraptor's secondary ability is a pouncing attack which pins enemies to the ground, rendering them helpless until the target's neck snaps, though the attack may be cut short if the Raptor receives damage, runs out of stamina, or disengages of his own volition by jumping off. Novaraptors have exceptional mobility, being capable of fast sprints and high jumps. It can even maul foes up close with its teeth and razor-like claws. If it becomes enraged, its maul attack is ultra-fast... only for a short while.
- Dilophosaurus - The Ambush class, Dilophosaurus is the only dinosaur which has a ranged attack. Like their Jurassic Park counterparts, they can spit venom at enemies from a distance, which causes temporary blindness. This ability has been explained to be the result of genetic tampering in-universe. Dilophosaurs can also deliver venom through their bite attack, which causes blurred vision and slowed movement for the victim.
- Pteranodon - The Scout class. Pteranodon is quite slow on the ground, but when flying at max speed it is the fastest character in the game. Its secondary ability is to grab enemy players, allowing them to carry the target into the air, and drop them from a lethal height. The Pteranodon can also mark the location of enemies with its special roar ability; any humans near a screeching Pteranodon will be visible to all dinosaur players, even through obstacles, for a short time.
- Carnotaurus - The Charger class. Carnotaurus is a fast sprinter, easily outrunning humans. Depending on the speed the Carnotaurus is running at, enemies that are charged headfirst will be knocked away and dealt as much as 80 damage (smaller Dinosaurs will be knocked out of the way, but not receive any damage). The Charger's special ability allows it to take bites out of prey to heal itself, while doing reduced damage. Its cheetah-like speed makes these brutes almost inescapable.
Three other dinosaurs, Tupandactylus, Oviraptor and Cryolophosaurus have been added to the game as "premium skins". These are purely cosmetic alternative models which players can purchase to swap in for the Pteranodon, Novaraptor and Dilophosaurus.
The human team's advantage over the dinosaurs is their wide range of firearms, which allow them to stay away from the claws and teeth of their attackers. All human classes carry at least one primary weapon, and have a last resort melee attack which requires no ammo. Humans must carefully manage their ammunition, which can be restocked at crates scattered throughout the map. They can also regain health from medical boxes. Cooperation is important to the human team's survival, due to many of the dinosaurs having attacks that can instantly disable a lone player, rendering them helpless without backup.
There are 5 different classes on the human team, each being a distinct character:
- Commando - A former military pilot gone AWOL named Marcus Tyler. His primary weapon is a rapid fire Assault Rifle with a grenade launcher attachment. The assault rifle becomes quickly inaccurate unless fired in short bursts. The underslung grenade launcher is the most powerful weapon in the game, but can be difficult to aim at fast-moving targets.
- Scientist - Also referred to as "The Sniper" by players, Moira Hart is a British park ranger from a game reserve in Botswana. Her primary weapon is a scoped hunting rifle, which is powerful enough to kill a Dilophosaurus with a single bullet. Her secondary weapon is a small, sighted Tranquiliser pistol, which is used to disorient and decrease the stamina of dinosaurs. The Scientist's melee weapon is a cattle prod, which she can use to shock Dinosaurs up close.
- Pathfinder - Joseph Crane is a wilderness guide of Native American descent. His primary weapon is a pump-action shotgun which can hold 8 shells per reload. This weapon is very powerful up close, capable of killing smaller animals in a single shot, but becomes less effective at range. The Pathfinder also carries 5 distress flares, which burn for several seconds after being thrown. Any nearby dinosaurs looking towards burning flares will have their vision impaired.
- Trapper - Jackson Stone is an Australian poacher, armed with a netgun and dual wielded pistols. These two pistols share the same ammo reserve, but can be fired and reloaded independently. The netgun is used for temporarily disabling enemy dinosaurs. Large dinosaurs hit by nets will be unable to use their bite attack for a short time, while smaller dinosaurs are completely immobilized for several seconds. The Trapper can use his melee attack, a hunting knife, to kill a trapped dinosaur in a single hit.
- Pyromaniac - Angus McLaughlin is a Scottish lumberjack who fights with a custom-made "flamesaw," which is a flamethrower and chainsaw strapped together. Neither weapon needs to be reloaded, however they both share the same fuel reserve. Dinosaurs hit by the flamethrower will continue to receive burn damage for a short while after exiting the line of fire. The chainsaw is the most powerful melee weapon in the game, dealing enough damage to killing larger dinosaurs in seconds, though it will overheat after extended use. The Pyromaniac also carries three impact grenades, which will explode upon hitting a surface.
Non-Playable Creatures (NPCs)
The game's developers originally intended for the game to feature AI-controlled dinosaur NPCs. Unfortunately these were not added to the game upon release. Non-playable Brachiosaurus were later added to the game with the "Get to the Chopper" update. These Dinosaurs can be seen walking around out of bounds on the maps 'Ruthless' and 'Forgotten Outpost.' Iguanodon could also be considered an NPC, though only dead individuals of this species appear in the game.
Various other species were announced during development as candidates for eventual inclusion as NPCs, but still have not appeared in-game:
Spinosaurus was long stated to be intended as an NPC after its reveal in a pre-release promotional video, however, it was eventually made into a playable class. Carnotaurus was originally intended to play the same role that Iguanodon currently fills, however it too was made into a playable class, due to popular demand.
Some of the character names have changed over the course of development. Some sources still refer to characters by their old names, which may lead to confusion. The following characters are the ones that have changed: the Heavy is now the Commando, the Native is now the Pathfinder, and the Firestarter is now the Pyromaniac.
The game was originally intended to feature Compsognathus as a playable Dinosaur class. The player would have controlled a horde of the small dinosaurs at once. However, this idea was eventually abandoned, with the Charger class Carnotaurus replacing the Horde class shortly before release. A video which showcased DirectX 11 features such as tessellation was demonstrated before the game was released, but the game does not currently support DirectX 11.
Primal Carnage was released on October 29, 2012, with only one playable game mode: Team Deathmatch. Extensive downloadable content was promised to arrive post-release. Since then, two new game modes have been added, alongside several new maps, additional playable dinosaurs and a collection of cosmetic skin changes.
According to the aggregate website Metacritic, Primal Carnage received mixed to positive reviews upon release. Many reviewers praised the balance between the two teams and the surprisingly diverse human classes. The dinosaurs, in their animation, detailed models and realistic sound effects, were often singled out as the game's most impressive aspect. The dynamic foliage and level design were also complimented. Several other dinosaur games were released months prior to Primal Carnage, such as Dino D-Day and Orion: Dino Beatdown that received mostly negative critical responses. One reviewer concluded "I was starting to wonder if a good dinosaur game was even possible" in their positive review of Primal Carnage. The videogame news website IGN gave it a score of 7.6 out of 10. It maintains a 66.5% rating on GameRankings.
However, the game has received criticism for lack of depth and content, namely that Team Deathmatch was the only available mode until recently. The lack of a progression system and somewhat simple premise of the game are reasons listed by many reviewers for Primal Carnage not living up to its potential. Complaints of annoying bugs and control problems have come from both players and reviewers. Most express hope that the game will be expanded and improved with future updates.
While still in pre-production on the game's prequel in late 2013, the development team decided to change focus and devote all their resources to rebuilding the core of the original Primal Carnage's systems and engine, with the goal of improving performance and fixing bugs introduced by earlier patches in a large game update. Version 2.0 was set to bring many new features, including an in-game economy, re-balanced classes and overhauled game modes. Australian indie developer Pub Games was brought on to help rework the game from the ground up, throwing out the entire game's code and starting fresh. Around the same time the recode began, a number of long-time Primal Carnage developers, including Lukewarm Media co-founder Ashton Andersen decided to leave the company.
On October 27, 2014, Primal Carnage: Extinction was revealed as a sequel to the original Primal Carnage, to be released Q4 2014 on Steam and Q1 2015 on PlayStation 4. Although Pub Games remains involved, a new indie team, Circle 5 Studios, have now taken on primary development duties from the disbanded Lukewarm Media, and now owns the rights to the Primal Carnage brand.
Extinction started out as the recode patch for Primal Carnage, but grew in size and scope so much that it necessitated being re-branded as a whole new title. Apart from this, there were also technical and financial concerns that prevented it from being an add-on to the original game. All of the additional features promised for the recode will be present, along with much improved gameplay mechanics. Primal Carnage: Genesis, the planned single-player prequel, would remain on indefinite hold.
It was announced on November 24, 2014 that Primal Carnage: Extinction would be entering Steam Early Access from December 3 of that year, with the intention of perfecting the game's balance and soliciting feedback for additional improvements. The game will remain in Early Access until its release on PlayStation 4. Owners of the original Primal Carnage were given a loyalty discount of 85% off the PC version if they purchased the first game before November 20, 2014, and Reverb Publishing will provide a 50% off coupon to anyone who buys the original for as long as Extinction is in Early Access. The game left Early Access and was officially released on PC April 3rd 2015, with the console version of the game still in development. Another studio, Panic Button Games, has since announced their involvement in helping bring the PlayStation 4 version out later in the year.
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