Class based, fast paced dino romping action is perhaps the most succinct way to describe Primal Carnage: Extinction. Set across a handful of multiplayer modes and maps, it charts the resurrection of various dinosaur species and measures taken by an elite squad of specialist hunters to combat this prehistoric scourge.
In short, it makes for some quick and easy online fun yet at the same time Primal Carnage can’t be taken seriously. It’s a little dumb and nonsensical, lacking some of the genre’s familiar hooks. That said, there are certainly some interesting and unique ideas at play.
Usually, there’s no better way to test an online shooter than jumping straight into a game of Team Deathmatch. Thankfully, this is where Primal Carnage shines brightest, pitting one team of hunters against their primeval counterparts. Regardless of whether you choose to side with the humans or dinosaurs, there are several classes to pick from.
Each one has its own nuanced approach to gameplay, defining their role as part of a larger team. For the hunters these archetypes will be mostly familiar. Aside from the typical commando build, you have access to a medic/sniper hybrid among some other interesting classes. These include the revolver-wielding trapper as well as two close range specialists, giving players the option of either a shotgun or flamethrower. Working in tandem, they form a destructive crack team capable of disabling bigger dinos while gunning down smaller breeds lurking in the shadows and foliage.
Playing as the dinosaurs comes with its own freedoms and limitations. Although fairly robust when hunting in packs, their individual combat prowess stems from a basic attack and one or two special abilities. For instance, the hulking tyrants can swing their tails or, better still, chomp down on their foes with a single fatal strike. However, their colossal stature makes them slower and more visible while also preventing them from exploring building interiors. On the other hand we have the pterodactyl and its winged cohorts. Although they can navigate the environment with relative ease, they’re incredibly fragile and hampered by finicky flight controls.
One compromise players will notice across all species is a lack of accuracy. Landing a dino’s special ability takes a lot of patience, requiring not only perfect timing but also a degree of luck. Chances are, when facing down an opponent, you’ll both move around in circles hoping the next hit finds its target. This bizarre approach to combat is compounded by persistent bugs and some awkward dinosaur handling.
Beyond your bog standard TDM are a trio of alternate game types including an objective based Get To The Chopper mode. For those wanting to kick back and have some casual fun, Primal Carnage offers a free roam option while Survival is there for groups of players looking to clash with the AI. Inspired by similar wave-based modes like Horde and Call of Duty’s Zombies, you go from round to round buying ammo, health, and access to useful objects in the environment.
Given its mid-range price tag there’s a decent spread on offer with plenty of maps to see and explore. One omission console gamers may take issue with is the lack of a progression system. Although there are some cosmetic items up for grabs, the absence of experience points and challenges knock the game’s replay value somewhat.
Despite its technical problems and some missing features, Primal Carnage is far from being a bad game. For an independently developed title it looks pretty stunning, even if some of the animations are slightly off. However, as much fun as I’ve had messing around with the various classes and game modes, Primal Carnage simply doesn’t have the lasting appeal I look for in a multiplayer shooter. If played with friends, it will serve up several hours of grin-inducing fun but beyond that very little else.
Versions Tested: PS4