Players will be relieved to know this game will fulfill a need to hunt dinosaurs the same way high school fulfills the need to stalk classmates. Sure, a person can stalk their classmates, but unless stalking is what that person loves to do there’s no reason to do it.
The reason behind dinosaur hunting in the game – thankfully provided by the PSN Store because the game itself doesn’t care to tell you – is that you are rich and like to hunt. Luckily, one of the planets in the universe looks like prehistoric Earth and has animals that look like dinosaurs. It’s also neatly divided up into islands. Three of them, apparently. And you’ll hunt across all three islands, at three different types of day. And these islands? Look the same. So, rich and bored dude, who has the ability to cross interstellar space yet still chooses to hunt with a .243 rifle and a set of brass balls, it’s time to shoot creatures elephant guns would have a hard time hurting!
Navigation is easy. Select hunt and hit start and a hint screen will display while loading the map. Hit fire and the player appears somewhere on the map. Now run around to every watering hole visible on your GPS and see if there’s a dinosaur. How you approach and shoot the creature is up to you – use stealth, run after it like a mad rich dude, or track it like an actual hunter – whatever works. Now prepare to rinse and repeat for some time.
The game has two point systems. The first is cash, which is used to unlock functions on the player’s GPS, buy the other two weapons in the game, buy upgrades, and buy licenses to collect dinosaurs. Collecting dinosaurs rewards trophy points which unlock stages. As noted above, there’s little variety to the stages except the type of game and licenses available. As you have most likely surmised, bigger game on later stages yields bigger cash.
While levels have small dinosaurs running around the game offers no cash rewards for shooting these creatures. All cash rewards come from the larger creatures. A stegosaurus earns players up to $5, so a couple of stegosauri will give players enough for their first license.
Yeah. Grind for cash and trophies to shoot more dinosaurs. Did I mention the avatar is already super-rich? He must do this because it’s fun.
Gameplay is standard FPS response. Carnivores HD supports Move controls as well. Move controls take a little getting used to, but otherwise function as expected. Graphically the game is average and animates well despite the occasional hiccup. The game strives for realism, though some of the textures are not pretty. The way the dinosaurs sometimes manage to hide in plain sight – and yes, it does happen that something twice the size of a rhino can hide in front of you – is pretty neat. Prey will always run if threatened, which often activates the game’s awkward draw distance. The game’s draw distance will bring trees and rocks into view as you are traversing the island, leaving the player to wonder for a split-second if it was their prey moving or a predator.
Which brings me to one of the game’s good points: Islands with predators will come out and attack players if they are nearby; often with ninja-like quickness. In fact, touching any roaming dinosaur gives an automatic game over. Some herbivorous dinosaurs will attack if provoked as well. Another positive point for the game is the option to use tranquilizers instead of live rounds. Not everyone wants to kill everything, and it’s nice to see a game acknowledge such style of play.
The GPS unit players have access to is a little weird as well. So I have a device to let me know the dinosaur can hear or see me, but I have to spend $500 on a radar function? …and then $10 gives me an X-Ray function? Hot damn the future has messed up priorities. Some type of radar upgrade should be the first upgrade, not halfway through the list, if only to prevent players from traipsing through generic islands and visiting each water hole to find reptilian minibuses for long, boring stretches of time. Really – you’ve flown across the universe to hunt dinosaurs without even an arrow to tell you “go here”? This is just a way to artificially extend game play.
Upgrades do make the game easier, though the game penalizes players by removing a bonus from the trophy score. The bonus starts at 100% and goes down depending on the upgrade. This is a nice form of balance the game attempts to offer.
A form of balance which is shot in the foot by the amount of grinding players must still accomplish. The game tries to be as real as possible when it comes to hunting. What people often forget is that hunting is not just running out and shooting shit. There’s a lot of walking or tracking involved with little reward for action because prey moves away from hunters. The result is Carnivores is an extremely boring game. Had there been some type of mission-based gameplay or less grinding, the game may have been more exciting. Instead, the game shows its smartphone roots, carries a $12 price tag, and contains less content than its free smartphone release.
This week has a lot more to offer players in regards to game selection. I think even hunting game enthusiasts would find the grind too boring to keep playing. This is an easy pass.