First look at Primal Carnage

Given the set-up – dinosaurs versus humans in multiplayer objective-based battles – it’s tough to work out why no one’s brought a similar game into the world before.

Indie developers Lukewarm Media have stepped into the breach, and were beavering away on Primal Carnage when we went to visit them at their secluded island laboratory just off the coast of Costa Rica. Putting aside his cane topped with a mosquito locked in amber for a moment, producer Ashton Andersen explained that “set in modern times, the game focuses around a team of mercenaries sent to an abandoned remote island built by the military to create dinosaurs for war.” Inevitably, the experiments went awry.

Some maps are massive jungles, while others will be close-quarter science labs. “The humans’ strength lies in ranged combat, using projectile weapons to their advantage while the dinos are melee focused.” Co-op and story modes will come later as downloadable content. And the existing game modes? “Capture Point is focused on the humans capturing specified points on the map in an allotted time while the dinosaurs must defend them. In survival mode, players start on moving platforms. Once the final point is reached they’ll have a showdown with a boss.” What kind of boss? “Dinosaurs like the Spinosaurus.” Oh God, you bred Spinosaurs.

His eyes glinting in the equatorial sunset, Andersen detailed his team’s other prehistoric reincarnations: “The playable dinosaurs are the T-Rex, the Raptor, Pteranadon, Compsognathus, and the Dilophosaurus. There will be other NPC dinosaurs roaming around to add to the authentic, living ecosystem, such as a herd of brachiosaurs grazing by a waterhole.”

Each dinosaur fits into a specific class: the T-Rex is a lethal but unwieldy tank, the Pteranadon spots from the air, and the tiny Compy leads a pack of similarly mini brethren. Perhaps due to the inaccurate science of a particular 1993 blockbuster, the dinosaurs of Primal Carnage aren’t built for realism – dino-sticklers will be dino-upset that the Dilophosaur retains his not-actually-true acid-spitting power. The rest of us will just be pleased to hear that weaponry isn’t restricted to tooth and claw for our terrible lizards.

What about the human classes? “The Scientist is a sniper. She is a natural partner to the Heavy Gunner, who uses his assault rifle and grenade launcher at close range. The Flamethrower can create walls of fire to prevent dinosaurs from ambushing the mercenaries, and the Native is best used supporting his team, whether dropping a flare to distract a T-Rex or healing a teammate while the Trapper pins dinosaurs with his net gun.”

Then we had to leave because some dinosaurs ate everyone.

May 19, 2010