Some games inspire nothing more than confusion, and you can't help but wonder why and for whom they are made. So blatantly underwhelming, these titles seem not to have been played by the developers prior to shipping. Had they been, no self-respecting publisher would release the game in good conscience. Primal Prey is such a game.
Largely a low-budget copy of the dinosaur hunt simulation Carnivores, which itself is another gimmicky (though entertaining) variation of the ever expanding line of first-person hunting simulations flooding the market, Primal Prey limps along in its shadow. The same primary game elements (traveling through time to bag prehistoric big game and buying new weapons in between each mission) are emulated, but with little of the charm or novelty.
The clunky 3D engine helps create not only a visual non-stimulating world but a strangely inconsistent one as well. You can literally walk through giant ferns and small trees the size of your arm, but a log on the ground is an insurmountable obstacle. Walking through dinosaurs is also possible, at least until you've gotten their attention, at which point they become distinctly and painfully solid. Branches appear and disappear as you move amongst trees, and the clipping algorithms cause them to spontaneously sprout or shed.
The interface controls are fairly standard for a first person 3D engine, though it's not possible to invert the mouse look. While this may be a minor quibble in the grand scheme, it's unquestionably an irritating one for gamers used to flight simulations and other first person games with this type of control.
The pace is remarkably slow, even down to your hunter's movement rate, which ranges from a torpid "run" to a molasses-like "walk." Though over 20 missions are offered, each with slightly different prey requirements, they feel remarkably similar. Perhaps this is unsurprising, given that every mission takes place on the exact same map. The only differences in terrain are alterations to weather and lighting, both of which boil down to varying the color and density of the omnipresent pea soup "fog of war" that pervades every scenario. Purchasing binoculars and night vision goggles do little to penetrate the fog, as they only bring it that much closer to your face.
In addition to being stuck on the same map for each mission, the action and goals are equally unvaried. Each level consists of the same pattern -- find and claim your target without getting sucked into quicksand, trampled, gored, chewed up, or nibbled to death in the process. Escape. Repeat. The different weapons are distinguished by varying ranges and speeds, and each is more or less appropriate for the various dinosaur types. However, aside from the shrink ray (the only really distinctive armament in the entire game), weapons feel largely interchangeable, making the choice seem somewhat inconsequential.
Admittedly, many action games essentially repeat the same action over and over, but the good ones are effective by distracting you from the repetition. Primal Prey doesn't accomplish this and provides neither incentive in the form of meaningful power-ups or strategic variation, nor an engrossing environment.
Graphics: The 3D engine is blocky and the textures are uninspired. The dinosaur textures are relatively well crafted, but the models suffer from a general lack of detail, which not only makes them less interesting to look at, but also can make distinguishing species at a distance difficult, hindering gameplay.
Sound: The intro and menu music is a well produced, but completely out of place, techno/drum-n-bass. One wonders, though, if it exhausted the music budget, since that's the only time you hear any; actual gameplay takes place in an extremely quiet audio environment. Occasional environmental sounds crop up but don't add much to the game experience; it's hard to determine whether the dinosaur noises are actually coming from the beasts in question, or just floating in ambient space.
Enjoyment: Enjoyment is minimal at best. Gameplay is slow, derivative and repetitive.
Replay Value: Given the interminable nature of the game, it seems unlikely that gamers will bother with a replay.
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