Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt Review

I’ve always really liked hunting games mechanically, but not conceptually. The idea of having to rely on a limited set of tools to track a target, while worrying about sound, smell, and line of sight is interesting. Then having to take the target down with a good shot, a shot that takes bullet drop into consideration as well as myriad other factors… This is my catnip.

The thing is, I’d rather not be shooting deer and rabbits. Those little fellas never did anything to bother me. Instead, I’d rather go after fictional creatures, or maybe just dinosaurs.

In that regard Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt has me covered.

At its core Dinosaur Hunt is a first-person shooter, set across various islands where the key objective is to hunt a number of dinosaurs. In the beginning they have the license to hunt Stegosauruses but eventually they will be able to afford to go after larger and more dangerous prey. This is done by collecting two types of currency:  Gems allow for the purchase of licenses and upgrades, and trophy score acts as a way to unlock more islands.

The start has a good introduction giving the player some complex tools like a computer tracker and X-Ray vision to target a creature’s internal organs. Hunting using these tools means that the player makes less of each of the currencies, and the way to get the most out of trophies is to scale these things back. There are unlockable items such as footprint trackers, smell dampeners and little dinosaur whistles that make it possible to track and lure targets – just a lot harder.

All of this is a solid framework for a game, but the execution is curtailed by Dinosaur Hunt’s scope. This is a budget title, which does not immediately exclude it from being a good experience. However, it does seem to have led to choices that limit the experience. For example, the unlocks for the gear, and the 6 dinosaurs are stretched over excessive amount of grind and that seems due to the paucity of content.

Similarly, the dinosaurs are spread over a small set of levels, with only certain dinosaurs available in each. Some of the unlocked islands are the same but set at different times of day with only a lighting and different subset of dinosaurs to hunt there. This leads to a feeling of not a lot of stuff being padded out, and it made me resentful to the hoops I had to jump through just to get a whiff of a Ceratosaurus, let alone the T-Rex.

The grind wouldn’t be so bad if the shooting for the default gun wasn’t so counterintuitive and inconsistent. I spent some time in the training area and most accurate shots came from aiming the gun lower than the target, as opposed to aiming higher. A registered hit seemed to vary, with my bullet holes sometimes overlapping the circle and scoring a ‘kill’, other times not.

Hunting with this unreliable shooting mechanic, made worse by the ‘realistic’ head bob, led to me running out of bullets and returning with limited trophies. Upgrading to the one-shot crossbow and, eventually, the sniper rifle come with their own drawbacks. The bow is arguably worse than the starting weapon, with dinosaurs like the Ankylosaurus being nigh impossible to down with it. The sniper rifle is rarely effective at close range and finding a good angle is tough and not rewarding given the limited size of the Islands.

It was disappointing because there are kernels of good ideas in here, but the team’s aims seem misaligned with their budget. If this had been more action focused, and/or kept its experience to a slim 3-4 hours, I’d probably be a lot more charitable to it.

Conclusion

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt doesn’t have the budget to be a competitive sim hunting game and doesn’t have the humour to be a goofy game. The few moments of enjoyment in there require an archaeologist’s focus to unearth.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • The dinosaurs look nice
  • The framework makes sense in theory
Bad
  • Doesn’t have the budget to be a real sim hunting game
  • The grind seems stacked against the player
  • The starting gun is unfathomable
  • Slim content is stretched too far
4.3
Poor
Gameplay - 4
Graphics - 5
Audio - 5
Longevity - 3
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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