Scanning the bushes with your binoculars has turned up nothing, but you're not surprised. The last few critters you've come across, called Coelophysis bauri by your mission computer, haven't been much larger than three feet tall, and have blended in rather well to the terrain you've been scouting through. Not that they've been much of a match for the blast radius of an X-gun, but the one or two that have managed to get in close did some pretty messy damage before you were able to dispatch them. Good thing for you the medical kit you located got you patched back up, because the word from HQ is that you're the only Trooper still in contact with them. Will you be the savior of mankind, or just dino-chow? Find out in Carnivores: Cityscape!
Carnivores: Cityscape, developed by Sunstorm Entertainment and published by Infogrames, is a straightforward first person shooter with a twist.You can take the normal approach of going toe-to-toe with reptile carnivores, and have the unique ability to also play the game as a dinosaur, and tear your way to freedom. Built in OpenGL, Carnivores looks to have a fresh angle on the dino-hunting genre, but will flashier graphics and the ability to play as a dinosaur be able to keep this game from looking like aknock-off? You decide.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
game style will be familiar to anyone who has played a more recent first-person style shooter'the usual keyboard-to-move and mouse-to-aim configuration, with a sighting reticule in the center of the screen. If you've ever played a FPS game, you'll feel right at home with the default controls. The terrain is a different matter entirely. While movement in Carnivores is also the same as other shooters, the available areas of movement are increased. layers will find themselves able to climb over rough terrain and scale angles most other games wouldn't have allowed previously. More on graphics in a bit.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward: Kill anything that moves in order to advance to the next level. From a beautiful scenic park to the inside of a crashed spaceship and onward, you will have ample opportunities and scenarios to play through. Play as the human, and utilize your larger brain (and weapons) to take out the dinosaurs from long range. Play as the dinosaur, and use your speed and close combat skills to your advantage. As a carnivorous dinosaur, you will also have the added ability to eat anything you've killed, thereby regaining lost health.
Sadly, there were a few flaws that made the game somewhat distracting to fully enjoy.As the human player, using the sighting reticule is extremely important, and the game adds a feature which, when the sight is placed over an existing dinosaur, will change color to reflect both the general vicinity and basic health level of the creature. Unfortunately however, the reticule is extremely inaccurate. Often I was forced to eyeball the creature in question, or worse, wait until the dinosaur got in really close in order to get him with the pistol or try and use a weapon with "splash damage." like the X Rifle or grenade launcher. Also, objects in the terrain tended to block weapon shots, even when they were out of the way. If a single leaf lies dangling from a tree between you and your intended victim, you may not be able to hit your target because the shot will ricochet off the leaf. Trying to snipe from a crouched position inside bushes quickly became frustrating.
Playing the dinosaur was a bit different, both in playing style and execution. Your dinosaur is dependent on strength and close combat fighting, and none of the available types had any kind of projectile-type weapon (like poison spit, or something) to speak of. Therefore, gameplay as a dinosaur was pretty vanilla: Go in, take damage at long range, and tear up the enemy from up close, eating the corpse to regain lost health. While entertaining at first, fighting as a dinosaur quickly lost its novelty. Imagine playing Half-Life with just the crowbar, and you'll get the idea.
Graphics are the best feature of Carnivores. Character skinning and movement are excellent, terrain and objects are professionally laid out, and the sheer detail of all the scenarios I played through was superb. There were a few minor visibility issues, but were only from specific angles and not necessarily noticeable from other places.The only real problem with the graphics engine was the extremely long load times, even with an optimal system. Playing(another OpenGL title) on the same machine took approximately half the load time as did Carnivores.
Audio was fairly well done. The in game music was above average, with tense, tribal style techno beats and rather enjoyable background noise, such as the roar of a large predator off in the distance, and the rustle of bushes as you pass through them. Some of the stock noises, such as the dinosaur noise when it reacts to seeing you, or some basic human sounds, quickly became repetitive when you've heard the same sound for the fifteenth time on the same level.
Carnivores: Cityscapesupports multiplayer games of up to 16 people per session, via LAN or the Internet. The game bundles with the Gamespy Arcade client, which can also facilitate finding games. Game styles range from cooperative to death match styles of play, and while no "bots" were available, the scenarios provided looked good enough to provide excellent room for mayhem. I was able to set up a multiplayer session with no problems, and have the game post to the GameSpy network. Then I waited.
Apparently, I was the only one in the Carnivores game room the three different times I attempted to play. Maybe this was a fluke, but it seems that Carnivores, while nearly problem free in its multiplayer design, has yet to attract even a modest online following.Therefore, I really can't judge as to whether the game performs as expected or not.
Carnivores: Cityscape, the third game in the Carnivore series, is visually and audibly pleasing, and professionally done, but for some reason, lacks replay value. Problems with the interface from time to time, combined with long load times, a lack of online presence as of recently, and ultimately unexciting gameplay make this a title only for hardcore shooters, players who enjoyed the original series, and fans of "dino-fighting." The rest of you might play Carnivores for a few days then shelve it for better titles. Suggested retail is under $20 though, so for those of you looking for a lower priced title, this might be an acceptable choice.