If you have ever stood in the middle of the wilderness in a game like theHunter: Call of the Wild and thought “What this game needs is some honking great dinosaurs to hunt!”, then I have some good news for you. You see, back in the day, in 1998 to be exact, a game was released called Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter. This was then remastered in 2010 for PC and PS3, and now, finally, it has come to Xbox, with a remaster of the remaster. It’s all thanks to Digital Dreams Entertainment as they allow us the chance to shoot dinosaurs in Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt.
The story of Carnivores is nonsense wrapped up in a piece of sci-fi garbage. We have discovered, on the planet FMM UV-32, that there are actual dinosaurs living, breathing and stomping about the place. Instead of thinking “Best call David Attenborough to come and do a new series”, the decision is made to open the planet up as a game resort, allowing people in, with guns or bows, to shoot all the dinosaurs dead. I mean, as a business model, it has its flaws, as while a Stegosaurus or even an Ankylosaurus aren’t too dangerous, if you mess up your approach when hunting a T-Rex, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. And then probably a small pile of dinosaur droppings.
Now, the first thing that hits you when you fire up Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt is the size of the areas that you are going to be hunting in. They are a reasonable size, don’t get me wrong, but nothing like as expansive as the ones found in other hunting games. The second thing that hits you is that for something the size of a car, these pesky dinosaurs can make themselves scarce if you approach them wrong. And thirdly, even if you get the wind direction right and manage to creep up to where they are meant to be, they are also very good at blending into the background. A number of times I’ve followed the blips on the radar on my M.I.S.T. device (Mobile Interstellar Satellite Transponder) and practically fallen over a Stegosaurus that was almost invisible until it moved.
Graphically, it’s all okay though – the actual dinosaurs are pretty good, and all the different types react to your presence in different ways. The landscape though? Well, not so great. All the trees look like someone has hit “Ctrl-V” a bunch of times, and the way the vegetation sways in the wind has nothing to do with the actual wind direction indicated on your M.I.S.T.. Best of all is how the binoculars built into your M.I.S.T. can show you where to shoot the dinosaur to do the most damage. This isn’t, as you might expect, a head shot though and it’s apparently much kinder to shoot them in the heart or the lungs. Who knew?
Now, as you bag dinosaurs and have their cold, dead bodies extracted, you earn currency. And what does in-game currency make? That’s right, the chance to buy stuff. Now, the range of things that you spend your virtual currency on includes new weapons, whether that be a new sniper rifle, a pistol, or even a bow – although I’m not sure how I feel about hunting a T-Rex with a bow. New gadgets can also be bought; things that stop dinosaurs from seeing or smelling you so easily, and those that allow you to see your prey’s footprints and which way they have gone. The last but definitely not least thing that you can spend your hard-earned cash on is either new hunting licences, to hunt new species of dinosaur, or you can pay for access to different islands where various dinosaurs have made their home.
The licencing is a bit weird, honestly, as if you are on an island with two dinosaur species, but you have only bought the licence for one of them, the other species does not appear. There is no place for virtual poaching in this game, it seems. The main issue I have with the licensing though is how expensive it is. As you first wander the worlds of Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt, you can only hunt Stegosaurus, with the licence to hunt Ankylosaurus sitting around 1000 units. Each Stegosaurus nets you between 10 and 30 units of currency, depending on how good your kill shot is. That’s a lot of dead dinosaurs before you can get a chance to shoot a different one…
So, in conclusion then, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt is very much a game of two halves. The basic idea of hunting dinosaurs is pretty appealing, and doing it in a calm, considered, non-Turok way is quite interesting. On the other side of the scale is the grind required to make progress, the dodgy visuals, the difficulty in finding something the size of a house, and the generally unpolished feel of the experience as a whole. There’s a lot to kill and unlock, but for me, it just doesn’t hang together particularly well. All in all, theHunter: Call of the Wild is still much the better game, even without dinosaurs roaming the land.
Hunt huge beasts with Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One