Remember that nerve-jangling bit in Jurassic Park where Muldoon silently stalks two Raptors through a sweltering Costa Rican jungle? Well Carnivores HD: Dinosaur Hunter is kinda like that… if Bob Peck had spent 45 minutes cowering in a bush before getting “Clever Girl-ed” into fleshy tatters. Slow-burning, often unspectacular, this PSN hunter nevertheless has a charming depth if you’ve got the patience to unearth it.
Carnivores HD: Dinosaur Hunter
For a game that can be all kinds of ponderous, Carnivores HD perversely has a pretty out-there premise. Firstly, you’re a time-traveller. Secondly, you’ve decided to use this ability to travel to ancient alien planets – because apparently The Flintstones lied to me and Dino never lived on Earth. And thirdly, when you’ve finally trailed, targeted and bagged yourself a shiny new Allosaurus, your leathery prize is beamed up by your own personal spaceship. Naturally.
Going all Turok on the prehistoric populace is a pleasingly tactical affair. Thanks to the vastness of Carnivores’ selection of swamps, forests and slightly darker swamps, this is an experience where patience is vital. Successfully stalking a beastie the size of an 18-wheeler through dense underbrush can take over 20 minutes and requires a multitude of strategies. A successful hunt boils down to using a brilliantly naff-looking tracking gizmo (simply called Gadget) to monitor the dinosaurs’ visual and aural awareness of your approach.
Accidentally poke your rifle out at the wrong moment and your vigilant predatory pursuits are cooked as your prey scarpers half a map away
Accidentally poke your rifle out at the wrong moment and your vigilant predatory pursuits are cooked as your prey scarpers half a map away. Not to go all De Niro in The Deer Hunter on you, but Carnivores really lives by the mantra of “one shot.” Downing Denver with a single bullet isn’t just hugely satisfying, it provides a heap of extra gems and points. These two currencies unlock better Tyrannosaur-taming kit (like the X-Ray Visor that highlights critical organs) and new levels.
Carnivores HD: Dinosaur Hunter’s ‘gadget’ tracks the game dinos & tells you know how detectable you are.
Which sadly brings me to a Brachiosaurus-sized problem: The game is a massive grind-fest. Everything here costs a fortune. Want to buy a sniper rifle? That’ll be 500 gems to you, ‘guv. oh, you want to unlock the final stage? Sorry, not unless you’ve got 30,000 points. When the average Stegosaur nets you four gems and 150 points, progress is truly glacial.
While those borked equations would make even Barney blub, the core hunting on show is fascinating. Involving if arthritic, boring yet fleetingly brilliant, Carnivores’ cerebral shooting is genuinely unique in spite of its miserly unlocks. Life can find a way… if you’re prepared to wait a reeaaaally long time. It may be overly keen to halt your progress, but Carnivores HD still delivers a rough, rewarding hunt for shooters with a patient trigger finger.