Written by  :  Luckspeare (1502)
Written on  :  Nov 28, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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A top-notch 3D hunter that didn't get the attention it deserves

The Good

Carnivores 2 is a superb hunting game in first-person shooter style in which you hunt dinosaurs, from the lowly Parasaurolophus to the fearsome (and nearly impossible to kill) Tyrannosaurus Rex, in beautifully-rendered OpenGL or Direct3D graphics.

The game takes place on the oh-so-descriptively-named planet FMM UV-32, where DinoHunt Corporation has created a dinosaur hunting game reserve (presumably it would be incorrect to call it a "refuge"). You begin with a certain number of points, with which you can choose which dinosaurs to hunt, which weapon(s) to hunt them with, and which one of five huge and scenic locations at which to do it. As you successfully complete hunts, you gain points, with which you can hunt more exotic and dangerous dinosaurs with more powerful weapons, and accumulate trophies. It is particularly exciting to look at your trophies, which not only have their own statistics, including size and weight, but are actually sized appropriately (so, for example, that new monster-sized Stegasaurus you took down will visibly dwarf the baby one next to it). A cute feature is that you actually walk around your trophy room the same way you do when hunting -- no weapons, though, unfortunately.

But the most thrilling part of the game--and the part that gives it its real value--is the fact that, at the risk of sounding cliche, the line between hunter and hunted is oh-so-thin. Sure, you can indiscriminately slaughter packs of harmless Galimimi and ruthlessly shoot innocent Pteranadons out of the sky on your way to your real prey, but you will feel distinctly vulnerable and stalked as you edge closer to a Velociraptor (never mind the T-Rex). Even better is the genuine yelp the game might elicit from you as you detect your charging, screaming prey behind you a little too late and are suddenly treated to a mildly graphic view of exactly how a Ceratosaurus might snack on an unfortunate hunter. Indeed, it's quite amusing, and even delightful, to watch how the T-Rex disposes of you--but I won't ruin that for you.

Indeed, unlike your average FPS, the odds are quite weighed against you. There is no health meter; if a dangerous dinosaur manages to get close enough to you before you can take it down, you're lunch. Also, you are at a serious speed disadvantage; these guys can run circles around you. And I'm not talking about the difference between a scooter and a moped; I mean the difference between a bicycle and a Porsche. Once you make the mistake of making yourself visible to a T-Rex, you will be amazed at how fast it covers the 1000 meters between you. Like Eidos's _Thief: The Dark Project_, you must rely on stealth and the ability to sneak up on your prey. Or, you can use my favorite tactic: climbing up high on a steep peak, blowing your dinosaur calls like crazy, and attracting Ceratosauri and T-Rexes from all around to come after you. Of course, more than once my "safe" spot turned out to be not so safe as the uncooperative dinosaur (obviously a poor sport) climbed right up to my perch and partook of me.

The Bad

On the down side, there is no interaction between the different dinosaurs. The original Carnivores was lacking in the same way, and the developers made no effort to address this curiously missing feature. In their defense, if the dinosaurs continuously chased and killed each other, there wouldn't be much for you to hunt. Nevertheless, for a game that sells for $10, this is hardly noticeable. The other problem, which is much more limiting on today's computers, is that it will not run in Windows 2000 or later. You're limited to Windows 98 for this one.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that Carnivores 2 is a gem of a game that provides much more enjoyment than a great many higher-priced games. The graphics and scenery are truly beautiful, the sound is atmospheric, and the dinosaurs are convincing, and even fearsome. If you have Windows 98 handy, this is definitely a great game to play.