Game Review - by James Allen
One of the least storied gaming franchises is Carnivores, where you travel to remote islands, meet strange, interesting dinosaurs, and kill them. The newest incarnation of the series has you hunting mammals prominent during the Cenozoic. With most of the gameplay elements staying the same, will the addition of a new classification of hunted spawn new life into Carnivores, or are the wheels of evolution spinning backwards? Considering that AutoPlay starts the install program every time you insert the CD, I guess we already know.
There is one thing you can do in Carnivores: Ice Age, and that's hunt. There are 5 different islands to hold your killing spree, but they are really just variations on the same theme: large islands that will take you forever to traverse. You can outfit yourself with pistols, shotguns, bows, and rifles, and use camouflage, radar, and cover scents. The accessories count against your total score for downing an enemy. To collect your bullets, 9 animals are placed throughout the islands: bronototeriy, wild boar, wolf, wooly rhinoceros, diatryma, megaloceros, smilodon, wooly mammoth, and giant bear. Hunting these mammals seems less exciting than tracking down a large dinosaur, and it is. The features in Carnivores: Ice Age are good enough to hold your attention for 2, maybe 3 hours.
The sounds are sub-par. Most of the ambient noise while hunting consists of loud birds, which blare out any other noise the developers intended. You can't use sound as a tracking device very effectively, since the birds will always break your concentration. At that point, Carnivores: Ice Age becomes Duck Hunt. You can use sounds to attract the beasts, but I wonder what is making those strange sounds, as you never raise a caller, press a button, or anything. They just magically appear. I guess that's typical for Carnivores: Ice Age.
The gameplay is overly tedious and boring, even for a hunting game (don't shoot me!). You will absolutely need the radar, as the islands are so big and you run so slowly, it would take you a long, long time to ever find a target. All of the creatures move faster than you, so once you miss, it's all over. Carnivores: Ice Age becomes a game of running over large distances, approaching slowly so they don't hear you, and missing the animals. The gameplay is fun the first time you down a victim, but for all the wrong reasons: you're relieved you finally found and hit an appropriate objective. You enter each level with only one clip of ammo for each weapon. You can run out of ammunition very quickly, which means you'll have to run around each level once entering many times over. Running gets old really quick, and unless you really enjoy tedious hunting, Carnivores: Ice Age will prove to be too much of a bore for you.
The graphics are the lone bright spot in Carnivores: Ice Age. All of the islands are nice to look at, with falling snow, towering trees, and sharp cliffs. The animals are believably rendered (which may not be paleontologically accurate, but who's checking?) and move with grace. Although all of the areas are too dramatic to represent a natural location, they surprisingly fit with the overall tone of the game. The graphics are easy on the eyes, and represent your grounds well.
Carnivores: Ice Age is a bad idea gone worse. I think that most hunters don't lay awake at night, fantasizing about successfully killing a wooly mammoth. I know I haven't. With negligible features, monotonous gameplay, and ghastly sounds, I suggest you never go back to the Ice Age, especially with an intention to kill anything.