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Primal Fears Review (PC)

Primal FearsStuart Gillies stands up to his fears

Primal Fears main mechanic is one that has been exploited by almost all recent survival games: light. You traverse the wasteland through rummaging areas from your base camp. Your base camp is your safe haven, you start your journey here and it allows you to get used to the controls, which I am personally still trying to get used to.

The story for the game is relayed to the player through newspapers that appear to be randomly scattered across each level. I quite like the story of Primal Fears. It pays homage to all the great survival games that have gone before. Release of a new drug, drug appears to help people but ultimately they start “changing” and finally the changed people are driven away from the prying eyes of those pesky common folk. Same old same old, but a good story nonetheless.

Primal FearsDespite the good parts of the story though, the developers often break the game with what can only be described as ludicrousness. For example, in a post-apocalyptic world where you have to survive and fend off enemies that are increasingly more and more difficult to kill, you come across a vending machine that holds limitless ammo and weapons that you desperately need. Would you use this vending machine? NO! You would pry it open and carry as much as you could. But in the world of Primal Fears you are unable to do this, and these vending machines of Oasis nature are littered around each level that you play.

One of the levels that you play takes you to a police station. I can accept that fact because when the world goes tits up you would definitely go to the police, they have guns! Not in the world of Primal Fears though, they get a vending machine. Okay I guess I can stomach this, but oh wait just down the road in a dimly lit car park there is another vending machine…

Primal FearsFor the movement of your character you will see that it acts like any other shooter. The “WASD” keys move your character and the mouse is used to point your character in a direction. you can scroll your mouse to select which primary weapon you want and use the secondary weapon key to use the secondary weapon. This is a big problem: when you buy weapons and gadgets you have to assign a key for each of them as you get them. You are not told this however, you find this out when you are trying to use them and they appear to not be there, but you have just spent all your money on them.

The weapons are my favourite part of the game, has to be said. You are able to modify your guns to make them do more damage, have larger magazines, bigger blast radii (radiuses), fire more frequently and so on, but you can also modify your gadgets, like turrets, RC cars or drones. The game doesn’t just use conventional weapons either, like shotguns and assault rifle. There are mini-guns, nail guns, flamethrowers, rocket launchers a buzz saw launcher, bouncing betty’s and grenades. The game also has melee weapons that are useful for both saving ammo and being ridiculously funny when you have ran out of ammo and you are making a last stand.

Primal FearsThe game makes full use of light as its main mechanic, as the mutations that you fight against are constantly moving around in the dark. I liked this idea, that you could only see a limited amount of the screen even though it was a top-down view. However, I felt that the game made the mutations far too difficult to kill and by effectively giving them the ability to sneak around in the dark they were far tougher enemies than they should have been. For example, the easiest enemies to kill take two shots on the easiest difficulty; the next easiest enemy to kill takes about twenty shots to kill and they move extremely fast and their reach is ridiculous considering the model being used to represent them. For those of you who are interested, these shots were based on an upgraded assault rifle which is one of two guns that you start off with. The other is the survival games favourite, the almighty shotgun.

The games physics are both amazingly good and bad. Say you are shooting at your enemy and they try to hide behind a lamp-post; in most games the lamp-post will intercept more bullets than it should. Not in this game though, which is brilliant. The collision detection between the bullets and anything else in game is brilliant. However, the game glitches a lot when there are enemies around, for example doors. Those trusty things we humans have no problems with whatsoever, but mutants, they hate doors. They run through them without a care in the world. They will remove them from their original frames and somehow slide them along the wall, but the door will still act the same but realise that the wall is there so stop from swinging through the wall, making going through the doorway difficult.

Primal FearsThe camera in-game starts off not TOO annoying, but then you discover that it is moveable through the user pressing the designated buttons (“Q” and “E” default). This allows the user to make the choice of which way they want the camera to face. I agree that the user should have some control in any game to control what they can and can’t see, but when the game makes use of a top down view from a slight angle it makes more sense that whichever way the user is facing, the corners of the screen should be in line, so that they have a longer field of view. I just can’t see a reason for the fact that they make the camera moveable by the user, but don’t have a camera that best fits most situations automatically.

The enemies in this game are hard-core. Like way WAY hard-core. The difficulty spikes from the first enemy to the second, and then it stays pretty level from there. However, each time you are attacked by a mob you will make it out of the experience by the skin of your teeth, constantly sprinting to get away and wasting precious ammo on killing them. Each time you kill the mutations though you get a sense of achievement; like you actually have accomplished something, but you are then plagued by the idea that if this was just a random encounter, what will the bosses be like? Well, when you are finally faced by the health bar wielding bosses you will realise that there are so many ways to lose. If you don’t kill all the Bosses helper mutations quickly enough you will fail. If you don’t take your surrounding into account you will fail. Also its really funny watching people repeat the same actions over and over, which happens a lot in multiplayer.

Primal FearsThe enemies in the game are too overpowered. The in-game AI makes it seem like they are either the quickest, strongest and smartest enemies ever, or the most stupid. In one game, whilst being chased by about ten mutations, they were able to sprint to keep up with me and attack me at the same time. Once I have finally managed a victory over them I was then set upon by another throng of enemies that were slow and didn’t seem to know where my character was. When they did finally manage to make their way to me they were extremely slow to attack.

The multiplayer is decent. Taking all the things I have said before out of the equation, it has no lag, it handles the combat as well as it does in the single player and it makes for some humorous chat as enemies will not fall for any flanking or pincer attack strategies. Screaming and shouting will ensue when playing the game. I quite enjoyed playing the multiplayer, as it allows for more mistakes to be made by the players. Conversely, point allocation and random drops don’t change from single to multiplayer, so all the random health and cash packs that are scattered around the levels for the players to find don’t double. I suppose this decision was made to make the game even more difficult.

Overall I could feel myself wanting to like the Primal Fears. The story seemed to have something going for it and I wanted to play just to experience it. I felt the game was let down by things that could hopefully have been easily fixed, such as either decreasing the amount of ammo that the player has and making the enemies much easier to kill, or just lowering the health of all the enemies, because if something can take three shotgun blasts to the face in a survival game and still run around like it has had a dose of one of Marios’ invincibility stars then they have to be a boss. It’s a rule. I also found the vending machines annoying, albeit extremely useful in the wasteland that is the world of Primal Fears. The game should have been terrifying, not just terrifyingly hard.

6 resilient, ravenous, rampaging rivals out of 10

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