It's too easy to go on about how terrible most hunting games are. Suffice it to say that such games exist and thrive because they reconstruct a sport whose uniquely violent rules are appealing to a lot of people. These gamers do not specifically want to kill deer; they simply want to experience the hunt. Recognizing this, Ukrainian developer Action Forms created Carnivores, which gave you the hunter's tools of the trade, only you'd hunt dinosaurs instead of deer. Suddenly the ethical argument was no longer relevant - dinosaurs are already dead - and what was left was a great-looking little first-person game that cleverly simulated what it might be like to take on a triceratops with a shotgun. One good idea made way for another, and less than a year later, Carnivores 2 was published. It's essentially identical to the original, but its streamlined gameplay and expanded menagerie make it just as enjoyable.
True to its title, this sequel emphasizes dinosaurs of the more voracious variety. Whereas only three dinosaurs in the first game were meat eaters, Carnivores 2 adds the camel-like spinosaurus and the horned ceratosaurus to the fray, which make for a fine assortment of dangerous game alongside the velociraptor, allosaurus, and tyrannosaurus. There are new plant eaters as well, including the armored anklyosaurus. Some of these, such as the towering brachiosaurus, are present to provide atmosphere rather than sport. As in the first Carnivores, everything that lives and breathes in Carnivores 2 looks terrific. All the dinosaurs are carefully detailed and almost disturbingly lifelike as they graze and go about their dinosaur business. They leave trails of blood if you shoot and wound them, and if you take them out with tranquilizers, you can see them heaving in slumber. These are truly some of the best-looking dinosaurs ever rendered onscreen. They also sound convincing, and while you can't know what a dinosaur actually sounds like, Carnivores 2 poses a pretty good hypothesis. The nine species you hunt all have their own distinctive calls, and the larger ones sound downright scary.
Fortunately, you've got a pretty scary arsenal with which to take these things down. From the conventional 9mm pistol on up to the long-range sniper rifle, these six guns are all functionally different and tactically interesting. All the weapons from the first game are back, and aside from the pistol, the only other addition is a mean double-barreled shotgun that pays homage to the superweapon of the sequel to Doom, id Software's classic. The hunting tools from the first game are back, including camouflage, cover scent, and even a tracking device that shows dinosaurs on your map. Using these tools detracts from the points you earn with each kill, while using tranquilizers boosts your totals but won't put that tyrannosaurus in your trophy room.
You want to earn points because everything you take into the field costs a certain amount. It's like the dinosaur hunter's credit rating; at first you'll only be able to go against piddling plant eaters with a pistol, but soon you'll be able to take on larger dinosaurs with more appropriate weaponry. The first Carnivores forced you to hunt one type of dinosaur at a time with one type of weapon at a time, but Carnivores 2 lifts this restriction and lets you take on as many types of dinos with as many types of weapons as you can afford. This adds a fresh change of pace to gameplay that's otherwise identical to the original, which involves locating, stealthily approaching, and then dispatching the target with a well-aimed shot to its weak spot. As in the first game, dinosaurs respond to you in a fairly realistic fashion and can hear, smell, or see you if you aren't careful. The peaceful ones will then flee, while the carnivores will swoop toward you and turn you into lunch.
Or breakfast or dinner if applicable; not only does Carnivores 2 present more and bigger environments than its predecessor, but it lets you choose what time of day you want to hunt: dawn, day, or night. Night missions are seen through the distinctive green tint of vision-enhancement goggles, whereas fog and stark sunlight permeate hunts that take place early in the morning. The effects look great, and the terrain still looks realistic and beautiful. This 3D engine continues to hold up with the best of them.
Carnivores 2 is a great diversion just like its ancestor. You can play for a few minutes or, just as easily, a few hours, because each hunt can last for as long as you like, and the game provides an extensive and variable challenge. Your style of play will change drastically depending on whether you're hunting a meat eater or a plant eater, and the game is even more dynamic than the first now that you can throw everything into the mix at once. Those who played the original Carnivores ought to expect more of the same (at the same low price), while those who didn't, but who either like dinosaurs or the idea of shooting them, ought to take this second chance without hesitation.