When I first saw Primal at the last E3 expo, I wasn’t particularly impressed with what I saw. A clunky battle system, jerky movements from the main characters, and visuals which could arguably be called mediocre.
Then Sony sent me a demo version of this game last month and I actually had some fun playing it. Imagine my disappointment when the full version arrived here and the game left me somewhere between boredom and frustration. Indeed, Primal will undoubtedly leave many gamers in the same …osition once they start playing this title.
The game follows the actions of a young woman named Jen who, after an attack on her and her boyfriend at a club, is met in the hospital by the gargoyle Scree. Scree leads Jen into Oblivion and explains that the forces that act upon the Nexus–the hub which keeps the forces of Order and Chaos in check–is in danger of becoming unbalanced. Now with Scree’s help, Jen learns of her own supernatural powers and embarks on a journey through Oblivion to reset Order.
One of the things going for Primal is that it supports Progressive Scan, so those of you out there with the equipment to view such a feature will probably notice a marked smoothness to the textures. Otherwise, the visuals in Primal are about standard for this type of title. Even at E3, the graphics appeared dark and brooding–and some of that can be contributed to the dark nature of the game–but for those looking for a bright, colorful action game, Primal is not the title.
As previously noted, the very nature of the game has Jen and Scree running around in some rather depressing levels since the content of the title deals with the netherworld. The gothic themes and textures go hand in hand with the plot, so as far as supporting the premise of the game goes, the visuals shine in that department. There are some interesting character models and the enemies are well modeled.
Jen in her human form is attractive and in her demon form is downright disturbing. Of note here are some of the interesting magic attacks she can launch against foes–bright and colorful and about the only time you will see bright neon-ish color in this game.
Voice acting is done very well with voice actress Hudson Leick voicing Jen and Andreas Katsulas, (The Fugitive), playing the part of Scree. The talent couldn’t have been more aptly cast and both actors bring life and depth to their onscreen counterparts.
Music is of the grunge/industrial/heavy metal flavor and it dovetails nicely with the dark nature of the game fairly well. The group 16 Volt did the majority of the music for the game and their talents shine here. All music and speech is presented in Dolby Pro Logic II which is another nice advanced feature included with Primal.
Convoluted plot aside, Primal is about as average as an action game can get. Although players have the ability to play as either Jen or Scree, the simple fact that the two are fairly limited in their actions and available weapons (where it concerns Jen) drags the title down.
Players can switch between Jen or Scree when the situation fits it–such as Scree climbing walls or going through tight areas to access a switch–and even change between demon form and human form with Jen. It was never really apparent why anyone would want to run around as human Jen in Oblivion when one considers that she does more damage as a demon. Yet, players have that option.
Scree has the ability to pick up special stones and transfer energy (health) to Jen when she needs it. He also has the ability to possess statues which are needed to unlock levels in the game–so he really is more than just a sidekick–he does play an active role. Don’t expect fantastic control from Scree–or Jen for that matter. Scree can climb only some walls and he can’t fly. Jen can’t jump or really climb, yet she does do some swimming.
However, even with the neat form changing and two playable characters on hand, the gameplay just falls short of really being entertaining. This is also due to a clunky battle system. Jen can do combo swipes and punches and even combine them with some power up moves, yet, she moves so lethargically one wonders why the enemies just stand still and wait for the next blow. A solid fighting game this title is not.
Even as an action game, players will find long stretches of mindless exploring through uninspired levels between battles. I suppose some gamers might find the overall story compelling enough to carry them through the game, but the majority of gamers probably will not.
Primal has some great voice acting and edgy music attached to it, yet these things alone don’t make a great game. The clunky control, convoluted plot, and mediocre visuals all serve to pull Primal down to the mundane level.