Given the popularity of the Jurassic Park films - well, the first two anyway - it's surprising that dinosaur games haven't enjoyed more success on the PC. However, that could all be about to change thanks to ParaWorld, a 3D RTS that's creating quite a ripple in our collective teacups.
Set in an alternate universe in which man and dinosaur coexist, the game puts you in charge of one of three warlike tribes - Asian, Nordic or Nomadic - and makes you the dominant force in a primitive world. There's also some funny business going on with 19th century scientists, portals through space and the destruction of the planet, but we're sure all that will become clearer closer to release.
The game is set to be heavily combat driven, with resource management taking very much of a backseat. Armies will be a mixture of barbarian foot soldiers and towering prehistoric beasts, including the likes of the triceratops, T-Rex and woolly mammoth. You'll also be able to command heroes, à la Warcraft III, armed with your usual arsenal of special moves and powers.
SIZE IS EVERYTHING
For violence fans the news is good, as ParaWorld's battles are looking particularly brutal. In one of the skirmishes we played, catapults bombarded enemy lines before two massed armies charged at each other, bellowing war cries and waving their weapons like 12-year-old chavs. Immense dinosaurs clawed at their opponents, while foot soldiers used combination attacks to sever enemy limbs. Particularly impressive are the individual unit animations, which bring a good deal of power and conviction to the fighting.
Later, in a moment straight out of The Lord Of The Rings, a herd of elephants - tusks wrapped in spikes - scythed through the human ranks, sending warriors flying left and right.
Siege warfare is also set to play a role, with armies descending upon strongholds and battering down their walls with catapults and ballistae. However, the developer (previously responsible for the Anno series) is keen to point out that intelligent strategy will usually prevail over brute force, meaning you'll need to deploy your reptiles wisely if you want to reach the top of the food chain. And with each unit gaining experience as the game progresses, it'll be equally important to try and preserve your forces from one battle to the next.
Putting aside such minor concerns as gameplay, ParaWorld is quite simply wondrous to behold, with lush, diverse environments and an abundance of lovingly crafted units. If it lives up to its towering promise we could be in for one of the most satisfying RTS experiences since prehistoric times. Well, it'll be better than Dinotopia, anyway.