Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 08/31/99 | Genre: Survival Horror
The team behind the original survival horror masterpiece Resident Evil is at it again in Capcom's Dino Crisis. Can the guys that popularized the genre succeed it with this scaly supplement?
In Dino Crisis you play a smart and savvy special operations member named Regina. You and your scant crew land on an island after given a mission to check out any weird happenings that may be emanating from the isle. No one is your ranks could have predicted just how weird the happenings were that they were about to embark on. You must survive inclement conditions on the island and somehow make it out of this dreadful dinosaur dilemma without becoming extinct.
The story is decent, and the voice acting is actually tolerable. It seems that ever since Metal Gear Solid, developers have realized the potency of quality voice acting and have started to pay more attention to that aspect of game design. Puzzles seem to be in abundance in this game but most of them are well implemented and give you a bit of a cerebral workout. As a result, the moniker "survival mystery" seems more apt than survival horror. I simply didn't find the game all that horrifying. Although being back against a wall while a Tyrannosaurus Rex tried to make me an after-dinner-mint made my palms sweat, occurrences like that were few and far between.
There seemed to be very little variety in the game as a whole, however. There are only a handful of different enemies in the game, and the battles are infrequent and often insipid. And when the time comes to combat your foes, there is a dearth of weapons to make the task interesting. Don't get me wrong, the enemies in this game are very intelligent. They will chase you
through rooms and implement different attacks depending on the situation, but fighting a bunch of loser lizards lacks the pizzazz of blowing a hole though a atrophying, bloody, zombie. Your martial retinue consists of a handgun, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher. You can modify these to an extent, and expense different ammo for each one, but this hardly masks the weakness.
Where Dino Crisis excels is in its engines. The graphics are great and really draw you into the game with the gratuitous detail and interactivity and almost anything on the screen. I liked how the dinosaurs knew when you were trying to escape and then acted accordingly. Capcom did a good job on the AI in this game. The "item box" system was innovative too and it gave me something to strive for in finding "plugs." The health system was nice too because it made you constantly aware of your character's health. There was no life bar to tell you when you were about to become dino dinner. Instead, you monitor your character's movement and mannerisms. Spry and upright meant you were in the clear while hunched over, bleeding, and picking up your own intestines hinted at the possibility of needing to heal. Also, there were several branching points in the game where the story was changed depending on your decision. All of these reasons and several more earn Dino Crisis beaucoup creativity points. I would like to see some of the techniques showcased in Dino Crisis used more often in other games.
Dino Crisis is a game that had a lot of potential, but in the end I was left kind of unfulfilled. The game was jam-packed with interesting elements but the execution was a bit off. It did come with a playable demo of Resident Evil III: Nemesis, which looks amazing and should prove to be one of the best games in the series. Dino Crisis is a good game to play through on a rental, but be wary of plopping down $50 for it.