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Review: Dino Crisis

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dc_boxConsole: Playstation, Dreamcast, PC
Released: 1999
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Digital Release? Yes, PSN version compatible with PS3, PSP, and Vita for $5.99
Price: $7.50 (disc only), $10.00 (complete), $35.00 (sealed) per Price Charting

Dino Crisis really sounds like a winning formula if, like me, you are are fan of survival horror and dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong? Well its time to revisit this Sony Playstation 1999 release and see if it stood the test of time or should have remained extinct.

Dino Crisis released when survival horror was hitting a peak in the industry, at least in terms of the “tank-like” control system. The Sony Playstation had plenty of games like it to offer. In the same year Dino Crisis released we also saw Silent Hill from Konami and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis also from Capcom. Interesting to note: Shinji Mikami – creator of the original Resident Evil – was heavily involved in the production of this game so much so his name was put on the front of the box in hopes it would sell the game. Clearly something worked as Dino Crisis managed to sell over one million copies.

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Dino Crisis is set on Lisle Island and you play Regina, a member of SORT (Special Operations Rescue Team), because it wouldn’t be a Capcom game without a made up special unit. Regina, along with your team members Gail and Rick, are sent into the facility to hunt down Dr. Kirk who is a scientist working on a project titled ‘Third Energy”, which is believed to be linked to the production of dangerous weapons. Not long into the mission you find out most people in the facility are dead and the place seems rather empty, which should probably sound familiar for a survival horror game. Rather than the place being infested with a different common nasty, you find it’s dinosaurs that are responsible. So begins a survival tale of finding Dr. Kirk and getting out without becoming dino food. There really is not much to say on the story and it follows a very predictable path, even if you haven’t played other Capcom survival horror games.  Still, if you hunger a more in-depth look at the complete plot, we did a game club on it that you’re welcome to listen to.

Dino Crisis is a survival horror game that uses the tank style controls that are really “love it or hate it” by this point. You have limited ammo and health items and are generally expected to run from enemies more than attack them. Dino Crisis does introduce some new mechanics to the mix as well. In this game you can ready your weapon and move at the same time, however when you shoot your weapon you still remain stationary. You can spin 180 degrees on the spot, which is handy for quick escapes in the game. There is also this unique mixing mechanic where you can combine ammo and health items to create special items to enhance your equipment. Another new health item allows you to continue from the room you left off, should you die, basically acting as extra lives without returning to the last room you saved in. This mechanic comes in very handy for some of the frustrating encounters.  This game will, at times, allow you to make decisions on how the story progresses, triggered by the characters Rick and Gail giving you a choice on how to handle a particular situation. It’s a interesting mechanic that encourages more than one playthrough of the game and also helps you see the entire story – if you have any interest, that is.

dc_postA mechanic I didn’t care for in this game was the damage indication. There is no health bar, not even in your item menu. You are expected to watch Regina’s stature and movement to tell if she is injured. This sounds unique on paper, but most dinosaurs take a lot of health off especially on harder difficulties, making you more likely over use health items and get pretty irritated. Regina can also bleed, indicated by a small blood trail as you walk. Basically she will bleed out and die unless you stop the bleeding with a hemostat or health item that combines that effect. Surprisingly, these health items were pretty sparse.

The game feels much more puzzle-focused than action. You will regularly encounter puzzles which require you to find two discs and then enter a password by solving a logic puzzle. These are repeated throughout the game and get progressively harder. Though it is nice to see a game that asks you to use your head for a change, the backtracking through the environments to look for a single item gets very frustrating.

The graphics of the game are something new for the genre. The entire level design is now 3D rendered – this means all the items and environments are given their own 3D model – which is counter to what we’ve seen in the Resident Evil series that used pre-rendered backgrounds with single character models. Also occasionally the camera will follow Regina as she moves. It was probably a test what to expect from Resident Evil: Code Veronica, which used the trick often. Though the engine looks cool if you have a appreciation for game engines, to most gamers it will come across as ugly because the environments lack depth and detail when compared to pre-rendered environments used by most other survival horror games.  This is to be expected due to the technical limitations of the time – early 3D provided you with flexibility or graphical quality, but almost never both.

Character models are standard affair, the dinosaurs really steal the show as they look very impressive especially considering this is an original Playstation game. It’s just a shame there is not more dinosaur types. You have the raptor, which is the main enemy you will face, pterodactyl which are just a pain, Compy which just chase you around, some four legged dino that does a hefty amount of damage. Then there is the T–rex, which just looks great and most encounters with it lead to one hit deaths unless you handle them properly.

dc_3There is not much music in the game just the occasional tension theme to add to the horror elements. The voice acting is absolutely awful, but why would you want it any other way for a Capcom game?  The most memorable sounds are by far the dinosaur noises from the T-rex and raptor. Sometimes you’ll walk down a corridor and hear a raptor but it will never appear, a rare moment where the game actually felt scary.

To the games credit it really does try to make a game using Dinosaurs scary. The game introduces these “danger” segments where you walk down a corridor and a dinosaur essentially jumps you and the screen flashes “danger” you have to rapidly press any button on the controller to escape. It sounds like a good idea but like Quick Time Events (QTEs) in general these segments surprise you so suddenly if you don’t mash the buttons quick enough you die instantly.

I is not the longest game. Your first playthrough may take up to eight hours but that will significantly drop once you know where you are going. The game has multiple endings, harder difficulties and some extra modes unlocked once you have finished.  Overall, Dino Crisis is a decent game that will absolutely appeal to fans of survival horror and gamers that have a appreciation for early game design choices like the 3D models. For everyone else it’s a hard sell even if you like dinosaurs because the game generally is not that memorable and doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I may have rated the game low but that’s only because I feel this won’t appeal to the mass market of gamers. Those that appreciate this game for what it brought to survival horror will be happy to add it to their collection.

Final Score: 2 out of 5  (our review policy and scoring can be found here)

Written by jamalais

August 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Podcast: Silent Evil 2: Resident Hill

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This week we are tackling quite possibly the two most popular titles of survival horror: Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill 2.  Resident Evil 2 was scrapped only a few months before completion and completely redone, resulting in many of the staples that carried the franchise forward and stands as a fan favorite.  Meanwhile Silent Hill 2 waited until the Playstation 2 hit the market and with one of the creepiest atmospheres of all times redefined what horror gaming could be.  We openly discuss the notable aspects of both.


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Written by spydersvenom

July 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Dino Crisis 1 & 2 Game Club

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This week we are talking about Capcom’s survival horror titles in a dinosaur-infested facility, Dino Crisis and Dino Crisis 2.  A testing ground for new survival horror mechanics, it’s interesting to see the decisions made in what is one of the more interesting two titles of the original Playstation’s late titles.


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Written by spydersvenom

July 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

Video: Retro Game Night – Dino Crisis

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dc_coverOne of this week’s Retro Game Night titles kicks off the June game club with 1999’s Dino Crisis.  Click on the box art above to view the video.  From Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, this game was simply put as Resident Evil meets Jurassic Park, even at the admission of the game’s characters.  In this video we play the first hour with commentary and get you set up for an interesting take on the survival horror genre.  We are doing both the first and second game for June, so watch for the sequel coming in two weeks.

Written by spydersvenom

June 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Podcast: Shmup Game Club

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This week we are joined by listener Jason (@albirhiza) to discuss our Shmup Game Club: Giga Wing 2, Velocity (Ultra), Radiant Silvergun, Power-Up, and Sine Mora.  Campaigns, tactics, high scores, and more are covered as we dissect some of the more contemporary additions to the genre.


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Podcast: You Are Go For Launch

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launch

This week we are joined by Chip Cella (@CaptinChaos) to discuss listener William’s topic: What makes a successful console launch?  It all ends up being more stories of console launches and discussions on killer apps, but we do manage to cover most mainstream consoles.


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Written by spydersvenom

December 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Podcast: Blue Stinger Game Club

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Blue Stinger

This week Rob “Trees” (@treeslounge00) joins us to celebrate the launch Dreamcast title Blue Stinger. Our game club covers the complete campaign with gameplay elements, plot, encounters, and level design. Enjoy a fun and hilarious show that might arguably be better than playing the game itself.


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Written by spydersvenom

November 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

Podcast: Legends of Rayman

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rayman_post

This week Fred is joined by Chip Cella of the B-Team Podcast to discuss one of the few colorful platformers born completely from the 3D generation, despite the first game playing on a 2D plain.  Ubisoft’s Michel Ansel all but saved the then struggling developer/publisher and gave way to a challenging but fun series starring a character with no limbs.

Opening Song – Rayman Theme from the original Rayman on PS1

Closing Song – Madder by Groove Armada (Fred incorrectly refers to this song as Hoodlum in the show)


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Written by spydersvenom

September 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Xtreme – The Story of Sonic (Part 2)

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Screen capture from Sonic Xtreme

Screen capture from Sonic Xtreme

This week Fred is teamed up again by Andy (@damien14273) and Ali (@thealmiesta) of the 42 Level One podcast (@42levelone) to discuss the second and final part of the history of Sonic the Hedgehog.  For the second part we cover Sonic’s 3D outings including the sordid tale of Sonic Xtreme (and its many other project names and iterations) as well as all other 3D Sonic titles up to 2006 (Sonic the Hedgehog on 360/PS3/PC).  Although it ends badly, trust us, it’s a great ride.

Opening Song – Living in the City from Sonic R (Saturn)

Closing Song – Sonic X Theme from Sonic X cartoon show


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Written by spydersvenom

July 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

Retro Game Night: Expendable and Street Fighter The Movie: The Game

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This week’s double dose comes from our 9/9/99 podcast and Twitter user @UselessBug.  During that podcast I purchased a Dreamcast launch game, Expendable, that looked like a 3D violent Smash TV, check out the video to see if that’s what it actually is.

And the second game came from one of our readers/listeners that requested Street Fighter The Movie: The Game based on the glorious movie of, well, another game.  He challenged me to complete it, but he failed to mention a large catch in the game’s design.  Can I do it?

Written by spydersvenom

June 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

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