When Dino Crisis was first released, many people wrote it off as simply Resident Evil with dinosaurs. While this criticism is ultimately true, despite some new features and a whole host of new creatures to face, that shouldn’t necessarily negate your desire to play the game, especially if you’re a fan of fast-paced action mixed with simple puzzle and scavenger-hunt aspects. While the Dreamcast version of the game fails to do much in the way of improving or expanding upon the original PlayStation title, it’s still a survival horror game that lives up to the genre.
While the vast majority of the monsters in Capcom’s zombie epics slouched along in the way a dead body probably would if it could get up and walk around, the foes you face in Dino Crisis aren’t hindered by the annoying condition of death. These dinosaurs are fast, very fast, and are only concerned with hunting you down and ripping your flesh off. You’ll find some slower creatures scattered about, but the game’s featured beast, the raptor, is a relentless opponent. Since raptors usually show up in groups, you’ll often find that the best tactic is avoidance, i.e. running away as fast as you possibly can, rather than trying to take them all out.
Dino Crisis differs in other ways, as well. For example, the giant bins of Resident Evil, which can magically transport your items across great distances, have been replaced here with wall-mounted storage containers which you must come back to find what you need. While this isn’t terribly annoying, since the locations in Dino Crisis aren’t quite as large as most of the Resident Evil games, it still involves running around a lot. In a game where you’ll constantly be going back and forth, finding items and opening previously locked doors, it’s a bit of a hassle.
There are also puzzle elements in Dino Crisis, and these puzzles are fairly standard survival horror fare. That is, not too difficult. You’ll do things such as move crates that are blocking your path with a large crane and similar activities. Most are fairly creative in their execution and don’t take a terribly long time to complete, but this game isn’t about solving complex puzzles. No, this game is about fighting it out with dinosaurs, or… running from dinosaurs. And once you get your first glimpse of the menacing T-Rex, you’ll see where the game’s heart truly lies: suspense, discomfort, and ultimately terror — in a good way.
The game’s storyline is fairly compelling, with voice acting that is above average for the genre. The main problem is its similarity to the story of Jurassic Park. It would seem to be fairly hard to avoid, given the whole idea of bringing dinosaurs back through genetics, but the fact that you’re up against an evil corporation that has no idea of the danger of what it has created smacks heavily of Michael Crichton’s famous book. Still, there are enough changes and more than enough action to create an interesting tale.
The controls are patterned after Resident Evil, and even after all these years, they haven’t been refined. It’s odd, too, because they’re so awkward, you would have figured someone would come up with a way to do it better. To be fair, there are a few extra moves in Dino Crisis, but if there’s a main complaint about the game, it’s that it is often difficult to control, especially in the tense, fast-paced situations that arise while fighting it out with the unhappy raptors, or attempting to dodge the massive jaws of the T-Rex.
If there’s one area in which it could be said that Capcom has improved on Dino Crisis for the Dreamcast, it is most certainly graphics. That shouldn’t be surprising, given the machine’s relative power to the aged PlayStation, and it’s also fair to say that Capcom only did the bare minimum in porting the game. The textures have not been improved, but the resolution has been upped so that the models are crisper and the environments more defined. The game does look better, but it doesn’t match the standards set on the Dreamcast by the likes of Resident Evil — CODE: Veronica. Rather, it appears to be what it is; a fairly straight conversion of an older PlayStation title.
Dino Crisis is an interesting and exciting experience for those that enjoy this genre, and any of you hooked by CODE: Veronica that haven’t played this one yet are advised to give it a spin. However, if you’ve already played through the game two years ago, there’s no real reason to spring for it again, as nothing new of note has been brought to the table.
Although the environments are quite detailed and the models look fairly crisp, this is essentially a two-year old PlayStation game. Capcom didn’t do a whole lot to spruce the game up for the Dreamcast.
The sound is very good, creating an intense atmosphere in the game. From the eerie music to the distant roar of the T-Rex, the aural package is a great addition that really helps make the experience.
Although this will always be considered a second-tier game next to the Resident Evil series, fans of those games will find plenty to enjoy in Dino Crisis. Even though the story might seem familiar, the action is fast and furious, and the situations are tense and frightening enough for most gamers to hang on until the very end.
While the game itself is great the first time through, there really isn’t much of an incentive to go through it again.
The instruction manual is fairly dry, but it explains the game well enough.