You feel that tingling in your mind? That feeling that you forgotten something, yet this sense of nostalgia tingles inside you and never goes away? That is the feeling of games from your past, games that are now obscure from the public eye. Some are herald classics, others are better left in the landfill, but while they are no longer in the public eye, they still live on in some way. Each week, I plan on embracing that nostalgia, so to speak, and review one of these forgotten games in a series I like to call “From The Well.” This week, we look at Dino Crisis.
Ah yes, the knock offs. One thing that will always plague games is the sometimes-cheap knockoffs of another series. An even sweeter tragedy is when the same company and development team creates a big budget game that is a knockoff of a previous game.
Enter Dino Crisis, an old school Playstation Title that really had a lot going for it, as the creators of the hit Resident Evil designed a new world with an updated graphics engine. Sadly, the use of the engine is perhaps their biggest achievement for this blip on the map, as the rest of the game literally telegraphs mediocre all the time to you.
The story is standard fare to begin with; you star as the sadly named Regina, a Special Forces agent who is sent with two other commandos to retrieve a missing doctor, Edward Kirk, from his private island. Once you get there, you find that cretaceous creatures, mainly raptors, have overrun his island of course. Your job is to find Kirk and get him out of there.
The story has “cliché” written all over it, and the fact that it borrows a similar premise as Resident Evil is too damn obvious, like the predictable twists with your teammates later on in the game. And while the camera movement has been upgraded from Resident Evil, the development team pretty much kept everything else, and put a new skin on it.
What do I mean by that? Well, the combat is still very stiff, using different buttons to move, run, and shoot your gun when you’re standing still. This has always been a problem with the series until Resident Evil 4, and any knockoffs will emulate the game of course. Instead of a zombie filled mansion, your in a dinosaur filled laboratory, complete with unnecessary puzzle elements that require you to find two separate keys for one door, and both keys are likely at opposite ends of the lab.
The combat also seems a lot slower and more of a chore than Resident Evil, probably because the Dinosaurs move pretty slowly, especially for typically fast predators that you would expect. And since you only encounter four or five different types of dinosaurs and a giant T-Rex, the variety is kind of stifled. It’s like a reunion of Jurassic park extras decided to congregate here. And since combat is a shoot, run, shoot some more approach to kill just about anything, any strategy or interaction with the enemies is thrown out the window.
And perhaps the games biggest problem is that it’s not scary at all. Oh sure, it has some “boo” moments, but they are as scared as you will get. The dinosaurs don’t exactly surprise Regina, the level design is usually too clean to be a dilapidated mansion to add to the overall mood, and other odd bits, like the floating ammo boxes, seem out of place in a survival horror game.
The games graphics engine was cutting edge at the time, however. It made everything crisp looking in full 3-D, with no clipping problems or slowdown issues. The only flaw with the graphics engine is that it also made the textures look fairly bland, even on the dinosaurs. Everything is flat looking and the polygon count is fairly low, giving it a plastic doll feel when you’re playing the game. It also doesn’t help that the boring corridors of the lab all look the same, too.
Sound wise, the game is average as well. The voice acting is more credible than any voice-overs Resident Evil ever did, which is a plus, but it’s still miles away from what it could be. The sound effects, from the gunshots to the dinosaurs attack roars, are pretty standard. There was just no sound that can grab your attention in the game.
So what is Dino Crisis? It is basically the equivalent to Resident Evil if it was a modded version of the game, if you ask me. Same level designs, same types of puzzles, same controls for combat and basic movement, similar plot devices in the story. It was a laborious knockoff to make, because it tries so hard to match Resident Evil, it fails to become a good, standalone game.
Final Score- C-