Sorry about the delay in publishing this review on Game Revolution, but the first thing that should be mentioned here is that if you have a 'chipped' Playstation, don't even bother with Dino Crisis unless your store has a good return policy. It will not work on most chipped PSX's due to new pirate protection. If you don't know what 'chipped' means, don't worry about it: You're in the clear. On the other hand, you shouldn't buy Dino Crisis either, because it's just not very good.
The strange part is that Dino Crisis looks like it should be much better than it actually is. This is a full blown, big budget, professional Capcom production. It was developed by Resident Evil guru Shinji Mikami and much of the Resident Evil team. From the front end to the full motion video (FMV) to the polygonal engine, this is a seamless game made by good zombies… er… I mean programmers.
The problem is that it's just not much fun to play. While it is closely based on Resident Evil-style gameplay, Dino Crisis manages to take all the annoying parts of Resident Evil and expand upon them. At the same time, the developers took many of the good elements and ruined them. More on this later...first, let's get down to the essentials.
Three years ago, research scientist Dr. Edward Kirk was working on a new, clean, super-efficient form of energy codenamed, "Third Energy." It seems there was a bit too much of this new energy in his lab, because it blew up, with him in it. Or at least everyone thought so. It seems he's turned up at another laboratory on mysterious Ibis island. Perhaps he's a zombie?
You are special agent Regina, oh my. Your mission: parachute with your task force onto Ibis island, find Dr. Kirk, and bring him back to the 'home country.' As you will soon discover, Ibis island is also covered with angry dinosaurs. Is there a connection? Duh.
The graphics are pretty impressive technically, sort of a combination of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The characters and backgrounds are not as sharp as Resident Evil, but that's because the settings are fully 3D like Silent Hill. The whole thing looks good and Dino Crisis has what no Resident Evil game ever had: a moving camera.
However, all this extra 3D processing means that the characters and the dinosaurs have fairly low polygon counts and simpler textures. The backgrounds get really boring after a short time. The whole game takes place in a single lab and all the rooms and corridors look far too similar.
Speaking of repetitive, there are only 5 kinds of dinosaurs in the whole game. This includes the only boss, the T-Rex. In fact, almost all the dinosaurs you'll ever see are those Speilberg favorites, the raptors, and fighting them just isn't much fun (although they look good when they are mauling you).
The best way to fight the raptors is to stand on the other side of a laser gate and shoot them when they can't get to you. Yawn. If they can get to you, the combat is always the same: shoot them a few times, take a hit, then shoot them a few more times and they're dead. The combat just doesn't seem to take much skill or interaction and was done much better in the Resident Evil series.
There is more emphasis on puzzle solving in Dino Crisis, but not in the 'intriguing and mentally challenging' sense. Aside from a couple brain teasers, most of the puzzles are just cheap tricks to extend the gameplay. Remember how annoying it was in Resident Evil having to find the 'spade' or 'club' key before you could open a particular door? In Dino Crisis, many of the doors have two keys. Each. Usually found on opposite sides of the building. Want to access the ammo and medical storage crates? You'll need a series of different colored 'plugs' to do that. It's enough to make a zombie shudder.
Dino Crisis also feels like much more of an arcade game. With floating, spinning ammo crates, 'resuscitation' medicine that will bring you back to life, and five continues, I kept trying to stick a quarter into my Playstation. Now there's nothing wrong with arcade action, but Dino Crisis has hardly any arcade action, so the arcade elements just ruined the mood. In Resident Evil, death was permanent… more or less.
The mood is really where Dino Crisis fails. The clean, cold lab with its roaming raptors just isn't very scary. Perhaps zombies are just scarier than dinosaurs? Who knows. Besides, dinosaurs have really small brains… barely a mouthful.
Despite a slick new 3D engine, Dino Crisis manages to do just about everything worse than Resident Evil 2. It's not as scary, the rooms all look the same, the puzzles are far more tedious, there are far fewer hours of gameplay, and the action isn't as good. Take my advice and save your pennies for Resident Evil: Nemesis (PSX) or Codename: Veronica (DC). I'm positively drooooling over those games.