Thursday, October 10, 2013

VGR Dino Crisis

Let's celebrate Halloween... with some dinosaurs today!!

VGR: Dino Crisis 
From Capcom/Nextech
Played on Dreamcast
Also available on PSX, PSN & PC

Type survival horror
Year 1999, 2000

The original Dino Crisis was launched as an offshoot of its "sister series" Resident Evil.

Developed by famed game director and Resident Evil creator himself Shinji Mikami, it was originally released in 1999 at the peak of the survival horror genre.

With the principal objective being to try something different.

The game was actually more of an early action game/survival horror hybrid.

And for a good reason. It combined the familiar survival element with a gameplay closer to an action game (years before they officially made that switch in RE5 as well).

Capcom even promoted it as a  "survival panic" - a label which sadly didn't outlast this series.

The story is actually pretty intriguing.

The game tries to present the scenario like a movie. There's several references made to the Jurassic Park series (and even to Aliens!).

Set in the future of 2009, the story opens after an agent of SORT (the "Secret Operation Raid Team") - Tom - was sent on an island to locate Dr. Edward Kirk, a well renowned scientist who disappeared mysteriously.

Turns out Dr. Kirk simply disappeared to pursue some experiments on a private island.

They lost contact with Tom. The rest of the special task force from SORT soon joins the island via parachutes.

Four more agents arrive on the place; Regina, Gail, Rick and Cooper.

But as soon as they land, Cooper is eaten by a Tyrannosaur!

The rest of the team find corpses scattered all over the place and start investigating the island.

That's where the game begins.

Through the course of the game they find that dinosaurs have been brought through time!

In the end the player is left with the final choices. Escaping the island.. or resolving this intrigue!

The game was based on the original Resident Evil.

So it all starts like a classic survival horror game, with lots of back and forth and exploring the setting. But once the action really sets in, with the bigger dinos and the chase scenes, the game goes for a more action-packed direction.

You play as Regina.

Usually Resident Evils tend to offer both a male and female player character to select. Not here though! Regina is a badass post-Tomb Raider heroine protagonist.

The game is still played via "tank controls". Which helps along the cinematic perspective from the cameras to reinforce the whole movie aspect of this adventure.

The backgrounds are fully 3D instead of the pre-rendered graphics the genre used us to at the time (before Code Veronica would do the same for the RE series). So there's a sense of freedom in the camera angles.

You start the game by exploring the outdoor environments, investigating along your way to the research facility in which the weird experiments took place. What you discover is more than you could have expected...!

Dino Crisis has also several puzzles blocking your path from time to time.

But much of the gameplay is facing the dinosaurs. Either with the scarce ammunitions or by using your head.

There are some supplies laying around the bodies.

You can also encounter some laster shutters inside the labs to cut off the path of the dinosaurs.

Sometimes when being chased you will be faced to "danger events". Early QTE sequences where you need to need to press down action buttons prompted on the screen.

Finally, Regina controls a bit tighter and more precise than Jill or Leon ever did. It's also the first time they enabled us to turn right back away by pressing down and the action button.

And you are also able to shoot as you walk! (I know, even RE5 didn't allow that..)

You will also be able to decide some key story points.

Much of the progression will be done thanks to "digital disk keys" you will have to find around, this game's key system.

The game is not without some little problems of his own.

The tank controls always take some getting used to, even after playing several of these sort of games.

There's also very little different kind of dinosaurs in this first Dino Crisis episode.

At least the huge T-Rex will leave you an unforgettable experience.

The dinos themselves are also quite a challenge to face. Swapping mindless zombies for dinosaurs forced Capcom to improve a bit on the AI of their first titles. They do feel smarter than the zombies, which is a great making them more formidable foes that almost seem to think their attacks.

The game's a bit difficult at times, but fun.

The game truly forces the survival part, only by being clever and avoiding getting trapped in the onslaught of raptors and other monsters.

You can save your progress when going through some specific rooms. Easier done than using Resident Evil's typewriter.

And you can also store supplies in boxes you can find around that require specific amount of "plugs" to open 'em up (there are 3 types of colored boxes).

The game has a fantastic atmosphere. Dark, creepy and action packed, in part thanks to a solid soundtrack from Capcom's team of composers. A solid great epic score.

There's not much on the replay value. Still it's an excellent game worth checking out from time to time. The sequel would offer a "Dino Colosseum" mode, which can be described as this series' Mercenaries mode.

Once completed it does seem to fall a bit short, and I truly believe Dino Crisis would have profited from a second unlockable scenario...

There are multiple endings to find (3 of them).

There are other hidden costumes to unlock, though they are available from the go on the Dreamcast.

Overall, it kind of is a Resident Evil with dinosaurs.

The game has some interesting environments that do look nice on the upgraded PC and Dreamcast version.  

Shinji Mikami wanted to try to play with the formula a little after, probably not creating the entire survival horror genre, but at least popularizing it.

Dino Crisis was followed by two sequels and a rail shooter spinoff. While Dino Crisis 2 was mostly more of the same, Dino Crisis 3 was an exclusive Xbox game set in the futuristic 26th Century. The spinoff on the other hand was part of Capcom's Gun Survivor series, this episode was titled Dino Stalker.

It's kind of sad the franchise never got another follow-up this past decade. Capcom should focus on other IPs other than Street Fighters and Resident Evils, specially now since they turned the RE series into a much more action-oriented direction.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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