However, lazy ports aside, the gameplay of Capcom's previous survival horror conversions still shone through. Will this be the case for Dino Crisis, or is this one quick PlayStation port too many for this reviewer? Read on to find out.
The larger dinosaurs certainly look the part.
Dino Crisis incorporates everything that made Resident Evil so good. The game features a completely new storyline which actually has nothing to do with the Resident Evil plot. You take control of a female character named Regina, part of a Government Operatives group sent to a foreign island to undercover some strange goings on in a remote research facility. The reason for the team's mission is evidence suggesting that a crazy scientist, Dr. Kirk, is on the island. Dr. Kirk, an expert in the field of energy sources, allegedly faked his own death some years ago after his experiments were put to an end. In reality it seems his death was merely a facade so he could relocate to a remote island to continue his experiments undisturbed.
Regina and the other members of the team have been sent in to find Dr. Kirk and investigate the strange goings-on linked to the island. Upon reaching the island the team is immediately broken up and one member suffers a grisly fate, unknown to his team members. The remainder of the team begin their infiltration of the facility, and this is where you come in. As story telling goes, the game really excels. The basis of the storyline is intriguing and Capcom has gone out of its way to increase the suspense and keep the player captivated with many brief cinemas and constant plot development throughout the game.
Within the first few minutes of gameplay you'll encounter your first dinosaur. It immediately becomes obvious that these are the source of the problems on the island, but are they linked to Dr. Kirk's experiments or just a freak of nature? Thankfully, combat with the creatures is made a lot easier thanks to some advancements made to Capcom's tried and tested survival horror formula. Dino Crisis' gameplay is similar to the Resident Evil series, albeit with a few welcome enhancements to make combat, movement, and item management easier to manage. The major difference is the ability to move and aim simultaneously, quite a departure from Resident Evil's still standing combat. Against the vicious and intelligent dinosaurs which roam the island, this increased combat "movability" is a necessity rather than a luxury.
Be prepared to be shocked by giant T-Rexs when you least expect it!
Another area where Dino Crisis veers from the Resident Evil series is the way the player's inventory is handled. Whilst Resident Evil's inventory would have been just as suitable for this game, this new implementation does let you manage a lot more items than previous systems have allowed. The added strategy of ammo mixing, whilst only somewhat explored in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, is properly implemented in Dino Crisis. The new interface makes mixing ammo types, such as tranquillizer darts and shotgun ammo, an easy affair although because of the increased depth of the interface, knowing the limits of your inventory space is a more daunting experience. Thankfully, a la Resident Evil, shared storage areas give you ample room to manage all the items within the game. Unlike Resident Evil's chests, Dino Crisis uses electronic retrieval systems opened with electronic plugs found during the game.
During the evolution of Capcom's survival horror series the games have got progressively faster. The original Resident Evil featured clumsy combat which was at its most frustrating against multiple zombies. The series saw an improvement in zombie combat in the subsequent sequels, and Dino Crisis improves on this speed further. Speed is improved not only with the combination of movement and combat, as mentioned previously, but also in the reaction time of your character. A new addition to combat is "button bashing" escape, sometimes essential to get out of a dinosaur's vicious grip. The only other change in combat is the ability to have Regina's weapon knocked out of her hands. In these circumstances the player must avoid the enemy's attacks, before running to pick the weapon up.
Another element touched upon in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was plot branching. This was implemented through quick-time events where the player was pressured into choosing one of two options in an intense situation. The branching in Dino Crisis occurs at certain points where the player has the choice of which in-game character to follow. Whilst the early branches always return to the main story, there are multiple endings chosen by more crucial decisions the player faces towards the game's climax. Thankfully, all branches are of a similar difficulty, so you won't have any problems first time round if you are uncertain which paths to take. The addition of these choices through the game certainly boosts longevity and removes some of the linearity associated with Capcom's survival horror titles.