If you’re like me, then you’ve most likely had thoughts of time traveling back to 90’s. What a decade! The new wave of film, gaming and comic books was in full swing and with the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill arriving, you better believe it was the golden age of survival horror. I love survival horror and during this time we were treated to some of the best … and some of the worst. But the one I remember fondly and which was a strange hit with my family was Dino Crisis. This surreal Dino fest of action, horror and survival was indeed rather more complex than your traditional survival horrors, featuring enemies that didn’t just sort to zombies, killer trees or mutant bugs. Does Dino Crisis hold up after all these years?
I remember Resident Evil as a child gave me nightmares, so my folks didn’t like me playing anything with Zombies or those types of creatures. Fast forward a couple of years later and I’m fighting of dinosaurs which was perfectly fine. Our story takes place on a small island being used to conduct experiments involving inter-dimensional travel. Our team of mercenaries featuring our leading lady infiltrate the island in order to investigate the sighting of a scientist that everyone believes is dead. They arrive to meet their contact Tom and see that everything has gone to Dino s***.
Now for it’s time, the voice acting is actually good and the dialogue is terrific. This plays out like a good B-Movie with some weird but laughable moments. My favorite scene being when Regina walks up to her fellow mercenary only to discover a gruesome sight with a body torn in half and she utters the line “that’s disgusting” in the most dead pan way ever. It’s brilliant and the perfect sense of B-Movie delivery and humor that many games just get plain wrong now days. The team including Rick and Gale are very likable, even if Gale is a massive douche, he’s still fun to interact with. There’s more B-Movie type moments including a scene where a man in a near death state manages to pull out a Uzi from nowhere and fight a freaking Raptor.
Also for a laugh, just watch the character’s hand movements when they speak. They’re always making hand gestures, waving them around and Rick’s typing makes me cry even to this day.
So, what you may gather from people who’ve played this is that it’s just Resident Evil with dinosaurs. Believe me this game is so much more than just that. As a foundation it is Resident Evil but there were some neat ideas woven into the gameplay to create a truly dynamic and refreshing survival horror game. While Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark stuck to what they knew was safe, Dino Crisis was bold enough to add in some elements that involved crafting and minor RPG elements. You could craft ammo, medicine and first aid to take care of bleeding. There were neat little features too as I reference back to the bleeding. If you were bleeding and wandered around too long, more dinosaurs would show up.
I will admit the interfaces and menus could be a little confusing, but after a while you’ll get use to them.
But one of the most impressive aspects that actually influenced many games now days were the set pieces and boss battles. These were freaking amazing! Okay, so boss battles usually involved the T-Rex but wow, were the designers inventive. There’s a scene where the T-rex smashes through an office window, another were you are being chased by it along an outside walkway and more. These were intense as hell and every encounter just made your heart skip a beat. There was also a form of QTE that popped up, requiring players to mash the hell out of the controller. These were actually decent considering they weren’t overused like most games do with Quick Time Events and they did a great job at creating tension and a frantic sense of panic.
Dino Crisis also brought forward a mechanic that was used in the Resident Evil: Nemesis game and to the same effective degree. There were moments you could side with either Gale of Rick in certain mission objectives and thus different events would play out. It’s true that Gale’s options were the worst and if you really wanted the challenge or just to loose out on some neat segments then side with Gale. Rick often encouraged some more lateral elements in his choices and the best example of how each character’s path works is with a segment half way through the game. You’re told that raptors are flooding the nearby area and you can either fight your way through with Gale (who leaves you behind anyway) or solve a series of puzzles with Rick’s guidance and avoid any confrontation. It’s nice there were moments like this and often they would catch you off guard.
The only downside was that not all the choices felt important and some of the puzzles were just annoying. The worst puzzle that came up and still haunts my nightmares is aligning the colorful pipes that drop from the ceiling . Sweet Mary mother of God, this was a painfully antagonizing puzzle because the small cut scene which showed the pipe going up or down felt like it took forever and there’s no clear perceptive on the pipe’s position as the camera is at an angle.
Also the game does go on a little too long in my opinion. By the third T-Rex battle you could just end the game there and it would’ve been fine. There are another couple of hours at least to play with new dinosaurs and plot elements popping up. However I do agree that the campaign is a decent length compared to most Resident Evil games but it does impact slight on replay value.
However with most of these being minor complaints (the pipe puzzle is a major one!), they don’t hold back this truly fantastic game. While Resident Evil gets a lot of the fame and glory I found Dino Crisis a refreshing change of pace that elevated a high amount of tension while mixing up classic survival elements with new ideas. I love the B-Movie style of story telling and how beautifully this game blends together a classic sense of horror with stressed based tension. This was a defining game for the genre and one I hold in high regard compared to many Resident Evil games.