Hello and welcome to Press Y to Revive, a look back at older game franchises or one offs that I think should be brought back into the world of modern gaming.
So, disclaimer out of the way, I am a Resident Evil fan, I have for a long time but there were times where the enemies didn’t feel threatening enough. I mean yeah, you have your Lickers, and Tyrants, and Mr.X/Nemesis but sometimes it just felt as if the threat wasn’t there just due to how braindead (heh) zombies could be. Enter, Dino Crisis, the game that filled a need I didn’t know I had at the time. Dino Crisis, for those, who do not know, is a survival horror game much in the same vein as Resident Evil (for the sake of brevity, the terms DC [Dino Crisis] and RE [Resident Evil] will be used). The reason much of it feels the same is due to it being a creation by Shinji Mikami, the same director responsible for the RE games. I’m pretty sure when this was announced there were some skeptics thinking that this was just a re-skinned RE games that had different enemies. Thankfully that was not the case.
Of course the comparisons to Jurassic Park are there and why wouldn’t there be but the characters going in weren’t hapless or wonder struck civilians, they were soldiers. The player character being Regina, a red-haired weapons expert that could handle her own and had clothing that was suited for the mission she was on, just saying. With the rest of her unit made up of a wise cracking smart-ass and a hardened military type that could have a flashing sign over his head that says “I will die or turn evil” along with the goal of trying to find a doctor on an island. The real reason was for a source called “Third Energy” where in which the story promptly craps itself and starts heading into Sci-Fi territory. I’m not going to give the whole plot away here for the series but just know it gets a little (read: LOT) ridiculous and its one of the reasons why it is enjoyable. Much like RE, if you don’t think into it but so much its fine. If you do, then you will have a lot of questions but I feel as if they did a slightly better job of not having the plot crap itself. Except for DC3. More on that later.
Due to the nature of dinosaurs, outside environments were more so required to allow for them to move. This allowed for less of the brown/gray, dark environments of the RE games and more greenery and varity of the flora and fauna of what you would encounter. There were industrial complexes as well that had ample room for scares and for adventure. Even as we were dealing with PS1/Dreacast graphics, it had a more realistic feel and gave you much bigger arenas to fight off many of the enemies. Those enemies being varying types of dinosaurs which I kind of have to use the term “varying” loosely. There were really only six types of dinos you had to fight with different color schemes to dictate how much of a pain in the ass they were to kill. But they looked good and were actually rather smart with their attacks. I had a couple of instances where they ran off and I had to hunt them down. But I also had times where one repeatedly ran into a laser fence so AI could be a crapshoot at times.
As to gameplay mechanics, I enjoyed being able to use plugs to get into the item boxes. I promoted a risk/reward system to plotting out if you wanted to open a box with lifesaving items or things that you could use later on. The limited ammo brought more tension since you had to fear running out of it so often as dinosaurs are just a tad bit more difficult to kill than a shambling corpse and the game’s guns took that into account. Most of the time the pistol you started off with felt like it could snap a zombie’s spine in two while blasting off it’s head but against dinos, not so much. But each weapon felt like it had a level of heft about it and the power of the shotgun would not be denied. Moving while shooting in this franchise felt right as you really had to keep on the move to avoid being eaten or picked up and flown off to your death.
Dino Crisis has had a few games in the series but the only ones fondly remembered where one and two. The spinoff, Dino Stalker was a serviceable light gun game that had a couple connections to the DC franchise due to the fighting dinosaurs and a couple of reoccurring characters from DC2 but not really a Dino Crisis game. And then there was three. Oof. DC3 was… I have a lot of profanity that I could use toward this title but I will be nice and say it was not very good. The ideas of dinosaurs… IN SPAAAAACEEEEE seem like it could be a cool idea (read: not really but roll with it) and fits in with the story at a certain part (time folds) but god was it bad. There is a difference between prefabricated camera angles to induce tension and really really bad camera angles where you get attacked off screen and have to rely on auto aim to try and get kills. The characters were not memorable at all, the space ship was pretty boring and, while looking good for the time, aged poorly due to jaggy and unattractive character designs, messy interior designs, and being released on only one system didn’t help either; aforementioned system being the original Xbox. Dino Crisis: Dungeon in Chaos (thank you for reminding me of this wikia) was a mobile attempt at making a first person shooter, much in the same vein as Dino Stalker, for mobile devices back in 2003. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well. Besides a couple of a appearances in other titles, most notable being a playable Regina in Namco X Capcom and a costume in RE:3, that was about it.
I say a modern day re-imagining of DC is well overdue. Give RE a break since the series needs some rest and some fresh blood to revive that franchise. A version of DC with either prefabbed camera angles or even a third person prospective could work wonders. The novelty of dinosaurs and being able to put more in would make the entirety of the game more interesting and keep the player on their toes. It is also a perfect excuse to have Uncharted levels of pretty outside environments that allow for invention and sneak attacks in the brush from enemies. Jurassic Park showed that people still like dinosaurs and even some of the elements of science fiction could be brought back into the fold with all of what happened in the other games. Regina is a protagonist that is both tough and self-aware and in addition to that, isn’t just shoehorned in for the sake of diversity either. A full badass in her own right and with the franchise coming up on its twentieth anniversary, she’s a legacy character. There is a lot that could be done with this series and I hope its premise is actually used rather than just having it never see another title. Not to mention that it probably could not be nearly as bad as DC3.
Thanks to Giant Bomb, Dino Crisis Wikia, and youtuber Cyberjavier for the pictures.