Blast from the Past: Dino Crisis (PS1)
The PS1 era was perhaps not a period that perfected the third dimension, but it is in this time that developers had the opportunity to take many, many risks. After the success of Resident Evil it was time for Shinji Mikami to have a go at his own take on the Jurassic Park formula. How has it aged? Well, let’s just say that it’s not as prehistoric as you might think.
The hunt begins
As with Jurassic Park this horrific Dinosaur adventure begins on a fictional island named Ibis Island. A Secret Operation Raid Team gathers intel that a scientist, who has been dead for three years and goes by the name of Dr. Edward Kirk, is indeed alive and kicking. More so, he’s in charge of a secret weapons project that’s based on a facility on this specific island. A team of four members, Gail, Rick, Cooper and, the heroine you’ll play as, Regina are sent to the island to find out what’s going on and of course everything turns sour.
Dino Crisis is as close to the original Resident Evil recipe you will find. Everything from the movement (that requires you to handle tank controls) down to the fact that you’ll be mixing items to create improved items links back to Shinji Mikami’s first success story. You’ll also have to deal with a very limited number of bullets and instead of having a storage case you’ll now have to get use to coloured wall-mounted storage boxes. Load a bunch of supplies in a yellow box and you can’t access it in a red box. Those sneaky bastard developers just found another way to extend the length of the game. That said, I did find that most the puzzles were at least a bit more thoughtful than most puzzles you’d find in any Resident Evil game set after the original game. There are also other improvements.
PS1 flexes its muscles
Unlike Resident Evil 2, which launched just a year ahead of Dino Crisis, you’ll find that the pre-rendered backdrops that you have become accustomed to in Resi games are nowhere to be found as everything is made up of polygons. What that allows for is for the developers to pull off some amazing tricks with the camera by moving it in or out, or left or right while you’re moving. It’s an interesting style that you only would have seen again in Resident Evil: Code Veronica several years thereafter. So, about those tank controls…
You have no option but to use tank controls. Now, let me make it very clear that I have no issue using tank controls and, dare I say it, I actually really love that method of controlling characters in these older type games. It just works, but if you hated tank controls back then you’re going to hate it here all over again. Seeing as you will be running away from Raptors and a pestering T-Rex the ‘down and Square’ move, to turn your player 180 degrees, can now be pulled off by simply pressing the L2 button. Other than that you’ll aim with R1 and shoot by pressing X as with Resident Evil games. The big improvement comes in the form that you can walk and shoot at the same time. Why they never brought that mechanic through to Resident Evil games after that baffles me. The various Resident Evil references don’t end there.
That’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming
Throughout your adventure you’ll find notes and memos that staff members have left for you to read. These will assist you in solving puzzles or downright provide you with passwords you require to open a safe that’s been bugging you since you saw it early on in the game. The puzzles even extend to the door keys as you’ll now have to acquire two DDK devices (a code and input key) to unlock the door. Enter the two devices and solve a mini puzzle, in a game of elimination, to work out the password before it’ll open the door for you. It all feels like cheap ways to extend the length of the game, though the puzzles are at least enjoyable.
Yes, jump scares are aplenty and you will be soiling yourself more than once. It should be said that the use of sound is very good and that the graphics can be considered as one of the best on the PS1. The story won’t inspire you to go write a book, but it’s decent enough considering the theme and restrictions for its time. The biggest problem for Dino Crisis comes in the form of the constant backtracking.
You’ll need a good understanding of your map as you’ll backtrack through various areas you’ve been to before. It’s okay the first two hours or so, but thereafter it gets a bit tedious. The voice acting is also, in typical Capcom fashion, forgettable. There were moments I quite literally facepalmed. That said, you’ll encounter scenarios in the game that’ll allow you to choose path A or B, and that brings with it a bit of replay value and dialogue that’s of importance.
Dino Crisis is probably not quite as good as you remember it being, but it’s definitely an enjoyable game that’ll remind you why you were hooked to your television set playing PlayStation 1 games all those years ago. Like Binary Domain, that’s the best unofficial Terminator game, this here is the best unofficial Jurrassic Park game you should play.