When dinos rocked survival horror…then went painfully extinct

In the 90s, the Resident Evil video game franchise was hot. And so was the Jurassic Park movie series. So Capcom did something brilliant; they replaced the zombies with dinosaurs and made Dino Crisis!

DINO CRISIS

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The original Dino Crisis is such a great game. I’d say the opening tension is even better than that in the original Resident Evil.  You arrive at the outside of this compound on an dino crisis 1 arrival copyisland at night. You can hear the waves, the wind, and the distant calls of mysterious creatures. As you discover bloody signs of trouble within the confines of a chain link fence, you know it’s only a matter of time before you encounter the threat.

dino crisis 1 raptors

You’ll probably pee yourself when the first Velociraptors attack. These are no slow moving, stupid zombies! Holy shit! While the majority of the game play is the same in Dino Crisis, with classic tank controls, fixed camera angles, puzzles, scavenger hunts, and ammo and health conservation, the speed of the Raptors, your most common enemy in the game, makes Dino Crisis much more of a run and scream game.

And forget the dogs in Resident Evil. Wear an adult diaper in preparation for the first time the giant T-Rex attacks you. The catch is, there are only like four dinosaurs to contend with throughout the game. And you don’t even get the variation of boss battle enemies that you get in Resident Evil.

dino crisis 1 trex attack

Even so, Dino Crisis is a classic survival horror game that sucks you in. And the great thing is, while there are three branching ways to finish the game, unlike many games that offer branching storylines, you can actually save right before the branching occurs. This way, you can simply go back to that save and choose a different branch every time.

And finally, considering this was a PS1 game, it’s amazing how they visually managed to have you fighting a giant T-Rex.

DINO CRISIS 2

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Usually, I hate when my favorite survival horror series goes action game. But well before the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill were ruined forever, Dino Crisis 2 became a total gun and guts game. And it is so much fricking fun.

dino crisis 2 brontosaurus

For starters, you get bombarded by tons of new dinosaurs and situations (having to swim underwater with monsters was one nightmare scenario I dreaded playing through). And puzzles are kept to a minimum. This one is all about blasting away as many dinosaurs as you can. You get points for doing so and can use those to buy the kind of stuff that makes you feel invincible!

dino crisis 2 water

And the great thing is, dinosaurs constantly respawn. So if you’re hurting for points to buy goodies, just go and once again clear out an area you’ve been through dozens of times. You have a vast jungle at your disposal. And the tank controls are altered for a more user-friendly, speed-friendly arcade game feel. Even the gameplay switches occasionally to mini-games featuring varying control mechanics.

dino crisis 2 trex

And let me just say, the final boss battle against Gigantosaurus puts the T-Rex to shame! I cannot believe this giant beast is featured in a PS1 game.

DINO STALKER

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When the Dino Crisis universe finally moved to the Playstation 2, it was in the form of a light gun game! Dino Stalker is even more arcade action than Dino Crisis 2. And while it is a light gun game, it’s also sort of a first-person shooter. Because it’s not a rail game. You are in control of moving your character.

dino stalker raptors

While you can play this as a one-player game using the controls on the GunCon to move, you’d give up from sheer exhaustion really soon. So there’s a great workaround; you can use the gun and a controller. How is that better, you wonder?

dino stalker ptero

It’s a little weird, especially during boss battles, but the best way to actually complete Dino Stalker without a problem is to play with a friend. One of you controls the movement of your character while the other one does all the shooting. It really is fun if you do it this way. I wouldn’t even attempt to play it alone.

DINO CRISIS 3

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Jason went to space. Leprechaun went to space. So why not send dinosaurs into space?

Aside from the mind-numbing setting of a spaceship, Dino Crisis is one of the most frustrating games ever. It was only released on the Xbox, so graphically, it’s a major leap forward. The problem is, I’ve never seen a game designed so poorly that you spend a majority of the time fighting enemies you can’t see.

dino crisis 3 shoot

That’s right. The camera angle is set in such a way that somehow, whenever you are fighting an enemy—including bosses—they are RARELY on the screen when you shoot at them! You literally shoot into space, hoping you’re hitting something. I do not understand how a game like this can get released.

dino crisis 3 fly

The bright side is that the controls are smooth and incredibly fun. Plus, you can basically fly in this game, which is a great aid in helping you avoid attacks from all the dinosaurs you can’t see. Also, it doesn’t help that the camera switches when you are right in the middle of an elegant flight to a new destination…and the controller responds to the new camera angle by pointing you in a direction you had no intention on going! WTF?

dino crisis 3 trex

Once again, there aren’t a wide assortment of regular dinos to contend with, but the boss battles offer a better variety. And there’s one unique change; you control the environment. In order to get around the ship, you have to manipulate its shape, which opens up new areas of the ship you’ve not explored—and offers a whole new set of bad camera angles. What a shame.

Is it any surprise this game ended the franchise?

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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