Whoa .. it has been a while since I have even played on my Playstation, let alone done a review. The grey box has been sitting there under the TV gathering dust and I am afraid to say the shiny new Dreamcast now takes pride of place, strewn across the floor after a late night four-way Virtua Tennis session. But I have been keeping my eye out for the sequel to Capcom's 'dinosaur-panic' game Dino Crisis, which brought frantic action to a Resident Evil style framework. The black disk arrived last week so I made myself plug the Sony unit back in and fired it up ...
For this sequel designer Shinji Mikami has returned shoving a whole heap of roaring dinosaurs, the original heroine Regina (from SORT, the Secret Operation Raid Team) and Dylan (a new hard nut from TRAT, the Tactical Reconnoitering and Acquisition Team) into a lush jungle setting. Set after all the secret experiments, time warps and horrid death from the first game, the story is set in a secret jungle location where the government have been continuing Dr Kirk's cloning experiments. Unfortunately all is not well when the whole base disappears and this time it's you who go back in time to face a hoard of terrible lizards on their own turf.
You play through the game switching between the two main characters; mission one being a search for information and survivors. The key here is their unique equipment that allows access to different areas. Dylan has a butch machete to hack through impassable shrubbery and Regina has a light sabre, sorry I mean stun gun, allowing her to short electric doors. Although why they cant swap is beyond me and perhaps the game dynamics too :)
Straight from the off you are plunged into the jungle and attacked from all sides by snarling beasts. It is just a case of shooting, slashing or stunning the hell out each creature as quickly as possible before they pounce. Subsequent blood is liberally sprayed everywhere. As luck would have it Capcom have provided some excellent variety gameplay basis - it is not always just a case of shooting said dinosaurs with said equipment. There are scenes where the dinosaur is simply too large, or maybe air borne, to shoot and you must run .. run like the wind into a another building or across a route of annoying red ladders. Stumble and you will be ripped apart!
To help the often clumsy Resident Evil style controls of years gone by are new features allowing you to run while shooting, quickly sidestep, do full 180 degree turns and quickly switch weapons or apply medicine. This may a help a lot but for the uninitiated thrown into tense action right from the start it is easy to make mistakes, misaim and generally run in the wrong direction when several beasts are moving in for the kill.
Another great new addiction is the 'points win prizes' system, through which multiple kill combos, kill counters and losing no health earns you points. These can then be used to buy new hardware, medical supplies and ammunition at computer terminals dotted around the game. These terminals also double as save points and the positioning of theses computers seems very well planned out. You seem to reach one just as you load in those last two buckshot shells or you are called to dinner.
Similar to the whole RE series Dino Crisis remains firmly in the realm of pre-rendered backgrounds, cinematic camera angles and 3D polygonal characters. As usual this system works okay most of the time but can get a little confusing (especially when running wildly for a ladder to escape the jaws of a rather large and hungry creature). As a whole the visuals are quite impressive for the new historic Playstation hardware. The dinosaur models look great and their animation is very life like. There are of course sections that do not look so great, the underground cave levels for example, but the majority are excellently detailed and drawn. Also the sound acting of the main characters is very professional and the dinosaur sounds are sufficiently 'animal' enough. The in-game music mixes orchestral undertones with more modern techno and drum and bass elements providing a moody score that seemingly adds a lot to the action and suspense.
Dino Crisis II is a particularly well-rounded action game with a frantic pace, tons of shooting, maiming and killing as well as 'jump-out-of-your-skin' moments and a winding storyline. The cumbersome controls can get annoying as a need for accurate aiming is the real key to survival, but on the whole the game is a very entertaining jaunt down Jurassic Park lane. Don't think for one second this at all like Resident Evil and if action is your genre then you are in for a treat. This sequel brings what a good sequel should; a few new characters, a few new moves, more guns, different levels and small tweaks to the gameplay. The game and its dinosaurs still remain relentless as ever though.