Light gun games, whilst amazing fun in the arcades, haven't always had the best reception on consoles. Having to fork out at least another £20 to play a game properly prevents games from becoming big sellers, sure there have been exceptions to this rule such as Time Crisis and Point Blank, but nothing inspirational has hit the scene for a very long time. Dino Stalker attempts to change this by taking a very different approach to the standard shooting affair.
Dino Stalker is different to other light gun games, instead of traveling through levels on 'a set of rails'. The game takes the form of a first person shooter. The first level of the game sees you freefalling from your recently destroyed plane. You have to take down swarms of pterodactyls and parts of your burning craft. The interesting thing is that you can spin through 360 degrees allowing you to take out enemies from all sides. In the corner of the screen there is Time Crisis standard timer, which ticks down and can be boosted by shooting different colored crystals. Upon completing the section you get to play a mission on foot. Now this is where things get really different. If you only have use of a Dual Shock, movement and aiming are carried out using the analogue thumb sticks. Your character doesn't have the ability to look up and down only a 360 degree spin. If you have a G-con 2 you can use the buttons on the gun for movement or you can plug in a control pad and use that for movement in one hand whilst you shoot with the other. The control system is simply annoying. Your character will often seem reluctant to turn and appear to be stuck. Movement seems unnatural and forced. Also due to the time limit you will find yourself rushing through the level without spending too much time looking around. So in essence you'll be doing what you would normally be doing in a light gun game. This is a great shame because the level design is good throughout the game.
The story to the game involves time traveling dinosaurs to prevent an environmental catastrophe and a pilot slung into a mysterious place. The story feels completely tacked on and only just serves a purpose.
Enemies in the game don't have an A.I like most fps games, nor are they scripted like many light gun games, instead the game falls somewhere in between, enemies don't always seem that interested in attacking you and will often hang around for a while as if they are waiting for you to attack. And sometimes enemies will storm across the level only to give up once they get near.
The weapons available to you are very impressive; there are machine guns, rocket launchers, flame grenades, proximity mines among several others. In addition to this there your character can carry a range of items such as health pick ups and antidotes. The basic gun can also be powered up by collecting power bullets, and it can also be used as a sniper rifle. Now almost every game that's released these days has a sniper rifle in it (with the exception of a few John Madden games) because people think sniper rifles are cool. In this game it just doesn't work. Why would you need a sniper rifle when you are holding a light gun in the first place and dumbass enemies are stood still waiting to be shot anyway?
Graphically the game doesn't do anything new or exciting, the game has a 60Hz mode but cut-scenes are not the greatest around, and textures can occasionally be a bit dull throughout the game. The dinosaur animations are quite nice though and there are a few touches in the game that are well executed. All in all the game doesn't have graphical issues but it fails to keep up with other games currently on the market. The sounds in the game are a mixture of grunts and growls, not much to write home about really.
Despite all of the criticisms I have made the game does manage to be fun, it has a large amount of issues but as none of has an overwhelming impact on gameplay the game remains playable. Some of the levels are quite enjoyable, though ironically these are the levels where you are on rails like in all other light gun games. As you can save between levels, the game is easy to pick up and play for a bit of blasting fun, and the game isn't boring or painful to play. Boss battles are a real challenge and have obviously received a lot of attention.
The control method and pace are a real letdown and the first person shooter element, adds something new but is poorly put together. If the game had been given a smoother control system and improved A.I. the game could have been a winner. The concept is a good one and perhaps a sequel could turn out to be a great game, but this only mildly enjoyable game will fail to satisfy the hordes.