Review by: Blake Nelson
Published: October 14, 2000
While Michael Crichton was not the first author to bring dinosaurs back to the future–Jurassic Park is a modern update of Journey to the Center of the Earth–he certainly has been one of the most influential, reinvigorating modern society’s interest in these vanished creatures. It seemed for a while that dinosaurs were everywhere, walking beside us on lunch boxes and appearing in numerous TV shows, movies and books, dominating every media in which they appeared. The world of video games also saw a spate of dinosaur inspired titles, ranging from the over-the-top Primal Rage to the more sedate adventure styling of Dinotopia. Some of these titles were abysmal, most mediocre, and only a surprising few gained the gaming public’s attention on their own merit. One of the few to shine was Dino Crisis, which found its inspiration in the world of the survival horror genre, allowing you to blast the prehistoric beasts back into extinction with satisfying effect. While the rest of the world has cooled on using thunder lizards as its hook to move product, the developers at Capcom have returned to their success with the next installment, Dino Crisis 2. Will the game creator’s latest offering have the well-honed senses and razor-sharp reflexes of a velociraptor, or will it merely rely on marketing muscle to ensure sales?
The original Dino Crisis was a finely tuned experience that gave people the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with terrifying monsters. The paper-thin premise had things going wrong on Ibis Island, where Professor Kirk had formed a secret laboratory to conduct his nefarious research. As often happens with deranged geniuses, his efforts to create the ultimate source of clean energy went horribly wrong, covering the island with raptors, T-Rexes and other natural killing machines. The red-haired protagonist, a military agent named Regina, and a supporting band of commandos parachuted onto the island to bring Dr. Kirk home, solve the mystery of the dinosaurs and supposedly save the day. However, the dangerous research into “Third Energy” has continued and, unsurprisingly, a year later the dinos hit the fan again as Edward City disappears into a prehistoric jungle.
A large rescue operation enters the area, but as happened in the film The Lost World, things go terribly wrong. In a blood-spattered moment, the svelte Regina, as beautiful as ever, and Dylan, who provides considerably more muscle, are one of the few agents who remain alive. These two heroes are faced with the task of cleaning up this mess and rescuing anyone that has not been turned into Raptor-chow. In Resident Evil fashion, you alternate between the two, each of whom have their own special weapons that prove useful in particular places. The lush landscape of the mysterious jungle is rendered to create the feeling of humid air, water dripping from palms, and the soft, spongy soil gently sinking underneath your weight. It would be enough to stop and stare if it were not for the fact that you are no longer on top of the food chain.
At its heart, Dino Crisis 2 is a revamped version of the Resident Evil series, with its familiar system of exploration and minor puzzle solving elements that take you to research sites, military bases, a missile silo and even under the sea. Most puzzles revolve around the special attributes of the main characters. Some areas, for example, are only accessible through the creative use of Regina’s stun gun. As you move through the environments, the controls have been tailored provide for a surprising variety of movement, including dodges, side-steps and spins as well as climbing, running and jumping. You will need each of these skills if you are going to survive the overabundance of angry lizards that cross your path.