Dino Crisis

   Some gamers, believe it or not, might accuse Capcom of milking their franchises. While it may be hard to imagine the producers of Street Fighter, Mega Man, and the Biohazard (Resident Evil in U.S.) series doing this, it has been known to happen. So it's particuarly exciting to see the frequently "safe" Capcom letting one of their top producers (and his development team) loose on an original title. Dino Crisis is that game - and while it may eventually spawn its own multi-threaded franchise, for now, it's a breath of fresh air for the adventure genre.
Does this scare ya?

   Dino Crisis is set on an abandoned island where the benevolent Dr. Kirk was working on his Theory of Clean Energy which would revolutize power around the world. But all communication was lost, and sexy heroine (and player-controlled) Regina, rookie dino-fodder (er, agent) Rick, and field-hardened Gale are sent in to investigate. Is there a connection between Dr. Kirk's research and the numerous dinosaurs roaming the island? (Hint: Yes.)

   If this plot synopsis sounds suspciously like a popular dinosaur-themed summer movie from Steven Spielberg, you're right. Biohazard producer Shinji Mikami openly admits that Jurassic Park was a large inspiration. Dino Crisis also owes a large measure of debt to his own "Survival Horror" Biohazard series - only Dino Crisis is described as "Survival Panic." The distinction is apt; whereas Biohazard titles succeed by making the gamer feel uneasy about what's just around the corner, Dino Crisis wants to scare the bejeesus out of the player, pure and simple. And Regina, hopelessly outsized by and underarmed against the mighty lizards, will find herself in a running "panic" more often than not.

Run away!
Run away! Run away!

   Some major structural changes to the gameplay engine promise great innovation. Most notable is that - like Konami's recent "Survival Horror" title Silent Hill - Dino Crisis uses a fully polygonal game engine. Filled to the brim with excellent camera angles, camera movement, and realistic lighting and environments, the engine promises to open up vistas impossible with Biohazard's prerendered backgrounds. The puzzles are promised to be harder than ever before - but they won't be nearly as frustrating. Biohazard's ridiculous six-item limit (where a key and a rocket launcher are each one "item") has been jettisoned for a more gamer friendly system. There's still a limit on the amount of weapons, healing items, and so forth that can be carried; but now an unlimited number of keys, ID cards, Digital Disk Keys, and other "story" items can be carried. This should cut down on needless backtracking to the "magic box." The sound has also been improved and now carries contextual clues as to opponents' locations. Plus, the voice acting doesn't suck! Or so we've heard.

   As for the dinosaurs themselves? A plodding, brain-sucked zombie has absolutely nothing on a lightning-quick, fiercly intelligent Velociraptor. Soaring Pterodactyls and hulking, deadly Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and more, as-of-yet undisclosed dinosaur types leap at Regina through windows at every turn. They're eager to kick, claw, bite, tear, and render the Good Guys in more bloody ways than you can possibly imagine. Fortunately, Regina can soon upgrade her standard pistol to a shotgun and tranquilizer darts, giving her more of a fighting chance.

   "Innovation" and "Capcom" may be two words you don't expect to see in the same sentence - but Dino Crisis is just that, an innovative Capcom title that should set the adventure genre on fire with its release this fall. Here's hoping that Dino Crisis won't be the last new title Mikami-san brings us.

Preview by Andrew Vestal, GIA.
Dino Crisis
Developer Capcom
Publisher Capcom
Genre Adventure
Medium CD (1)
Platform Sony PlayStation
Release Date  07.01.99
Dino Crisis mod-chip crisis solved
Intro, mid-game, and ending movies
E3 artwork
Zippo lighters