Moving away from aping the Survival Horror formula of Resident Evil like the first game did, Dino Crisis instead crafts its own identity as an Action-heavy take on the genre, giving justice to the concept of fighting dinosaurs for survival.
This is simply a much better sequel, and probably one of the best Action games on the PS1. Now it makes sense why my cousin was so addicted to the game when it was first released, but more on that later.
#44: Dino Crisis 2:-
First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10-point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. The recommendation for a game scoring a 7 largely depends on your personal taste.
"This time, the entire research base, military institution, and a small town close by has disappeared. In their place no lies a jungle from another time"
The first game introduced the concept of "Third Energy", which when generated somehow creates time travel portals. These portals are what introduced dinosaurs to the island in the first game. Now, an experiment with Third Energy went wrong and en entire base and neighboring town were apparently transported to the Cretaceous era where dinosaurs existed.
An elite army of soldiers, including the heroine of the first game, Regina, are transported to the period to save the transported people and bring back the date of the experiment. However, immediately in a technically impressive CGI scene, the entire army is attacked by a horde of dinosaurs, leaving only Regina and two new characters, Dylan and a surfer cowboy dude who is only memorable by how many cliches he embodies.
The only survivors from an entire squadron
Inexplicably, the characters split up often, causing you to alternate between controlling Regina and Dylan as you go through the mission of finding survivors and coming back to your own time. As expected from a Capcom game from that era, the dialogue is hilariously bad, if more competent than in earlier games. Which is charming in a B-Movie kind of way.
Yet, I find the actual story and overarching story a little interesting. An entire society was transported to an era where they needed to deal with weirdly aggressive lizards, and you see the remnants of that struggle to a degree while uncovering some interesting ramifications of the time travel shenanigans.
"Come for more, huh... You one-eyed menace!!"
The first Dino Crisis game copied the Resident Evil formula almost exactly. As such, you were encouraged to avoid fighting the dinosaurs to conserve ammo, and it felt like a lesser Resident Evil game.
Dino Crisis 2 completely upends the formula, somehow creating an Action game within the same engine. Characters still have tank control, but their movement is faster and more fluid. Gunplay is faster, without any need to worry about ammo, and that's the only way to deal with hordes of dinosaurs that will attack you.
Seriously, dinosaurs come in a nearly endless supply, so much that there is a combo system of killing them rapidly without being hit. There is a system of experience points (EXP) that can be earned by performing higher combos and not getting hit within an area.
You never had to, or could, deal with several raptors at once
Areas are a bunch of RE-like corridors with fixed camera angles that are connected to each other without any loading zones. This allows the dinosaurs to chase you as you span, and is a central reason why the game mechanically works. You are actually being actively chased by the enemy. At least, you are being chased when some enemies don't randomly spawn at the border of screen transitions (which can get annoying when it breaks your combs)
It is difficult to accurately state how good the action gameplay feels; I can only say that it feels like a proper arcade system. Each character has different weapons, with Dylan focusing on single-shot power while Regina used more rapid-fire weapons, and the battles against both hordes of raptors as well as the bigger dinosaurs (especially the Allosaurus) are really fun and satisfying.
"Okay, we will have to look for something in this world in order to get us back to our original time"
When you are not shooting dinosaurs, you are usually running from one area to another looking for a key card or a key person. Unlike the first game, there aren't many puzzles to shake things up or information to gather from the environment. You basically go from point A to B, fighting dinosaurs along the way, and buying ammunition and items in save points. Whatever information you gather from the environment is just there to give context (you can find logs and dino files to read).
Instead of puzzles, the game shakes things up with different kinds of action. For example, there are one-off mini-games where you are in a first-person Rail Gun game, one time you control a tank, and other situations that shake up the regular action of the game.
This will teach you to put your neck up the water
While none of these elements add greatly to the game's already excellent gameplay mechanics, they do help keep things fresh and are surprisingly decent additions to an already solid package.
One rather extensive section is an interesting underwater section that is surprisingly not too bad. Thanks to a jet button, it introduces a verticality that works really well, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. It even has one cool boss battle against an enemy that was pitifully weak above water but is suddenly extremely dangerous under it.
Speaking of boss battles, there are several of them here, and they are mostly fun even if most are a bit too easy. In fact, the game is a bit too easy in general, with only one situation in the last boss battle that I think is unfairly hard.
"I knew it would all come down to this. There's no way humans and dinosaurs could ever coexist"
One of the major advancements made in the first Dino Crisis was the deployment of fully polygonal graphics for both the characters and the environment. It taxed the console's memory, which perhaps explains the limited size of rooms and corridors, and didn't look particularly interesting.
Dino Crisis 2 goes back to Caomco's use of pre-rendered 2D background, which works much better. Depicting the lush jungle environments of the period, as well as wreck of base overgrown by said jungle, these backgrounds are beautiful and effective at creating the atmosphere of the game. Somehow, that also allows the polygonal characters, both the low-res main heroes and the detailed dinosaurs, to pop out much better. They actually look quite decent.
Of course, this does mean that the camera angles for each screen are fixed (like in a Resident Evil game), but that was true of the first game as well. Anyways, this quick of this type of game is something you can get used to and is helped by having an auto-aim function.
The CGI scenes are top-quality for that era
Special mention to the CGI scenes, which are some of the best of their time. The in-game scenes are also really good, but sometimes, the slow-motion effect is a tad overdone to the determinant of the scenes.
Something else that helps the atmosphere is the ambient soundtrack and immersive sound effects of both jungle and beasts. There is extensive use of music with natural sounds, which swells into epic or tense tunes at the right moments, including a really good credits song.
One interesting element regarding sound is that it helps to listen to the sound effects to figure out the number of dinosaurs that spawned and their relative location, which helps alleviate the enemy spawning issue I mentioned earlier.
Now I understand why my 13-year-old cousin was so addicted to this game, which is as fun to play as is interesting to look at and watch. This brings me back to the conclusion of the story. After beating the game, he still wanted to play it and finish it in less time, which he did several times.
This culminated in an all-nighter just before school started and even missing the first day of school. When his mother knew about that, she threw the PS1 (I remember that it was the small white one) down the stairs. I distinctly remember coming into their house just as the console hit the ground.
To my knowledge, my cousin (who grew up to be a normal person) rarely if ever played video games after this. In that case, he did sign off the hobby with one hell of a game.
1- Learn to utilize the map and make sense of the directions, it is much improved from the first game and pretty detailed.
2- Enable step commands, which allow you to use Triangle to jump backward or sideways to dodge enemy attacks.
3- Taking no damage in any area is the best way, along with chaining combos, to rack up a lot of exp.
4- Be careful standing next to the level boundaries, because raptors can jump at any second.
5- There is never a need to buy recovery items since there should be more than enough for your use.
6- You can find files containing information about the world by searching cabinets, thrown-around files, and computer screens.
7- Regina's dual gun may look weak, but it is very good at handling multiple enemies.
8- Flying dinosaurs are annoying to deal with without Regina's rapid-fire weapons.
9- You will need to buy the strong weapon in the underwater section to proceed, it is not expensive so you shouldn't have any issues there.
Grandmother dear, what big teeth you have!
For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now reviewing Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.
This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.
Also, note the following:
-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not on the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
Guns have a satisfying weight and recoil to them that send raptors hilariously flying backwards
When I played the first Dino Crisis game, I was skeptical if it was worth having his mother break the console over it for my cousin. While Dino Crisis 2 may not be so fun that it is worth breaking a console for, it did justify why he became so addicted to it in the first place.
I am not sure if the #42 game, Valkyrie Profile, would be as addicting, but I am sure it's going to be a lot of fun. This is a cult-favorite Action-RPG that people still remember fondly today, and I am sure I am going to like it. It's only a question of how much?
For Previous PS1 Game Reviews: