Cross Jurassic Park with Resident Evil and you get Dino Crisis, a survival horror first released on the Sony PlayStation. Strange things have been happening at a secret military base on Ibis Island if we’re to believe the B-movie plot, and it’s up to a cracksquad of special somethings to fly in and investigate. A little searching reveals the island is crawling with escaped dinos, and it’s up to you to figure out what happened and escape.
The sense of isolation as you creep around the deserted hallways and dino-trashed offices is nicely transformed into an eerie atmosphere. Audio adds a lot to the general sense of unease, and the addition of 3D makes the experience feel different to Resident Evil. The steady roar of waves pounding against the nearby beach when you’re in the base’s backyard further cements that isolation. When you’re inside, a combination of the spooky musical score, dead silence, and the occasional rattle of a dino claw from the darkness ahead do the trick.
Capcom is unparalleled in the console world for establishing a suitable mood in survival horror, and the ambience is ladled out in ample doses here. Although you will battle offscreen foes at times, cinematic touches such as a T-Rex smashing its head through a nearby window and more subtle expressions such as a moonlit hallway make the defects of the third-person viewpoint easy to live with. Unlike Resident Evil, the environments here are completely three-dimensional, although a lot of those static cameras can be found.
Puzzles are nothing more than time-killers for anyone who played Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark, but the sheer size of the area as well as the number of puzzles results in a lot of backtracking and memo-reading. In fact, you solve puzzles more often than blast dinos, which is a bit of a letdown for a game whose main pitch is exterminating the critters. All of this usually fits in with the game’s internal logic, though occasionally you’ll stop and wonder at the sheer ridiculousness of using colored blocks to line up pipes. Dino Crisis is definitely not the apex of survival horrors, though it can pack some appeal for RE fans who enjoy this kind of experience.
System Requirements: Pentium 100 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95