European PlayStation cover art
Dino Crisis (ディノクライシス Dino Kuraishisu?) is a survival horror video game developed and produced by Capcom originally for the PlayStation console in 1999. It was developed by the same team behind Capcom's Resident Evil series, including director Shinji Mikami, and shares many similarities with the Resident Evil games that preceded it. The story follows Regina, a special operations agent sent with a team to investigate a secluded island research facility. Finding the place overrun with dinosaurs, Regina must fight through the facility to discover its secrets and ultimately escape alive.
Instead of the pre-rendered backgrounds of the Resident Evil games that preceded it, Dino Crisis uses an original real-time engine with 3D environments. Gameplay features traditional survival horror mechanics including action and puzzles. However, unlike the horror "fun house" feeling of its predecessors, Dino Crisis was developed to have more consistent visceral terror with the dinosaurs being quick, intelligent, and violent. Capcom would later market the game as "panic horror" as opposed to "survival horror" due to these design changes. The team used carnivorous animals as references for animating the dinosaurs and programming their behaviors. Mikami's vision for the game was not completely fulfilled, as he wanted to develop more complex dinosaur artificial intelligence. However, he did believe the team was able to create sufficiently detailed environments despite hardware limitations.
Dino Crisis was a critical and commercial success, with the PlayStation version selling over 2.4 million copies. Critics drew heavy comparisons to Resident Evil, with some describing it as Resident Evil mixed with Jurassic Park, and "Resident Evil with dinosaurs." They also praised the game's intensity, graphics, and gameplay. Some criticism was directed towards the lack of dinosaur variety, repetitive environments, and tedious puzzles. Dino Crisis was ported to the Sega Dreamcast and Microsoft Windows in 2000, and was re-released for the PlayStation Network in 2006. It was followed by two action-adventure sequels, Dino Crisis 2 and Dino Crisis 3, as well as a light gun-based spin-off in Capcom's Gun Survivor series, known as Dino Stalker.
Dino Crisis features game design that is very similar to Capcom's early Resident Evil titles. The player controls Regina, a member of the special forces team that is sent to investigate an isolated military facility that became infested with dinosaurs. Unlike Resident Evil, which featured polygonal characters and objects superimposed over pre-rendered backgrounds, Dino Crisis features real-time 3D environments, although the camera follows the player from fixed angles much like in Resident Evil.
The player's actions are also performed similarly to Resident Evil, but there are small differences, such as being able to aim a gun and move at the same time, and a button that is assigned to quick-turning. Other changes from the Resident Evil formula include tranquilizer rounds that can be used in place of live ammunition for certain weapons and the use of hemostats in order to prevent Regina's injuries from leaving a trail of blood, which will slowly drain her health and can be smelled by predators if her injuries are left untreated. Unlike the item boxes in Resident Evil, the emergency boxes in Dino Crisis can only be accessed by using a certain amount of plugs required to open it. Moreover, the player can only have access to other emergency boxes remotely if they're of the same color code (red, green or yellow).
While key items (including weapons) can be obtained indefinitely, Regina's carrying capacity for ammo and health supplies is limited and any leftover supplies must be stored inside "emergency boxes" if the player wishes to have room available for further supplies. Regina can use several laser shutters scattered throughout the facility to prevent the dinosaurs from following her. There are also "danger events" in which the player must fend off a dinosaur attacking Regina by rapidly pressing any of the action buttons. There are many puzzles to complete in order for the player to succeed. Many of the locked doors in the facility uses a D.D.K. (digital disk key) system in the which the player must decrypt the password required to gain access by inserting a code disk and an input disk. There are also many branching points in which the player must decide in which Regina must choose between the often-conflicting advice of her comrades Gail and Rick.
The game takes place on a fictional location known as Ibis Island in the year 2009. The Secret Operation Raid Team (SORT) has sent an agent, Tom, to investigate a research facility. During the recon mission, he learns that Dr. Edward Kirk, a world-renowned scientist who was reported dead three years ago, is leading a secret weapons project within the facility. SORT sends four agents (Regina, Gail, Rick, and Cooper) to acquire Kirk and return him to custody. The team arrives on the island under cover of darkness, dropping in via parachute. Cooper is blown off course and lands in the jungle away from the others. Lost in the dark, he is chased down by a Tyrannosaurus rex and eaten. The other three agents, unaware of his death, proceed with the mission.
Once inside the base, they discover the eviscerated and partially devoured corpses of security personnel and scientists. After splitting up to restore power to the facility, Gail goes missing. Whilst searching for him, Regina is confronted by a Velociraptor. Re-uniting with Rick, the two determine it was the dinosaurs that caused the bloodbath at the base. Although their mission to recover Dr. Kirk still stands, it is now more important to signal for a rescue. Regina sets out to activate the main antenna to contact their airlift. On her way, she is attacked by another Velociraptor and is rescued by Gail, who then leaves to continue searching for Dr. Kirk. After restoring communications, Regina heads back to the control room and they receive a signal on their communicators. Believing it might be Cooper or Tom in trouble, Rick wants to investigate. Gail shoots down the idea, wanting to follow up on a CCTV sighting that might have been Kirk. The player must choose which course of action to follow.
If the player follows Gail, they go after an unknown man, but end up losing him. Rick then tells Regina that Tom's dead. If the player follows Rick, they come across Tom, badly injured and near death. Rick takes him to the medical room, however a Velociraptor attacks them, and Tom sacrifices himself to kill it, saving Rick. Later, Regina and the team manage to locate Kirk and apprehend him. As they are preparing to leave via helicopter, the T. rex returns and destroys the helicopter, forcing them to flee back into the base while Kirk manages to escape. Regina and Rick flee into the facility and locate keys to a watercraft, but find a vortex in the way of getting to it. Rick speculates this is the space time distortion that brought the dinosaurs back. The two split up to find an alternate route off the island, and Regina ends up being held at gunpoint by Dr. Kirk. He is about to kill her when the gun is shot out of his hand by Gail, and they arrest him again.
Kirk reveals that the dinosaurs were brought to their time by an experiment he was running using his Third Energy technology. A rift in space was created and a pocket of the island from their time was exchanged with the same from the past, bringing dinosaurs back into their time. Kirk then tells them that if the reactors are set to overload, the energy coming from them and the vortex should cancel each other out if they come into contact. After Regina gets the stabilizer and initializer and uses them to overload the reactors, the energy shakes the base, causing a vent to fall on Gail allowing Kirk to get free again. The team heads towards the waterway to escape the blast, but Gail says they still need to capture the doctor. He starts to hobble away on his gun to go after Kirk, and orders Regina and Rick to leave without him if he does not return in thirty minutes. Regina is given the choice to either go after Dr. Kirk with Gail, or escape with Rick. The story then takes one of three endings.
The three possible endings are based on choices made by the player. Near the end of the game, the player has the option to either go after Kirk or find their way off of the island.
- Chase Kirk: Regina and Gail chase and are successful in capturing Kirk. As a twist, Gail reveals that the whole mission was a front and the government did not want Kirk, but instead wanted the Third Energy to use in warfare. Gail gives Regina a disk containing all the data on the Third Energy. Shortly afterward, Gail dies from injuries suffered when the vent fell on him. Regina, Rick, and Kirk, during their departure in a watercraft, battle with the T. rex. Regina kills it using a remote explosive, and they escape.
- Escape the island: Regina, Gail, and Rick manage to escape without Kirk. During the final battle, Rick fires a rocket from a watercraft. The rocket hits a fuel tank, causing a massive overload in the Third Energy generator and completely disintegrating a portion of Ibis Island in the process killing the T. rex and all of the other dinosaurs. The three agents escape safely, but the status of Kirk is unknown although it's likely he escaped.
- The third ending can be achieved by choosing to leave Kirk, but actually going after him. It can also be achieved by going after Kirk, but first finding the helicopter. Regina and Gail locate Kirk in a hangar, preparing a helicopter to escape in (which becomes their only way of escape because the T. rex destroyed the hovercraft while she chased Kirk). Regina knocks Kirk out, and informs Rick of the situation. The T. rex chases Rick to Regina's location. Then Regina, Gail and Rick board the helicopter and flee. During their escape, Rick drops a bomb from the helicopter onto the dinosaur, killing it. All three agents get out alive with Kirk.
Dino Crisis was directed and produced by Shinji Mikami, and developed by a team that would later become part of Capcom Production Studio 4. It is a pseudo-sequel to Mikami's popular Resident Evil series, which Mikami and his team wanted to move away from the fantasy elements of and make something more real. He cited The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Aliens as influences, and liked dinosaurs because they were large, strong, fearsome, and violent. The game was developed and marketed as "panic horror" as opposed to the "survival horror" branding of Resident Evil. It was made to have more consistent fright, with the dinosaurs being more intelligent, quick, and able to chase the player room-to-room. Mikami described Resident Evil as "horror in the fun house" and Dino Crisis as more visceral horror akin to riding a roller coaster.
Dino Crisis utilizes an original 3D engine with real-time environments, as opposed to the pre-rendered backgrounds of the Resident Evil series. Mikami chose a real-time engine to challenge the theories of real-time backgrounds, as well as enable better cinematic action and dramatic character depictions that would otherwise be impossible. However, with the real-time engine came the challenge of hardware limitations, making it difficult for the team to create detailed environments. The team had to forego a jungle scene because of this issue. Mikami did however believe the team was able to create sufficiently detailed environments despite the hardware's polygon limitations. Like Resident Evil, the game takes place indoors in a enclosed environment. Mikami wanted to keep the claustrophobic feelings, thinking it was better to build fear.
Since it is unknown how dinosaurs moved in real life, the team had to use their imagination and animals such as crocodiles and dogs as reference. The animators first scanned in drawings, then used animation tools to see what was possible to animate. The dinosaur artificial intelligence was based on lions, tigers, and other carnivores that are not afraid of humans or weapons. Mikami's vision for the dinosaurs was not completely fulfilled. He wanted to include more complex dinosaur artificial intelligence, with the dinosaurs each having individual personalities that could understand the player's condition and ambush them. The dinosaur animations and cries also did not turn out as he originally envisioned them. The number of dinosaurs in the North American version was increased from the Japanese version.
Dino Crisis was first revealed at the 1999 Spring Tokyo Game Show. The game was initially released in Japan in July 1999, two months before Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Ports were released for the Sega Dreamcast console and Microsoft Windows platform in 2000. A Game Boy Color version of Dino Crisis was planned by UK developer M4, but was cancelled.
Dino Crisis was met with mostly positive reviews. Critics were quick to compare Dino Crisis to the Resident Evil series while also drawing comparisons to Jurassic Park and describing the game as "Resident Evil with dinosaurs". Despite these similarities, reviewers found the game "enhances and alters" the Resident Evil formula with "strength of its own merits." The game was a commercial success, being a bestseller in Japan. The PlayStation version of the game has sold 2.4 million copies worldwide, and is listed as the 18th best-selling Capcom game of all-time as of September 2015.
Critics generally praised the action and intensity of the game, which was heightened by the real-time engine and soundtrack. GamePro found the game to have "an excellent mix of action and strategy," with dinosaur AI that "keeps the action fresh and exciting." IGN described the game as "vicious, flesh-tearing fright," noting the fast-paced gameplay during action sequences. Some praise was directed towards the realism of the game, with the dinosaur behaviors and bleeding mechanics noted. The real-time graphics were generally liked, with critics describing them as "sharp", "sterile", and "clean". GameSpot praised the character models, lighting effects, and found "the use of polygonal backgrounds enhances the feeling of fear even more than Resident Evil." The dinosaurs were a consistent point of discussion among critics. GamePro found the dinosaurs "imbued with an excellent AI that keeps the action fresh and exciting", although some found the variety of dinosaurs to be lacking. Despite the game being "90% Raptors", which IGN found not as scary as monsters from Resident Evil, they found the dinosaur sound effects to be well done.
Game Revolution had a more critical review of Dino Crisis than others, saying the game took "all the annoying parts of Resident Evil and expand upon them" while also ruining the good elements. They found the graphics "impressive technically" but that the "backgrounds get really boring after a short time...all the rooms and corridors look far too similar." Overall, they believed the game to be worse than Resident Evil 2, saying "it's not as scary, the rooms all look the same, the puzzles are far more tedious, there are far fewer hours of gameplay, and the action isn't as good."
The Dreamcast and Windows ports received mixed reviews from multiple sources, criticized for adding very little enhancements to take advantage of their superior hardware. The graphics were viewed as dated on Windows, with IGN calling it "choppy" and pointing out the poor resolution upscaling. On the Dreamcast, Resident Evil - Code: Veronica was viewed as the superior survival horror experience.
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