Fifteen year old Andy would never have admitted it, but Capcom’s survival-action thriller Dino Crisis scared the pants off me.
I keenly remember jumping out of my skin whenever I heard the distinctive noise of the raptors lurking around the corner, or the bone-chilling cries of the pterosaur as it circled above, waiting to ambush me, pick me up and toss me into the nearby air conditioning unit.
No, while I did extoll the virtues of the title to my high school peers, I never mentioned exactly how much Dino Crisis made me cower – and isn’t it about time it did so again?
Built on a similar engine to that used to create Capcom’s multimillion pound cash cow Resident Evil, Dino Crisis was Resi’s (in my humble opinion) far more entertaining twin sister.
Set on mysterious Ibis Island (which in no way resembles Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park), the game tasked you – as special forces operator Regina – with capturing a rogue scientist and solving the mysterious disappearance of an agent months before.
As part of the Secret Operation Raid Team (subtle name…) the player infiltrates the jungle with the aim of SORTing (see what I did there?) it all out and being home in time for tea.
Let’s do the time-warp again
The only problem is that the crazed scientist who forms the core of SORT’s mission has somehow harnessed a new form of energy – and ‘accidentally’ opened a time portal.
If this portal went to the 1980s the worst SORT would have to deal with is bad hair and power ballads – but no, the portal goes back to the age of the dinosaurs – and the big fellas do so love to explore.
Beforelong, the player finds themselves fending off waves of intelligent (for the time) AI-controlled dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes – all while putting the mystery together, fighting off traitors with goals of their own and desperately trying to find more ammunition for your shotgun.
Like Resident Evil before it, Dino Crisis was tense as hell. As Regina, the player faced a constant challenge to move forwards, exploring, while fending off surprise attacks at every turn. Added to this – and unlike Resi’s zombies – the dinosaurs would work together to flank you, meaning every shotgun shell became precious.
However – and again like Resi – the camera was an utter pain in the arse, and quite often would make it very difficult to find the raptors stalking you, let alone fire at them. Plus, the voice acting was hilarious bad.
Dino Crisis was also the first game I ever played with quicktime events – not that the invention of that gaming trope was a good thing.
However, despite its problems, Dino Crisis’ decent story, tight gameplay and constant tension made for a memorable adventure indeed.
While it would be easy to brush the game off as ‘Resident Evil with dinosaurs’, the game held together well on its own – and even spawned two sequels. Granted, they were a bit naff – Dino Crisis 2 was dull, while Dino Crisis 3 (dinosaurs on a spaceship) was frankly insulting.
Bring it back
So, how should Capcom resurrect the series?
Well, firstly, Capcom shouldn’t. We’ve all seen what they did to Resident Evil – RE6 was utter tosh, largely alienating its audience and forgetting what the series was known for.
In fact, I think control of Resident Evil should be wrested from their cold, money-grabbing fingers until they can be trusted with a beloved videogame franchise once again.
No, I’d hand the rights to Dino Crisis to Naughty Dog – the folks behind Uncharted and – more importantly – The Last of Us.
If anyone knows how to do survival horror right, it’s them. Imagine a Dino Crisis with the same slick combat and stealth as TLOUs – but while retaining the series’s inventory management and feeling of isolation.
Naughty Dog would also do well to polish up their AI coding before creating an army of time-displaced dinosaurs, however. TLOUs was fraught with dumb enemies who would blunder into your path, or get stuck in walls – I don’t want to see any raptors deciding it’s fine to stick their heads inside a shipping crate to avoid trouble.
A co-op mode would be good too – but you’d have to force the two players to share resources and actually work together. That is when they’re not fighting off wave after wave of tiny biting critters – or T-Rexes.
So yeah, Naughty Dog, get on it.
What games would you like to see rebooted? Leave a comment..