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MIA - Dino Crisis

We just need some dino DNA to bring this franchise back from extinction.

Well kiddies, it’s another fantastic Friday and that means another installment of my favorite bi-weekly column Missing in Action!  For those of you not familiar with my weekly staple, MIA is a column where we pick a game or franchise out of the gutter, clean it up and present it for a current generation update. 

To qualify for the MIA spotlight the game or franchise cannot have a new entry on any of the current generation consoles, nor can a new title be in development, though unconfirmed rumors and speculation are admissible.  The title or franchise must also be served well by a current generation, since titles like Boogerman should stay firmly in the past.

This week we present for your consideration, Dino Crisis!

Released in 1999 by Capcom, Dino Crisis blended Jurassic Park with Resident Evil to surprisingly pleasing results.  Taking place in the not too distant future of 2009 (now the not so distant past), the game follows a Secret Operation Raid Team (SORT) as they raid a secret research facility on the fictional Ibis Island.  Their mission: acquire rogue scientist Dr. Edward Kirk and return him safely to custody.

Of course, once they arrive on the island via parachute things start to go bad.  Starting when Cooper, a veritable red shirt in this game, gets blown off course to his ultimate doom.

Once the game really gets started you assume the role of Regina, the series’ cover girl so to speak.  (Quick aside: I must give credit to Capcom for providing as many lead roles to female characters as they do.  This needs to be more common practice in today’s games.)  Popular survival horror standards take over from here, with Regina solving the mysteries of the research facility with the occasional assistance from the rest of her team as they encounter pissed off dinosaurs.  Through thorough exploration of the facility, Kirk is eventually captured and it is revealed that he accidentally ripped a hole in space-time and brought the dinosaurs from their respective eras, because sometimes shit happens.

The ultimate solution?  Blow the place up by overloading the island’s reactors of course.

Admittedly this is all kind of silly and to be brutally honest, interesting plots anchored firmly in reality have never really been part of Capcom’s MO.  What made this game excellent were its survival horror elements and dinosaurs.  By combining what it had learned from its success with the Resident Evil series with the time's craze with dinosaurs and cloning, Capcom had engineered the perfect storm for a successful franchise.

The game did very well at retail, shipping over 2.4 million units on the original PlayStation alone and spawning two sequels and lesser known light gun-based spinoff called Dino Stalker.

The second game is where Capcom began to stumble.  Essentially it more of the same, but set in the past.  This was good enough to make the game a commercial hit, but failed to capitalize on an opportunity to evolve the series in such a fashion that it could sustain itself over the long haul. 

And the third game, well, let me take a moment to briefly pontificate on Dino Crisis 3 (aka the game that killed the series). 

There is a special group of people that think that everything is somehow better in the distant future and in space.  Those people were put in charge of developing Dino Crisis 3 for the Xbox.  As opposed to taking place around the same time as the first two games, the third entry takes place in the year 2548.  On a space station.  With genetically altered dinosaurs.  Yeah, that’s all I really have to say about that.

So how can we improve this franchise for the current generation? 

  • More Dinosaurs! – The first title in the series had a paltry five species of dinosaur represented with a majority of the encounters involving Velociraptors since they were made infamous by the Jurassic Park flicks.  Additional dino variety would add depth and menace to a title that could use it.
  • New environments – The first game takes place in a lab/jungle.  The second takes place in the jungle once again, and the third…well that takes place in space.  What I’m saying is that there isn’t really any variety here.  This could be taken care of with my next suggestion…
  • Make it a real crisis – Considering the isolated nature of the original games, they could have been called Dino Incident.  I suggest creating more of a dino epidemic and spread this crisis worldwide.  Imagine a Dino Crisis game in New York City or Chicago or London or Tokyo, etc…
  • Open up the adventure – The original games were limited in space and scope because they were survivor horror games like Resident Evil.  That’s all fine and dandy, but the main idea behind the games (player vs. dinos) calls for something bigger.  Transferring the play to a more action/adventure style of play would open up greater possibilities, and the horror elements could still be retained through presentation and certain level designs.
  • Multiplayer – Co-op campaign is a no brainer here, so let’s skip right on over to my competitive mode suggestion: Dinos vs. Humans.  You could have a small portion of players represent the human contingent who is focused on accomplishing a specific goal (i.e. getting through central park, blowing a reactor, etc…).  The other players all take the roles of dinosaurs trying to kill them.  To simplify the idea, you could have all dino players be Raptors, so that a natural pack mentality evolves .  You can’t tell me this wouldn’t be a blast to play.

So there you have it.  It seems to me that the world would be a better place if there was a new, high quality Dino Crisis game in it.  Have any fond memories of the original title?  Got any suggestions on how a new entry could be made even better?  Let your thoughts be known by sounding off in the comments section below!





01/20/2012 at 11:22 PM

One of my friends is a huge Dino Crisis nut. His head would explode if Capcom brought it back...

I can imagine an RE 4/5 style Dino Crisis, with all sorts of weapons. There'd have to be A)A hunting sequence where you're in hot pursuit of Dinosaur  B) Chase sequence where you're running like hell to avoid a big baddie, or a group of dino's hunting in packs.

That's all I got. Like the humans vs dino's concept. I'd play it...

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

01/21/2012 at 10:09 AM

I wish Capcom would make a Dino Crisis not in the style of Resident Evil or any other Capcom property. The Dino Crisis series is great in concept and deserves its own identity.


01/26/2012 at 08:45 PM

I never played Dino Crisis but I think dino games have everything going for them and just haven't been executed in a terribly good way yet. I watched the Jurassic Park movies as a kid and love those movies, and when the early Turok games on N64 came along I was in love but I don't exactly want to play that kind of arcade-y dino shooting gallery anymore. I love the concept of dinos in a game and when the 2008 Turok reboot came along I was super excited and full of nostalgia for the N64 Turoks that came before, but I was let down quite a bit. It's a perfectly playable game and it's not a bad game at all, it's pretty fun at times and hey it has dinos! But it's not a good dino game, and I'm tired of those kinds of experiences.

The movie Jurassic Park kind of was on the right track. If you watch Jurassic Park, it's not about action/shooting, at all. That movie is about awe, suspense, horror, and survival. You feel the awe when you come across the beauty of the dinosaurs and see scenes like a Brontosaurus grazing on grass. You feel the suspense when you get the chill in your spine knowing that you might have Velociraptors hunting you. You feel the horror when you finally confront a dangerous dinosaur, and you feel the primal survival instincts when you come to the realization, "Wow I'm living in an environment full of dinosaurs, this could go very badly and I can't just sit back in awe like a tourist!"

I'm not saying dino games should play out like early Resident Evil games, because I hate the mechanics of those games. I think a dino game should be very psychological and try to make you feel like a small species surrounded by larger sometimes beautiful, sometimes disgusting, sometimes harmless, and sometimes dangerous dinosaur species. It should be a bit Splinter Cell, Uncharted, Resident Evil, Bioshock, and whatever else. Dinosaurs in games like Turok have just become something you know you can blast into bits. I want dinosaurs to be brought into a more realistic light and be portrayed as real animals in a real ecosystem that can absolutely effect the player's survival, how the player moves around an environment, and the dinosaurs should be able to affect each other as well.

You made great points Jesse. I'd love more dinosaurs, new environments, a narrative with more crisis, open level designs with flexible encounters, and multi-player would be awesome too.

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