With 2.75 million units sold; Resident Evil became one of the most successful games for PlayStation and soon grew to become one of the most iconic game franchise. So it was no surprise that Capcom teamed with director Shinji Mikami again to make a new horror survival game. The result was Dino Crisis.
First don’t call it “Resident Evil with dinosaurs”. That may have been the impression to have when Dino Crisis was first announced; but upon playing it one will be quick to realize that there is a big difference between the gameplay. To rewrite a genre, it takes more than just substituting zombies with dinosaurs.
Gamers take on the role of Regina; an agent of the Secret Operation Raid Team (SORT). Her team has been deployed to a research facility on Ibis Island to apprehend Dr. Edward Kirk and acquire his research. Upon their arrival, the SORT team discovers the mutilated corpses of security personnel and scientists. Soon Regina discovers that dinosaurs are the reason behind the massacre and now the mission has become a fight for survival.
Dino Crisis attempted to rewrite the genre by introducing the concept of “panic horror”; a style of horror survival in which the fear aspect is built with moments of high suspense. This was achieved with moments when Regina would be ambushed with no warning along with the eerie music that would add to the sense of isolationism.
At the same time the game kept many of the elements of horror survival set by Resident Evil but in a more realistic setting. Players had to solve puzzles that were more practical to the environment such as finding key cards, unlocking passwords, fixing fuss boxes, or moving boxes. In the combat setting; the player has only three weapons and very limited ammo resulting in the strategy of survival that is based on rationing.
But also like Resident Evil the game attempted to break away from the stereotypical gender roles that are common in both video games and horror films. Since Regina is the main character, she could not have her role dwindled into “the useless chick.” It also important to note that Regina’s visual appearance and character personality has not been sexualized. Instead gamers are again introduced to strong willed heroine that can be truly admired for her character trait.
Upon its release; Dino Crisis was a major critical and commercial success. Based on reviews gathered by GameRankings.com; Dino Crisis received an 83% approval rating while selling 2.4 million unites. As an added bonus; the game included a demo for the upcoming Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. In 2000 the game was ported to the Dreamcast and PC.
Its success was followed by Dino Crisis 2; which broke away from the traditional horror survival format and introduced a new style of gameplay that was focused more on action. This style would become basis in which Resident Evil 4 would use to redefine the horror genre in 2005.
So what ever happen to this successful franchise?
Well some time in the idea factory of Capcom; they decided to introduce a third game that was inspired by the age-old joke of “Jurassic Park: Dinosaurs in Space”. To no surprise; Dino Crisis 3 was panned by critics and effectively killed off the franchise. During an interview with IGN; Christian Svennson, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development for Capcom, has commented that “Dino Crisis comes up from time to time in development meetings, but their isn’t any burning desire from R&D or the business side to light that franchise back up again.”
Hopefully someone at Capcom who has a creative imagination and love for dinosaurs could light up the franchise once again.