Dino Crisis 2 is the next step in the line established by the Resident Evil series and the original Dino Crisis. Dino Crisis 2 takes a more action-oriented approach to the survival horror genre of games exemplified by its predecessors. While there are still lots of large areas to explore, thick with spooky ambiance, there are quite a few more enemies to take out along the way. Gamers can play as either Regina, the plucky heroine of the first Dino Crisis, or as her partner, tactical expert Dylan. Characters gain points as they make their way through the adventure by performing particularly well. When they reach one of the game's save points, these can be cashed in for more ammo, new weapons, or extended attack abilities.
The original Dino Crisis was good blend of two genres, action and survival horror. While the two are typically combined together, Dino Crisis took the combination to the next level. It featured the traditional scares of the traditional survival horror genre such as being alone most of the journey in an unfamiliar place, and fused it with the furious shooting rampage of third-person action games. It wasn't all that perfect, but it worked well for what it was trying to do, and I must say that I really liked the game.
Dino Crisis 2 however scraps most of the stuff that made the first one work so well. For starters, most of the actual survival horror elements were removed, and the game is reduced to a typical action game. The basic plot involves the characters Dylan, a new-comer to the series, and Regina, star of the first game, going to a military base in an effort to find out what happened. Dylan works for T.R.A.T, Tactical Reconnoitering and Acquisition Team, and Regina is a covert operative working for the Government. They're sent to Edward City, an area that was once a headquarters for research on the Third Energy, the substance that caused all the problems in the first game. However, after a test of the third energy, the military base, a test facility, and a nearby town have completely disappeared, and in its place is a massive jungle.
So basically, it's again up to Regina to figure out what the hell has happened. This time however, she's not going it alone. As she and T.R.A.T land onto the area, most of the team gets wiped out by a massive swarm of Velociraptors - all except Dylan, Regina, and David Foxx. Together, these three must figure out what went wrong, save any survivors, and inevitably get as far away as possible Edward City and out of the Cretaceous Period. Oh yeah. I should have mentioned that you go back in time. Because apparently in the year 2010 it's entirely possible to not only go back in time, but also figure out where things are in time. Now, let's ignore the fact that they could have used their fancy time machine to go back before the experiment was started and you know, stop it and prevent the entire game, because then, well, there'd be no game.
After watching a particularly grainy and gory cutscene, you're thrust into the boots of Dylan Morton, tough soldier guy that only wants to be loved. Dylan's a very strong and capable guy, so it's no surprise that he runs off on his own to solve the mystery himself. As he begins wandering the jungle, Velociraptors jump out of the jungle and start attacking him. Fortunately, he's armed with a shotgun and a machete from the get-go, so he can handle himself. For every dinosaur he kills, he earns points that he can later use for the purchase of ammo, health kits, and other doo-dads that you may need to progress. As silly the system is, it's actually full of a lot of strategy. By waiting for a dinosaur to attack, you earn bonus points if you can counter-attack them. If you can escape any damage in an area, you get even more points. It's not that hard at all to earn points, but earning them in style is mildly entertaining.
Soon thereafter, Dylan gets trapped in a room, and you switch roles to play as Regina. Constantly throughout the game, you move from character to character, getting to explore all options of the game. This is a fun little addition that actually does a lot to spice up the action because of the differences between the characters. Regina can't defend herself quite as well as Dylan, but Dylan's a bit of a block head and can't open many electronic doors. Regina is also under-equipped, but faster than her counterpart. These differences make a huge impact in the game, and while playing you actually have to use completely different styles per character. Dylan can go in full-throttle and take out as many dinosaurs as he wants, but Regina has to be more careful and spend a lot of time avoiding her foes. While I like the idea that Dylan is the action element of the game and Regina is the survival element of the game, I wouldn't have minded at all if they had simply one character that did both.
At least the weapons are entertaining, as there's a much larger arsenal of them. For starters, the gathering of weapons has been changed. There's no more running around searching for a key to a building, instead you simply find a notepad strewn about that tells you about a new weapon, go to a special terminal, and purchase it with your dino-slaughtering points. While it's not realistic in the least bit, its still makes the game a bit more bearable. You also get access to defensive and offensive weapons, which makes killing and avoiding the dinosaurs much easier as you get better and better weapons. Without better and better weapons though, consider yourself ****ed. Dino Crisis 2 features a wide-variety of dinosaurs for you to fight, such as the mean Allosaurus or the terrifying King of the Dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I must say that the new T-Rex isn't nearly as frightening as the T-Rex in the first game, who had more of a (Resident Evil) Nemesis-style feel about him. The dinosaur AI is pretty good, with groups of dinosaurs often surrounding you and trying to back you into corners in an effort to eat you heart out.
The game would have been a lot better with a decent storyline, but the one place that it falls apart most is in its graphics department. The character models look absolutely superb to say the least. They're fully animated, and you can even see individual facial features as you walk about. The static camera is a bit of an annoyance, and often times it causes you to get attacked from behind, but all in all it works well. What's so bad then? The backgrounds look like they were drawn with crayons. Seriously, these are some of the worst background I've ever laid my eyes on. Not only are they pre-rendered, but they are so incredibly grainy that it is actually distracting. Furthering this, interactive objects on walls stand out like there's a big clown and a cheerleader pointing at them because they look so much better than the backgrounds. At least the audio makes up for the discrepancies in the graphics. The voice work is much better than in previous Capcom installments, with all of the actors and actresses doing a terrific job of voicing their characters. On top of that, the music is fairly well-done as well, doing its job to be tense and exciting as you run through the areas of the game.
So what's the big problem with the game you ask? Well, for starters, it's a direct port of the console version, and without a gamepad, the game is nearly unplayable. Secondly, as a port of a console game, it seems that the good people at Capcom forgot that gamers don't turn off there PC to end there games, and for some reason they forgot to include an option to leave the game, and instead you have to hold ALT+F4 or CTRL+ALT+DELETE every time you want to stop playing. These minor annoyances, lackluster storyline, horrid backgrounds, and limited replay (I beat it in 6 hours and won't be going back to it anytime soon) really kill a solid title. If you can deal with these flaws, definitely check out the game.
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