Dino Crisis: What You Do

I’ve mentioned that this game contains both dinosaurs and guns, so it probably doesn’t come as a shock that it involves shooting at dinosaurs. However, that’s not what you spend most of your time doing. There’s a lot of time spent wandering around wondering when the next dinosaur is going to show up, for one thing. Even when you find one, there’s a good chance that you’ll be out of ammo and unable to shoot at it — insufficient ammo being one of the defining traits of the Survival Horror genre. Normally, this would be the point at which you start running from the monsters, which is a good tactic against zombies, but less so against velociraptors. Here, escape means getting a closed door between you and the animal, usually by backing out the way you came.

Actually, there’s one other interesting twist on the shoot/escape duality here: tranquilizer darts. These can disable a dinosaur, but they wear off after a while. If you think you’re not going to be coming back to a location, they’re as good as shooting a dinosaur dead, and even if not, they can be used as a stopgap until you find more bullets. Figuring out when it is and isn’t worth using tranquilizers to save your ammo is probably a big part of the game’s tactics, but it’s a complication I haven’t really engaged yet.

Speaking of complications, the game has a bunch of gratuitous ones. For example, there are security doors that don’t just require a key, they require a matching data card and a data disk that, once inserted, require you to solve a simple puzzle before proceeding. (How the velociraptors got to the parts of the complex behind these doors when they can’t even operate simple doorknobs, I don’t know. But then, I don’t know yet why they’re present on the island at all, so I’ll let it slide for now.) Or consider the boxes. This is a strange mechanic basically inherited from Resident Evil. In RE, your carrying capacity is limited, and you can’t just drop stuff anywhere, but there are boxes you can stash things in. The strangest part is that they’re all the same box. If you stash stuff in one, you can retrieve it from any of the others. It seemed like a gratuitous complication there, just extra mechanics for the sake of extra mechanics. Dino Crisis adds more complexity: you need to open the boxes with “plugs” of various colors, and only boxes with the same color of plug share their contents. Or something like that. Resident Evil had a simple crafting system for making healing items of various strengths out of herbs; Dino Crisis has a more complicated system that apparently can be used to make tranquilizers as well.

And that’s where a lot of the time goes, as well as a lot of the player’s attention. On all these little complications. We have here a largish system of details, only some of which are related to the game’s theme or premise. It seems designed for people who have already played Resident Evil backward and forward, and have gotten bored with it. It gives those players new stuff to learn, to persuade them that it’s not just a reskinning of old gameplay.

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