Dino Crisis 2 PSX

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Judging by early screen shots, sneak peeks at the game’s opening movie, and prerelease demos of the game itself, there will be a lot to talk about when Dino Crisis 2 takes its first public bow. It’s also plain to see that while the original PlayStation is heading down the road to extinction, this is one title that shows the machine still has enough bite for most game players.

The story won’t surprise anyone familiar with the first Dino Crisis. The powerful, enigmatic Third Energy is at the root of a whole bunch of new problems, making it tough for ordinary people (those with no guns) and military people (those with guns that don’t work as well as they’d like). Reprising their roles from Dino Crisis, Dylan and Regina are cool and effective. In the most current, playable incarnation of the game, players start out as Dylan right after the opening movie.

With a few exceptions (a warehouse, a lab), most of the environments are in the great outdoors. They consist of jungles, fields, and other terrific places to get suddenly jumped by dinosaurs (Capcom likes psychological terror, folks).

And when dinos attack, they do so in wonderful ways. Gaggles of raptors spring out of the foliage, immediately snapping and attacking. Unlike in the first game, your character can now use two weapons in conjunction, a nice feature. For instance, one demo had Regina equipped with a large automatic machine gun and a less effective (but more persistent) taser. Use either weapon effectively by aiming and firing, or do a 180-degree spin-and-shoot with the press of a button. Because you can quickly get surrounded by swarms of raptors, this feature is a must. It also lends the game more of an action feel than the previous game.

The spin-and-shoot feature, and others like it, makes it easy to spend your allotment of ammo, so use it judiciously. The taser is a welcome backup for various raptors and other pests, but it has no effect on a monster T. rex. For those, you need bullets–bigger and bigger bullets. By killing beasties quickly and efficiently, players are awarded combo points, which can be used for upgrading to bigger and better weapons.

Like a bad penny, those pesky T. rex bosses keep cropping up when you’re low on ammo, health, or both. Stockpiling ammunition and safeguarding both your weapons for boss confrontations–as well as recognizing and countering the movements of the bosses–are the only ways to make it. Of course, that’s like saying that all you need to win the lottery are the right numbers: easier said than done.

With new features and gameplay mechanisms, slick graphics, and a quick frame rate, this just might be a sequel that’s worth the wait. –Todd Mowatt

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