Dino Crisis for me was the first introduction to the survival horror genre of gaming, and one of my favourite games on the original Playstation. Being chased by dinosaurs in a video game is nothing new of course, as fans of 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81 will recall, but Capcom takes the tension to a new level on Sony’s first console.
The story to the game is all a bit Jurassic park, with scientists bringing back Dinosaurs from the dead, this time through a rift in space, and you are sent in as part of a team to investigate the facility.
Like another classic Capcom survival horror, Resident Evil, the game relies on lots of creeping around claustraphobic corriders, with appropriate creepy violin music to highten the tension as you wait for the next raptor to leap out at you. The gore level is ramped up to 10, with lots of blood, and some great character deformation, your player limping when injured and dripping blood on the floor. Careful management of weapons and ammo is required to make it through the various stages in one piece, especially when faced with the Tyrannosaurus, with whom you fight on several occasions but never seem to kill.
The controls are an improvement over Resident Evil, allowing some quick movements appropriate for blasing fast moving lizards.
The game used a novel multiple ending mechanic, the ending you are presented with being based on certain decisions made towards the end of the game about when to leave, who to rescue and how to get off the island. This adds a level of replay value, with the game keeping track of which endings you have discovered, and there are side quests and bonus to unlock and extend the life of the game.
Like the Resident Evil series of games for the original Playstation 1, Dino Crisis uses pre-rendedered 3D backgrounds to provide a level of detail not possible in real-time, leaving the Playstation’s graphics processor to focus on the player character animation and the dinosaurs.
Alone in the Dark may have started the survival horror genre, Resident Evil will often feature on lists of the top Playstation 1 games, but Dino Crisis should definitely be in your collection.