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Jeremy Jastrzab
21 Oct, 2005

Dino Crisis 3 Review

Xbox Review | Did you hear the one about the dinosaur and the spaceship?
Dino Crisis, along with virtually every horror title conceived post, is one of the bastard step-brother’s of Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise. Given the fan fare at the time, a lot of people were excited about a game that would replicate some of the thrills of the original Resident Evil, while still bringing enough original conventions to the table to set itself apart. That, and pretty much anything that involves dinosaurs cannot possibly be anything but cool. However, three is a strange number for games. The first usually brings something original, the second tries to improve on what they've got and by the time developers get to number three, they’re mixing things to keep the freshness and continual evolution going, though prequels seem are quite popular these days as well. With that in mind, 2003 saw the release of the third and possibly last of the dinosaur series that had the potential to hang around.

That being said, Dino Crisis 3 throws all caution to the wind, supplying player's with plenty of twists and turns. Where as the original titles were attempts at replicating the success of the survival-horror genre with dinosaurs in a dark and creepy jungle, Dino Crisis 3 really goes out of its way to be different. The game is set in the middle of the 26th Century, with players being introduced to a space-crew that has picked up a distress call from a spaceship. The ship, the Ozymandias, has suddenly reappeared after 300 years missing from the known universe (What is this? Event Horizon? - Ed) and for some reason is speeding towards Earth. When the crew get there, the Ozymandias fires at them, destroying their ship and leaving them for dead. However, a few of the lucky ones manage to manage to infiltrate Ozymandias and its sinister insides.

The game takes a dramatic twist (within the first 15 minutes) when a few of the surviving members are attacked by a giant t-rex-like creature. From there, it is up to the three surviving crew members to seek out as to why is this ship moving towards Earth, why are there signs of inhabitants on the ship and why the heck there are mutated dinosaurs on a ship that’s been lost since the 23rd Century. Thankfully, the games story is solid enough to answer all these questions in a somewhat plausible manner.

Now say 'ah'!

Now say 'ah'!
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The game doesn’t stray far from its roots in terms of story progression. Other than the mandatory cut-scenes at key points and general story progression, a large part of the older Resident Evil games was the collecting of files and information. Dino Crisis 3 remains faithful to this, with the calamity becoming clearer with every file collected.

The Ozymandias is an absolutely massive ship which is split into several segments. Each of these segments can be shifted and changed, effectively changing the layout of the ship. This big twist on the gameplay turns the ship into one giant puzzle, with the aim to find out what is driving this thing. For example, in the first portion of the game, you start in the rear, which is divided into two prongs. You start in one prong and work your way to a panel that changes the ship structure. The initial move joins the two prongs together, hence opening up a whole new area to explore. These moves will effectively close-off as many doors and areas as they open, but it is an essential part of the games progress.

So making your way to the front of the ship is one issue, but along the way you’ll be faced with two primary tasks. These revolving around the need to collect this item/press that switch and kill anything that moves. The first activity is your standard item hunt that will take you from Point A, to Point B and back to Point a through Point C. It’s not the type of gameplay that will surprise or blow you away. The main twist is that you’ll often need to change the ship’s shape correctly in order to reach some of these switches.

Killing everything that moves is hardly a new concept, but the way that it is executed in Dino Crisis 3 takes away the “horror” out of “survival-horror”. You have three different kinds of weapons; an unlimited ammo energy gun, a wide-shot gun and a laser. The later two have limited ammo and each is good for different situations, that is, close combat and ranged combat respectively. You’ve also got a nifty little weapon at your disposal known as the WASP. As the name implies, you release an insect-like object that will circle you and/or attack nearby threats. There are three kinds of WASP and they can be used as keys to open security doors as well.

Pest problem? Who you gonna call?

Pest problem? Who you gonna call?
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Your enemies consist purely of mutated dinosaurs and laser-pointing security drones. It is disappointing that there are such a limited number that you’ll encounter through the game. It’s strange that they’ll mainly appear out of walls, corners and thin air, and some drones will revive themselves after a short period of time. On that note, it helps that combat is extremely simple. Using the X-button, all you need to do is fire and the game will automatically lock-on to the nearest target. As we all know by now, such a system has its flaws but here they are somewhat negligible. This is mainly due to the rapid fire speed of your primary weapon. It helps when your character has a jetpack that you can use to easily manoeuvre across the floor, especially in a pack of vicious enemies. Since your primary weapon has unlimited ammo, there is not much incentive to stock up on the others. This leads to saving your resources for WASP ammo.

By resources we mean the “tactical credits” that you collect throughout the game. Since dinosaur-filled room will have you tackling a group of beasts (three at a time), you’ll get some points for killing one and these points multiply for as many kills as you can string together. You can also collect floating orbs that add to your credits. In a generous move, the developers have added a metre that will accumulate points which can be later added to your credit as a bonus. The credit acts as a currency, allowing you to refill and ammo, WASP and health, while you can upgrade your health, energy and capacity as well.

The issue here is that the combat simple and that it is fairly easy to get around, which completely disintegrates any from of “horror” from the “survival-horror”. You’ll enter a room and when the ominous music comes on, you know you’re in for some action. That and the scripted appearances can be committed to memory almost every time you enter that room. So while there still is a fight for survival, there is not much fear or associated. However, the game does provide, in places, an excellent sense of isolation and the feeling that you’re the only person on this ship. Especially when you’re walking down a long and winding corridor and you can hear things creaking and rumbling.

Glass-bottom spaceships were all the rage in the 23rd Century

Glass-bottom spaceships were all the rage in the 23rd Century
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The above pales in comparison to the major issue that plagues this game, though. The game's camera is probably the worst that we’ve ever encountered. We have no idea how a game could be released with such a poor camera. Basically, the camera attempts to emulate the old fixed-angle cameras from prior Resident Evil titles. However, these fixed-angles can move a bit and they are probably the worst placed of all-time. Every time you enter a room, the camera will be looking at you from a perspective of a security camera. Then (especially when you are walking down a corridor) the camera will continue to focus on you and NOT what could be in front of you. In the case of the corridor, it won’t focus on the back of you until you’re three-quarters of the way down.

Until you master the logistics of jetpack, combat can be a pain as well, primarily because the characters aren’t very agile or speedy. That, and there are many, many, many occasions where the camera angle won’t show any enemies. You’re pretty much left with your auto aim and the hope that the electric raptor doesn’t sneak up behind you. Even in boss fights, the boss could be charging a massive electric attack that could wipe you out, but you won’t see it. The jetpack at least allows you to make some quick and responsive movements. However, the camera makes most platforming sequences very frustrating and players will often miss important things or get disorientated with their direction.

There are a few other design quirks along the way, namely the unintuitive controls whenever you are floating in zero gravity. You’ll be continuously scratching your head as to which button boosts up and which is to float down. But probably the worst design aspect outside of the camera is the map. The person who designed the map and it’s controls should’ve been sacked a long time ago. It’s slow and frustrating to control, let alone indicate where you are or help whenever you’re in one of the regular disorientation spells.

Wow, you can actually see this one

Wow, you can actually see this one
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Graphically, the game has held up amazingly well over the past two years. Some two-year games look obsolete now, but apart from some dodgy shadow work and the bland setting, the graphics and cinematic presentation of the game are tip-top. Especially the dinosaur models, which despite their lack of variety look spectacular and the FMV's that show the ship when the formation changes. Looking out into space has never been recreated in such a nice manner. The soundtrack is repetitive and comes on cue but there are portions where the feeling of isolation, loneliness and inevitable chaos is spot-on. The voicing would’ve been serviceable, had it not been for the captain, a non-playable character who sounds like a drag queen playing a commando.

As mentioned, there are some major flaws along the way in this game. Namely the terrible camera, the numerous issues brought on this, the by-the-numbers combat and to some extent the atrocious map. The game won’t last past 8 hours and the extra modes are hardly redeeming. On top of that, the game has lost connection to the horror genre. However, hidden underneath all this is a decent premise. The ship formation change puzzles and in-game revelations actually make it interesting for the player - interesting enough to find out why there are dinosaurs roaming in a 300-year-old spaceship that is heading towards Earth. Dino Crisis 3 is not a recommendable purchase for any high price but makes for a great rental over a rainy weekend.

This review is brought to you courtesy of Infinite Gameplay, with unlimited game rentals starting from $19.95 a month.
The Score
If you can get past the major flaws, something that can be done, you're likely to find an experience that is in the least is interesting and a little immersive. A recommended rental if you've really got nothing else to play.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
8 years ago
Why dinosaur are in a spaceship I wouldn't have a clue....

This gives me a good idea for a topic.
8 years ago
It wouldn't be an 'A-Z of games featuring Dinosaurs in Spaceships' is it?

I remember really wanting this game back when it was released. I based it on the CG trailers that were released. There is no doubt that this game has some pretty awesome looking trailers, but thank the gods that I didn't buy it back then.
8 years ago
Pity - Dino Crisis 1 was a great little game - better then the Resident Evil series at the time, mainly because it was in nice full 3D and had better load times. It came out at about the same time as RE3, which was mostly a re-hash of 2.

DC2 was quite good too, but went back to pre-rendered backgrounds, and so was more of a RE clone then 1 was.

Damn - I think i played every survival horror game ever back then! From Evil Dead: Hail to the king, Parasite Eve 2, all REs...
and Silent Hill - the best survival horror game ever made! Waaaay better then any of it's sequels. Of course, I don't count RE4 as survival horror.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Capcom Entertainment
Developer:
  Capcom Entertainment
Players:
  1

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