Dino Crisis 3
In Space no one can hear you scream, and that's just fine with the horrifying reptilian inhabitants of the Ozymandias space craft.
Action / Survival Horror
Dino Crisis 3 marks the third outing of Capcom's sci-fi action, Resident Evil-styled Dinosaur survival horror series, but this time it's only for the Xbox console.
Unlike the previous chapters of this Dinosaur slaughtering franchise, the setting of part three takes place in space. You assume the role of Patrick, a member of Special Operations and Reconnaissance, accompanied by his other S.O.A.R.s comrades Sonia and Jacob, who are also playable. New to the series are cool new weapons, an updated roster and cool new settings and puzzles to solve.
The storyline of Dino Crisis 3 is actually pretty good. Basically you and your comrades are trapped onboard a space cruiser with a bunch of unsavory prehistoric hosts to keep you company. The ship that they're on, the "Ozymandias", is an enormous space craft that left Earth 300 years ago to transport a bunch of settlers to Alpha 2. Now some 300 years later, in the year 2548, the Ozymandias mysteriously appears in our solar system outside of Jupiter's orbit.
Spotted outside of Jupiter's orbit in the year 2548, the S.O.A.R. team intercepts it in order to investigate it, and as with most, if not all sci-fi stories done in a similar vein, something goes awfully wrong. The Ozymandias mysteriously opens fire and destroys the transport ship of the S.O.A.R. team and they become trapped onboard the enormous ship, setting the stage for a series of grizzly encounters as the team explores the ship in search of answers.
Of course the type of life forms they might be expecting to establish contact with inside the Ozymandias are nothing in comparison to the scope, scale(s), and size of the inhabitants that await them. The ship is filled with hordes of genetically engineered dinosaurs, savage, smart, and fast. The members of the S.O.A.R. team will need to fight them all off in order to find out who or what is controlling the Ozymandias.
There are plenty of mysteries to uncover, such as who or what was piloting the ship when it opened fire on the S.O.A.R. transport ship, where the hell is everyone or anyone for that matter, and Why is the ship's navigation system indicating that its final destination is Earth? Thoughts of re-populating the Earth with Dinosaurs might come to mind but those are just wild guesses and you'll just have to play it to find out eh?
The controls of Dino Crisis 3 are easy to get the hang of quickly. Your character's moves consist of shooting, unleashing powerful charge shots by holding down the firing button R-type style. Once the pulse shot is charged up, releasing it sends out powerful blasts that can take down some of the space Dinos with one shot. Your character can also strafe and have the advantage of auto aiming functions.
Outfitted with jetpacks, you can jump very high, dash quickly over some good distances and hover in mid-air after jumping, providing the character with a slow descent back to the ground or to whatever platform he/she needs to get to.
Probably the most effective weapon in your arsenal are the very cool little drones (W.A.S.P.) that you can unleash from your backpack like the Beast Master and have them take apart Dinosaurs or open certain types of doors. The drones or "tempest", after being released will circle the nearby areas until they're able to lock on to specific targets such as Dinos and annihilate them. Unfortunately your tempest stock is limited and needs to be restocked occasionally, but on the flip side, having unlimited tempests would make the game an absolute cakewalk as you wouldn't have to make use of your guns very often.
Other controllable features of the game consist of the ability to switch to first person view anytime during play, doing so helps you view the surrounding areas more effectively, a very useful function that helps to counter the imperfect camera angles. Character movements are handled quite well and have fortunately been graced with 2D styled controls unlike the 3D controlling madness of the Biohazard/Resident Evil series.
Even though the gameplay of Dino Crisis 3 is more action oriented, it does possess many survival horror elements that consist of the usual exploration of segmented areas, unlocking doors that can only be passed with certain weapon upgrades, conserving of ammo, health restoration, puzzle solving to gain access to other areas, clearing pathways and battling any non-human or unfriendly life forms you encounter.
The gameplay takes place inside the massive space cruiser, Ozymandias and features the largest gaming environment ever created for a Dino Crisis game. With plenty of ground to cover, you'll comb almost every area of the ship in search of weapons, clues, and various other items.
Manoeuvring around inside the ship you'll constantly be kept on your toes as the ship's environments can be quite dynamic at times, changing the make up of the ship and how you access certain areas. You'll experience Zero Gravity and have to adapt to the slightly altered control scheme.
Those familiar with Viewtiful Joe's missile chamber level won't be totally new to Dino Crisis' "Formation Change" function as it alters the position of certain areas throughout the ship, allowing easier access to what was once unreachable. It's this type of dynamic element of the environments that keeps the gameplay from going stale. Such a thing was incredibly fun in Capcom's Viewtiful Joe and it's fun here to.
As you make your way through the game you'll collect items such as ammo for your weapons, clues, health kits and many more stuff along the way while trying to fend off the giant grizzly reptiles. As with other Capcom survivor horror offerings, there are Save Points positioned throughout certain areas in the game to bring players a great sense of relief after enduring some health draining battles and travels throughout the ship. The Saving is done via Support Terminals throughout the ship.
These Support Terminals serve as multi-purpose machines that also provide you with files to download, files that provide clues to the puzzles and background information to help you further understand the game's story. The Terminals also house Item shops where using the points you've garnered up until that point, can purchase more ammo, wasps, and healing items. Other useful functions of the Item Shop would be the ability to upgrade your stats and even increase your carrying capacity.
Of course you'll need a way to pay for this stuff, nothin's for free and you don't wanna be caught shoplifting in space. As you destroy enemies your tactical bar fills up. Chaining your combos to unleash an attack fury on the unsavory beasts will fill the meter noticeably faster. Once you're done with that you make your way to the Support Terminals where they'll tally your points and award you bonus credit to be used to purchase items at the shop.
Even though you won't have to deal with zombies in space jumping through windows and lickers creepily approaching you, at times the Dinosaurs do exhibit some survival horror styled tendencies. Meaning that they're not always immediately visible. Some will pop up out of nowhere and attack, making the battle scenes random with varying difficulties. You'll fight a great selection of monstrous dinos ranging from giant slug looking creatures to even some great looking two headed monstrosities.
The earlier battles aren't difficult to escape unharmed but the later ones will certainly require that you become one with your dashing technique and the usage of your special W.A.S.P. drones.
One of the most glaring problems throughout the game are the camera angles. It's kind of annoying to be fighting both the camera and the enemies in the game. The camera's focus is always on your character, stalking your character's every move, never really giving the surrounding environment much love, which can be somewhat claustrophobic in a sense as the camera view can appear to be narrow, ignoring most of the surrounding areas. This problem becomes a whole lot of fun when you actually have to fight multiple monsters that are bouncing you around because you can't really see straight ahead.
The camera does tend to pan back a little sometimes to provide you with a wider view of the environment, but not out of generosity. It does so you can view the platform jumping obstacle course(s) you'll need to maneuver through by utilizing your rocket pack. Don't expect to perfectly land on all platforms all the time, thanks to you know what - that pesky camera.
Fortunately there's a first-person view mode that allows you to move the camera view in a variety of ways in order to visually explore the environments and get a better view on things. However you're stuck like chuck whenever you activate this viewing mode as there is no actual character movement allowed. Your character remains stationary but is well equipped with his/her gun and charge shots. Still, it would have been pretty nice to have a little manual control over the camera during regular play (needed to take that parting shot).
Fortunately, even with the camera problems, other features such as the convenient auto aiming helps make things a bit easier to handle as you're not left fighting the controls to aim properly at the enemies. Your character automatically locks onto the nearest enemy during battle, freeing you from the chores of manual aiming so you can perform some evasive maneuvers such as jumping, dashing, as well as shooting and utilizing special weapons.
The graphics are a tad bit disappointing. It looks pretty darn good in many areas, but still a bit underwhelming for an Xbox powered title coming from a top quality developer like Capcom. Having just come off of From Software's visually impressive Otogi experience, anything less would be uncivilized. For the most part, Dino Crisis 3 would look pretty good as a PS2 or GameCube title but only looks OK as an Xbox game.
The character designs are quite sharp and detailed with plenty of smooth rounded edges to give them a more organic look. The humanoid characters are well modeled, textured, and animated. The dinosaurs are also modeled beautifully and animated just as well, moving around in an intimidating fashion. However while some looked pretty good, others had a sort of questionable, just-out-of-the-oven look to them, that didn't work too well.
Other issues include the lack of any real shadowing effects, it's the return of the good old generic circle shadows underneath the characters. The explosions throughout the game were also somewhat mediocre and didn't provide the visual impression, sonic BOOM, or devastating dynamics of high quality explosions.
The environments are a mixed bag. Featuring polygonal environments to traverse throughout the various sections of the ship. Each area of the ship is designed with such intricate details, it's almost as if Capcom was trying to reproduce an actual space ship that had actual Dinosaurs on them, but we all know those things don't exist yet, right?
Some areas look astounding, sporting solid metallic texturing and shading along with ample use of cool reflections. Showing off the graphical engine of Dino Crisis 3 there are many reflective surfaces that appear throughout the game. Even throughout the more intense portions of the game the frame rate remains steady. The CG cut scenes are all of high quality and look fantastic. All done with a sense of direction and style that help them stand out as some of the best this generation.
The audio portion of Dino Crisis 3 consists of some nice atmospheric and orchestrated musical scores, all receiving the 5.1 surround sound treatment so those lucky few of you with a nice home theater system can take advantage of what the game has to offer aurally.
Sound effects are also done very well with a wide use of them ranging from the thick sounds of weapons discharging, intimidating growls, and a host of other convincing sounds that show that the sound design of Dino Crisis 3 certainly wasn't an afterthought.
The voice acting, while limited, is nothing to write home about and is of acceptable quality. Overall, the sound presentation of Dino Crisis 3 was very well done, showing off the care that went into the game's sound design.
Dino Crisis 3 is a solid title that would have benefitted from a little extra care to flesh out the technical issues in the game. While not a very long game when compared to Capcom's other survival horror styled games, it packs some cool extras that you can unlock, as well as some solid 'Dinosaurs in space' action and story to keep players playing even after finishing the game.