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Dino Stalker : Shooting dinosaurs because you have to.

Dino Stalker: Jurassic mayhem

  Full Title: Dino Stalker
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Capcom Japan
Publisher: Capcom Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: Out Now

Sometimes games arrive on the market with little hype. This may be because the plan for the game is for it to be a delayed bomb, or simply because the publisher sees no reason to hype it up. Either way, the game may go on to be a resounding success or it could simply add to the existing list of mediocre titles filling our shelves. Dino Stalker builds on the existing Dino Crisis series and using the Resident Evil template I believe it is intended as a stop-gap for Dino Crisis 3. Unforunately, Capcom have struggled with the Dino Crisis series, but not because they have been responsible for the popular Resident Evil games (high standards indeed), but simply because they are not very good. So, how does Dino Stalker fair?

Look good

Capcom have done a decent enough job of the creatures, but being a game about dinosaurs half of the creature design was done already. It does not quite manage the level of detail that games like Jurassic Park reached, but then again it did not have a multi-million dollar film with state of art graphics behind it. You have your raptors, brontosaurs, T-Rex, etc; some fly at you, others jump out of the water at you, and some just sit in the distance and don't even see you. Unfortunately, the framerate drops noticeably at times, and some of the animation and objects look like they should have been left on the PSOne shelf. It makes you suspicious about whether or not this game's development was kicked off on the PSOne. There are still some nice touches with some fun explosions, the ability to shoot walls, cliffs, and trees, some of which affect how you proceed. To be honest, I am being picky here and the graphics are not bad enough to warrant avoidance of this game. We all know that graphics are secondary to gameplay. The visuals are accompanied by the usual array of explosions, roars, and macho grunts courtesy of your character. You even get a love interest, but she seems limited to a couple of vague sounds every so often.

Dinosaurs for breakfast, sir?

The real difference in this game to other light-gun shoot'em ups is the ability to control movement. You have the ability to look and wander around. With a small radar as an aid, you can head towards potential danger or pre-empt a situation, which could leave you surrounded. It sounds quite exciting, and different it definately is, but it does not take long for the pain to kick in. After 30 minutes of wandering through a jungle my thumb began to hurt. This is the first light-gun game I have played that uses all of the buttons available. You could easily not use the strafe buttons, and minimising your movement by shooting carefully eases the burden on your hands. But, you will be punished for this as the clock counts down and you need to move quickly through the levels. This requires turning and shooting quickly, which naturally lead to the hand cramps. It cannot be a bad thing being put under pressure as this ups the excitement, but surely not for the punishment your hand takes. Relief is at hand (no pun intended) as the frequent lack of dinosaurs gives you time to simply wander in the right direction. Light-gun games up to now have been based on scene after scene and you simply do the shooting, which if you're lucky will let you take a different route. Dino Stalker attempts to take address this by giving you the ability to freely roam the land. Well, there is certainly some freedom to head in different directions, but you find that you are still hemmed in. You often reach invisible walls, so there is little choice but to follow the directing arrow.

You are also given a range of weapons to play with from your basic gun to a rocket launcher. Sounds more and more like a first person shooter? Indeed, at times I thought of reverting to the joypad, but who can put down a light-gun once you have adopted your favourite James Bond pose? This meant weapons like the grenade launcher were not really affective or satisfying - I tended to stick with the guns that allowed instant shooting. The vitality bar is far too simple, surely a damage indicator should be based on percentage. It would prove a lot more involving if you knew how much damage would occur from particular actions or attacks.

I have played it and I am happy I have completed it on different levels. It is too short for a game of this type, but when it comes to the crunch I really don't think I could have played it for much longer. Admittedly, I created a huge anti-climax for this game, whereby I was hoping the next stage, level, or boss would be something special. Unfortunately, I was only to be disappointed as I quickly mastered the challenges and found my adrenaline crawling along. The storyline is not even worth mentioning; the evil mad scientist you encountered in Dino Crisis is up to no good again.

Conclusion

It surprises me that Capcom have let this one out of the stable. Generally, they create games of a high standard with a lot of thought put into the gameplay. Somehow, this one slipped through the net. If you're looking for quick and simple light-gun game then pick this up. It won't take you long to complete, and you will be sorely disappointed if you are used to games like 'Point Blank' or 'Resident Evil'.

Yao Song Ng / Vibes