HORROR GAME VAULT: DINO CRISIS

By Nick Durham

I often feel like Capcom’s Dino Crisis franchise is often forgotten, which is a damn shame considering this survival horror game was a pretty big hit when originally released for the original Playstation in 1999. Created by the same crew behind the original Resident Evil games, Dino Crisis was for all intents and purposes, a Resident Evil game with motherfucking dinosaurs instead of zombies and monsters. This alone made the game more than worth checking out, even if at its heart the game is little more than a beat by beat clone of Resident Evil 2 in terms of overall gameplay elements. 

The story of Dino Crisis follows secret agent Regina, who is sent along with her team to investigate a secluded island. You end up discovering that the research facility on the island is home to blood thirsty raptors which will hunt you down, and a murderous T-rex that you will have a few memorable encounters with as well. In the midst of navigating the facility and taking on the dinos, you’ll do the typical survival horror stuff like solve puzzles and conserve your resources, etc. Unlike the Resident Evil games of this era though, the game’s environments are done in real-time 3D instead of the pre-rendered areas the old Resident Evil games were famous for. One thing the old Resident Evil games were infamous for were the horrendous tank controls, which are utilized here in Dino Crisis, but seem to be implemented much better here, which is a big plus.

The major department that Dino Crisis delivers though is in the scare department. There are some very, very solidly done jump scares and frights to be found here. There’s a very well done sense of dread permeating throughout the game, and you truly feel the sensation of not knowing what’s waiting around the corner for you. The only real drawbacks to Dino Crisis is that the game’s environments and enemies have little to no variety. This may be more because of system limitations than lack of imagination, but it doesn’t help you from losing interest in the long run. There are different possible endings to get based on the choices you make in the game, so there is a little bit of replayability here.

Dino Crisis ended up being somewhat of a surprise hit critically and commercially when it was released. It would receive ports to the Sega Dreamcast and the PC the following year, and a version was even being developed for the Game Boy Color but ended up getting cancelled. Sequels would follow, with Dino Crisis 2 released only for the Playstation in 2000, a spin-off light gun game called Dino Stalker for the Playstation 2 in 2002, and Dino Crisis 3 for the original Xbox in 2003. Dino Crisis 3 would be the last installment of the franchise, which found the dinosaurs in space (yes, you read that right). I’ll be going through the whole series in the next few installments of Horror Game Vault, so strap yourselves in. 

If you’ve never played the original Dino Crisis, I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out. It can usually be found fairly cheap and still holds up well today surprisingly enough. I honestly thought this would be one of those games that my memories would hold in higher regard than what it actually was, but this game is still a fun blast. Give it a look if you can.

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL 7

By Nick Durham

Hard to believe that the Resident Evil franchise has been around for over 20 years now isn’t it? In that time what started as a video game series evolved into countless other media, whether it be the now long-running live-action film series, comic books, novels, toys, and more. In that time frame, the video game series all this sprouted from has seen numerous sequels and spin-offs across a variety of consoles and platforms. The main numbered series of games has reached a bit of stale note however in the past few years, with the last truly great game in the franchise being Resident Evil 4 from 2005. Resident Evil 5 and 6 were more concerned with action-oriented gameplay than true survival horror elements, and besides being littered with bugs, glitches, and other annoyances; were chores to play through. We did get the Resident Evil: Revelations spin-offs, which were relatively fun on their own, but they didn’t reach those lofty heights that longtime fans of the series were yearning for…until now.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard isn’t just a glorious return to form for the staggering series, it’s a landmark entry in the franchise that makes it feel every bit as fresh that Resident Evil 4 did over a decade ago. Like that game, Resident Evil 7 changes the main gameplay itself, this time around dropping the third-person, over the shoulder gameplay of the past few entries, in favor of a first person perspective. Now this isn’t the first time Capcom has tinkered with giving the series an FPS treatment (and the less said about 2000’s Resident Evil: Survivor on the original Playstation, the better), but unlike back then, this is exactly what the series, and what we as fans and gamers, have been waiting for.

The storyline of Resident Evil 7 ditches long recurring characters like Chris, Jill, Leon, Wesker, and more in favor of giving us something new. Instead, it focuses on a man named Ethan who receives a message from his thought to be deceased wife Mia. Ethan is led to a run down plantation in Louisiana where he encounters the family that reside there, and it doesn’t take much to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with them. This is confounded by the fact that there are regenerating enemies and other horrors lurking in this house; along with some flat out terrifying secrets for you to uncover.

The biggest strength of Resident Evil 7 is that it is in first person view. This in itself ratchets up the scare and “holy shit” factor all the way through the roof, even though cheap jump scares are surprisingly minimal. Being in this view makes the game’s horror elements feel absolutely primal and insanely freaky. It may sound like a promotional line for the game, but if you don’t jump playing this fucking thing, you should probably check your pulse. The environment you navigate through help make this game even more freaky, with claustrophobic areas that are incredibly well designed. The tense atmosphere, combined with the brutal, gory violence and increasing sense of dread throughout the proceedings are what survival horror video games should be, and this game succeeds mightily. I should also mention the game’s boss battles range between being pretty damn epic, and pretty damn frustrating, so that at least continues the old Resident Evil tradition.

Graphically speaking, Resident Evil 7 is a sight to behold. The game’s sounds are creepy and it controls pretty well for the most part. From a gameplay perspective, Resident Evil 7 is practically flawless, with the only faults lying within the game’s story. As the story progresses, things take an insane turn, and you’ll either be all in along for the ride, or you’ll completely tune out because of the sheer ridiculousness. That aside, it doesn’t change the fact that this game is fucking terrifying to put it lightly. There’s a couple different endings depending on your decisions and such, which adds to the replay-ability, and that’s a pretty nice touch. There’s also a playable VR Mode for the PS4 version of the game available now out of the box, while there will be a future mode available for the Xbox One and PC versions sometime down the road. I didn’t play this version because I’m poor and don’t own a VR headset, but I’d imagine that in itself is a terrifying experience all the same. 

All in all, Resident Evil 7 is an absolute must own for fans of the series. Once again, Capcom has managed to reinvent the franchise with a new, bold take on it, and it succeeds wonderfully. Let’s just hope that the next installments of the franchise don’t take this formula and beat it into the ground with staleness, which often tends to be their forte with the Resident Evil games. Oh well, pick this fucker up and scare the shit out of yourself; you deserve it.

Rating: 5/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS 2

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By Nick Durham

I’ve always had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with the Resident Evil franchise. In the mid-90s when the very first game for the series was released on the original Playstation, I was hooked from the get-go. Over the years that followed, the franchise would evolve with each passing sequel and even a couple spin-offs here and there, although by the early 2000s, the formula was getting kind of stale. That’s why so many look at Resident Evil 4 as being the landmark achievement of the series, because it added a shit load of fresh elements that the series so desperately needed. Sadly though, nearly every main installment of the series to follow hasn’t been all that good. What has been good however are the Resident Evil: Revelations games. The first game was a breath of fresh air and mixed the best elements of the older and newer games together; resulting in an action/horror hybrid that played quite well. This game, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is no different, and offers up plenty of enjoyable moments.

 

The game’s story follows two distinct plotlines, one of which involving Claire Redfield and new character Moira (daughter of Barry) Burton; both of whom are trying to escape an island facility housing monstrous mutated beasts. The other plotline revolves around Barry trying to save Claire and Moira, which doesn’t really go so well. The game was originally released as four different episodes, but here on its various console formats is collected into one single game. There’s some really nice and effective cliffhangers sprinkled throughout here and there that will keep you glued to the controller playing. I actually kind of like this format a lot more than I thought I would.

 

Gameplay wise, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a tried and true style that most of the previous Resident Evil games have been: over the shoulder gun toting action. There’s a lot of suspenseful and seat-jumping moments as well, although I think the first Resident Evil: Revelations game was much better in that regard. Despite that though, there’s a lot to admire here, and the game offers enough of both action and horror elements to keep you happy. The game looks pretty good (and I played it on a PS3, I can only imagine how much better it looks on more powerful hardware) and controls decently enough, and there’s a couple different endings as well, so it offers a decent amount of replayability.

 

All in all, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a fun diversion, and will hopefully keep you sated enough until Capcom gets around to releasing Resident Evil 7 further on down the road. Or, in my case, until Capcom finally decides to get the ball rolling on that eagerly anticipated HD remake of Resident Evil 2. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is available on just about every console you can think of: the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, the PSVita, and even the PC. Check it out.

 

Rating: 4/5