Dino Stalker

Review

posted 11/20/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
A light gun shooter that breaks the mold, a rail shooter that isn’t really on rails. Isn’t that what we’ve always wanted? To be able to play those arcade shooters without having to worry about being confined to those blasted rails? The concept is one that has alluded us for quite some time, until now that is. Capcom has released Dino Stalker, a first person shooter/light-gun shooter of some sorts that succeeds on some and fails on most. In the end, you have an innovative game is quite a blast, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

The game unfolds via a sequence of nicely rendered CGI sequences detailing a WWII pilot who has been shot down over a mysterious island. Suddenly he isexposed to a brilliant flash of light and then he awakens. Off in the distance he sees dinosaurs, beings that are from a time far before his. He has a weird device attached to his wrist that seems to be counting down. So there you have it, a basic story that actually works with a game of this type. Going into a light-gun shooter you shouldn’t expect much of a story but thankfully, Capcom delivers here. It’s generic at best, but it’s well told and accompanied by some pretty competent voice acting.

Dino Stalker breaks the traditional mold by actually allowing you to roam freely through the game’s environments. No longer are you confined to a rail against your will, you’ll be allowed to strafe, walk and run to your hearts’ content. What you essentially get is a first person shooter that can be played with the Guncon 2. While the concept seems good on paper, it’s sort of hit and miss in execution. Moving around with the control-pad on the back of the GunCon 2 isn’t exactly the most comfortable experience. The plastic molding on it is pretty hard and unforgiving, leading to some pretty sore thumbs. You can strafe with the side A and B buttons while the C button on the bottom of the controller selects the special weapon. Holding A and B together will activate sniper mode which is essentially a zoom feature and of course, the trigger fires. The game can be played with the Dual Shock 2 as well but its not even close to being as entertaining.

You don’t control your vantage point with the gun itself, but rather with the use of the d-pad. This means that if you’re being attacked from the left you’ll have to press left on the d-pad instead of swinging your gun around. It’s pretty annoying to have to swing all the way behind you just to attack one pesky enemy. The inclusion of the strafe functions is pretty nice but again, it’s pretty difficult to press one of the side buttons while firing the trigger. The zoom mode is also rather clunky, as opposed to being able to move freely with the gun, you’ll have to shift your vantage point with the d-pad. Again the usage of the d-pad is quite clunky.

It’s a shame that this game is so difficult to play because when you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite fun. Imagine that you’re able to roam freely though the Jurassic Park movies, shooting down everything that moves and you’ll get a firm grasp of what this game is like. I’ve never had this much fun mowing down dinosaurs and for the most part, the game world is pretty well crafted. There are some truly mesmerizing sequences such as an early one where you’re forced to cross a field containing knee high grass. Of course you’ve seen all the dinosaur movies and you’ll know in your heart that dinosaurs are bound to be hidden beneath the grass yet you’re still freaked when they leap out at you anyways. There’s a ton of excellent scripting in this game that really helps move it along. You can even shoot down trees and parts of the environment just in case you wanted to sharpen those gardening skills of yours.
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