Dino Stalker

Dino Stalker

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 11/20/2002 for 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.
Why does this game fail? Because it’s such a workout that you’ll probably find yourself growing tired of it by the end of the first level. Number one, your gun must remain on screen at all times, there are hardly any breaks in the action. Number two, every single button on the gun is used so that means that you’ll basically need four hands to play the game correctly. Can you imagine circle-strafing a T-rex with the left trigger button of the GunCon? That’s what you’ll have to do in order to survive this ordeal. After the first three levels I felt my hand cramping up and I eventually had to take quite an extended break. To its credit the game is fun for about an hour or so until your hand turns blood red and you lose sensation in it entirely. Forget about hunting for deer in the woods, this game will make a man out of you.

The graphics are just horrid, they’re barely a step up from Resident Evil: Gun Survivor, one of the worst games ever made. It looks as if the game was crafted for the PSOne and ported over to the PS2 at the last second. Textures are rather bland and the fireworks are kept to the bare minimum. I doubt that one ounce of the PS2’s graphical capabilities were utilized in the design process. There’s just nothing pretty to look at, the foliage is pretty bad and the dinosaurs are nothing to gawk at. To put it succinctly, this isn’t the game that you want to use as the showpiece for your brand new 60-inch HDTV setup.

As for the audio portions it’s your standard fare here. There isn’t much here to distinguish it from your generic run of the mill shooter, I doubt you’d be able to tell the difference between the sound effects of Dino Stalker and Virtua Cop 2. Suffice to say you won’t really be impressed by what it has to offer. Don’t crank this up in your dorm room unless you like being laughed at.

I’m not sure what was going on at Capcom’s studios when they greenlighted this game. Capcom has made some pretty great games in their past but this isn’t the game that I’d want to associate with their good name. It’s got some nice ideas and the concept is pretty sweet, but the execution is just horrid. It’s one of the worst games of this year but if you’re in desperate need for a shooting game to justify that Guncon 2 purchase, you just might want to check this one out. If you value your sanity though I’d stray as far away from this one as possible.
A truly atrocious title that nearly fails on all levels. The controls are pretty bad and the game is just a terrific failure. It's a fun game to mock, but that's about it.

Rating: 4.2 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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