Dino Crisis 2 was the sequel to the original, released in September of 2000. Much ado was made in previews about how this sequel was to abandon the polygonal backgrounds for prerendered, similar to Resident Evil's system. If only gamers knew what other changes they were in store for...
Dino Crisis 2's story takes place one year after the events of the first game. After the return of Dr. Kirk, 3rd Energy research continued unabated, this time supervised by a government agency. Now we all know that such things never turn out well, and sure enough, an accident occurs. The research facility and the surrounding town all disappear and are replaced with a jungle from another time. Regina is once again sent in to obtain the data about the 3rd Energy Experiments. Alongside members of T.R.A.T (I don't care what it stands for) she travels back via a Timegate from the year 2010. Shortly after arriving, most of the team is wiped out by a raptor attack. Regina and one Dylan Morton jump down a hill to escape the sudden appearance of a T-Rex. Then the game begins.
The return to prerendered backgrounds does much to enhance the visual appeal of the 2nd entry in the Dino Crisis series. The graphics are some of the best on the original Playstation, where good was often defined as polygonals not looking too blocky. This is the case with DC2. The environments received the biggest boost with jungles full of wildlife, cities full of carnage, and even some underwater areas. The best thing about the graphics is the little things, like the mosquitoes that will chase you if you are bleeding to suck some blood or the Triceratops visible in the background. My favorite game is spot the T-Rex in the background, hint, listen for the ground shaking...
Whereas music was nothing to write home about in the first game, the score in Dino Crisis 2 is much in line with the gameplay changes. It is bombastic, loud, and typical of action sequences. These are all good things. Highlights include Don't Let Me Down for Regina and Bigger than T-Rex, which I think I'll leave for you to figure out. Needless to say, it is a great piece of music.
Sound effects remain excellent, and are actually even more important to identifying the dinos' location in this game due to the prerendered backgrounds. As you move from screen to screen, enemies often rush at you, so their hisses are a good way to find them besides auto aim. There are many more types of dinosaurs in DC2, and all have their own distinctive sounds. When you shoot down the pterandons, I like their death screeches. The Plesiosaurs' death knells are great as well.
Dino Crisis 2's gameplay is where a lot of changes occur. The emphasis is on action, and I do mean action. If you think Resident Evil 4 is action packed, think again. The goal of Dino Crisis 2 is to kill the dinosaurs as quickly as possible in order to achieve combos, through which you earn extinction points. These points are used to buy new weapons, ammo, health, and more. The whole game is balls to the walls action, plus you can move while shooting, something Resident Evil still will not do! In fact, DC2 is so hardcore; the characters do not have a walking speed, they run everywhere! To top it off, there are arcade sequences in which you must fend off attacking dinosaurs with a turrent. Fun stuff, this game practically has it all!
Challenge in this game is diminished from the first game. There are far fewer puzzles, much to this reviewer's delight. What puzzles do exist are usually fetch quests or a variation of such. This is not a problem due to the established action-centered gameplay. It would have been awkward to suddenly have door puzzles right after blowing away 10 raptors.
Some of the dinosaurs require quick thinking to defeat, as no one weapon is effective against every type. Some of them even require using weapons in combinations to defeat. Also, a challenge of a different kind is present in the game. In order to maximize extinction points, the player must make it through an area unscathed and because dinos attack from all corners, this can be tougher than it seems.
Replay value is also enhanced. Throughout the game, one can collect dino files with strategies to defeat them. Collect them all and get a nice surprise. There is also Dino Coliseum, which allows you to select multiple characters, all with different weapons, to defeat a certain number of dinos within the time limit. This mode also allows you to play as most of the dinosaurs in the game, which is just as fun as it sounds. Beware, the bigger dinos require some manual dexterity to properly control.
In summation, Dino Crisis 2 is everything a sequel should be. It is bigger, badder, louder and more fun than the original, while still feeling familiar to series veterans. The action is frantic, the music pumping, and the fun factor is through the roof! I played this game straight through in one session, it isn't a long game, but still I can't think of many games that can hold your attention at all times. This is one of them.