The extinction of dinosaurs isn't just something that happened in the animal kingdom. Take a good look at the gaming landscape. There are so few digital dinosaurs that they might as well have been destroyed by the same terrible comet that exterminated the real creatures. I propose a renaissance that would strike fear in the hearts of anyone courageous enough to stand before those deadly fangs and eager claws, a reemergence that would instill a sense of awe in those brave few before they're devoured by the beasts that once ruled the earth. It's time for Dino Crisis to be reborn in a modern era. We've lived through this endless slumber long enough; let's reawaken our destiny.
Imagine being lost in a tropical jungle. Nasty insects swarm in your view, overgrown foliage corrals you in, and there are no animals in sight. There are no monkeys overhead or birds in the trees, no deer visible in a clearing or rodents scurrying by your feet. No animals are nearby to provide comfort in a strange land, or a glimpse of peace as you try to ignore the predicament you're cast in. And there aren't any animals to warn you of hidden dangers. If you strain your ears, you hear nothing save the bugs buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. You're alone, except that you know you're not. And that's when the attack strikes.
Dino Crisis Reborn (catchy name, no?) would focus on the fear you would feel when faced with a monster stronger, deadlier, and maybe even smarter than you. Like in the original game in the franchise, running away would be the surest way to survive. So you would slink through the oppressive heat of a dense jungle, keeping your senses honed to give yourself any advantage you could have over the predators roaming just out of your sight. Dive into rivers so you don't leave any tracks, or hide in a tree to stay out of harm's way. That is, of course, assuming that the dinosaurs hunting you can't also climb. There's no way to ensure you safety in such a world, so you just push onward, hoping that your luck has improved since you were banished to this hellish place.
We've seen glimpses of this kind of cunning, unstoppable adversary in Alien: Isolation, which looks to capture the terror Ripley must have felt when trapped in such close proximity with a killer being. And though borrowing liberally from a game that hits those fearful notes so well does seem rather lazy, transporting you to a humid jungle and swapping the aliens for dinosaurs would inject enough of a change to make Dino Crisis a wise franchise to bring back. Plus, you can't discount the scariness of a real animal versus a science fiction creation. After all, humans may never come in contact with aliens, but a renegade biologist could resurrect dinosaurs despite the obvious dangers humankind would face. Or maybe I'm just being too optimistic.
What would be fascinating is if you could do more than simply hide or run away. What if combat were an option? This is where things get tricky. We're used to being in control of powerful killing machines, people capable of perfect aim even while running, who can withstand more damage than a steel-plated blue whale and can carry more artillery than a human back should be able to bear. Imagine how you would fare trapped in a jungle with dinosaurs all around you. Any thought of willingly attacking dinosaurs would be out of the question--unless you have a death wish--and you wouldn't want to reveal your hiding place unless you were positive you could strike a killing blow. If that helplessness were transported into a game, then we would have something interesting.
We saw such a system in Dino Crisis 2. Unlike the original game, which borrowed heavily from Resident Evil, the second Dino Crisis had more of an action slant. However, the static camera angles and sluggish controls remained. While this sounds arduous on the surface, it made for tense encounters in which you fumbled and stumbled through every fight, desperately firing off rounds while scrambling to safety, wiping the sweat off your brow after every victory. You felt like you earned your existence in Dino Crisis 2, and though stripping people of the exacting controls that we expect in games would provide a tough barrier for entry, it would make for a much more interesting experience.
To borrow one more element from days gone by, fixed camera angles are a smart solution to an ever-present problem. Developers can control only so much of our experience. We become the cinematographers of our own stories, sometimes scouting out every nook and cranny ahead with the camera rather than walking into any unknown dangers. Although such freedom can be a good thing, when you're talking about games in which fear is important, it can be a problem. If Dino Crisis Reborn directed exactly what you see, every obstacle and creature could be expertly placed to quicken your pulse in the most efficient way.
Dinosaurs have been extinct for too long. A new Dino Crisis could be incredible if it played to the strengths of its predecessors, and ignored the unfortunate third entry completely. Yes, space plus rocket packs plus dinosaurs should equal fun, but it was just too hokey to take seriously. So borrow the unrepentant fear of Dino Crisis and the clunky combat from Dino Crisis 2 to create a terrifying experience that would make you understand what it would feel like to face your biggest fear. And if there's a raptor riding a Tyrannosaurus rex, that's all the better.
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