While it has garnered little love from critics and gamers, Capcom's Gun Survivor light-gun series has soldiered on and is now on its third installment. Dino Stalker, known as Gun Survivor 3: Dino Crisis in Japan, strays from the usual light-gun formula in an attempt to offer a unique light-gun shooting experience. But it falls markedly short, and the end result is a frustrating mess of a game.
The premise behind Dino Stalker is bizarre and convoluted, involving time-traveling dinosaurs, a World War II fighter pilot, and not a lot of coherence. The good news is that the story is there just to move you from location to location, so you can get down to the business of shooting lots and lots of dinosaurs. Dino Stalker, for the most part, plays like any other post-Time Crisis light-gun game: You'll move from one end of a level to the other, wasting enemies and picking up the occasional health pack or weapon upgrade. The key difference here is that the camera movement isn't on rails, so you are charged with both moving around the levels as well as taking out dinosaurs.
The game offers several different ways to go about your dinosaur stalking. You can play with the GunCon 2 light gun, using the D-pad on the back of the gun to move around, but using a single hand to move and shoot is difficult and will wear out your arm more quickly than your average light-gun game. Alternately, you can play with the standard Dual Shock 2 controller, but the targeting reticle is far too sensitive, and you'll often find yourself dealing with bouts of overcorrection while trying to draw a bead on a dino. The third and best option utilizes the Dual Shock 2 and the GunCon 2 in tandem, mapping movement controls to the D-pad on the Dual Shock 2 and leaving the GunCon 2 strictly for shooting. But even this configuration does not compensate completely for the game's inherently slow movement or the inability to look up or down, and you'll spend an equal amount of time fighting the controls as you will fighting dinosaurs.
Dino Stalker isn't exactly one of the best-looking PlayStation 2 games available; in fact, the game doesn't even stand up to most of the games in the PlayStation 2 light-gun game subcategory. The textures are very hit-and-miss, usually erring toward the blurry side. The world geometry is fairly simple, but even though it's not pushing that many polygons, the game still has a very noticeable draw distance and some occasional slowdown. The dinosaurs themselves are the most refined aspect of the game's presentation, with good modeling and decent animations, but they, along with the rest of the game, suffer from some pretty serious aliasing. You'll be treated to prerendered cutscenes in between levels, but these usually look like they could've been rendered by the PlayStation 2 on its own. The sound design in Dino Stalker is equally unimpressive, consisting of decent gunfire sounds, a small handful of dinosaur shrieks, and an anonymous and altogether forgettable adventure soundtrack. Really, the only sound that sticks out in Dino Stalker is the "reload" command you'll hear whenever you're out of bullets, and this is only because the computer voice noticeably mispronounces it.
Though the game doesn't really excel in any one facet of its design, Dino Stalker would have been infinitely more playable had Capcom discarded the Gun Survivor control scheme and just left the movement control on rails, like all other light-gun games. But with its needlessly frustrating control scheme intact, Dino Stalker's appeal is incredibly limited. Though the game is loosely affiliated with the Dino Crisis games, there's not a lot here to draw fans of that series, and with several superior light-gun games available on the PlayStation 2, there's little reason for anyone without a masochistic streak to play this game.