Dino Stalker - Review
Light gun games are generally either loved or loathed by gamers. The gameplay is usually frantic, but often very short lived. The Playstation 2 has been home to several light gun games to date with Namco's classic Time Crisis 2 still leading the way as an overall package, and Sega/Namco's Vampire Night close behind. Capcom have also entered the PS2 light gun game market with this game, Dino Stalker. While it still uses the light gun the game has an added twist in that rather then being on rails you can use the D-Pad on the light gun to move around within the levels. Unlike most other light gun games the developers have put a little bit of an effort into the storyline as well.
|About to be chomped.|
Set during World War II the game begins with a fighter plane being shot down. Pilot Lt. Mike Wired's plane takes heavy damage during a dogfight over the Atlantic. Forced to eject, he's suddenly enveloped in a blinding flash of white light and being guided towards an ominous jungle below. Everything around him has changed. The distant moan of strange beasts. An unfamiliar weapon appears in his hand. A thundering roar and crashing trees give way to an impossible sight - beasts from another time. What's happening? .... this can't be good. Now you must determine the fate of this hero - lost in time. Face off against an onslaught of prehistoric beasts in first person perspective! And move quickly! You now battle the most ferocious creatures to ever walk the earth for your own survival!
|Being attacked in swarms.|
When you start the game you are parachuting from the aircraft. Immediately you'll realise something is amiss when you see flying dinosaurs heading for you. Star shooting, and look for the other downed planes, which are falling in your direction. What you will soon learn is that you must now use the D-Pad to turn around. You can use the two side buttons on the Gun-Con 2 to strafe left and right as well. During the game you will encounter a wide range of dinosaurs to blast away, many of which take several shots. The levels are also littered with power-ups, which include secondary weapons and extra time. Speak of time, while the levels are fairly free roaming the time isn't unlimited and in some sections you'll be rushing through it to get to the end before the timer runs out.
Sadly, despite the innovative controls there are some problems with the game. The use of the D-Pad on the light gun becomes quite painful on the hands after a while, and it would have been nice to be able to use the controls on the Dual Shock 2 for movement and the light gun for shooting. This could have even introduced the element of co-operative play with a friend which could have been fun. Another problem is that the movement isn't as smooth as you would expect with turning taking quite a bit longer then you would hope for resulting in dinosaurs attacking from the sides often reaching you before turning.
|These two are bosses, and tough.|
Another problem, although technically it's not a fault, is that I'm not too happy about dinosaurs just leaping out of solid ground. It doesn't happen in real life, why should it in a game. I don't mind those that jump from cliffs above or from behind rocks, but out of sand dunes a few meters ahead of you? Please.
Graphics are probably the weakest aspect of this title overall. The cut scenes are pre-rendered, but of such low quality that they should have generated by the in-game engine. They also seem quite low in resolution and come out a little on the blurry side on my Sony TV. It's the in-game graphics however that are the biggest disappointment. The texturing of the objects in the world is poor, the animation a little rough and the modelling quite average. In fact it almost looks as though this game started as a PSOne title before being switched to PS2 part was through development. The variety in the levels is decent enough with battles taking place in forests, in the desert, along a river and in city streets. The game engine also struggles to keep the frame rate up when running and turning around. Still, it's not a complete disaster, just disappointing.
|Time to start blasting.|
Sound-wise this game is quite disappointing. The voices are adequate, but never really amazing, and the music is rather forgettable. There is no speech throughout the game rather then the obvious "Reload", but even that sounds horrific. It sounds more like "ray-load". Strange. However, the biggest disappointment is the sounds from the dinosaurs themselves. Don't even thing about the menacing roars in the Jurassic Park movies, these things sound more like your lame-assed pet outside and are so disappointing through good speakers.
|Heading down the river.|
Despite the poor graphics and sound Capcom have produced a light gun game that varies from standard with the addition of movement through the D-Pad. It's still not very lengthy with a completion time of around an hour or so although you'll probably be back for a couple more goes. If the game had been polished off a little more, and perhaps the option to move with the standard controller had been included with the light gun to still shoot then this could have been a better game. Light gun fans should check this out, but if you're not a fan of light gun games then this probably won't change your mind.
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|GRAPHICS||Plenty of action, but the detail and animation is lacking in parts.||72%|
|SOUND||Fairly standard sound effects; actually the dinosaurs are quite weak.||62%|
|GAMEPLAY||Use of D-Pad for movement adds a new dimension to the light gun.||80%|
|VALUE||It's not long, it's not too tough and you won't come back too often.||66%|
|OVERALL||Dino Stalker introduces an interesting element with the ability to move around the levels although the graphics engine is barely able to keep up at times. Still, Dino Stalker is a solid enough light gun game - short, as usual - but fun for fans of the genre. Worth considering.