And, I hated it..........
Keep in mind, I was expecting a tense, moody, and slow paced survival horror title like the original. The sequel is nothing like that for the most part. so i remember shelving the game and never coming back. A couple years later (literally years) I saw the game mixed within my collection of PS1 titles that I rarely was playing by then, and not remembering why I hated this game, decided to try it out. Having finished the game, I regret ever hating this game in the first pace. Dino Crisis 2 is a fun action title. It evolves the gameplay in a completely new direction that works.
To better understand the change the game went through, the best way to describe it is comparing it to something like Ridley Scott's Alien to James Cameron's Aliens. Where the first one was a moody, tense horror show, the second one is a balls-out action title. Such is the case with Dino Crisis 2. You start the game with two characters: A returning Regina, and a new Spec ops member named Dylan. Dylan is a meat head, brimming with the kind of earnest machismo that comes off a doofy. Lets put it this way: if Dylan were real, he'd be Channing Tatum. Similar to the first title, Regina and Dylan are sent in to investigate another incident similar to the first game. Except the twist is that the incident didn't bring dinosaurs to our time, it transported an entire facility and the neighboring town back in time. This time they too are sent back in time to survey the area for info and rescue any survivors. the game begins with your team being attacked by a giant T-Rex, splitting Regina and Dylan from the main team and having to go off on the mission by themselves, together (trust me, it makes more sense than how I worded it).
From there we get into the new meat of the game. Where the first game took place in tight indoor corridors and was about exploring the area and solving puzzles, this game is an arcade run and gun shooter, like a third person version of the old Jurassic Park light-gun games from the arcade. You start off as Dylan, but periodically switch to Regina depending on where you are in the plot. Your path is split into several sections linking whatever your point A is to whatever your point B is (usually to unlock a door, find a key, etc). Your mission is to run straight through, gunning down every raptor (or is some cases, those ink-spitting dinosaurs from Jurassic Park) you come across in order to rack up Extinction Points that you use to buy medical equipment, weapon upgrades, ammo, etc. You gain points by killing dinosaurs in succession, racking up higher and higher combo multipliers. Along the way, you can unlock different weapons like flamethrowers, machine guns, sonic weapons, etc. And thats the thrust of the game. Along the way, you also get to man a turret gun to fight off vicious long-necks, you get to pilot a tank to fight a T-Rex, and you get to swim in a personal submarine suit to fight dinosaur crocs (sadly this is not as fun as the later, but it is technically different). Other than that, its running down open corridors blowing everything up in your path.
Now, this may seem boring on paper, but the game does alot in its way to make it more fun. First off, the controls do their best to make the experience easy. Yes, you still have the standard survival horror tank-style controls, but you also have a quick 180 degree turn button, as well as auto-targetting and a target cycle button. You even have the option to enable a side-step feature, but its mapped awkwardly to the triangle button instead of on the shoulder buttons (in which one of them is the map button, which would have fit better on the triangle button, but I digress). you also have a nifty secondary attack (which amounts to a machete for Dylan or a stun baton for Regina). both of these weapons not only add another level of attack and counter attack, but can also be used to unlock certain doors. What also adds to the ease is the level design, which thankfully is not too intricate as to make the controls feel worse. Most of the paths are straight lines, with the occasional mini corner for variety. It never felt like I was fighting with the controls. Yes, the camera is still static in the game, but honestly, where i could see my younger self getting frustrated at things constantly jumping out at me, I think it adds to the adrenaline. Another aspect that might have bothered me back then was the constantly random spawning enemies that would pop up ever time you transferred from one camera angle to another (a mechanic that does in fact loop if you have to traverse the same path multiple times) but in this case, its alright because not only do your guns have a generous amount of ammo before they need replenishing, but the more enemies you encounter, the more points you can add up. All of these choices would ruin a normal game, but combined here, it works to make the game that more exciting.
Graphically, the game also has some nice touches. Because most of the game is played outside of in open areas, most of the architecture is matte painted like the old Resident Evil games. And to be honest, its really good looking, having tons of jungle details that really distract from what is essentially a glorified hallway. Character models are nice too, but nothing mind-blowing. If there's one hitch I can mention, its that the in-game cut-scenes have an odd motion blur effect. Its not bad, but noticeable. Sound design is a mixture of Jungle ambiance and fast-paced orchestral music when you're in an enemy-filled area. My only downside to the gameplay is that it does suffer a bit from fatigue. there's very few puzzles, and not much variety in the enemies. Plus the game is short. Really you can beat it in a day if you are committed enough. But to be fair, this is the kind of game that you can just jump in and out, and once you beat it, jump in again. You even unlock new modes after you beat it, like a survival mode, and a dino-fighting mini-game reminiscent of Primal Rage.
So what do we have? We've got a sequel to a Resident Evil knock off (ironic since they both were made by Capcom) that plays like a love letter to arcade games of the era. At the end of the day, you're killing hoards of dinosaurs with only a shotgun and a machete. If that doesn't scream bad-ass, I don't know what is. If you're looking for a game with a deep story or branching gameplay, then this game is not for you. Then again I don't think you read that last sentence: "killing hoards of dinosaurs with only a shotgun and machete".