Okay, I’ve talked gameplay, so now let’s move on to the game’s story. There’s no point being particularly hard on Dino Crisis 2, since the focus is clearly on the game itself, but I still think it’s worth going over its plot. As before, this is going to spoil everything.
I liked the original Dino Crisis for having a fairly straightforward plot with a few minor twists and turns here and there. It provided a framework for the gameplay, but didn’t take any particular risks. The basic idea was that the scientist Dr Kirk devised a new method of generating energy that had the unfortunate effect of messing with space-time, bringing dinosaurs to the present and sending facility personnel to the past.
This accident occurred just before Regina’s SORT team reached the facility on Ibis Island, and the group found themselves attacked by dinosaurs. After recovering their mission objective, Dr Kirk himself, they found their escape route blocked by an inconvenient time distortion. Regina then deliberately caused an overload in the Third Energy generator, clearing the distortion and allowing the group to flee.
Dino Crisis 2 picks up a year later. With the data recovered from Ibis Island, a new Third Energy facility was set up, but in a surprise twist, there was another accident, and the facility and an entire city were sent to another time. A specialist team is pulled together and sent in pursuit of the lost city, with the twin objectives of rescuing the missing people along with recovering the data.
Regina returns, given her prior success on Ibis Island, but the focus this time around is on Dylan Morton, a soldier in TRAT, the Tactical Reconnoitering and Acquisition Team. Their mission goes awry instantly as an army of raptors descends upon their camp and slaughters practically everyone. Only three people appear to survive this bloodbath – our two protagonists, and tedious cowboy David, who scars the Tyrannosaurus Rex that pops in after the raptors killed everyone else.
After escaping the T-Rex, Regina and Dylan find themselves alone. Regina tries the radio and gets no response, to which Dylan says “I’m pretty sure my team’s alright”. I don’t think they are, Dylan – you literally just saw them get shredded by raptors.
In any case, Regina checks one of the doors, which is covered by vines, and decides to try a different one. Dylan teases her about SORT not teaching her how to open doors, and proceeds to do a poor job of trying to cut away the vines. Unimpressed, Regina snarks that the weapon suits a TRAT member and goes off in her own direction, using her stun gun to bypass an electronic lock.
Dylan’s journey takes him into the jungle, where he gets acquainted with the local raptors, until he reaches the water tower. Here, he sights a possible survivor, but they run away before he can make proper contact. Further along, he finds a military facility, but also unfortunately the T-Rex with it. Just to make matters worse, two more apparent survivors appear, who aren’t happy to see a potential rescuer – they fire strange disk weapons at him, forcing him to quickly seek cover indoors.
Inside, Dylan observes that it doesn’t seem like anyone has been here in a long time. A note in the facility indicates that at least ten years have passed for the survivors, and raises the idea that even a small error over millions of years can result in the rescue team arriving decades late. Dylan doesn’t comment on this, as it’s left to the player to find and read, but what he does do is get trapped in one of the rooms. With no way out, he calls Regina for help.
So what’s Regina found in her preferred direction, after leaving Dylan behind? Well, apparently she decided to go back to the ship and just sit around, because that’s where we find her when Dylan calls. After teasing him about his machete again, she sets out to rescue him. With her route blocked by poisonous plants, she deviates towards the Research Facility, where the in-game shop updates to allow her to purchase a flamethrower.
However, before she can use the flamethrower against the poisonous plants, the mysterious and angry survivors reappear and try to kill her. When they don’t succeed, they attempt to flee over a broken bridge, but one of them fails the jump and Regina rescues her. After handcuffing the survivor to pipes inside the nearby building, Regina attempts to talk to her, but the survivor does not appear to understand or speak at all, and Regina gives up and heads out. It feels a bit unkind to leave the prisoner handcuffed there, given the persistent threat of dinosaurs, but I guess Regina knows that nothing dangerous is allowed to enter save rooms.
After encountering a few more hostile survivors, and solving a brief key puzzle, Regina frees Dylan from his imprisonment. Dylan seems less than grateful, while Regina notes that he now owes her one. After telling him about her prisoner, she takes the survivor back to the ship. However, there’s a nasty surprise waiting for them there. It seems that the Time Gate needed to return to the present was on the ship, and the mysterious survivors have destroyed it. With no means of getting back to their own time, the two decide to search for missing parts for the ship, along with something that could help them time-travel.
Given that the survivors never made it back to the present after at least a decade, I admire Dylan and Regina’s optimism.
Also of note is the fact that the female survivor seems to recognise something about Dylan while he’s trying to handcuff her to the ship.
Dylan’s next search takes him further into the Research Facility that Regina visited, and one of the notes there mentions that the hostile, helmeted survivors are not the same as the people from Edward City. After recovering a part to fix the ship’s basic functions, Dylan returns to repair it, and discovers that the girl they captured has escaped. Regina informs him that she can’t find any record of their former prisoner, and Dylan raises the notion that the survivors might be from a different time period entirely. When Regina responds with a confused “What?”, Dylan immediately backs down.
Their next set of investigations don’t involve much in the way of story, beyond scene-setting. Regina pops into a 3rd Energy Research Facility, which is partially submerged, to get hold of a key to Edward City. On rejoining Dylan, they receive a call from missing cowboy David, who has apparently found his own way inside the city, and has located survivors.
After a few more misadventures on their way to Edward City, Regina and Dylan find themselves surrounded by a pack of raptors. Just in the nick of time, David reappears in a helicopter, which I suppose explains how he was able to get to Edward City before our heroes, but doesn’t quite explain why he never shared this information with them before! Let’s put it down to plot-convenient radio issues.
Unfortunately, though, it seems that Edward City has finally fallen to the dinosaurs, just as Regina and Dylan were about to reach it, though I’m not really sure what they could have done to help anyway, given their limited resources and ruined Time Gate. After seeing the devastation from above, the three meet up next to David’s destroyed helicopter. I don’t know when it crashed, mind you – it was fine in the cutscene before, and nobody mentions what happened.
Either way, David loses hope. They decide that there can’t possibly be any survivors anywhere in the city, and Regina nudges them back onto their mission to recover the 3rd Energy Data Disk instead. David is sceptical, given that they don’t have a way back home anyway, but Regina appears to be confident that they can use the data to build a new Time Gate. I can barely build a desk from Argos without issues, but I suppose it’s all they have to hold on to right now.
Dylan heads on through the city in search of something useful, but he largely just finds dinosaurs. After a run-in with the T-Rex, he is ambushed by an angry helmeted survivor again, only to be saved by the rescued girl. She drops a necklace before fleeing, and Dylan recognises it as his sister’s necklace. Regina, who appears out of nowhere, questions this, and Dylan explains his backstory.
It seems he was once a gang member, and a rival gang broke into his family home while he was out. While he doesn’t state exactly what happened, the outcome was that his mother and sister were killed, which led to him turning his life around by joining the army. Regina doesn’t really comment on this, and instead directs them to head back to the ship. Dylan notes that he’s found a gas mask, which they can use to pass through the poisonous section of the jungle and reach the Missile Silo, their “only” unexplored location left.
For whatever reason, the 3rd Energy Data Disk they require happens to be inside the Missile Silo, but before Regina can leave safely, the T-Rex makes a reappearance. However, an even bigger dinosaur, the Giganotosaurus, which had been hinted at in a couple of files previously, bursts into the silo and attacks the T-Rex. Regina uses the opportunity to escape back into the silo, and Dylan appears behind her.
In a rather odd moment, Dylan says he’s brought the patrol ship over to the silo so they can escape. I thought the Missile Silo was supposed to have been hard/impossible to reach without the gas mask! But this goes by undisputed, as first Dylan hears the Giganotosaur’s thunderous footsteps, and then the dinosaur’s invasion triggers an accidental launch process. With ten minutes to detonation, Regina tackles the Giganotosaur on her way through the silo to the missile itself, which she manages to deactivate in time.
However, this is all in vain. The Giganotosaur, which had seemingly died, gets back up and smashes the missile’s support structure, causing the missile to collapse and explode, and arming the warhead, or something along those lines. Regina rushes out of the silo before the warhead can detonate and joins up with Dylan and David, who are waiting at the patrol ship rather than helping with anything else.
They sail away in a rush, only to find their route blocked by a watergate. David declares “let the men handle this”, a crime for which he is promptly executed in the next scene. After you protect him from a multitude of angry raptors while he opens the watergate, an allosaur uses its cutscene powers to kill him, but not before he pushes Dylan into the river in an attempt to save his life.
And here’s where the game goes a bit crazy. Dylan washes up downriver and meets the girl from before, who leads him along a strange, slightly futuristic path, past a memorial to a variety of events. These range from Dr Kirk establishing the Third Energy Theory all the way to something called Noah’s Ark.
As you can see above, I did a good job of protecting her along the way.
Once inside the facility, it’s time for a sudden series of revelations. A note left behind indicates that the hostile survivors were injured children placed into mysterious life-support tanks intended to heal dinosaurs. The problem there is that the tanks were set up to teach their occupants about the world along with instinctual behaviour, and as they were designed for dinosaurs, they will teach human occupants to defend dinosaurs and nothing about language or humans. You’d think someone would have put in an option to disable this function, but apparently not.
In any case, that’s our explanation for the people who kept attacking Regina, Dylan, and Edward City’s survivors. The note also mentions that the superintendent left the message for “the man who will definitely come here”.
Another note explains some details about the Noah’s Ark Project. It seems that the overdrive Regina initiated in the first game caused an unfortunate side-effect, whereby history became “skewed” after the Cretaceous Era. For reasons I’m not entirely certain I understand, the rippling effect of this “Spacetime skew” would eventually change history to the extent that the human race would never exist. This is one of those time changes that you’d think would have taken effect “immediately”, or else we’re getting into some sort of multiple-universe mess.
Rather than go back and change the Overdrive incident, a rather complicated plan was/will be devised to grab dinosaurs from the past and pop them millions of years into the future instead. Once the crisis had passed (is this an issue when you’re time-travelling?), the dinosaurs would be returned to their original time. Maybe the reason they won’t change Regina’s overdrive is that you can’t change what’s already happened, but if we already know that the human race will get wiped out, then isn’t it futile to try the Noah’s Ark Project as well?
Further inside, a hologram recording has been left for Dylan. The superintendent confirms that this is in fact the future, and not the past as originally believed. In 2055, the Noah’s Ark Project was initiated, and the dinosaurs were sent millions of years into the future, but there was another accident, and they were unable to bring the dinosaurs back to their original times as intended. The dinosaurs, apparently overtaken by bloodlust, slaughtered everyone again (they’re really quite a malicious bunch, if these games are to be believed), and the project turned from its original intention to base survival, and then to just preserving the wounded children, who would go on to become the helmeted survivors attacking everyone.
Unsatisfied with just these revelations, the superintendent announces that he is, in fact, Dylan from the future! And not only that, but the mysterious girl is Paula, Dylan’s own daughter. FutureDylan’s final request is that PresentDylan should take the children back to the present, using the Time Gate in the facility. Apparently it’s only good for one trip, so Dylan can’t mess around.
It’s worth noting that all through this conversation, the hologram pauses to allow Dylan to make various comments and look around. Perhaps FutureDylan remembered his reactions and accounted for them in making the recording?
Anyhow, before Dylan can really process this, or make plans to gather the wayward children ahead of using the one-time portal, someone activates the facility’s self-destruct sequence as he enters the next room. I could probably spend hours questioning why this self-destruct sequence exists, how a dinosaur-minded survivor can operate it, why they chose to detonate the facility given that Dylan isn’t really threatening dinosaurs in there (yet), or why FutureDylan isn’t able to account for any of these problems. Does FutureDylan have to abide by what he knows? Isn’t he not abiding by what he knows in performing the Noah’s Ark Project in the first place?
This is the risk of time-travel storylines. In some ways, it can make the discussions more interesting, but in others, it just ends up with logic errors that detract from everything that’s going on.
Speaking of what’s going on, Dylan is attacked by the villainous survivor who set off the self-destruct sequence, and while the two wrestle, the Giganotosaur pops in for a final boss fight. Luckily for Dylan, there’s a satellite in the room that can be used to laser the Giganotosaur into non-existence, and he duly activates it. I suppose FutureDylan might have had it built precisely because he remembered using it.
With time still counting down, Dylan rushes into the next room, where, conveniently, Regina joins him. Fortunately, there’s no time for her to quibble about why he never contacted her, as everything starts to fall apart around them. A huge computer falls onto Paula’s legs, and they’re unable to get her free. Dylan encourages Regina to use the time portal herself, research Third Energy, and come back to the future to save them.
Regina eventually agrees, reminds him that he now owes her twice, and pops through the portal. As everything explodes, the camera zooms out, and the credits begin to roll.
So, er, that’s it. Dino Crisis 3 was on a different platform, and Capcom apparently decided that it would be unwise to have that game follow on from one that Xbox users may never have touched. Assuming that the whole time-travelling sequence holds true, we can reasonably infer that someone rescues Dylan, so that he can go on to become the Superintendent and leave himself that message. However, it doesn’t quite wrap up the other issues, such as how the dinosaurs haven’t been returned to their own time to fix the “Spacetime skew”, or what, if anything, can be done for the dinofied children.
Even if the series comes back now, I highly doubt they’ll actually touch on this. I’m reminded of Mirror’s Edge, which had plentiful plotlines available for a sequel, but it was so many years until Catalyst that they just rebooted the series with a similar story instead.
Overall, I’d say the story does its job of providing some context for what’s going on. I’m mixed on the final collection of plot twists, which range from needlessly-confusing to absurdly-convenient. In terms of cast, I already liked Regina, though she’s largely there for fans of the first game. Dylan’s alright – he has some character development, and motivations, even if his wacky plot twists at the end are a bit out-there.
David I just can’t stand, if that wasn’t obvious already. He comes across as an annoying jock, and doesn’t help out with the majority of the game, so I was delighted when he got eaten by that allosaur. As for Paula, she’s an interesting character to an extent, but the constant conveniences of her appearances, along with her wonky connection to Dylan, spoil things a bit.
I think it’s also worth noting how dark the game is. While the characters never feel too downtrodden, aside from David’s occasional complaints that I ignore by default, the entire story is characterised by loss. The death toll is enormous – you don’t rescue anyone from Edward City, almost your entire team is slaughtered, and Dylan’s buddy gets eaten too. The game ends with two of the major characters about to (maybe) die, and the plot point about the threat of humanity’s erasure from history stays unresolved. Everywhere you go has been brought to ruin in some way, with only a handful of locations remaining relatively unscratched.
It’s ironic that the more action-packed and lightweight sequel has the sort of story that would probably have been better suited by the unrelentingly sombre locations of the first game. The problem is that the game doesn’t really want to be miserable – it’s so busy with its endless combat and swift pacing that nobody ever really hangs around to take stock of just how bad things are. I’m not sure the game would necessarily have been better if it did have some slowdown in its pacing, but at the same time, if you’re going to throw in some heavy losses, then you should probably be ready to deal with what that means.
All the same, Dino Crisis 2 isn’t high literature, and it’s a bit unfair to hold it to heavy standards when it’s really just there to entertain for a few hours. What plot it does have is pretty fun, if limited, and it didn’t get to the point where I just couldn’t be bothered with it, unlike with some sequels (I’ll be controversial here and name Mass Effect 2).
So, in summary, it’s decent enough for an action game, if a bit convoluted towards the end, and sadly unresolved, but I’d say it’s still worth a playthrough.