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Dino Strike - Wii Review

Game Info
Dino Strike

Wii | Zoo Games | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now (North America)
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Zapper
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Review
28th March 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

At first glance, Dino Strike seems like a sufficient afternoon romp for those who need a dinosaur-shooting fix. However, the only way you'll actually find a morsel of enjoyment out of this title is if your expectations are very low. While this may not be as bad as some of the other cheap Wii titles we've seen in the past, it's still hard to recommend. 

    From the main menu, you have four selections to choose from: the standard 'Play Game' option, an 'Options' menu where you can toggle Subtitles on and off, high score leaderboards, and a 'Journal' that features content that must be unlocked as you make progress on your adventure. Dino Strike can be played with up to 4 players at the same time to make for a group experience, or you can choose to go through the game on your own. The game begins with a narrator describing your journey while a simple illustration is shown on-screen to add some atmosphere. You'll visit a total of six different locations over the course of the game, starting off shipwrecked on the beach of a remote island and slowly making your way over to the Lost Temple. 

    The game is played by using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment. If you purchase the Game Only version of this game, you have the option of using the Wii Zapper. Zoo Games has also released a Bundle version which includes their own custom-made "Green Gun" that can be used in place of the official peripheral. You aim at the screen pressing B or Z to shoot at enemies, and press the A Button to reload your weapon. There are four different weapon types featured in the game. You have your run-of-the-mill pistol which has an unlimited supply of ammo, in addition to a powerful Shotgun, a Machine Gun and a Crossbow. To swap out for another weapon, you'll need to use the Nunchuk's thumb stick or the Wii Remote's D-Pad -- Right for Shotgun, Down for Machine Fun, and Left for Crossbow. Overall, I didn't find any fault with the controls.

    
As an on-rails first-person shooter, movement is controlled automatically so you'll only have to keep your eyes focused on the action taking place on the screen. On occasion, your character's arm will reach out to grab a new weapon or climb up to a ledge, but otherwise there's not much in the way of personal connection between the player and the game. As expected, you have your obligatory health and ammo pick-ups hidden inside crates, and these actually appear more often than you might think. Each level also has an assortment of Dino Eggs that should be shot if you're looking to earn extra continues, or simply for the sake of completion.

    As far as the enemies go, it's all pretty predictable stuff. There are tons of raptors that try getting close to you so they can scratch you with their claws. They will be your main threat due to the amount of times they keep appearing. There's also Pterodactyls that try swooping in on you, bulky cave-dwelling Stegosaurus creatures and, of course, a monstrous T-Rex. Not all of the dinosaurs on-screen will come and attack you, though. Some are just running by the landscape minding their own business or trying to pick meat off dead carcasses, but you can still earn points for exterminating them before they head out of your line of sight. Attack patterns sometimes catch you be surprise but for the most part, the AI is fairly predictable -- especially so during moments when the camera comes to a halt.

    The game is presented with an all-around average approach, not only when it comes to gameplay, but also on the matter of presentation. The stages look decent as a whole with the Volcano Caves taking the highest marks for being the most appealing visually. Animations aren't anything special to speak of either. Aside from one particularly shoddy moment at the end of the game, they do get the job done. Making your way into the depths of the island, you'll also have a female guide who communicates with you, providing updates on her situation; albeit, you never actually see her in the game. Not that this does a whole lot for the overall experience, but hearing her voice pop in at random moments does serve its purpose if you're following the weak storyline.

    
While the programming may not get you riled up, the use of blood just might. I honestly felt it was an unnecessary component to the game and players should have been given the ability to turn it off had they found it to be offensive. It almost conflicts with the overall semi-cartoony character models of the dinosaurs, which ultimately sends mixed messages about who the developers were trying to appeal to. Really, it's hard to take the game seriously. After playing the game in its entirety, I can't say that most teens would be interested in playing this -- or, if they do, have the willpower to continue with it. 

    Along that same thought, I didn't find myself deriving enjoyment out of playing the game. By the time you reach the third level, an uncomfortable boredom sets in that's hard to swipe off the table by the time you reach the end of the game. Most players should be able to clear the game in about 45 minutes. I did experience a sense of progression by the time I reached the halfway mark where I was managing my ammo more effectively and switching weapons on the fly. However, it gets to a point where you're just shooting in a mindless fashion without feeling really engaged mentally. 

    In the way of replay value, the developers did what they could to keep players coming back but I really don't think the vast majority will see much purpose in pursuing that endeavour. After attempting the easier difficulty settings where obtaining a Game Over is quite unlikely (thanks to an abundance of bonus continues), confident players can try the "Survivor" skill level where enemies take more hits to defeat and you have less opportunities for additional continues. Points are also harder to come by, and because the pistol on its own will not save you from a ravage group of dinosaurs, you need to use your ammo wisely. 

    
Aside from that, there's also a "Dual Wield" mode where you actually play using two Wii Remotes at once which is kind of interesting. Then there's the 24-page Journal where earning certain scores and meeting other conditions will unlock new pages in this book. Each entry contains bits of info and even neat little sketches. But honestly, considering that the game isn't fun to begin with, most will just be done with the whole game once they clear the last level.

    All in all, for a budget title it's not that bad, but it's not great either. Everything feels so generic and there's very little enjoyment to be derived. Also, based on the way gameplay is constructed and the overall presentation focus, I'm unsure if teenagers would be genuinely interested in this game. It does have its moments and the overall experience could have been a lot worse, but I still don't feel that this is worth investing in. You're better off spending your money elsewhere.


16/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Everything about it strives for mediocrity, predictable AI and attack patterns, good controls, additional continues easy to come by
Presentation 6/10 - Average visuals and animations, unnecessary use of blood, conflicting messages make it hard to take it seriously, weak story
Enjoyment 2/5 - Not very engaging, players become better at swapping out weapons but it begins to feel mindless, gets boring about halfway in
Extra Content 2/5 - Three difficulty settings, lasts less than an hour with little worth coming back to, Journal pages to unlock, multiplayer, Dual Wield mode

Equivalent to a score of 53% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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