Laid To Waste
When the original Xbox hardware was in its infancy, everyone was so amazed Microsoft made a console that even the lamest titles got attention. It was just after that initial glut of garbage titles, though, that most of the best native (non-port) Xbox titles came out. It was during this time that Dino Crisis 3 made its quiet debut. Even if bad marketing hadn't killed the game in the water, it was swept over and washed away by a wave of mediocre launch titles, never to be seen or heard of again. Don't believe it? Ask around and see how many people and/or places have or know about the game. None of the Xbox owners I've ever known have (or had) the game, and between American and Japanese game stores I've seen it maybe four times. The game even had its own Xbox hardware bundle for Japan, but still wasn't a common title there, either. Ironic how this is one of the best Xbox games, yet it was released in the hardware's infancy and went virtually-unnoticed. DC3 isn't a perfect game by any means, but it's a lot better than anything in the wave of mediocrity it was swallowed up by.

It is said that Capcom had originally planned this game for the PlayStation 2, but later made it Xbox exclusive when Microsoft flashed cash. Switching hardware after having money thrown at them may be only partially-true; looking at the game, you'd never even guess that it was originally planned for the PS2. The game takes place on a monstrous ship so big that it's easy to get lost exploring its many chambers. Some of the areas are absolutely huge, and for good reason; to contain the game's colossal, screen-filling bosses. These are the best environments and models I've ever seen on the Xbox hardware, with Ninja Gaiden as the only game that really comes close. Even as a modern game with a modern approach, though, Dino Crisis 3 is more than just eye-candy running on powerhouse hardware. Looking deeper reveals that it shares more with a blast from the past than anything from its era (even Resident Evil 4).

I play Dino Crisis 3, see it, see the past, I wonder, and it all slowly came together. "How can anyone who knows the classics not like this game?" Looking at some things in 16-Bit Capcom classic Forgotten Worlds, Dino Crisis 3 may have more in common with that game than Resident Evil 4. RE4 was in a league of its own, and though DC3 borrowed some things from it, the rest may have been influenced FW. The parallels between the two are what make me wonder if DC3 was in any way, shape, or form influenced by FW. They're not as obvious as the influences from RE4 (i.e. red laser pointer aiming), but the ones from FW are there (they just take more knowledge of game history to see). This is a prime example of what BADCP has been pushing for years; the fact that "history repeats itself (again)."

The frenetic jetpack gameplay in DC3 really reminds me of FW with the 360-degree spin controls and shooting. Both games throw you in the center of a battle against reptiles in the dead of space, hovering with shotguns, machine-guns, and orbiting defense mechanisms. Both games have the Laser and Wide Shot, too, but it doesn't end there; the Balcan Cannon strongly resembles the blue Tempest Wasp, and the Bounding Laser is like red Inferno Wasp. One could even argue the Flame-thrower or Napalm more strongly resembles the red Inferno Wasp.

The Wasps in DC3 really aren't far-off at all from the Orbs in FW; both are multifunctional with different shot types that make quick work of enemies and bosses alike. Well, the Wasps in DC3 shred enemies beyond recognition, but still they serve the same functions. Some may even argue that the Napalm Bomb in FW destroy even more. Then you got the upgrade areas in both games that you can duck into where currency is used for purchasing items and/or weapons. As a side-note, both games use sphere-shaped currency; FW uses Zenny, DC3 uses Orbs. There's probably some way to finish both games without buying anything at the shops, but they're made so much easier (and fun) by purchasing more effective weapons that do more damage. You can really see all the damage Wasps and Orbs do in each game because they fill the screen with absolute chaos when enemies crowd you. If they're not being riddled with holes, they're being incinerated or fried to death in a hail of shots from all sides. All these cool weapons aren't used just for killing, though; in both games they're also used to shoot doors open. Orbs blow them open in FW, and in DC3, doors are opened by their respective Wasp (designated by color). Behind these closed doors are environmental hazards, and in both games the heroes encounter high-voltage electricity zones and lasers capable of frying their lifebar to zero in a snap.

Even when you don't consider Dino Crisis 3's relation to 16-Bit classic Forgotten Worlds, though, it's still in good company with titles like Otogi 2, Otogi, and Crazy Taxi 3 that actually utilize the power of the Xbox hardware at the time (as Microsoft had so proudly advertised). The visuals are mesmerizing at times, and the myriad of effects streamlined into the solid backgrounds show how the power and stability of the hardware facilitated creativity. Not only do the environments feel as solid as they look, but there's a lot going on in the background. The last Monitor Room stands as the best example of the game's surreal environments; even under the floor you see monitors projecting data beneath a layer of glass. There's a shimmer and shine on everything, and in areas like the Rotary Joint the ship's mechanical bowels are brought to life by realistic glares and mechanical movement. These things really bring to life an otherwise vacant vessel. There's even a filter over the screen to make it look like an old movie, Viewtiful Joe style!

Big or small, short or tall, the dinosaurs in Dino Crisis 3 all look (literally) stunning, and are as detailed as the enemies in Resident Evil 4. Their intricately-exposed muscular structures are a testament to science gone horribly wrong, and strongly resemble the enemies with exposed insides in Forgotten Worlds. You witness a crew member getting owned by a T-Rex right at the beginning of the game, and in a shocking turn of events, just after that the same T-Rex gets eaten alive (from the outside in, and then from the inside out) in a scene so graphic it could make anyone cringe. The swarming slug/worm/termite abominations that ate it alive have swarming, slimy counterparts in FW that are just as quick and deadly. They are, of course, accompanied by colossal, terrifying bosses in both titles. FW may have a few non-reptilian enemies here and there, but it doesn't detract much from both games sharing an obvious centerpoint theme of jet-packed space commandos with big guns eradicating a reptilian threat.
Speaking of characters, there are four in DC3; three of which are playable (Patrick, Sonya, and Caren). The coolest one (Jacob, who resembles the red Unknown Soldier from Forgotten Worlds) is unplayable. How can the coolest character in the game not be playable? Either way, he still compliments Patrick all throughout the game much like the red Unknown Soldier compliments the blue Unknown Soldier in FW. As funny (or strange) as it may sound, both games have protagonist bruthas in shades wearing armor pads. One big difference, though, is that the story in FW doesn't see the man of color die the cliche, sacrificial death of a secondary character like in DC3. Both games even have a sort-of damsel in distress situation; saving the Queen in FW and finding Ashley in DC3. There may be a more urgent reptilian theme at the forefront of both games, but underneath all of that these cute damsels drive a familiar psychological obligation to save the girl.
Dino Crisis has pretty much always taken a back seat to Resident Evil, and with Dino Crisis 3 it's because of the control. This game is shit-on because of the camera, but the camera itself isn't the problem; it's the control because it changes suddenly during any camera changes. Resident Evil 4's control was simple and effective because it didn't change when the camera angles changed; a similar system could have made Dino Crisis 3 perfect. Capcom used the same camera in RE4 for certain parts (i.e. Ashley's parts), so it's possible the "bad camera" in DC3 was intentional for the "suspense" of not being able to see the enemy. But it's hard to tell, since they did put in a view button with auto-lock that works pretty good (maybe to make up for the camera). Control issues aren't common in Capcom games, and happening to DC3 made it all the more disappointing because it was probably Capcom's most anticipated title on the hardware. This control anomaly doesn't happen all the time, though, and you really start to notice the surprising amount of area you traverse on the ship once you get into the game. Either way you slice it, though, both DC3 and FW really don't have the best control. And just like RE4, DC3 has moments of survival horror, but some would say it's diluted by running and gunning more characteristic of classic action games like FW (which brings me to my next point).

FW and DC3 really flew in under the radar in both their respective eras. I say that even with their flaws, though, these are some of the best action games of their respective eras; not perfect, but still really good games. Both are probably some of the most challenging, longest games I've ever played. Thanks to years of complaining and whining about unlimited continues from EGM and the like, Capcom numbered the continues in DC3, but it really didn't help the game's lack of popularity. The difference between these two titles is that DC3 continues to be an underrated title because it can't enjoy the advantage of retro allure like FW. Trendy retro allure will continue to influence wannabe "retro game nerds" and collectors to seek Forgotten Worlds on the Genesis or Turbo-Grafx 16 for years to come, and hopefully retro allure progresses enough for Dino Crisis 3 to be sought-after in the same manner. It really deserves it...