Dino Storm from Splitscreen Games is a unique, brand-new addition to the MMO world. The game centers itself on being the cooler version of Cowboys vs. Aliens – it’s Cowboy vs. Dinosaurs. As a browser-based game, Dino Storm is already on a whole other level within the genre. The MMO community is used to elves and orcs and other tried and true themes. Dino Storm dips into a world that is putting its own spin in both theme and character.
Aesthetics – 6.5/10
Immediately you’ll notice that Dino Storm certainly has its own feel and environment. Browser-based games are often criticized for a lack of detail; however there has been much progression over the past few years. With that in mind, I feel somewhat conflicted as I play Dino Storm. The textures and other basic modeling are far better, comparatively, than many other browser-based games, so it deserves some credit. On the other hand, the User Interface is almost unbearable. It looks very cut-and-paste and has absolutely no depth. In fact, I feel it becomes somewhat distracting as I’m playing and more of an annoyance than anything else. There was so much potential in expanding the UI to still be user-friendly, yet intuitive at the same time.
Character animations are a nice touch and something people often take for granted in browser-based games. Dino Storm certainly stands out in that there is a lot of consistency within the environments based in-and-around the game. I wish that more areas were more dynamic and themed differently. Additionally, combat animations and sounds are incorporated fairly well to provide for a decent fighting experience, but it can get monotonous at times. To put it simply: the overall aesthetic environment will, in a very general way, meet your expectations.
Gameplay – 6/10
Because Dino Storm is so unique within its own world, you will find that your experience in DinoVille is one that encompasses many different qualities. Character creation is neat because you get to meander around riding your own dinosaur. Eventually, your dinosaur begins to grow in size. Additionally, you get to choose the color, appearance, gender, and a few other traits to become the best-looking sheriff in DinoVille.
The whole premise of the game is to be the best sheriff in DinoVille, so you’ll find a lot of the “hunter-gatherer” concept used within the game. The quests are fairly interactive in that there a various types of adventures and all remain consistent with the overall theme of the game. You will still find that at the end of the day, questing and other missions are fairly redundant, so grinding becomes prevalent.
PvP was probably my favorite aspect of the game, especially when I was with more people. Unlike what I have been normally used to, I didn’t find a major bias or single-structured system/metric to identify who would come out the winner. This was nice given that I didn’t feel entirely hopeless when I decided to put my own skills to the test. The best part about the gameplay is the fact that I get to shoot a laser gun. Unfortunately, I just wish there was some type of end-game content that made me seek more.
Innovation – 8/10
I find myself getting more and more excited about browser-based games. The reason is not so much that I played quite a few in my earlier years of MMO gaming, but because I feel there is so much room for them to grow. Dino Storm, in my opinion, has taken the genre to another level. I loved seeing what the folks over at Splitscreen Games were able to accomplish with this title. The 3D environment alone is one of the best I have seen in a browser-based game. Sure, there may not be cutting-edge technology implemented within the game, but I don’t know many things cooler than a cowboy with a laser gun in a prehistoric era.
Additionally, the theme of the game is something I just can’t get over. I mean it in a good way too. Although it may not be something you seek out in the long-term, it’s definitely original with its own spin. I really feel Dino Storm is a good example of the direction many browser-based games should be headed. By having such a unique feel, the experience is certainly one that’s memorable.
Polish – 7/10
Although the game is in its early stages, it is doing fairly well for itself. I have not noticed anything major hindering my gameplay. One interesting thought I had throughout my experience with the game was that it simply didn’t feel “complete.” Now although this is somewhat difficult to explain, it really revolves around the idea that there wasn’t much breadth. What’s there is there, but it almost feels superficial and limited. If the game were a bit more expansive than its current state, it would really allow for a much more holistic and well-rounded base to the game. However, given that it still is a bit too soon to make certain calls, one can only hope for the best.
Longevity – 4.5/10
One of my initial concerns with the game was regarding its longevity. Given its specificity regarding the overall central theme and dynamics of the game, I was not sure as to whether or not I could see myself logging back on in a few months. Unfortunately, after delving into it for the past couple weeks, I think that my concerns were justified. As much as I love playing for a solid couple hours, it just doesn’t go beyond that. On a general level you’ll find that the game is appealing, but that’s where it ends: it’s appealing. I don’t find myself very engaged beyond that. Usually I could pinpoint an exception to say whether this is all relative to the social environment of the game, but even then, I don’t see anything holding one's interest beyond the initial couple weeks with the game. You’ll have a blast the first few times you login, but you’ll be climbing down the rocky, prehistoric mountain after that.
Social – 5/10
One of the more disappointing aspects of the game is the community. It’s not so much that I didn’t feel “welcome” into the Dino Storm community, but, rather, that there weren’t many others to be welcomed by. In addition, the game does not implement a system or environment that reaches out to players being closely connected with one another. Players will find themselves seeking out their own adventures without the assistance of others, despite limited options that involve other players. The way you interact with others is very basic, so there is not much to add other than I would highly recommend trying to seek ties with players as frequently as possible. Fortunately, the gameplay isn’t so stringent in that it forces or requires you to quest with others, but it most certainly will help within the overall environment of the game. I felt like a lone, wandering ranger most of the time, and that’s never any fun.
Value – 7.5/10
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Dino Storm was how accessible it was. I liked the idea of being able to pick up just about any computer and get right back into the game. This game embraces a free society with no restrictions or limits on gameplay or trade. It’s very unfortunate that nowadays when we hear the term “Free-to-Play,” we immediately think that there must be some sort of catch. Dino Storm should remove the doubts and speculation because any player can pick-up and play at their convenience. My only caveat is simply whether the opportunity cost is too high. I really feel you should give the game a chance and become exposed; however I don’t feel it is worth sacrifice additional time for other titles as well.
Overall, I leave Dino Storm in a bittersweet state of mind. On one hand I am very happy and optimistic about the future of browser-based games, given that they have been frequently overlooked within the past few years. On the other hand, however, I wish Dino Storm had been able to draw me in for a longer period of time. Players will definitely remember their experience with the game and no doubt take something away from it. In the end, however, I just wish that the game lacks longevity and depth for a majority of its player-base. We can only look out for the future and hope that these issues can be rectified.