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Posted on Sep 30th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Jaleco, Survival horror, Action, Adventure


When it was brought to my attention that September 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Sega Dreamcast in North America, I felt compelled to actually play something on Sega's short-lived final console, which is something I rarely do. Since the Dreamcast has a handful of exclusive survival-horror titles that have never been ported or re-released on other consoles, it only seemed fitting that I would check out one of these titles and see how it holds up. Being a huge fan of the Resident Evil series, I decided to go with an unabashed Resident Evil knockoff known as Carrier.

Carrier is a Sega Dreamcast exclusive survival-horror title that was developed and published by Jaleco. Released in North America, Japan, and Europe on January 31, 2000, February 24, 2000, and July 5, 2001 respectively, it was met with mostly mixed criticism. A sequel was planned to be released for the PlayStation 2 but was ultimately canceled. Carrier has since faded into relative obscurity as it was likely overshadowed by the much more popular Resident Evil CODE: Veronica which released only a month later in North America.



Set in the 21st Century, Carrier takes place on an aircraft carrier known as the Heimdal. As a member of an elite unit known as SPARC, your team is sent to investigate the Heimdal after all contact with the ship is lost, but your helicopter is shot down by the ship's anti-aircraft guns. Shortly after, you learn that an ancient organism known as ARK has attached itself to the ship, and many people on board are already infected. Carrier's plot is mostly standard fare for this type of game, both in terms of story elements and delivery, with nothing standing out as being particularly good or bad.


As previously mentioned, Carrier is an unabashed Resident Evil clone, so anyone familiar with Capcom's seminal survival-horror franchise will have a good idea of what to expect. Tank controls, fixed camera angles, and a general gameplay loop of exploring environments while looking for keys and items needed to progress are all accounted for here. For the most part, these gameplay elements are par for the course and work fine for what they are.

Two things that help set Carrier apart from other similar titles are the scope and the ability to target enemies' individual body parts. The scope is an item that you find early in the game that allows you to enter a first-person view and see what is directly ahead of you, which can be helpful due to the fixed camera angles. The game has a paranoia element that is reminiscent of The Thing, in which some seemingly friendly NPCs will actually be enemies in disguise, and the scope can be used to detect these enemies. The ability to target individual body parts was a popular gameplay feature of Eternal Darkness, so it was neat to see that it appeared first in Carrier. Although I didn't notice much benefit to taking out an enemy's limbs, the ability to directly target the head allows you to dispatch enemies more quickly and conserve ammo.

Speaking of which, Carrier is extremely generous with ammo and health items, and I had a ton of both by the time I finished the game. The only three main weapons in the game are the pistol, assault rifle, and grenade launcher, and the grenade launcher is the only weapon that I didn't find plentiful ammo for, so I mainly saved it for boss fights. There is also the welder which can be used at short and medium-range and uses no ammo, and it was surprisingly effective for taking out weaker enemies. Explosives are also an important part of the game, and while it is possible to use them as weapons against enemies, they are mainly used for clearing out obstacles in the environment. It is also worth noting that enemies in the game do respawn, so it is possible to run out of resources and back yourself into a corner if you're especially reckless with items.


Some of the gameplay elements that have been mentioned previously are not always implemented as well as other games from the genre, and this unfortunately drags Carrier down from being a pretty good game. The fixed-camera angles tend to be placed in such a way that makes it difficult to detect when enemies are ahead, which can feel cheap at times. The scope can be used to alleviate this problem, but constantly bringing up the scope can get tedious after a while. Enemies will also sometimes be placed immediately on the other side of doors, and there is no way to avoid taking damage when this happens. The lack of weapon variety and the overall design of most enemy types feel uninspired also.

Graphically, Carrier is a decent looking game for the time but doesn't stand out in any way. As mentioned previously, environments are fully rendered in 3D but tend to look fairly bland. Music in the game is mostly the low-key ambient sort that you would expect to hear in a survival-horror game, but overall the soundtrack is decent. As you might expect from a horror game from this era, the voice acting is all over the place, with a couple of characters sounding good, many characters sounding unremarkable and stiff, and a few that sound laughably bad.

While not a bad game, Carrier feels fairly derivative and rough around the edges, which makes me cautious to recommend it to others. I personally found the game to be serviceable enough to get some enjoyment from it, so I believe that survival-horror fans looking for something different may find something to like here. Everyone else would probably be better off sticking with the more popular picks from the genre. Carrier tends to sell for about $30 on the secondary market these days, but I would only recommend picking it up if you can find it dirt cheap.


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Comments
 
I see this one occasionally in my game hunting outings, but I don't remember how much it usually costs. I think it hovers around $20 in the shops where I've seen it. Looks like a complete copy goes for a bit more than that. Would you say it's worth that, or would your definition of "dirt cheap" be lower than that?
 
@MetalFRO: Heh, I was thinking more in the neighborhood of $5-$10, which is what I thought was the current going rate for it before I looked it up on ebay. Honestly, I'd have a hard time justifying $30 for it, but if you consider yourself a fan of the early Resident Evil games, $20 might be a reasonable price.

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