Review by Katon
"Welcome to Raccoon City! Hope you're packing plenty of heat!"
Capcom has been uncanny in its ability to produce hit franchise after hit franchise. True, they do tend to milk their big hitters too much, but you can usually count on a solid gaming experience from this company. With the exception of the horrid Gun Survivor games on the Playstation, Capcom's Resident Evil series has been just another jewel in the crown of this gaming giant. Although preceded by Alone in the Dark in the survival horror genre, the Resident Evil series (Biohazard in Japan) has established survival horror as an innovative and fun game type.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis introduced several new and refined gameplay mechanics to the franchise, making the last true Playstation incarnation of the series one of the best on the system.
Resident Evil has been oft criticized for its unwieldy control scheme. In most games, the direction you push on the directional pad (or analog stick) is the direction your character goes. However, in Resident Evil, a new scheme was introduced in which pushing up on the control pad meant your character always moved forward, no matter which direction he or she was facing. This can be difficult to grasp for beginners, but I feel the controls are perfect for this series. Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, once said the controls made the game more tense for the player, and I would tend to agree. Newbies could easily become frustrated here. Given some time with the controls, though, most gamers should eventually get the hang of it, and the control system will become second nature.
One huge addition to the gameplay in Nemesis is the introduction of a character (Nemesis, of course!) who pursues the main character, Jill Valentine, throughout the course of the game. You can never be quite sure just where Umbrella's latest creation will pop up, and you'll be in for a tough battle in you decide to hold your ground and not run. As in the other REs, conserving ammo is vitally important, so you'll definitely want to limit your confrontations with this creature to the bare minimum, although defeating Nemesis does allow you the chance to receive a rare item in return.
RE3 is much more action-oriented than the first two games, so you will find fewer puzzles to hinder your progress through Raccoon City. Speaking of the unluckiest town in America, one of the big draws of RE3 is that you are not confined mainly to a single area like the first two. Instead, you will have the opportunity to explore Raccoon City in all its zombie-infested glory.
Another refinement in the game is the ability to create ammuntion specially designed to take down the freaks who are stalking poor Jill. This neat twist allows the player to craft acid rounds, freeze rounds, etc., for use in Jill's arsenal.
An unforunate loss from the previous installment in the ability to play two separate quests as different characters. As such, game length and replay value are severely affected, although there is a Mercenaries mini-game which can be unlocked and is very fun. If you can beat the game on the hard setting, you can unlock epilogues which give additional information on several characters who have appeared in the Resident Evil games. Don't get me wrong; RE3 has replay value, but it does not have as much as RE2.
After following the exploits of rookie cop Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield in RE2, the story reverts back to one of the characters who made the first RE so cool, Jill Valentine. At the beginning of the game, Jill has resigned from the STARS team and now has to fight her way out of the disease-ridden metropolis alone. Jill will meet several interesting characters along the way, and some loose ends will be tied up. Overall, the plot of RE3 sheds more light on the twisted schemes of Umbrella and their impact on a seemingly picture-perfect city.
The graphics in RE3 are easily the best of any of the Playstation editions of the series. The prerendered environments are spectacular, and characters sport a high amount of detail. RE3 is easily one of the best-looking PS games out there. The FMV scenes are also the best of the franchise and are very detailed and clean.
RE3 continues the Resident Evil tradition of having superb music. While many areas of the game feature no music at all, the tunes are very appropriate and stirring when present. Sound effects are also outstanding; hearing the pained cries of unfortunate citizens and the slow, shambling walk of a pack of zombies is enough to unnerve anyone. Sound is also important because it can help key you in to enemies' locations, crucial in a game in which avoiding combat is often the best solution.
As has been said already, Capcom is infamous for pushing its big-name games too far, but in this case, everything turned out wonderful. Resident Evil 3 is a joy to play and is a must-buy for RE fans everywhere. If you're new to survival horror, I would still recommend a purchase, as this is a great game to introduce yourself to the genre. If you're unsure about buying this, be aware that this is one of Sony's Greatest Hits now and is extremely affordable, so you will not be risking much by giving this one a go. Try it out, and I'm sure you will join the rest of the devoted RE faithful who swear by the series.
Overall score (not an average): 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/30/03, Updated 07/30/03
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