Review by Millers C

"Jill Valentine meets her Nemesis"



Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, or Resident Evil 3: The Last Escape if you're Japanese, was released in 1999 on the Playstation to much hype and expectation. After the successes of the original version and its superb sequel, it was always going to be difficult for Capcom to better these two legendary games. Can they deliver the goods for a third Zombie bashing time?

As soon as Resident Evil 3: Nemesis loads you are thrust straight into the action and plot line of the game. Set in Raccoon City, where Resident Evil 2 took place, 24 hours before the events of Resident Evil 2 we can see the first effects on the city as the G-Virus outbreak takes effect, turning Civilians and wildlife into marauding creatures of the Undead in the beautifully crafted opening Full Motion Video. The Police and SWAT teams try in vain the stop the masses but are cut down by a mob. We then see the evil Umbrella Corporations hired mercenaries entering the area, rappelling from Helicopters to the pumping action movie style music, but their efforts are also futile. It's now that we are introduced to the main playable character of Resident Evil 3; Jill Valentine, S.T.A.R.S alpha teams specialist ‘Master of Unlocking' and a survivor from the first game.

We take on the role of Jill as she begins her ‘Last Escape', as she explores the city whilst trying somehow to get a grip on how another Zombie massacre has broken out and all this whilst evading a very special admirer, the Nemesis from the title. Resident Evil 3 deals which a much more psychological element of fear this time round with the introduction of the Nemesis character, which is a 9 foot tall behemoth of a monster armed with tentacles and a shoulder mounted Rocket Launcher. His mission is to wipe out the remaining S.T.A.R.S members, and is relentless in his pursuit of this goal. Nemesis' appearances within the game are unexpected and frequent. This is used to great effect in scaring us witless at his imminent attack, and also makes for a more challenging game. Nemesis more often than not can be outran…be don't be fooled in thinking you can get away from him that easily, for Nemesis is much smarter than the regular Zombies as he can follow you from room to room.

Jill soon hooks up with smooth talking south American mercenary Carlos Oliviera, who is the second playable character, but unlike Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 you cannot choose between these characters because this time around we switch characters a couple of times during gameplay to advance the plot line.

Resident Evil 3 is the most interactive and realistic experience of the series yet. Jill can dodge attacks with a quick side step or can push Zombies out of the way to clear the path at the jab of the dodge button, whilst terrain can be used to your advantage such as the shooting of barrels to explode a horde of Zombies. This works in your favour to a degree, but be warned; gone are the days where Zombies can't work out how to climb stairs and attack, because they will this time around. All this makes for a more satisfying and realistic feel to the game. Ammunition for weapons is no longer in abundance. Jill begins the game with a reloading tool in her inventory and during her quest, boxes of gunpowder can be acquired and combing these boxes together and using them with the reloading tool will give you ammunition, and some cool new bullets and ammo can be made using this. Once more this results in a larger strategy element towards the game, as a bad mistake in using the tool will ruin the combination and leave you short of ammo.

If you have played Capcom's Jurassic Park influenced Dino Crisis, you should remember that the in game puzzles were fully interactive, and this concept has been fully employed in Resident Evil 3. The puzzles in this game are fiendishly plotted and take a great deal of attention to detail and certainly require more head scratching – its not just a case of flicking a few switches in the right order, Jill has to do everything from creating Water Samples to fiddling with Music Boxes. Each puzzle is randomly generated from several possible outcomes, so you won't be able to just copy the solution down from an FAQ this time around – this game is much more of a cerebral experience and goes a great way towards making this the most difficult version of Resident Evil yet.

Best of all though are the alternate routes and pathways through the game, which come in the form of on screen decisions at certain points, usually when attacked by the Nemesis. Choosing the best course of action at these points can cause numerous factors from simply avoiding a fight, to gaining access to new areas and can also cause different plot outcomes. It will take several play throughs of the game to witness every different scene, and this is a fantastic new element to the game which can – despite offering free roaming environments – be criticized for being slightly too linear.

You can select from two difficulty levels, Easy and Normal. The difference between these is largely in how much of a vitality you have before you give up and in the amount of Ammunition you receive from each box of Bullets or Shotgun shells, while playing on normal is a much more gratifying experience and can also give you extra secret items.

Jill is confronted this time around by a much more diverse and twisted army of the undead. The Zombies themselves come in all shapes and sizes from the easily killed naked zombie to fat zombies who take a great deal of parabellum to the chest before being subdued. With Zombies coming in all shapes and colors, some Zombies can sprint to run after you whilst the fatter ones are less agile and can easily be avoided. They are joined by the standard zombie dogs and of course nemesis. This game sees the introduction of the Drain Demios, a spider like creature which grabs Jill in its talons in an attempt to crush her to death, while we see the return of the decapitation enjoying Hunters who appear towards the end of the game. In terms of boss characters, we really only get to battle Nemesis, and his constant appearances and battles create a real climate of fear during the game.

You'll soon be able to see that this is visually the greatest Resident Evil yet. The Full Motion Video is much sharper and less grainy than the ones which featured in Resident Evil 2. Movement is much more fluid and due to the special moves which Jill can undertake, the animation looks all the more impressive. We still have the Pre Rendered backgrounds which have been the staple of the Resident Evil series, and as ever they look terrific whilst the door opening loading screens return as well. Characters now look much more lifelike and are superbly detailed, with Jill's facial and ‘other' features clearly visible. The monsters themselves all look a lot more detailed as well, as do the items we pick up and the weapons. Everything in Resident Evil 3 looks incredible for the late nineties and pushes the PSX to its limits.

Resident Evil 3 is the most visceral Resident Evil yet, not only does a close range shotgun blast to the head take the head clean off, but a fountain of claret will erupt from the stump – it is all exceptionally and wonderfully violent and it's a shame really that none of this made it into the tame Resident Evil Code: Veronica. The music helps to create an intimidating and foreboding atmosphere, which is yet another feature of the series and it returns here in all its glory. Resident Evil 3 has its fare share of plot developing cut scenes, and it seems to me that Capcom have slowly been employing more talented voice artists each time around because those who feature in this game are top notch. The script is perfect, avoiding all the unfortunate pieces of dialogue which riddled the original and every voice actor does their job perfectly, especially Jill whose voice actor was very impressive and it's a wonder why she didn't return for the Resident Evil remake.

There are 3 control types, and in terms of layout nothing has really changed other than the introduction of dodge buttons which as I mentioned earlier, will give you much more freedom of movement. There are more weapons than ever this time around and with the introduction of military cut out mercenaries, we should expect a more impressive arsenal and we certainly are spoilt for choice in terms of firepower. Jill has access to Grenade Launchers, Mine Launchers, upgradeable weapons such as the Shotgun and the excellent Colt Python. I would have liked to have been able in this game to walk and aim weapons at the same time, (This concept featured in Dino Crisis), which would have taken the series combat to a whole new level – the characters in this game are highly trained special forces members, remember. The game plays and progresses much in the same way as its predecessors, with a fine blend of puzzle solving and zombie blasting action divided between cinematic cut scenes which is certainly what we expected.

Storyline wise, we can see that this game doesn't really advance the series in the way that some fans may have hoped, taking in the same time line as Resident Evil 2. In actual fact the game takes place 24 hours before the events of Resident Evil 2 and midway through the game, continues 24 hours after those events. There were a lot of unanswered questions regarding the events of Resident Evil 2, and by resuming the series in the same time frame; this game goes a long way towards answering them and drawing a conclusion to the Raccoon City chapter in the series.

When we take into account the several optional routes and choices available and the fact there are three different endings, you can see that there is certainly a lot of replay value.
Aside from the main game, Capcom have, as ever, striven to include as many secrets, Easter eggs and extras as possible. You can receive epilogue files upon completion of the game which details a brief summary of what each character – from Barry Burton to Hunk – has been doing in recent times and its is a big effort to acquire every one of them. There are also 5 secret costumes for Jill, and of course it is exceptionally difficult to get that ever elusive ‘S' or ‘A' rankings – another challenge to return for. But best of all is the mercenaries sub game which can be unlocked after completing the game once. In this sub game, you take on the role of one of the three main mercenaries in the game and battle it out against the clock and an army of monsters to get from one side of town to the other. Rescuing people, executing impressive dodge moves and killing enemies all add to your time and the better your time, the better your reward. Each mercenary has their own advantages in terms of vitality and weaponry available, and it is a tough challenge in its own right. Totting up good scores in the mercenaries game gives you money – you are a mercenary after all – which can be spent on purchasing extra weapons such as the Gatling Gun for use by Jill in the main game, and this works really well as there is a great incentive for people to play it. The Mercenaries sub game is probably the best extra in the history of the PSX Resident Evil's, innovative and addictive it is very hard to put down and it is terrific that Capcom made a huge effort in extending the replay value of this game, because there is more to acquire, see, do and return for than in any other Resident Evil game.

This is one of the greatest Survival Horror experience on the Playstation, improving greatly on Resident Evil 2 in many ways. Capcom have delivered the goods as expected and have developed a truly frightening, intriguing, entertaining, superbly playable and long lasting addition to the Resident Evil series. The premise may be similar and the storyline may not be advanced as much as perhaps hoped for in this game, but Fans of the series will love it, while there is so much going for this game to make it a very worthy addition to any self respecting Playstation owners collection, and even with newer and technically more advanced sequels available this is still one of the finest examples of 32 bit gaming.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/05


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