Review by Sise_Neg
Reviewed: 01/27/12 | Updated: 01/30/12
The Highlight of the Resident Evil Series
Many titles have been added to the Resident Evil franchise since the release of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in late 1999. But despite the inclusion of more Resident Evil titles, none have managed to live up to the level of quality that this game offers. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is truly where the Resident Evil series peaked. I am here to tell the readers why.
Let us first take a look at the game's plot...
The game begins on September 28, 1998, a mere two months after the horrific t-Virus outbreak in the Spencer mansion. Jill Valentine, the heroine of the first Resident Evil, finds herself trapped in Raccoon City during a t-Virus outbreak that has turned most of the citizens into zombies and turned animals and creatures into horrific monsters. The Raccoon City Police Department (RPD) has been decimated by the zombies and the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) that was sent by Umbrella, apparently to rescue civilians, finds itself overwhelmed and reduced to a mere few among the living. Jill attempts to escape the ruined city with her life, but unfortunately the higher-ups at the Umbrella corporation have other plans for her and the rest of the members of S.T.A.R.S.
Because the S.T.A.R.S. members know about the corporation's role in the t-Virus outbreak in the Arklay mountains, Umbrella deploys a new B.O.W. in Raccoon City to dispose of them. Its objective is to kill all surviving members of S.T.A.R.S. in the midst of the outbreak so as to erase the threat of anyone exposing Umbrella's foray into bio-organic warfare. With the most powerful B.O.W. created right on her trail, Jill must use any means necessary to get out of Raccoon City alive.
The plot is standard for a Resident Evil title and is essentially a side-story of the events in Resident Evil 2, with the first half of the game taking place before it and the second half taking place after it. Some interesting files are found which further expose Umbrella's research into bio-organic warfare and multiple side-characters are met as Jill runs about Raccoon City. And as is typical of the Resident Evil games, the last section involves running during a countdown in order to escape a big explosion. There are some who criticize Resident Evil 3: Nemesis for not having a unique plot, but it is a weak criticism. Most all of the Resident Evil games involve the same thing: outbreak, dodging zombies, fighting bosses, and escaping a bomb at the end. This game offers the same thing, but the difference here is that the execution is done better than all the others in the series.
There are some great characters in Resident Evil 3. As mentioned, you control the awesome Jill Valentine from the first game in the series. S.T.A.R.S. member Brad Vickers also makes an appearance and Jill will interact with random members of Raccoon City as she makes her escape, as well as see some of them meet a gruesome end at the hands of bloodthirsty zombies. Jill's main interaction is with the remaining members of the U.B.C.S. Delta Platoon. These guys are great characters and, at least in this reviewers opinion, are the most awesome supporting cast in any Resident Evil title. From the suspicious looking Nicholai and wounded Lieutenant Mikhail to the suave Latin mercenary Carlos, each adds something unique to the experience.
Like Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has pre-rendered 3D backgrounds with interactive environments and fixed camera angles. However, the environment is much more vast and varied compared to previous titles and the graphics are much smoother. Zombies have detailed gashes, tears through clothing, and blood dripping over them. The textures are more refined than in previous titles and faces of the characters are much more clear. The blood effects have also improved greatly. The polygon count is substantially higher than in previous PSX Resident Evil titles, and as such things look much more realistic.
Music & Sound
Both the music and sound are flawless. The moans of the zombies are much more varied and creepy sounding. Creatures all have their own distinctive sounds, especially Nemesis with its iconic growl of "S.T.A.R.S.!!!" Footsteps sound like footsteps. Crashes sound like crashes. Fire sounds like fire. Water sounds like water. Everything sounds as realistic as possible. The voice acting is of pretty good quality for a Resident Evil game, too, though don't expect it to actually be "good".
The music is really good, when there is any. Much of the time no background music is provided, which creates a feeling of isolation. However, when the music does start up it is very fitting. Certain creatures have their own distinctive themes that are quite unsettling and of course the theme of Nemesis easily can give people a scare. Everything comes out crystal clear. No complaints.
Gameplay & Controls
The gameplay is what separates Resident Evil 3: Nemesis from all the other titles in the series. It holds the best elements of the old, classic style of Resident Evil while at the same time providing welcome changes - many of which were kept in future installments. Unlike earlier Resident Evil games, one no longer has to press the action button in order to walk up and down stairs. In addition to this, enemies are now able to follow you up and down stairs and so no area is truly safe. Much more enemies can be found on the same screen compared to previous installments and enemies are much more agile and dangerous as well, making escaping the creatures that much more satisfying.
In order to complement the improvement in enemy mobility and their increased number, features have been added to make Jill more able fight effectively:
1) Dodge - This is the first Resident Evil that has a dodge feature. By raising your weapon just as the enemy is about to attack, Jill (or Carlos) will take a big step backward and duck. By pressing a directional button while doing so, Jill will dodge in that direction. Unlike future Resident Evil games that provided a quick time event in order to indicate when to dodge, Resident Evil 3 doesn't provide one. This makes dodging take more practice, but it is much more satisfying when it is executed. Additionally, the dodge feature does not always work. As in, even while dodging Jill still has a chance of being hit. This is welcome, as dodging doesn't break the game in this way.
2) Quick Turn - Resident Evil 3 was the first RE to offer the quick turn ability and other Resident Evil titles recognized that this was a much welcome feature. Remember how turning the other way required the character to turn in a circle while walking in place? Resident Evil 3 got rid of that nonsense. By pressing square + down at the same time, Jill will quickly turn 180 degrees. This makes running away much more convenient.
3) Emergency Escape - The emergency escape is hard to pull off, but can get you out of tight situations if executed properly. If faced by an enemy, or even surrounded, Jill can shove them back and cause them to fall down by pressing the Directional buttons, Action button, Cancel button, Run button, R1, R2 and L1 buttons rapidly.
These features definitely help improve the combat from previous Resident Evil titles, but at the same time it does not make the combat a walk in the park by holding your hand at every step like future Resident Evil games (RE4/RE5) tended to do.
Another additional feature unique to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is the Ammo Creation System. Armed with a reloading tool, as Jill goes throughout the city she can find three types of gunpowder - A, B, C - and mix them together in different orders to create varying amount of ammo and ammo of different types. The gunpowder can create handgun bullets, shotgun shells, grenade rounds, grenade flame rounds, grenade acid rounds, grenade freeze rounds as well as magnum bullets. As Jill continues to create ammo her skill will improve and more powerful ammunition will be created. Certain ammo can only be found, however, such as rounds for the new Mine Thrower weapon, where missiles track the enemy and explode after a few seconds. The weapon variety is well varied and even more can be unlocked through mini-games.
Another significant feature is the randomization of enemies and items. Certain passcodes will vary depending on the save file as well. This is a welcome feature, as it is not always predictable what enemies you will have to face in a specific room or when they will pop out. The randomization of weapons and ammo also means you can't always rely on finding a specific type in a given area, meaning you have to be a bit more careful in how you manage your ammo.
Enemies will regularly pop out from around the corner or from one of the interactive environments, providing a lot of jump scares. The enemy variety is varied, with many more types of zombies than in previous installments, and new enemies make their appearance (such as the Drain Deimos and the Brain Sucker, which are even more creepy than the Licker, in my opinion). New types of Hunters are even introduced, as well as a giant worm boss. However, old enemies make a return such as zombie dogs and crows. Each enemy has its own unique style of attack and it is up to you to figure out which weapon works best against it and the best method of avoiding its attacks.
The biggest and baddest enemy of them all, Nemesis, adds much to what makes Resident Evil 3 so great. Just the thought of that big evil appearing out of nowhere provides a large amount of tension at the start of the game. When Nemesis finally does appear for the first time things get even more tense. Back when Resident Evil 3 was the latest in the series, there had never been a boss like Nemesis. He was the first enemy that was able to follow you through rooms and you never knew when he was going to jump out and grab you. The challenge in defeating him during encounters also adds to the fear in going to new areas, as his powerful attacks could easily kill you if you are not careful. But, the rewards for defeating him are great. With the exception of a few instances, Nemesis will drop a weapon part or an item that can be combined to create a new and powerful weapon. In this way the experienced player can challenge himself to defeat Nemesis every time or run away.
Unfortunately for Jill, Nemesis is a good deal faster than her and running away still provides a big risk of getting hurt. Attacking Nemesis head on is all a dangerous idea. His extremely durable body takes bullets like they are rolled-up socks and can even plow through a heavy barrage of assault rifle rounds. His standard attacks are either a running punch or grabbing by the neck and throwing your character to the ground. When this happens it is necessary to rapidly press the command buttons to get up off the ground, because Nemesis will walk right back over to Jill and pick her up to execute his one-shot killing tentacle impalement. The lower Jill's health is while grabbed by the neck, the lower the chance is of escaping. Nemesis will periodically change its attack style as it sometimes comes armed with a rocket launcher and will transform later. Additionally, Nemesis is also able to dodge grenade rounds and rocket launcher missiles! One of the few bosses who is able to do so. As if that wasn't enough, even after dropping Nemesis once he will get back up after a few seconds to attack you even more aggressively than before, only staying down once he is dropped a second time. Nemesis never gets stale in this way.
Unlike Resident Evil 1 and 2, there is only one scenario to play as. However, there is a brief section where the player can take control of the UBCS mercenary Carlos Oliviera. While some might think that this takes away from the replay value, it actually does not. At certain moments that are dispersed throughout the game, Jill will be faced with a 'Live Scenario' event where she will have a decision between two choices. Her choice will effect the following scene and will change certain details of the story (both minor and major) as well as item placement. Those who are curious can play through the game more than once in order to discover all the consequences for the choices made. Also, by visiting locations in different order, different cutscenes will play out. There's a lot of room for experimentation on multiple playthroughs. A welcome addition is also the ability to skip cutscenes by pressing the select button. This makes additional playthroughs more enjoyable since you don't have to sit through the same dialogue.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a game that can either be exceptionally easy or quite difficult, especially to newcomers of the series. The game does not provide a normal mode. Instead, it provides an 'Easy Mode' and 'Hard Mode'. Unfortunately, 'Easy Mode' happens to be piss easy, as it starts you off with an automatic assault rifle and provides tons of ammo and most every weapon in the game within the first item box found. Enemies also drop much quicker and damage taken from their attacks seems to be less. However, 'Hard Mode' has the opposite problem for many people, it seems. In 'Hard Mode' the game starts you off with simply a handgun and 15 bullets and none of the other weapons are found waiting for you in the item box. Enemies take more bullets to drop and Nemesis is of course harder to put down. However, the rewards for dropping Nemesis will not be given in 'Easy Mode' and 'Hard Mode' is significantly more satisfying. 'Hard Mode' does not hold your hand, and games like Resident Evil and especially Resident Evil 2 where you had to try and die in order to get killed may make the transition to Resident Evil 3's 'Hard Mode' quite challenging. But that's not to say it's ever frustrating. The ones who say Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is too difficult have merely been spoiled by the simplicity of the other games in the series.
Throughout the game are various files and photos. Collecting them all in the right order will grant you Jill's Diary, which is a fn read. Completing the game also grants certain rewards. A boutique key will be provided in the next playthrough that will unlock a door in Raccoon City that leads to a dressing room where Jill can change into a variety of outfits. However, some will be locked and will only unlock if a high enough ranking is obtained at the end of a playthough. In addition, epilogues for Resident Evil characters will be unlocked that are entertaining to read.
Additionally, a Mercenaries mini-game called 'Operation: Mad Jackal' will be unlocked in which the player can choose between the three UBCS members: Mikhail, Carlos and Nicholai, which have different healing items and weapons and are essentially Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty, respectively. The mini-game plays differently from the Mercenary mini-games of Resident Evil 4 and 5, and for the better. There is somewhat of a storyline involved in the mini-game. A bomb has been implanted inside the mercenary controlled and in order to deactivate it he must run from the cable car all the way to the warehouse at the other end of the city before time runs out, otherwise he will explode into bits. The player starts with two minutes and time is gained each time a monster is either dodged or killed. However, dispersed throughout the city are civilians and other mercenaries who are trapped. Killing all the monsters in the area will save them and give you additional time as well as a specific item dropped by the person rescued, which changes in accordance with the character being played. The mini-game is truly frantic, as many areas are filled with heaps of zombies and other creatures. Additionally, multiple Nemeses wander areas and will attack without mercy.
Completing the mini-game will earn you money that is calculated on a ranking based upon how much time you have left, how much damage was taken and how many civilians were rescued. When enough money is gained rewards can be purchased: an assault rifle with infinite ammo, a gatling gun with infinite ammo (only obtainable through the mini-game), a rocket launcher with infinite ammo or infinite ammo for every weapon found throughout Raccoon City. This makes the replay value of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis immense.
It is hard to imagine why anyone would rank another Resident Evil game over Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. There is really nothing bad about it. The mixture of tension and action is at its best. The full scope of the zombie outbreak in Raccoon City is seen, unlike in Resident Evil 2 where you were confined to a police station for a majority of the game. The Nemesis is by far the most challenging boss in the series as well as the most durable and imposing, which makes a great main threat for a video game. The characters are amusing. The replay value is high. I can point out a flaw in every other Resident Evil game - but not this one. It is clearly the most superior Resident Evil to date. I doubt it will ever be surpassed.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (US, 11/11/99)
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