Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Retrospective

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under News

With it being the last entry in the mainline series to take place within the confines of the tragic Raccoon City, to feature zombies of the more shambling variety and to have all the clunky mechanics intact, Resident Evil 3 is a significant iteration in the series. It was the last before Resident Evil 4 came along, bringing with it a new backdrop for the action, zombies that aren’t really zombies and a reworking of just about all the mechanics that were considered by many to be the biggest caveats of Capcom’s legendary franchise.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was set both prior to and after the events featured in Resident Evil 2 and had both a laughable script and voice acting, which if nothing else, were certainly highly entertaining. It saw the return of Jill Valentine, who was absent from the second game. Jill is attempting to escape from the undead infested Raccoon City, with the aid of Carlos and the obstacle of not only zombies, mutants, an infection and an Umbrella soldier with a dodgy Russian accent, but also the menacing and eponymous Nemesis.

The Nemesis is hunting down STARS members and, with Jill being part of that elite group, he was a constant thorn in your side throughout the game. His horrifying appearance, speed, size and possession of a bazooka made for an effective and intimidating presence. Largely when he came for you, you had the option to either run or stand and fight. Whilst through a bit of effort and a near armies worth of firepower you could knock the big guy out (being rewarded with a rare item in the process on the harder difficulty), he just came back for more until you finally got the chance to get rid of him for good towards the games’ conclusion.

With the option to blow up exploding barrels, the greater enemy presence and the fact that there were plenty of scripted explosive set pieces, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis certainly ended the Raccoon City trilogy with an effective bang or two, resulting in a fitting finale for the story arc.

As far as the doomed Raccoon City itself goes, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a combination of old and new areas to explore. There was a fleeting return to the police station that was one of the primary locations in Resident Evil 2 and with it a pleasant feeling of nostalgia for returning players. The chaos was well represented in areas both old and new: crashed vehicles and munched on bodies litter the streets, some parts are burning, windows are shattered and everything is just one hell of a mess. The pre-rendered backdrops used to present all this still manage to mildly impress and the cinematic camera angles are effective, even though they aren’t always ideal at displaying enemies.

Another far from ideal aspect were the controls: manoeuvring Jill through the city was trickier than it should have been, all thanks to controls that gave you the sense you were in charge of a lumbering tank rather than an elite police officer. In fairness, they did try and make some improvements in this area: walking up stairs no longer required a button press and there was a dodge move and quick turn, both useful to escape from impending enemy attacks. I never really had much of an issue with the controls back in 2000, but these days, even with their improvements, they were a bit harder to get my head around, as it’s rare for a more modern game to have such a quirky control scheme, but after a bit of time spent walking into walls and into the arms of ravenous zombies, I eventually began to adapt to its clunky ways.

One of the biggest new additions to the Resident Evil formula was the live selection mode, of which were choices that you were forced to make at certain junctures. On one occasion, for example, there is a horde of zombies intending to chow on you for their next meal and you can either electrocute them, resulting in a lot of popped heads, or take the more cowardly and far less satisfying route of escaping.

Also new was that the placement of items were randomly determined and some puzzles were also randomized, which meant you couldn’t simply just commit their locations and solutions to memory. Both were commendable methods of offering something new for multiple runs through the game.

The thing that had the greatest allure for constant play, though, wasn’t the main game but was the unlockable Mercenaries mode. This had you playing as one of the three Umbrella soldiers featured in the primary mode, each of which had their own equipment. It was an addictive time based affair, where additional seconds were earned by killing enemies and rescuing civilians.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a strong entry in the series, the Nemesis himself is one of the most memorable enemies in gaming, whilst the combination of action and puzzle is as good as it ever was. As a result, even with some unhelpful camera angles and clunky controls, the game loses little of its excellence ten years later, furthermore, with it being the final game of the primary series to feature the familiar ingredients before Resident Evil 4 came along and changed everything, it earns not only a certain amount of historical significance, but also a special place in my heart.