Monday, December 10

Resident Evil 3 Nemesis Review

I played on: PlayStation 1
I paid: £14.00 (Ninja Game Den Brighton)
Available on: PS1, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PC
Notes: I played this with an original PS1 controller without any analog sticks.

Resident Evil perfected Alone in the Dark’s style of fixed camera survival horror in 1996. Then 2 years later in 1998, Capcom allowed the series to expand in scope with Resident Evil 2. This game was a lot more cinematic and told a much more involved story. Whereas the first game would have a few zombies in a room at most Resident Evil 2 could manage an entire crowd. This helped push the series towards an action focus with its horror. Resident Evil 3 is the logical endpoint of this classic era progression and it’s great.

The first thing fans of the original two games will notice with Resident Evil 3 is the shift in tone from slow-paced horror to a more frantic action pacing. During the first Resident Evil, you spend most of the time exploring the mansion. Then in Resident Evil 2 you slowly unlock the secrets of the police station. In contrast, Resident Evil 3 has you moving between areas with much more speed. You explore the police station again but spend a lot less time there than Leon and Clare did. This increased speed helps keep things feeling fresh and gives you a feeling of always making progress. It also adds to the frantic feeling of always being chased while trying to escape the doomed city before dawn. Which brings us nicely to the story of Resident Evil 3.

We play as Jill Valentine, who has been investigating Umbrella after her escape from the mansion in the first game. The outbreak seen in Resident Evil 2 has left Raccoon City in chaos. Jill has one simple objective, make it out alive. Unfortunately for her Umbrella have no intention of making this easy with monsters around every street corner. On top of the zombies, Cerberus, Chimera and other BOWs you will have to avoid the invincible Nemesis. This overpowered Tyrant is stalking the streets of Raccoon City hunting down the surviving members of STARS. Nemesis can be slowed down with enough firepower but never stopped. The thing I love about Resident Evil 3 is that it gives you plenty of weapons and ammunition then makes it all useless in the face of Nemesis. You have more weapons than at any point in the series history up to this game and yet you still feel underpowered. Every time you have to run through the open streets you will be praying that Nemesis doesn’t ambush you. It creates a very different type of horror than the first two games. More of a frenzied panicky fear instead of the lingering overshadowing fear of the earlier Resident Evil’s.

As well as this increase in speed and action Resident Evil 3 makes a few quality of life changes such as being able to spin 180 degrees by pressing run and down. This means when an enemy ambushes you Jill is able to spin around and start getting some distance instead of the slow turn of previous games. You’re also able to dodge attacks if you press action at the right time and this makes fights feel much more action-packed. Jill doesn’t just stand in one spot firing her weapon, she will dodge and roll if you time it right. Other small things have also been improved like no longer having to press action to climb stairs. Resident Evil 3 controls with a level of fluidity the older games lack and it really does feel nice.

The player has more agency and choice in this game than ever before with certain moments of danger presenting you with a choice to make. These are timed so it doesn’t take away from the horror. Instead, this makes you feel more of the pressure as you try to assess the situation and decide what you should do. Previously the characters would act out these moments without any input from the player and as such you never felt the tension of the situation. Now when things go wrong it’s up to you to make a choice and this adds more to the new type of horror Resident Evil 3 masters. When I was a teenager this used to be my personal favourite classic Resident Evil and these choices were a big part of why. They really help with making you feel involved with Jill’s story.

Speaking of the city, it’s never looked better. While Resident Evil 2 really was beautiful with it’s pre-rendered backgrounds it focused more on tight cramped interiors. This meant that you spent a lot of time inside the police station or underground in the sewers or the Umbrella lab. Resident Evil 3 brings the streets of Raccoon City to life with Jill spending a lot of time outside. You will still be moving around tight corridors but this time they’ll be alleyways and streets filled with burning cars and destruction. It’s more common to see civilians as well although most of them don’t last too long among the violence. Seeing people being attacked and eaten by the monsters makes this feel like a war zone that’s happening to more people than just yourself. During the first 2 games, it was very easy to feel like you were the only people caught up in this nightmare but not anymore. Reminders of the horror other survivors are going through can be seen and heard all around you. The Spencer mansion is a place I love for its quiet sense of evil but Raccoon City is a place I love for its noisy and messy terror. This is all down to the outstanding art, graphics and sound design.

One of the few problems I had with the earlier games were the negative exit points. When you die you are kicked back to the main menu to reload a save. The issue with the other games is that saves are always limited by the number of ink ribbons you have. Due to this you often lost a lot of progress and had to redo certain puzzles again, this got annoying and boring. It did create tension and a fear of dying but at a steep cost. If you died after not saving for half an hour or more it could very easily put you off coming back. Resident Evil 3 solves this by giving you unlimited ink ribbons on easy but limiting them on hard. This means you can choose if you want the less annoying but also less tense easy mode or the classic tenser hard mode. While not perfect this is at least better than earlier games.

Resident Evil 3’s change in focus from a slower more tense experience to that of a more frenzied anarchic horror is great. I don’t think I would want to have this over the first game but I’m very glad we have both. Resident Evil, like its monsters, is always changing and evolving into something new and exciting. This is why I love this series, it offers so many different types of horror while still remaining the same at its core. If you’re a fan of horror gaming this is an absolute must play.

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10

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