In keeping with the horrific tradition of the previous October Throwback Thursdays (#9, #10), we’re going to take a look at Resident Evil 3: Nemesis this week. The third installment, much like its predecessors, was released to critical praise and fan adoration. And, really, there aren’t many series out there that can make lightning strike that many times in a row. RE3 turned the traditional RE narrative on its head a little bit: we already know there’s an Umbrella conspiracy, so there’s a little bit less mystery this time; instead, we’re given a title that really focuses on the survival in survival horror. This game features the return of the first lady of RE: Jill Valentine. Another unique feature of RE3 is that it takes place during and after the events of Resident Evil 2 (there are some common locations, but the player never interacts directly with those characters). RE3 was also the first game to feature the now-staple “The Mercenaries” mini-game. So, while RE3 didn’t do much in the way of gameplay evolution (it’s mostly similar to RE2′s), it did a lot to help bring the series forward and get some new ideas in plot development.
Jill, having been removed from the S.T.A.R.S. team in the Raccoon City Police Department after trying to blow the lid on Umbrella’s role in the events of the first game, finds herself trapped in Raccoon after the city suffers an outbreak of the T-Virus. She decides to arm herself and make a daring escape. Very quickly, Jill realizes that something more threatening than zombies: Nemesis. This gruesome creature is a killing machine programmed with one task: eliminate all surviving members of the S.T.A.R.S. teams. Nemesis is a persistent villain throughout the game. When you least expect it, Nemesis comes crashing through walls. His pursuit of Jill is absolutely relentless. At most junctions, you’re given the opportunity of escaping or directly confronting the creature. He can’t be permanently killed in the early encounters, but defeating him gives you some goodies (new weapons, special ammo, etc.).
The introduction of such a persistent and ruthless villain is really what made this game so memorable. The constant fear of Nemesis is enough to cause any player major anxiety on the first run-through. Jill also meets up with some of Umbrella’s soldiers-for-hire during the game, which, as anyone who has been to a convention can tell you, gave birth to one of the most popular RE cosplay inspirations: the Umbrella soldier. Jill’s interaction with the Mercenaries elaborates more on Umbrella’s involvement in the zombie infestations that set the entire universe in motion. RE3 has one of the strongest stories in the series and the impact of the events can still be felt in the most recent installments.
Sound – 8.5/10
Again, like its predecessors, the music department did a great job of creating a moody musical atmosphere. Similarly, the dramatic music cues that ran throughout the first two games are back once again. So, while there wasn’t much different with the music, Capcom didn’t really do anything worse.
The voice-acting is mostly on-par with RE2′s. Capcom really got their bearings with the casting process, and this game (as well as its predecessor) are really the proof of that. Performances are nuanced and dramatic (with the occasional corny flair).
The visuals in this game remain largely unchanged from its predecessors. Cutscenes were a bit smoother, but the environments had more-or-less the same amount of detail. Again, not much really changed between RE2 and RE3.
Gameplay – 9.5/10
Yet again, Capcom played it safe and mostly just borrowed from RE2. The most notable tweak to gameplay was the ammo production system. Bits of different types of gunpowder were sprinkled throughout the game. Using a special gunpowder production tool, players could synthesize different ammo types from the powders they found throughout the game. There were a few unique types of ammo that could be mostly found through the creation process. It was a unique and frustrating decision at the same time. Sure, it was cool that you could make your own ammo, but I though that ammo was a little bit less readily available, which, in a survival horror game, usually just makes the whole experience more fun. So, really, I don’t have an opinion leaning one way or the other on ammo creation.
“The Mercenaries” mode also deserves some special recognition. Borrowing from the ideas that went into RE2‘s “Fourth Survivor” and “Tofu Survivor” campaign, “The Mercenaries” was a shorter campaign that focused less on story and more just blowing away zombies. I really don’t have a problem with that idea. “The Mercenaries” has been featured, in one way or another, in almost every single main franchise entry since RE3. Check it out in action:
Overall – 9.0/10
So, Capcom borrowed heavily from RE2, which, if you’ve ever played it, you’ll know isn’t such a bad thing. But the cool thing about RE3 is that, while the gameplay was repackaged and redressed, the storytelling was a little bit more dynamic. The character drama and the survival instinct were way more prevalent in this title than in its two predecessors. For taking a risk and doing something different, I give RE3 the high marks it rightly deserves.