The houseguest who wouldn’t leave
By Sam Desatoff
When I began this month’s coverage of horror games, I planned on sampling a number of different series. After covering Resident Evil Code: Veronica, I planned on moving on to a new series. But then Resident Evil 3 went on sale on the Playstation Network. $1.49 and seven hours later, here we are.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis doesn’t get talked about as much as some of the other entries in the series. The term “classic” is often reserved for the first and second entries while the GameCube remake tends to place highly on many lists of the best horror games of all time. But after revisiting it, Nemesis certainly earns is place in the golden age of Resident Evil.
RE3 revisits Jill Valentine roughly two months after the events of the mansion incident. Raccoon City has been overrun by zombies and Jill is determined to get out. Carrying her trusty handgun, Jill sets off on her great escape.
Nemesis falls into an odd place in the Resident Evil timeline. The first half of the game takes place before the events of RE2 and the second half takes place after. This means that we get to see locations like the Raccoon City Police Department before Leon and Claire do. This oddly-divided timeline is rather inconsequential, but it serves as a precursor to the eventual mess the RE timeline would become.
The gameplay is largely intact from the first two games. Jill must ration scarce ammunition as she and Umbrella mercenary Carlos Oliveira traverse Raccoon City searching for keys and solving puzzles in order to progress to the next area. Capcom does a great job of showing off the scale of the zombie apocalypse. The infection is city-wide, and as such the pair encounter far more enemies at once than players saw in the Spencer Mansion. For this reason, ammo conservation is far more important that before. Luckily, the broad streets of Raccoon City provide more opportunities to dodge zombie bites, provided you can handle the tank controls.
Progression is as satisfying as ever. Environmental puzzles require a lot of backtracking, but when you finally pass through that locked door that has been hounding you the feeling is fantastic. The game also introduces a couple new mobility options to help alleviate some of the clunkiness of the tank controls. First up is a quick 180-degree turn. This is valuable move is useful for escaping the large groups of zombies roaming the city.
Another new feature is the ability to combine the new reloading tool with gun powder to craft different types of ammunition. From standard handgun bullets to freeze rounds for the grenade launcher, it is a lot of fun to make rounds that tailor to your specific playstyle.
Early in the game, Jill encounters the titular Nemesis – an Umbrella-created mutant bent on hunting S.T.A.R.S. members. Nemesis spends the remainder of the game harassing Jill in a number of one-sided fights. Much of the tension in the game comes from never knowing exactly when Nemesis will show his face next. This cat-and-mouse style gameplay is reminiscent of the recently released Alien: Isolation.
These fights with Nemesis are easily the worst part of the game. The tank controls don’t exactly lend themselves to the fast-paced encounters Capcom seemed to be going for. The fights are so annoying that midway through the game whenever Nemesis shows up I was filled with frustration rather than dread. They also feel futile due to the fact that Nemesis transforms no less that 600 times throughout the course of the game. In fact, it changes forms so much that it is hardly recognizable as a thing by the end of the game.
Resident Evil 3 also introduced The Mercenaries, a bonus game unlocked after completing the story. In this mode, the player is tasked with crossing the city to reach a safe house within the time limits. Doing so earns you money which can be spent on weapons to be used in the story mode. It’s a fun diversion that provides replay value and a new challenge.
Nemesis may hold Resident Evil 3 back from the upper echelons of survival horror, but fans of the genre ought to think of revisiting the ruined streets of Raccoon City. The satisfying puzzles and a haunting atmosphere provide a memorable experience, and with the game currently on sale there is really no reason not to dive back in.
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