Resident Evil 3: Nemesis follows on from last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake, which was a resounding success. Naturally, the expectation for this year’s offering was understandably high. How does it stack up? Let’s take a look.
Resident Evil 3, sees franchise hero Jill Valentine attempt to escape the doomed Raccoon City while relentlessly pursued by Umbrella Corp’s most deadly biological weapon “Nemesis-T Type”. It’s a familiar story, but the game mechanics and story-telling devices have received a shot of adrenaline. Resident Evil 3 ditches the franchise’s trademark fixed camera angles, stiff movement and complex puzzles for something much more dynamic. Instead, as playable characters Jill Valentine and new Umbrella Corp commando Carlos Oliveira, you have the camera placed over your shoulder. And from the very beginning you’re thrown into the action with a mission.
The pacing is such that you never feel safe or permitted to spend too long in one place. It’s unnerving but a little frustrating at the same time. I enjoyed feeling like I could fully explore a space in Resident Evil games past. And it’s a shame because the scenes in Resident Evil 3 are impressively rendered and seemingly packed with detail, I was just too afraid to stand still long enough to fully take it all in.
That’s not exactly a criticism of the title though, it’s just acknowledging the direction that Capcom has decided to take things. I was on the edge of my seat for the couple of occasions that I chose to backtrack to collect goodies I may have missed. And not because anything was happening, but because the music and atmosphere don’t let up.
The best way I could describe it is it’s like you’ve gone off the path during a haunted house experience. Nothing’s really happening but the music and lights are still going bonkers so you’re in a state of heightened awareness and worried that someone or something will pop out and have a go at you for being where you shouldn’t. Saying that, I did get caught out a couple of times by zombies I wrongly assumed were dead. QUICK TIP: If in doubt, use your tactical knife and give each body a little prod before you move on.
The clever addition of Carlos expands the gaming experience. While in control of Jill, you’re treated to a more classic survival-horror feel. But during the sections in which you take control of Carlos – whose default weapon is an assault rifle – the action is turned up a notch. Jill plays the role of tough-as-nails detective, kicking zombie ass and solving puzzles. While Carlos offers more of a run and gun, almost gears of war-like experience.
A key difference between the two styles is exemplified in what happens when you try to dodge with the pair. Dodging with Jill you have to backaway and side step opponents to gain the advantage. But that won’t work with Carlos. When you press “dodge” with him, you have to counter the lunging attacks of the undead. If timed perfectly, Carlos will punch and stun them, giving you a couple of critical seconds to get away or attack. Timing dodges was frustrating at first, but mastering the technique is highly recommended. It will make handling Resident Evil’s undead encounters significantly more manageable.
In Resident Evil 3, ammo and the means with which to craft it are a little more generously distributed. Meaning you can unload a little more than you may have in previous RE games. Purists may not appreciate the additional firepower. But I enjoyed the fact that I could take on more zombies than I usually would. Especially when running around them feels like a cop out.
There aren’t a huge amount of weapons to unlock on a first play through. But the classics are there, including the much-loved Magnum. Disappointingly, I didn’t find enough bullets for that gun. However, the grenade launcher and shotgun are very satisfying to use, with enough ammo to exploit their destructive powers. If you get stuck, the tactical blade can be used to kill a stray zombie. Although it would take a lot of skill, patience and healing items to withstand a wave of more than two standard zombies armed with the knife alone.
You can also forget the knife when trying to survive encounters with the indestructible Nemesis. We never quite learn why the big bad is targeting S.T.A.R.S. team members, but as the sole survivor (SPOILER ALERT), Jill is targeted relentlessly and without prejudice. For the most part the “boss” encounters are seamlessly woven into gameplay, which is brilliant. It keeps you on your toes. Only in certain sections do you find that particularly helpful items are being offered a little too often to be a coincidence. For example: finding three health items in a row plus a few rounds of heavy artillery ammo. It gives the surprise away a little.
In Standard mode, Resident Evil 3 is sufficiently challenging. I managed to complete it in just over nine hours and only died a total of four times. But it feels a little short at around 10-15 hours for a first play through. The challenges, game upgrades store and collectibles provide enough reason to return to Raccoon City repeatedly though. However, if that’s not enough, Capcom has also bundled RE3 with an all-new multiplayer experience in the form of “Resident Evil Resistance”.
The new game mode offers a unique challenge in which players can choose to play the “Mastermind” or one of four Survivors. As the Mastermind, it’s your job to set deadly traps and enemies while the Survivors battle to escape. Survivors range in abilities, with each offering a different melee attack and skillset. Resistance feels like a SAW experience set within the Resident Evil universe. It’s a unique approach that could very well provide plenty of entertainment for tactically-minded gamers. It’s by far the most promising multiplayer add-on for the franchise to date. If it proves popular and enjoys continued development, it’s easy to imagine Resident Evil Resistance becoming a successful standalone property for Capcom.
Resident Evil 3 – Verdict
At 20-years old, it’s astonishing to think that Resident Evil’s core premise – A deadly virus created in a lab escapes leading to extremely devastating consequences – could still be so relevant. It’s possibly more relevant today than it has ever been.
This year’s offering places more emphasis on story and action sequences than puzzles and atmosphere. Depending on how you like your Resident Evil seasoned, this may be a good or a bad thing. I for one, thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I did find it stressful (it’s what Capcom intended). Resident Evil games should never be described as “fun”. Instead they should offer you intense drama, mystery, extended periods of uncomfortable anxiety and a palpable sense of victory when you come out on top. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis delivers on its promise.
You can keep up with game updates and news via the official Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/RE_Games