Perfekt Past: Resident Evil 3 – Nemesis
September 28th. Daylightâ€¦The monsters have overtaken the city. Somehowâ€¦ I’m still aliveâ€¦
So begins the third entry in the Resident Evil series. First released in late 1999 as Biohazard: Last Escape in Japan it would continue to build on the foundations laid by the previous two games and introduce a few new elements to further ensure the series legacy as the premier survival horror franchise.
After escaping from the Umbrella mansion at the end of the original Resident Evil, Jill Valentine has returned to the S.T.A.R.S. (Special tactics and rescue squad) unit based out of the Racoon City Police department. However, unlike fellow mansion survivor Chris Redfield she’s trapped in Racoon City a few months later when it becomes the epicentre of a full scale outbreak of the dreaded T-Virus.
Isolated and alone, Jill has to find a way out of this city filled with flesh craving zombies all the while being stalked by one of Umbrella’s dreaded Tyrant creatures. However unlike the mindless brutes seen before now this Tyrant codenamed: Nemesis was especially created by Umbrella to have both strength and intelligence and can even operate machinery, fire weapons and track specific targets, in this case any S.T.A.R.S. left alive in Racoon City.
This is demonstrated in the opening section of the game as Jill has to watch helplessly as Nemesis corners her fellow S.T.A.R.S. member Brad and kills him before quickly turning his attention to her. This triggers the first of many ‘Live Selection’ events where Jill will have to quickly choose from two different options that have separate outcomes and effect later events. The first live selection is fairly clear cut, do you stay to fight the Nemesis or do you flee into the near by PRD station house?
With the Nemesis being so dangerous fleeing would be the sensible option but if you can collect the Police ID from Brad’s body you’ll save time and potential health/ammo consumption once inside the station house. Plus if you actually manage to incapacitate the Nemesis, albeit temporally you can recover useful items from him like extra gunpowder types (I’ll come to that soon) and ammo etc.
Once you do get inside the station house don’t expect to be there for very long. Unlike the previous game that had you spending half of the game in this one location exploring and slowly opening to new areas Jill’s visit is strictly short term. In this game the station house is only one of over a half dozen different locations Jill can reach by running the zombie choked gauntlet through the city streets to reach newspaper offices, municipal gardens, shops, cafÃ©s and tram station.
The station itself is the same as before but with it still in lockdown Jill can only get access to a very small area namely a few offices and importantly the S.T.A.R.S. squad room. Before long though Nemesis will be back on Jill’s trail and going so far as to break through walls and even employing a missile launcher to try and kill her.
Once you’ve found what you need inside the station house its back into the city streets with the zombies and now Cerberus hounds, as you’ll need to visit several locations to find what you need to progress to the next walled in area. That’s not to say there’s not a sense of urgency as wherever you go before too long you’ll hear a gravely voice shout â€œStars!â€ which is your queue to start running as Nemesis will be right behind you and if you don’t act quick enough punching, slamming or even shooting at you.
As in previous games the few moments of respite and real safety Jill has will be in ‘safe’ rooms free from Nemesis (although he might be waiting for you as you exit the room) where you can use a typewriter to save your progress, access an item chest to store or retrieve items. While you’re there you might want to take a few moments to experiments with all those different types of gunpowder Jill’s been finding around the place.
Jill starts the game with a new item to the Resident Evil series – the reloading tool. By using this this with the three different gunpowder types available: type A, B and C she can create her own ammo from simple 9mm rounds for the pistol to powerful Magnum rounds and even different grenade types for the grenade launcher.
Simple combinations are revealed at the start of the game by the users manual such as A = pistol ammo, B = shotgun ammo, C = grenade ammo. But if you experiment a little you can find new types e.g. A+B=C. You can also double up powder types to increase the amount of ammo made with one power mix producing about a clips worth of bullets while three of the same powder mixed produces four to five times as many bullets/shells/grenades than a single mix. This gives you a little more freedom in how you play the game. For example do you use your powder to make lots of 9mm bullets and spray away at the enemies or do you make less but far more potent grenades and pick your targets carefully?
Along with making DIY ammo Jill can also (finally) spin on the spot doing a 180° degree turn with a simple button push making hasty retreats and ambush responses a breeze compared to the first two games that forced you to slowly trundle around or put your faith in the sometimes dodgy auto-aim.
If you do survive long enough to make it to the cafÃ© area you’ll finally meet Carlos who’s faint distress call Jill heard back while at the RPD. He’s a member of Umbrella’s U.B.C.S. (Umbrella Biological Countermeasure Service) and was ordered into Racoon city to rescue any survivors only to see the majority of his squad wiped out by the zombie hordes. Upon hearing he works for Umbrella Jill becomes very distrustful of him but as they are forced to evade Nemesis together they establish a truce and later partnership along with his surviving squad mates to escape the city.
Despite being the third entry in the series, Nemesis looks and feels a lot like Resident Evil 2 ½ rather than a fully fledged sequel, a fact reflected when you look at the history of the game. It was originally intended to be a side story rather than a full sequel, director Shinji Mikami dubbed it Resident Evil (Well Biohazard) 1.9 and later Resident Evil 2.1 as he felt it shouldn’t officially be Resident Evil 3.
After looking back and replaying the game today I’d have to agree with him. The new additions like the reloading tool fell a little gimmicky and the 180° spin should have been in from the first game to be fair. That’s not to say it’s a bad game just a little over familiar after spending so much time in Racoon City with the previous instalment and the lack of true innovation that later entries had like Zero’s swapping or Veronica’s use of 3D.
The single storyline doesn’t have much replay ability aside from choosing different outcomes in the live sections. Sure there’s an unlockable mini game and extra costumes for Jill but it just feels you’re covering old ground. In short it’s one for fans who want more of the same but don’t expect it to convert any first time players.
Next time we’re going to be leaving Racoon City behind and studying the hugely overlooked Resident Evil: Code Veronica for me the best entry in the 2D/3D Resi game series that features a huge sprawling storyline and the return of some old favourites, both good and VERY badâ€¦