Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
First posted on 01 July 2006. Last updated on 01 March 2013.
Imagine for a moment. You are alone. It is dark. You can hear the screams of people cut down by swarming mutants and zombies out for flesh and blood. There is not a single person in the city to help you escape from the hellhole. All you have left is your trusty sidearm and a faint trace of hope. Welcome to the world of Resident Evil!
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is the third but far from the final installment of the Resident Evil series. The sequel centers on the carnage surrounding Raccoon City, just days after the first but before the second game. You play the role of Jill Valentine, a member of S.T.A.R.S. and the female heroine from the original Resident Evil who has escaped from the mutant infected Mansion lab with Chris Redfield. The Umbrella Corporation, the unscrupulous organization responsible for the disaster at the Mansion lab, has let lose into Raccoon City the mutant T-Virus which has since turned most of its residents into flesh eating zombies. Knowing that the only obstacle that stands in its way is the S.T.A.R.S. team of the R.P.D., the Umbrella Corporation creates a powerful super mutant named The Nemesis. The Nemesis is programmed with all but a single task—to find and kill members of the S.T.A.R.S. team, including Jill. You must help Jill to escape from Raccoon City and defeat The Nemesis.
Installation of the game is straightforward. The PC version takes little advantage of the hardware over the Sony PlayStation from which the original version is ported, except for the increased screen resolution beyond the anemic 640 x 480 pixels. The increased resolution helps to improve the appearance of the 3D character models but does nothing for the background and text, making the latter hard to read and giving the game a scruffy appearance. Still, the background scenes are lavishly covered with details. I recommend the best 3D graphic card you can get your hands on in order to fully appreciate the textures that are undoubtedly more polished than in previous titles. It can be frustrating to play a game that limits your exploration because of an artificial barrier through which you cannot get past. However, the lavishly drawn barricades, smashed cars, burning wrecks, and fallen rubbles, all so beautifully drawn in this game, make this frustration at least a bit more bearable.
The voice acting in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is better than the previous titles, but that is not saying much. It retains the campy voiceovers that are synonymous of a cheesy horror flick. The music sounds as good as the music in Resident Evil 2. It is atmospheric much like the last game but also strangely familiar if you have played the latter. Correct me if I am wrong, but am I not just hearing "the music" from Resident Evil 2? Oh dear...
Unlike the previous titles in which you can choose to play from 2 characters, you can only play as 1 character (Jill) in this game. Of course, there is the usual sidekick that is a trademark of the series. His name is Carlos and he is among the few remaining members of a mercenary group sent in to deal with the mess in Raccoon City. Some gamers may be concerned that having only a single playable character may reduce the replayability of the game. This is because previous titles have all relied on 2 distinct storylines drawn from the 2 main characters to advance the plot. Fortunately, such is not the case in this game. You can choose between 2 levels of difficulties (Easy or Hard). As a bonus, at the end of the game after you take control a mercenary of your choice and earn better weaponry and ammo, these inventory items are available to you immediately the next time you replay the game. It means that you can return to monsters which have previously terrorized you with a grim smile and galling weapon and seek your revenge.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis features a wide variety of zombies. Unlike the few zombie types that exist in past titles, there are dozens in this sequel, including some that just "play dead" by grabbing your foot as you run past them. The controls are similar to those used in previous games, but with the excellent addition of a button or key that allows you to make a quick 180° turn to improve maneuverability. This is most helpful when a huge monster is happily chomping at your ankles. You can also dodge an enemy in a flash, thus avoiding damage and at times saving precious ammo. An innovative feature is the ability to mix different types of gunpowder to create new ammunitions that carry differing damage profiles. Unlike other third person action adventure games where you can take control of the camera, the camera does not roam in this game. Rather, a fixed camera angle is used in each location for maximal dramatic effect. The grand cinematic backdrops, when mixed with the chilling music, really add to sustain the eerie atmosphere in the game. This is especially true for the many scenes when The Nemesis suddenly shows up in your face for a scare. In an interesting twist, a gameplay feature called "Live Selection" then appears that allows you to choose between certain actions (such as fight for fright) to determine Jill's fate. The Nemesis is not a boss monster which you can just deal with using a few shots of your best weapon. It chases you from the beginning to the end of the game, leaping through walls and jumping over buildings to get at you at the worst of times.
The PC version adds a number of extra materials that are not available immediately in the console version unless the game has been beaten at least once. It includes the mini-game "Mercenaries" (The Mercenaries: Operation Mad Jackal), whereby you play as a member of the mercenary team (as Mikhail, Carlos, or Nicholai) in a time trial with limited ammo for which you are rewarded with extra time for each enemy you kill. Furthermore, a key is available in the PC version that allows you to change Jill's costumes from the start of the game. Diehard fans may also appreciate the bonus desktop accessories which are included, such as the option to have Jill, The Nemesis, or a zombie chasing the mouse cursor on screen. On the other hand, the PC version retains many antiquated features that reflect its console origin, including the dreaded save system that forces you to find a typewriter and a limited supply of ink ribbons to save your progress.
Many Resident Evil fans are shocked to find out that the climax of this game is not about a showdown between Jill or Chris (or even Leon or Claire) and the Umbrella Corporation as it has been previously speculated. Before the game is released, criticisms have also surfaced that this game is more suited to be just called "Resident Evil 2 1/2". Unfortunately, in some ways it is true. The game has been criticized as an unneeded addition to the Resident Evil franchise. While still fun to play, there is an impression that it is just a repackaged version of the previous game made to milk more money from its fans. It is disappointing to see that the game recycles many of the set pieces from the last game, despite the fact that the developer has used the sorry excuse of "trying to give you the feeling of being here before after the last game". There is a lot of backtracking in this sequel—walk down a path using a key which you just conveniently find at the end of the last path, pick up an object and then turn back to find a place to put it, and so on. Yet, when you are finally finished, you realize that you have made no progress at all in the storyline and you end up at the same place as before in your goal to get to the Umbrella Corporation. The only reward which you are given for your troubles is a piece of paper with a note from Chris saying he has gone to the Umbrella Corporation as well.
Despite a somewhat washed out storyline, the effort put forth by the designers to improve the gaming experience in this sequel is readily noticeable. Perhaps this game is meant as a way to test out new ideas for the next sequel. The scripting that guides the enemies' action is superb. You can often find yourself being surrounded by a huge horde of monsters bursting out of windows and breaking down doors, or you can find yourself being chased by a handful of zombies slowly shuffling towards you as you pick each zombie off with your shotgun. The environment is also more interactive than in previous games, with nearly every object and corpse being examinable.
If you enjoy an adventure game that exercises only your mind, then this title is definitively not suited to your taste. If you prefer an adventure game that is full of suspenseful action, then this title is worthy of a look. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis may not be the best game in the franchise, but it is still a game that can satisfy the appetite of diehard Resident Evil fans. With many competing titles now exist in the subgenre of survival horror, this game simply finds it difficult living up to the hype many gamers have come to expect of this series.