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Now & Then: Resident Evil 3 Nemesis

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (RE3) gets the worst treatment within the series because it was released on the tail end of the Playstation cycle and as the third release in as many years (most people remember RE‘s re-release, the Director’s Cut, more than the initial release), there really wasn’t that much new brought to the table.  Having said that, it was the most polished title on the Playstation and finally made the concept attempted in RE2 a reality.  With a few slight tweaks, like the ability to flip a quick 180 and a much more agile Jill Valentine, RE3 felt a lot more like games of the time.  Unfortunately with the diluting of the franchise via frequent releases and the fact that the game looked identical to the first two on the box, it just didn’t hold players’ interest.

Then:  Resident Evil 3 released about a month before Halloween, my favorite holiday, in 1999 so naturally for me it was just as essential as costumes and horror movies.  I was finishing my senior year in high school and had so many things on my plate with sports and theatre that even I, one of the largest RE fans, considered skipping it.  That is, until I read the preview in Electronic Gaming Monthly that revealed Nemesis.  As returning protagonist Jill Valentine was attempting to escape Raccoon City, you would consistently encounter a huge mutant opponent.  Not much was revealed about Nemesis, save that he was a big hulk of a creature and had a rocket launcher strapped to his back.  This immediately became a day-one purchase for me.

As much as I regret ditching my buddy Joel’s house party and taking a day off work unpaid, RE3 was totally worth the sacrifice.  The game started you off in a similar background to the second title except that you were armed to the teeth, you had an infinite ink ribbon and plenty of moves at your disposal.  Raccoon City felt like a playground with branching paths and alleyways as well as many buildings you could enter.  Despite all that, your progress in the game was surprisingly linear, with only one way to eventually proceed.  It was interesting to see characters from previous titles make short appearances, like Brad Vickers, the helicopter pilot from the original.  Even though she was only dressed in a tube top and miniskirt, a costume choice I found ridiculous even in my testosterone-induced youth, Jill was spry.  She could run, cut corners, turn around quickly, leap boxes, and shove zombies aside like you would expect from a true zombie outbreak survivor.

Sometimes both decisions sounded a little stupid, other times they both seemed rational and necessary.

My favorite part of Nemesis was definitely Nemesis himself.  His first appearance came at the police station, a staple from the second game, where you meet up with STARS member Brad for the second time in the game.  Just as you think this will be a new possible teammate, Nemesis drops down and slaughters Brad like he’s nothing.  The cutscene then changes perspective to Jill as the beast turns and mutters, “SSSSTTARRSS….”  That’s the moment you see her “oh crap” face as the cutscene ends and you gain control of Jill as the giant lumbers over to you with two options: run or fight the monster.  Those that had played previous titles knew that running from anything wasn’t a good idea – it was only a matter of time until you were cornered.  So naturally I chose to fight the monster.  I had a decent arsenal and plenty of bullets but no matter what I threw at him, Nemesis didn’t even stagger backwards.  Then he pulled out his rocket launcher, the coveted one-hit kill weapon that ended the first game, and fired it right at me.  Damn he had good aim.  I missed taking the rocket full force but was definitely injured by the nearby impact.  Then he charged at me, running incredibly fast and slammed me to the concrete.  Now it was my turn to say “Oh crap,” and ran into the RFPD.  Normally you would be safe there too because enemies didn’t move from area to area, but not moments later the game paused, I heard the standard door open/close, and there he was chasing me inside the PD!  In no time flat I was pummeled to a bloody pulp and the horrid “you are dead” screen appeared.

That was when I learned a valuable lesson: Nemesis was not to be underestimated.  For the first time ever I had encountered an enemy in the Resident Evil franchise that could not be killed.  I had to run from this creature for the sake of my life.  As the game progressed, Nemesis would make cameos at the worst times, almost like I was playing an early version of the sadistic AI director in Left 4 Dead.  Capcom didn’t waste time varying the encounters either – sometimes you would have to run and escape to a safe location, other times you would find your path very much blocked and you would have to get the brute down for the count before moving on.  Some may consider Nemesis to be cheap or unfair, but he was just another great way to integrate horror to me, especially now that I could kill zombies with the precision of a black ops field agent.  With an ending that concluded the Raccoon City incident for good, it was bittersweet to think the journey was over (little did I know), but also very satisfying.

Now:  If you have never played a classic Resident Evil title and wanted to give the tank-controlled originals a try, RE3: Nemesis is probably your best bet.  Sure Code Veronica X perfected the formula, but it’s terribly difficult and long in comparison.  On the other hand, this title has two difficulties, easy or hard (which any gamer who usually plays on “normal” pauses to contemplate for a few minutes) – easy is very accessible without being a breeze.  I also like it because it requires the least amount of prior knowledge with the series; in fact, it can be played as a standalone title (but there are plenty of nods to the previous games).  Given that you start off with unlimited ink ribbons, a huge arsenal and an agile new set of moves, it dodges that outdated feel without the ramped up difficulty of future titles.

If I were escaping a zombie outbreak and had to make sure I was equipped for leaping over things and high railways, this skirt would definitely not be my top choice.

Going back to it this week I am still reminded how much I love this iteration.  Many people complain that there aren’t two campaigns, but in truth very little of any of the separate campaigns were very different.  In Nemesis graphics and area design replace multiple campaigns and craft an overall lengthier story, despite the fact that there’s only one.  Additionally your main enemy, the appropriately named Nemesis, is the best format of the Tyrant enemy that I have encountered.  I know that RE2 is the most popular, but RE3 is clearly the best of the PSOne titles.

Fact Sheet

  • Release Date: September 22, 1999
  • Consoles Released For: Playstation, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PSN (PSOne title)

Fun Facts

  • While it is the third in the series, the events of the game take place just before and a few days following the events of Resident Evil 2.
  • While in development, the team referred to the title as Resident Evil 1.9.  I have been unable to find documentation on why they did this, but my theory is that producer Shinji Mikami was consistently upgrading and expanding on his definitive concept began in the first title.
  • The second feature film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is loosely based off RE3: Nemesis and is the closest game-to-film adaptation in the movie series.  Unfortunately writer Paul W.S. Anderson appears to have taken the wrong portions of the game and integrated them into the movie, making a sloppy mess of the plot.

Written by Fred Rojas

October 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

2 Responses

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