"As a quality series presses on from sequel to sequel, one of two things tend to happen. Either the series reaches stagnation, each installment a regurgitation of past success, or the series builds an elaborate foundation for future innovation and diversification. To Capcom's credit and fans' delight, Resident Evil falls into the latter type, and the third of the series – Nemesis – introduces its own fresh concept (later pilfered by Nintendo in Metroid Fusion and by Capcom themsel..."
As a quality series presses on from sequel to sequel, one of two things tend to happen. Either the series reaches stagnation, each installment a regurgitation of past success, or the series builds an elaborate foundation for future innovation and diversification. To Capcom's credit and fans' delight, Resident Evil falls into the latter type, and the third of the series – Nemesis – introduces its own fresh concept (later pilfered by Nintendo in Metroid Fusion and by Capcom themselves in Genma Onimusha) while culling the most successful ideas from the past. The GameCube port, although forcing players to unlock options which were immediately available on Dreamcast, presents the clearest and most vivid graphics to be found on any version of Nemesis. As long as it's not axed by a breaking flaw such as poor control, any game encompassing such a diverse array of ideas and potential should firmly place itself among the elite.
Jill Valentine, clueless heroine of the original Evil, finds herself trapped in an architecturally absurd city full of insatiable zombies. As in past episodes, creatures burst forth from doors, windows and cars without warning. Flesh-wrapped spiders quietly slink up the sides of buildings as Jill passes alongside. Familiar items are discovered and elementary puzzles solved. Despite any similarities to past adventures, this episode is more personal for Jill – already knowing from where the zombies originate and why, her only goal is to escape from undead hell. Forget the mystery of Umbrella Corporation, your life's on the line!
While purposefully advancing through the ravaged city streets, ears at last adjusted to the constant crow of ravenous birds and the slippery shuffling of cannibalistic zombies, you might hear an echoic and chilling ''Tmp... tmp... tmp tmp TMP TMP TMP'', as the game's namesake villain breaks from a creepy saunter into a frenzied full-on dash. At other times he stands oak-still, launching rockets into your face from the other end of the street. Armed with projectile artillery, impossibly adept at melee combat, Umbrella Corporation's genetically-engineered Nemesis embodies the perfect weapon. This grotesquely macabre amalgamation of red, cindered flesh and gray, twisted machinery stalks Jill from the Police Station to the hospital and beyond, slaughtering countable innocents in its wake.
Were this any other Resident Evil, you would engage in a harrowing firefight, exterminate the Nemesis, and move on. The trick to the third Evil is that Nemesis does not die. Rockets to the chest may fell his mammoth Cthulhu body, but like the immortal Nyarlathotep, Nemesis rises again and again and even yet again, ceaselessly scouring Raccoon City for his mortal enemies, the S.T.A.R.S. police force. To assist in her despairingly hopeless quest for survival, Jill has learned a few new techniques. She's stolen the 180-degree turn from Dino Crisis, though the new dodge technique is far more effective in actual combat. Press the button at the appropriate moment and Jill sidesteps, rolls or ducks out of harm's way, placing herself in perfect position to fire additional shots at her tireless assailants.
The appeal of the numerous encounters against the vicious Nemesis is that he can be toppled, even if only temporarily, and you are rewarded for doing so. Rather than run or hide, equip Jill with the outrageously powerful Magnum and transform from urban deer to city huntress, earning valuable new weapons or medical accessories in exchange for felling the interminable abomination.
The murderous Nemesis is not the game's only innovation. Taking a cue from the ancient Time Gal, Resident Evil 3 incorporates a system by which you make on-the-spot decisions from a set of onscreen text options, affecting the progression of the game as well as your chances for survival and escape. Occurring only at the most heated and unexpected moments, you recognize a decision point when the screen frantically alternates between color and grayscale, inducing an unnerving deer-in-headlights fear effect. Resident Evil 3 may not be as deeply frightening as its predecessors, but it's every bit as gripping and perhaps even more shocking.
Not every new idea succeeds. The once-vaunted 'ammunition combination' system, by which Jill mixes and matches sundry colors of gunpowder, quickly wears out its unwelcome. Although interesting at first, the concept of manufacturing ammunition (instead of discovering shells atop a bookshelf or near a savaged corpse) grows cumbersome and tiresome by game end. Despite this foible, Resident Evil 3 is a powerful experience, exercising frequent and effective use of its forebears' strongest assets and its own additional biohazards. Incorporating shock scenes in the vein of earlier Evils, creepily atmospheric music, vivacious hunters, demonic spiders and elaborately diverse zombies, the stifling array of creativity and potential should have firmly placed this game among the elite.
Too bad the control is crap.
Community review by lilica (June 04, 2004)
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