After the release of Resident Evil 2, Capcom began work on various new installments to the franchise. The game originally intended as the main sequel involved a storyline in which the player took control of HUNK, an unlockable character from Resident Evil 2, and was to be set on a luxury cruise liner. HUNK would be trying to retrieve a sample of the G-Virus for Umbrella, much like his scenario from “The Fourth Survivor” in the previous game. This game would again be directed by Hideki Kamiya, but was ultimately cancelled as the final product would not be ready in time for a release on the Playstation, due to Sony having recently announced the Playstation 2. This version of Resident Evil 3 was cancelled, and Kamiya would begin work on Resident Evil 4 for the next generation of consoles. Therefore, one of the spin-off games was promoted to the main series, so as not to keep fans waiting too long for the next instalment in the franchise.
There were two options for Capcom to choose from; one featured the returning characters Claire and Chris Redfield, and followed the story on from Resident Evil 2. However, this was in development exclusively for the Sega Dreamcast, and Capcom had a deal in place with Sony to have the first three numbered titles in the Resident Evil series available on their Playstation platform. This game would be released later as Resident Evil Code: Veronica, and I’ll cover that in next week’s article.
This left Capcom and producer Shinji Mikami with a title being developed by an inexperienced team, directed by Kazuhiro Aoyama. As a spin-off title, the game was set at the same time as Resident Evil 2, and focused on a new set of characters as they tried to escape Raccoon City. When the game was promoted to the main series, it was decided that a returning character would better serve the storyline. Jill Valentine, one of the lead characters from the original Resident Evil, was chosen as she was seen as one of the only remaining suitable characters remaining, with Claire and Chris appearing in Code: Veronica and Leon Kennedy set to return in Resident Evil 4. The story was written by internal Capcom writer Yasuhisa Kawamura, but he had very little experience of the Resident Evil universe. In order to avoid continuity errors and tie in with the rest of the franchise, Kawamura had to play through the first two installments to familiarize himself with the settings and characters.
RESIDENT EVIL 3: NEMESIS – 1999
Set the day before Resident Evil 2, the game opens up with the zombie infection in full swing. Raccoon City is shown in total chaos, with zombies attacking and killing multiple people quickly. Jill Valentine manages to hide out in an abandoned warehouse with limited resources at her disposal, and a scared man who looks himself in the back of a lorry and refuses to leave. Here, we get a glimpse of some new features appearing in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. One of these is the inclusion of different types of gunpowder, and the ability to mix different types together to develop various types of ammunition. Using the Reloading Tool or Grenade rounds with different combinations of gunpowder creates ammo for specific weapons, or grenade type such as freezing rounds or acid rounds. The other new feature seen at the start of the game is how stairs work. It may not sound like much on paper, but it changes the way certain situations can be tackled through the game. In previous installments, stairs acted as a solid obstacle, and a button press would begin an animation showing your character climbing or descending to the next level. Enemies would be unable to use them, so escape dangerous scenarios was possible with quick thinking and fast feet. Resident Evil 3 takes this function away, as the player must now control Jill as she uses stairs. This also means that enemies can follow you from different floors. It isn’t a big deal today, but at the time this increase in realism was exciting to fans, myself included. Another addition discovered soon after was the inclusion of explosive barrels, extremely useful for clearing large crowds of zombies with minimal ammo.
After leaving the warehouse, Jill must make her way through the devastated streets of Raccoon City and reach the Police Station, much like the prequel. This time, however, the route takes you through more areas of the city, and has a much more open feel as you now must navigate the city itself, rather than being confined to a building. Moments occur where hordes of zombies can break through certain doors, putting the player on edge as you don’t know when this will happen. The increased number of on-screen zombies and other enemies also can lead to greater moments of panic and danger.
Upon reaching the police station, Jill is briefly reunited with Brad Vickers, the helicopter pilot and fellow STARS member from Resident Evil. As he tries to warn Jill that STARS members are being targeted, he is killed by a new and formidable foe called Nemesis. A biological weapon developed by Umbrella, it shares characteristics with the Tyrant and Mr X from previous games, only with a new twist; it will hunt you down relentlessly throughout the entire game. Smashing through windows and barging through doors, even retreating to another area or room won’t stop him, like it does for almost all other enemies encountered in the series so far. It is also incredibly tough to take down, soaking up a lot of bullets. If you succeed in knocking him to the ground, you are rewarded with unique items to help you through the game, but you must choose whether it is worth the risk at the time, or whether to try to escape to fight another day. As he only stays down temporarily, don’t count on constantly defeating him, there are not enough bullets in the world to realistically do this.
Another feature appearing in Resident Evil 3 involves moments where the player must choose between two actions to escape perilous situations, or face dire consequences. The choices made affect the way the story plays out, and determine which ending you receive. You only get a few seconds to choose which option to take, so you need to be alert at all times, as the wrong choice (or no choice at all) could lead to a hard time later down the line, or instant death.
As she progresses through the story, Jill encounters three surviving members of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.). Carlos Oliveira, the youngest of the three, is cocky and talkative, but becomes the secondary main character in the story as he works with Jill to escape Raccoon City. With a back story involving fighting for a guerrilla force in South America, and now a member of a mercenary group working for Umbrella, his relationship with Jill is rocky to begin with, but the two form a bond throughout the story, and his fighting ability and loyalty becomes invaluable later on.
Nicholai Ginovaef is also a member of U.B.C.S. and ex-Spetsnaz who appears to die early in the game. He later reappears and is revealed to be a secret supervisor for the U.B.C.S. and has been sent to Raccoon City by Umbrella to gather data on his comrades abilities to fight against the B.O.W.s developed by Umbrella, and data on the creations themselves. His fate is determined by the choices made throughout the story, including one outcome where he escapes the city using a helicopter Jill and Carlos were intending to use, leading to a unique instance in a Resident Evil game where one of the main antagonists survives the ordeal with no issues.
Mikhail Victor is the leader of the Delta Platoon Carlos and Nicholai are deployed in. He is first shown badly injured, with Carlos trying to save him and Nicholai seemingly cold and distant to his well-being. He eventually sacrifices himself heroically, trying to stop Nemesis from reaching Jill and Carlos.
Jill eventually reaches a clock tower and is able to summon a helicopter to escape on. However, Nemesis reappears and destroys the helicopter, infecting Jill with the T-Virus. Falling unconscious, the game switches to Carlos three days later as he makes his way to a nearby hospital and manages to secure a cure to the T-Virus, and he successfully cures Jill, saving her life.
Learning that Raccoon City is to be destroyed by a nuclear missile soon, Jill and Carlos eventually encounter Nemesis one final time after signalling for help, and successfully destroy it using a prototype railgun. A helicopter arrives to take them to safety just as the missile strikes Raccoon City, wiping it out and destroying everything within it. The pilot turns out to be Barry Burton, Jill’s fellow STARS survivor and good friend. Good ol’ Barry. What a guy.
Despite the inexperienced team working on the game, there are enough new additions to the game to keep it from feeling too similar to the previous instalments. With only one scenario this time, the game was quicker to develop, leading to a release date only one year after Resident Evil 2, which was something unusual for a large franchise (and before Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed led to disillusionment towards annual instalments). Most of the enemies are from prior games, with the Hunters making a return, but besides Nemesis and the giant tunneling horror named Grave Digger, the only new monster that leaves a scar on your memory is the Drain Demos/ Brain Suckers. These critters scuttle around on the floor and walls, making high-pitched screaming noises and spitting poison at you. As the name suggests, they also have a habit of trying to suck out Jill or Carlos’s brain. Nasty.
Weaponry has been upgraded this time, with new additions such as the Assault Rifle helping to cut the enemy down to size. Powerful weapons are unlockable in various ways, including collecting parts from knocking out Nemesis during different encounters. Another mode playable in Resident Evil 3 is unlocked after completing the main game. Titled “The Mercenaries: Operation Mad Jackal”, the player chooses either Carlos, Nicholai or Mikhail as they make their way through Raccoon City in a similar mode to Resident Evil 2‘s “The Fourth Survivor”. With a tight time limit to worry about, players can increase their remaining time to reach the goal by killing enemies and saving human survivors encountered throughout the city. Also unlocked after completion of the main game are new costumes for Jill, and epilogue files detailing the activities of various characters from the Resident Evil universe after the events of Resident Evil 3, including characters from previous games, one of which was presumed dead, confirming the fan theory of their survival.
As a whole, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis may not be held in the same regard as the first two games, but there is plenty to the game to keep fans happy and engaged. In fact, replaying this game in particular has been a joy for me, as I usually ignore it when choosing one of the games in the series to play. If you haven’t played this instalment in a while, or ever, I definitely recommend doing so as it is somewhat of an underrated gem, in both the Resident Evil series and as a Playstation game. This entry would also mark the last time the Resident Evil main series would be exclusively available on the Playstation, as the next game was classed as a spin-off and released on the new Sega console, the Dreamcast.