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SummarySomething New, Something Old, Something Borrowed....
The GoodResident Evil 3 (Biohazard for PAL gamers) was the last Resident Evil game in the series to be released for the original Sony PlayStation system.
The first game probably helped sell quite a few of the original Sony systems, so it was nice to see that the classic survival horror game got one more chance to shine on the system, which would seen be eclipsed by the then-Next Generation video game console systems.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has some of the best animation and graphics you are likely to see on the first PlayStation home console system.
All of the game's characters and locations look great. The CGI story sequences are incredible and everything just looks and moves incredibly well and, yes, supernatural terror is everywhere in this game.
The game's got plenty of great-looking zombies and other malevolent monsters to do battle with as well. Fans of the first Resident Evil game will notice some familiar faces and, yes, no review of Resident Evil 3 would be complete without mentioning the Nemesis character.
The Nemesis is -- essentially -- a better designed and tougher version of Mr X. When you try to beat Resident Evil 2 the second time, the mysterious and massive Mr. X character would sometimes appear and attempt to end your game.
Beyond having a better name, Nemesis is not only much faster then Jill Valentine, but also has the ability to open doors. This means going into a different room is not (necessarily) going to keep you safe from the Nemesis.
It is not just the Nemesis character; while the zombies and mutated monsters cannot open doors, they are all much scarier and more aggressive in Resident Evil 3. Thankfully, the improvements found in the third game do not end their.
Resident Evil 3 also features better, tighter, game play mechanics. Jill Valentine can mix ammo, in addition to herbs, to create new weapons. Her ability to quickly turn around and push zombies off of her has been improved upon.
I thought that Resident Evil 2 had the best controls in the series, when I first played it, but I have to say that Resident Evil 3 managed to improve upon greatness in the game play department.
So, everything about Resident Evil 3 seems to be great, wonderful and cool, right? Well, sadly this title in the franchise does have a few grave (no pun intended) problems.
The BadIf the better animation, graphics, game play are the "something new" in Resident Evil 3, the problems with the game tend to fall under the "something borrowed" and "something old" headlines.
Resident Evil 3 borrows some ideas seen in Dino Crisis, in an effort to extend the replay value of the game. Someone at Capcom probably knew that going from the massive, two disc Resident Evil 2 game to a one disc sequel was not going to sit well with fans.
To help bump up the replay value, Resident Evil 3 features randomized locations for items -- i.e. ammo, herbs and objects needed to solve puzzles -- and sets up specific "live" opportunities in the game where you must quickly choose from a set of on-screen options.
Where as moving the location of objects in Resident Evil 2 was part of the expanded storyline -- found in attempting to beat the game twice, with a different character -- Resident Evil 3's storyline does not really offer anything new.
While Raccoon City looks great, certain streets and pathways in the game are blocked. This means that you have to take the “long way” to get to and from important locations in Raccoon City.
Initially, this requirement to find 'alternative routes' does make sense and encourages you to explore Raccoon City. After all, the once idyllic Raccoon City has taken a nosedive into glorious, B-movie, anarchy.
Local citizens are no longer burden by “big governments” taxes, rules, regulations or other laws. If gun control ever existed in Raccoon City, it is a safe bet that owning (at least one) gun has become mandatory, unless you are feeling suicidal. Heck, maybe all the Tea Party supporters need to do is find their own Raccoon City. But, I digress.
While the blockades and the like, all make sense, given the recent events, it can make Resident Evil 3 unnecessarily tedious.
Why? Their are actually not too many puzzles in the Raccoon City portion of the game, and it is pretty obvious what sort of object you need to solve the puzzles.
However, too many of the puzzles require you to go back and forth, covering large sections of the city, in order to solve them. So, when you are one side of the city and realize that you need an object located on the other side city, having to take several “long routes” (simply to get from Point 'A', to Point 'B' and back again) is really, really, really tedious. It is also totally unnecessary.
Resident Evil 3 could have easily had a feature built into it where, you could have Jill Valentine open certain manhole covers in order to take some direct, “short cuts” throughout the city.
Some people may actually enjoy the long walks back and forth through Raccoon City (especially if you are on the hunt for herbs or ammo), but most people would probably like the direct route option. This option seems all the more reasonable, when you consider the fact that there is not too much to do in Raccoon City beyond the specific, linear puzzles.
Raccoon City looks great and clearly a significant amount of time went into the city's design, layout and overall look.
The game offers the early signs of the “Open World” and “Sandbox” concepts would be later become quite popular in video games. However, it is more of a whiff then anything else.
Once you scratch the surface, Resident Evil 3 is not really too exploratory or interactive. Maybe Capcom finally reached the hardware limitations of the Sony PlayStation 1 or maybe not enough time was allotted for development.
Whatever the reason, Jill Valentine cannot enter most of the homes, commercial and other buildings you walk (or run) past. For the most part, access to buildings is limited to the ones needed to accomplish very specific goals.
So, while you are free to explore large chunks of Raccoon City, the player cannot really do much in the city outside the standard Resident Evil format of killing monsters, grabbing herbs and ammo and picking up items needed to solve puzzles.
In fact, much of the challenge in Raccoon City is not really figuring out how to solve the puzzles. Much of the challenges involves figuring out how to survive the army of undead and mutated monsters, while taking a series 'scenic routs' back and forth to certain locations.
Once you leave Raccoon City two things will stand out. First, the early whiff of open world and sandbox quickly concepts fade away (leaving a much linear, survival horror game) and the game is almost over.
Jill Valentine is pretty much on her own in Resident Evil 3. While she is a tough soldier (and one of my favorite STARS members), this is a noticeable shift from the number of important (and playable) characters in Resident Evil 2.
Granted, Resident Evil 2 was a massive, two-disc game, but it is hard to avoid the fact the not only is the story shorter in Resident Evil 3, it fails to really keep the player engaged.
Jill frequently battles the “Nemesis” – a huge monster that is faster then Jill and able to open doors – in Resident Evil 3, but he does not really add much to the story.
Yes, he is a tough and scary “mini-boss” (for lack of a better term) who keeps popping up in the game, but he does not really offer any sort of tangible story development.
In contrast. Resident Evil 2 had two, huge, min-bosses in the game. One of which had an interesting back story that was a major part of the Resident Evil 2's story.
Yet in Resident Evil 3, the Nemesis min-boss is basically an advanced, better looking version of the silent Mr. X character who appeared when you tried to beat Resident Evil a second time with a different character.
Yes, in Resident Evil 3, Jill Valentine does meet members of an elite military unit in Resident Evil 3, who have been hired by the Umbrella Corporation to locate survivors.
Most of the these soldiers are so obviously“red shirts” (to borrow an old-school, Star Trek term), I was actually surprised that none of the “dead men walking” wore red shirts.
I can accept, even appreciate, the B-dialogue in Resident Evil games, as something of am homage to classic horror and science fiction film.
However, because most of members of this special unit are not really that interesting, important or helpful in the game, an opportunity to add some, much-needed, depth to the Resident Evil 3 storyline is lost.
Instead, when we close the door on Raccoon City, it stays closed, and Jill is joined by only one other member of this – allegedly – topnotch search and rescue squad. When you crash into the last half of the game, the whiff of an open world concept is quickly dashed.
The few remaining locations to explore in the game all look incredible, the hospital in Resident Evil 3 is one of the scariest locations depicted in the entire franchise, but you are kept on a fairly tight, linear track, with only as few, simple, puzzles to accomplish.
By “simple” I mean that – like virtually all of the puzzles in the game – it is obvious what object you need to solve the puzzle. This late in the game, it is not too difficult to find the required object, as you are able to access fewer locations.
Instead, the challenge becomes one of battling the waves of monsters and making the – possible tedious – walk (or run) back and forth to the two points in the game.
Resident Evil 3 does an uneven job of properly balancing the arcade and adventure gaming elements. The game is driven much more by arcade action, then any good adventure gaming puzzles, and the puzzles often get hurt by the requirement to backtrack.
For example, when Jill becomes injured you – as the solider – have to get to the city's hospital (Point 'B'), solve a few puzzles, battle lots and lots of monsters and then backtrack your way to Jill (Point A).
It is slightly less tedious because, this late in the game, you don’t have (as much) space to back track as you did in Raccoon City, but the puzzles in Resident Evil 3 just never seem as fun as they did in Resident Evil 2. In Resident Evil 3, heavily armed, brawns seem to be much, much more important then brains.
Frankly, much of the tedious backtracking seen in Resident Evil 3 and empahsis on the arcade action is similar to what was seen in Resident Evil 1.
The only time a puzzle in Resident Evil 3 is likely to require some serious brains, is the music box puzzle. The musical solution is randomized and it is not easy to try and notice the slight variations that you have to perfectly repeat.
Beyond having a random solution, one of the reasons that the puzzle is tough (insanely so, given most of the puzzles in the game), is because of merely adeqaute quality of the music and sound effects in Resident Evil 3.
Within the Resident Evil franchise, gamers have come to exepct much, much better music and sound effects then what is offered up in Resident Evil 3. It would be a mistake to think that game's music and and sound effects are horrible.
Resident Evil 3 has – mostly – “adequate” music and sound effects. They are no where near as great as they should – be within the Resident Evil video game franchise – and sometimes, such as with the music box puzzle, they end up making things even more tedious.