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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 11/01/04 ] = Straight Through The Heart

Lately, I've been playing a lot of Resident Evil 3, and I have to say that it is one of my favorite games. Resident Evil 3 is an epic title in the series; it improves upon everything that made Resident Evil 2 such a great game. Resident Evil 3 doesn't get the recognition it deserves, though. When Capcom developed Resident Evil 2, it destroyed small countries. By many it is still considered to be one of the best action/adventure games of all-time. To the dismay of fans, Capcom pursued the success of RE2 by making its sequel not a completely new story, but more of an expansion of the catastrophic events that unfolded in RE2. But RE3 still turned out great on the PlayStation hardware, and turned out to be one of my favorites in the series.

Graphically, RE3 resembles RE2. Although met by negative reception from critics and "gamers" alike, the game looks nice. The character models and textures resemble RE2; clean and defined. Jill returns in RE3, and her character design is a knockout. With a nicely-textured, supple body, pale face, high-boots, and stylish hair, she looks even better than she did in Resident Evil: Director's Cut! Likewise, the various monsters of RE3 look fantastic; especially the brilliantly-textured, intricately-detailed Hunter Beta and Drain Deimos. Capcom also pushed the hardware to its limits and upped the zombie count in RE3, and added various types of new zombies, including the typical clothed zombies (found all over the city), the classic naked zombies (seen only within the innermost bowels of Umbrella's labs), female zombies (in places you'd least expect), and police officer zombies (one of which shares an uncanny resemblance with a fat cop zombie from the beta version of RE2), as well as zombies of Raccoon City's elite (from their spiffy clothing they look like buddies of the mayor). The game's environments are also impressive, and sport lots of intricate detail with good resolution. The intention of the game's designers was to portray Raccoon City in the aftermath of pandemonium induced by the outbreak of the T-Virus, and aside from the occasional humor of strangely-worded signs, they succeeded. The game's environments are awesome in their catastrophic beauty; among stacked auto wreckage and ransacked barricades, mauled bodies, piles of trash, and broken glass litter the dark streets of Raccoon city.

RE3 also features quality character animation to back-up its quality visuals. To compliment her killer looks, Jill animates beautifully as she walks, runs, dodges, and attacks. In motion, she is a treat for the eyes. The monsters also animate well, and range from the creeping (Zombies, Drain Deimos) and crawling (Spiders, Brain Suckers), to the slithering (Sliding Worms, Grave Digger) and menacing (Hunter Beta, Nemesis). Jill's deadly stalker, Nemesis, has some nice animation sequences throughout the game; in one sequence he bursts through an elevated stone wall, soars through the air and upon landing, slides to a gradual stop, leaving a trail of slowly dissipating dust behind. And just as in RE2, the monsters in RE3 do cool things upon expiration; after being dealt with, Nemesis collapses to his knees before falling flat on his face, zombies walk aimlessly after being relieved of their heads, and Brain Suckers writhe in agony with all six of their limbs reaching the sky. The RE series is known for bloodshed, and RE3 paints the walls red; Mine Thrower rounds leave zombies vertically dismembered and in flames, buckets of blood pour when enhanced Handgun rounds connect, and standard Grenade Launcher rounds leave some monsters without limbs, while fuel-barrel explosions propel enemies into the air blown apart and charred. Still, just as in previous entries, when a pointblank Shotgun blast or Magnum shot connects, there's a violent explosion of flesh and blood, but it's chunkier in RE3.

By far, one of the best things about RE3 is its fast-paced, white-knuckle gameplay. The game is seamless. With RE3, Capcom enhanced the tried-and-true gameplay formula of the series, and added more enemies, more guns, a new ammunition system, two new evasion moves, and an improved "zapping system." While other entries in the series consist of enemy encounters in small groups, in RE3 enemies come in large groups; in some instances, 7 - 8 zombies are onscreen simultaneously! The other important factor in the overall faster pace of the game is the boss Nemesis, who relentlessly chases Jill wherever she runs. And this is precisely why RE3 is the fastest, meanest title in the series; although exploration and puzzle-solving are still part of the gameplay, more emphasis has been placed on shooting (which is a good thing). The unique fusion of shooting, exploration and puzzle-solving is what sets the RE series apart from other series in the genre, and while Capcom upped the action a bit in RE3, I think that exploration and puzzle-solving still detract a bit from the action.

Going hand-in-hand with RE3's aggressive gameplay are many ways to ruin the opposition; at the player's disposal are various Handguns and Shotguns, an automatic assault rifle, the Grenade Launcher, and a unique weapon called the Mine Thrower. The awesome Gatling Gun, Magnum, and Rocket Launcher also make a return from previous entries (because no arsenal is complete without them), and just like in RE2, the Gatling Gun mows down hordes of monsters in a matter of seconds, the Magnum is a hand-cannon that takes off heads, and the Rocker Launcher just ruins anything in its path. To expand on the various Handguns and Shotguns in RE3, from the start two types of Handguns (depending on your character, the M92F Custom or the Sigpro SP2009) and one type of Shotgun (Benelli M3S) are available; in addition, the player can collect parts throughout the game to make the STI Eagle 6.0 Handgun and the Western Custom M37 Shotgun. Although parts can only be obtained from rotten battles with Nemesis, it's well-worth it in the end. The sawed-off Western Custom M37 brings back memories of Terminator 2 with its flip-style reload and sheer power, while the sleek STI Eagle 6.0, topped with a scope, randomly pops heads with Magnum force. One of the reasons I like RE3 so much is because of the Western Custom M37 Shotgun. Second only to the Gatling Gun, it's by far one of the coolest weapons ever seen in the series. RE3's complex and innovative ammunition system also deserves worthy mention, since it basically allows the player to choose what type and how much ammunition to make. In addition to weapons, fuel-barrels and explosive charges can be used defeat the enemy too, and in the wake of these strategically-planned, violent explosions, enemies are left in worse shape than if they had been hit by the Rocket Launcher! RE3 has some killer weapons (that rival even RE2's arsenal) and an innovative ammo system; it's just too bad most of it never made it to any of the other games in the series...

The game features the classic RE control scheme, along with two new defensive moves (one of which never made it to any other RE game: the Quick Turn and Dodge. The Quick Turn is efficient during exploration or puzzle-solving, useful in bad situations, and probably one of the best control operations Capcom as added to the series over time. However, Capcom's designers struck gold with the Dodge move in RE3; the move essentially allows the player to evade difficult attacks and follow-up with their own. Now this is what Capcom should have added to all of the entries after RE3. Sure, the player can try to run around enemies and their attacks, but when this fails the player can also use the Dodge to evade their attacks and gain the offensive. While the Dodge has been slammed by bullshit magazines like EGM for being "unpredictable," it must be noted that the technique requires delicate timing, and thus takes practice to master (similar to the defensive Parry technique in the Street Fighter III series).

Nonlinear gameplay is one of the many things that made RE2 such a great game, and RE3 is nonlinear as well, with a different (and better) system. Improving upon RE2's "Zapping" system, RE3 features a system called Live Selection, where the player is given a few seconds to decide on what action to take during crucial events that affect the plot. What makes RE3's Live Selection system so great is that it affects the way the plot unfolds in real-time, while determining the player's path through the game. The game contains a plethora of different events and such that occur at specific times, and even though I've played through the game several different times and ways, there are some that I still haven't seen! The possibilities are endless, and RE3's branching path system should keep non-ADD players busy for a very, very long time. And if the complex branching system wasn't enough already, there's also a furious alternate mode that features two characters not playable in Jill's game, complete with a different point and grading system, different enemy placement, and a high-score table. RE3's gameplay is, in a word, complete.

Last but not least, the audio of RE3. Those who liked the audio in RE2 will feel right at home with RE3. The soundtrack is equal to that of RE2, and can be looked at as a continuation of sorts; sporadic, scary, and dark. While RE3's soundtrack may not be one of my favorites, it gets the job done, and conveys the mood of the game's serious theme perfectly. The zombies sound absolutely rotten in RE3; they don't just sound weak and sick...the zombies in RE3 sound crazy and release loud, throaty grunts when they attack. The voice-overs are pretty good, and most of the characters fit their voices pretty well. Jill's voice sounds especially good during the game's intro cinema, enemies sound just as cool as they look, and Nicholai's voice fits his asshole persona surprisingly well. Like in RE2, the voice-overs sound fine, but the actual dialogue itself seems a bit off in some instances. Overall, RE3 gets a good grade in the audio department.

RE3's quality weapon selection, fast, nonlinear gameplay, and great enemy design are its strong points. And while it's hard to say that RE3 is better than RE2, it's easy to say that RE3 is one of the greatest entries in the series. Many of the things that made RE2 a great game were either carried over or improved, which is why RE3 is so easy to like (or love, as in my case). Owing its depth to enhanced control, variety in weaponry, and unique nonlinear gameplay, RE3 is a big game. One might say that in many ways, it's everything that fans loved about RE2, and then some...

[ Extra ] = Features
[ 1 ] = Official Resident Evil 3 Site