This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee reviews Resident Evil 3.
I wasn't going to bring up the coronavirus thing again; I mean, the site's called "The Escapist", not "The Constant Reminders of Our Inevitable Hubristic Doom". Besides, it'll pretty seriously date the video in a month or two when the virus goes away forever and everything returns to normal and all the dead people come back to life and there's a rainbow. But now, I have to talk about Resident Evil 3, a game about society descending into chaos because of a viral pandemic; it could only have been less fortunately timed if the zombies ate toilet roll instead of brains.
So after the success of the RE2-make last year, the 3-make was something of an inevitability, I suppose, partly because the process of remaking Resident Evil 2 just doesn't feel complete until it's had a slightly lazy sequel knocked out of it. Resident Evil 3 follows Jill Valentine, the marginally less bulbous of the two protagonists of Resident Evil 1, who is stuck in Raccoon City during the outbreak depicted in RE2 and can't leave for another three days for reasons I wasn't entirely clear on; maybe that's when her holiday in Tijuana starts. But she's suddenly having to move up her plans when a giant half-sucked jelly baby wrapped in bin bags called "Nemesis" breaks down her door, fixing to grab her and throw her at walls over and over again to no apparent effect for about six hours.
It wouldn't be Resident Evil or an Alien film unless the evil corporation is prioritizing being evil above actions that make any actual sense, so Nemesis was sent by the Umbrella Corporation specifically to kill Jill and indiscriminately destroy and murder anything between him and Jill in case anyone should find out about how Umbrella indiscriminately destroys and murders things, all of which smacks of middle management decision-making to me. Jill must explore the ruined city, trying to help survivors in the moments when Nemesis isn't throwing her at walls, joining forces with a mercenary named Carlos, who is suffering from a bad hair day that must be seen to be believed; it looks like he's auditioning to stand in for a bowl of Kellogg's All-Bran.
Thus ensues gameplay very much like the RE2-make, funnily enough: explore all the rooms looking for puzzle items to unlock doors and expand the space, all the while finding it inexplicably difficult to shoot encroaching zombies in the head. The main addition to gameplay is a dodge move that you can use to get a free hit on the enemy if you time it right, although about half the zombies weren't properly informed of this and just grab you anyway. And then, you have to do the minigame where you mash X, and if you fail, you get a zombie bite, and if you win, you also get a zombie bite, but can feel marginally better about yourself. Whoops! No time to complain about that! Here comes Nemesis again!
I don't know if it's worth analyzing for subtext of a game about a giant, muscular man refusing to leave alone an attractive, under-dressed lady and trying to penetrate her with his big, floppy willy of death; she is, at least, better dressed than she was in the original, where she looked like an embarrassing single mother accompanying her daughter to a roller disco. But still, 3-make sometimes gives me a Tomb Raider-make vibe when the amount of shit that gets kicked out of Jill Valentine starts to border on the fetishistic. No, I don't think I sound disingenuous when I get finger-waggy about this kind of thing; it's not like I jerked off to it more than once.
Anyway, as you might've guessed from him having top billing and everything, Nemesis is the big selling point of RE3, and it is a fucking effective concept to frame an action-horror game around: here's a walking fridge smeared in cat food who wants you dead; dresses in Hefty bags, and as such, probably can't be bought off with Abercrombie & Fitch gift cards; and every time you try to kill him, he just grows another layer of cat food, and your chief lines of defense are two D-cups and a questionably reliable "Dodge" button. In other words, it's the "Mr. X" thing from the last game, except with the greater narrative weight it probably deserved. But where Mr. X was a free range murder man who organically roamed the whole game environment, Nemesis has his nipples chained to a milking machine in the ethically unsound factory farm of linear plot, and let's dwell on that lovely image for a moment.
All the fights and chase sequences with Nemesis feel very scripted; in fact, RE3 is a generally more linear game, even more so than the original, which had this "Choose Your Own Adventure" thing going on where you'd occasionally be given a binary choice that would slightly affect the direction of the plot. 3-make chucks all that in the bin - possibly because it was so lame, it was entitled to handicap parking spaces - but nevertheless, both iterations of RE3, for me, represent Resident Evil losing its impact and starting to just go through the motions: zombies, bizarre locking mechanisms, poorly thought-out character motivations, and in the end, you go to a secret underground lab and fight a giant wall of snot.
Jill's initial poorly thought-out motivation, besides avoiding getting turned into a rissole the size of a sleeping bag by Captain Cat Food, is to rescue a train car full of civilians, but then it crashes and they all die, and Jill moves on, sparing them no more thought than she does the leftover chow mein that was in her fridge. Some meandering follows, and then, her new goal is to stop the government from nuking Raccoon City; basically, everyone's dead at that point, but there are still loads of perfectly good multi-story car parks. Spoiler alert: she fucks that up, too, and once again largely shrugs her way through the grief, but it does enable her to meander into a secret underground lab and do the "giant wall of snot" fight. So while every Resident Evil game is "a load of fannying about, then giant wall of snot in a lab", RE3's fannying about is even fannier than usual, the wall of snot all the snottier and more inevitable.
If anything recommends the 3-make, it's that it's another five-odd hours of the survival horror gameplay you may or may not have enjoyed in the 2-make. "And a multiplayer mode, Yahtz!" But I'd say the difficulty is a bit higher, generally, and not always in a way that feels fair; I was having trouble with those Hunters, the zombie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle motherfuckers who have super armor and move super-fast, so if you don't have a big weapon out, they just slit you open like a bag of Maltesers. And then the "Game Over" screen kept bugging me: "Hey, would you like to switch to a difficulty setting more suited to your clueless, girlish simpering, Player?" That depends, 3-make; would you like to be coughing up my pubes for the next three days? "Oh, fine. Here's your loading screen tip: Hunters are close-range fighters; remember to back up and keep your distance." 3-make, you're making me fight these things in a fucking hospital corridor! What am I supposed to "back up" into? The fucking vending machine coin return slots?
"Perhaps you'd have a better time in the multiplayer mode, Yahtz?" And you know, what's really taking the piss is that outside the rather anemic campaign badly in need of a Mars bar and some exercise, there aren't even any other gameplay modes! No Mercenaries mode, no extra challenges; I mean, what the fuck were they even working on this whole time? "Probably the multiplayer, Yahtz! Why don't you play some of it?!" (...) Hello, Doctor? I'm hearing the voices again, the ones that keep telling me to hurt myself.
- Elephant seagull: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- At first I thought it was called Resident Evil 3: Genesis and it was about being chased around by a giant murderous Phil Collins
- Umbrella won't even rent a fuckin' parking space without putting a secret lab under it