Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a survival horror video game developed by Capcom and released for the PlayStation in 1999. It is the third installment in the Resident Evil series and takes place around the events of Resident Evil 2. The story follows Jill Valentine and her efforts to escape from a city infected with a biological weapon. Choices through the game affect the story and ending. The game uses the same engine as its predecessors and features 3D models over pre-rendered backgrounds with fixed camera angles.
Originally planned as a spin-off featuring a different protagonist, Resident Evil 3 was designed to have more action-oriented gameplay than previous Resident Evil games. It features a larger number of enemies and introduces the Nemesis creature, which periodically pursues the player. Accompanied by a major marketing campaign, Resident Evil 3 received positive reviews and sold more than three million copies worldwide. Critics praised the game’s detailed graphics and the Nemesis as an intimidating villain, but some criticized its short length and story. Resident Evil 3 was ported to Dreamcast, Windows and GameCube to varying success.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a survival horror game where the player controls the protagonist, Jill Valentine, from a third-person perspective to interact with the environment and enemies. The player takes control of another character for a brief portion of the game. To advance, the player explores a city while avoiding, outsmarting and defeating enemies. The player can interact with the environment in several ways, such as opening doors, pushing objects or climbing obstacles. Scattered throughout the city are weapons, ammunition and other items, which can be collected and put in the player’s inventory. Items can be examined, used, or combined with others. The inventory is limited to a certain number of slots, and the player must often move items from the inventory to a storage box located in special rooms to manage space.
The player can use a variety of firearms to defeat enemies, ranging from pistols to a rocket launcher. Aside from enemies, parts of the environment, such as explosive barrels, can be shot at, causing them to explode and damage nearby enemies. The game also introduces the ability for players to dodge attacks or perform a quick 180-degree turn to evade enemies. The player has a certain amount of health which decreases when attacked by enemies. Health is regained with first aid sprays, as well as herbs, which can be used separately or mixed together to increase their healing effect. The game also features an ammunition creation system that allows players to create new ammunition from different varieties of gunpowder. In addition to engaging in combat, the player must often solve puzzles that focus on logical and conceptual challenges.
During certain situations the player will be put in a perilous situation, where they will be prompted to choose between two possible actions or suffer a certain penalty, if not instant death. These choices affect how the story unfolds and which ending is achieved. Additionally, a creature called Nemesis is encountered multiple times throughout the game as a recurring boss. Nemesis is considerably more powerful than the player and has the ability to use a rocket launcher as a weapon, dodge incoming fire, and pursue the player from one area to the next. During one of these encounters, the player can choose to either fight Nemesis or run until he is evaded. A variety of encounters are possible, with some being mandatory, and some varying in nature and location based on certain choices made by the player. Even if evaded or defeated during one of these encounters, Nemesis will inevitably continue to pursue the player until the end of the game.
Upon completing the main story mode, a minigame titled “The Mercenaries: Operation Mad Jackal” is unlocked. In Mad Jackal, the player must control one of three members of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service that Jill encounters during the main game and run from one side of the city to the other within a limited amount of time and resources. However, the starting time limit given is insufficient to actually perform this task directly, and the player must continuously receive time extensions by performing certain actions such as defeating enemies, rescuing civilians and exploring hidden areas. Depending on rank received and difficulty chosen, completing the main game may unlock alternate costumes for Jill and epilogue files that detail the activities of different characters following the events of the game. The mercenaries minigame and alternate costumes for Jill are available from the start of the game in the Microsoft Windows and Dreamcast versions of the game.
On September 28, 1998, 24 hours prior to the events of Resident Evil 2, former Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) member Jill Valentine attempts to escape from Raccoon City. Most of the population has been transformed into zombies by an outbreak of the T-virus, a new type of biological weapon secretly developed by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. On her way to the Raccoon City Police Department, Jill runs into fellow team member brad Vickers, who is killed by a new enemy. This creature, Nemesis-T Type, is a bio-organic weapon programmed to target surviving S.T.A.R.S. members, witnesses of Umbrella’s experiments. As she evades Nemesis, Jill encounters three surviving members of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.): Carlos Oliveira, Mikhail Victor and Nikolai Zinoviev. Nikolai explains to Jill and Carlos that a rescue helicopter can be contacted if they manage to reach the city’s Clock Tower and ring the bell.
As they make their way to the tower, Nikolai disappears and is presumed dead, while Nemesis corners the remaining members of the group on the cable car headed to the tower. Mikhail sacrifices himself with a grenade, causing the car to crash into the tower’s main courtyard and separating Jill and Carlos briefly. At the Clock Tower, Jill summons the helicopter by ringing the Clock Tower’s bell before being confronted by Nemesis, which destroys the helicopter and infects Jill with the T-virus. Jill manages to temporarily defeat Nemesis but falls unconscious due to the T-Virus. Carlos finds Jill and takes her to safety within the Clock Tower.
Three days later – one day after the events of Resident Evil 2 have ended – Carlos manages to find a cure for Jill’s T-Virus infection in the Raccoon City General Hospital. He returns to Jill and injects her with a vaccine, saving her. After she regains consciousness, Jill proceeds towards the Raccoon Park and enters the park caretaker’s cabin. There, she runs into Nikolai, who is alive. Nikolai is revealed to be one of the “supervisors” sent into Raccoon City to gather combat data of Umbrella’s bio-weapons. Nikolai retreats, and Jill is confronted by a massive worm-like creature. Jill defeats the creature and escapes to an abandoned factory at the rear of the park. Inside the factory, Jill meets up with Carlos, who tells her that the US government is planning to launch a thermobaric missile into Raccoon City to eradicate the T-Virus infestation. After confronting Nemesis and grabbing a keycard needed to escape, Jill learns from the factory’s control tower that the missile attack on Raccoon City has begun, with only a short time left before the city is destroyed.
Depending on the path taken by the player, Jill’s final encounter with Nikolai will differ. In one version of the events, Nikolai will attempt to start a gunfight with Jill, only to be taken by surprise by Nemesis. In another event, Nikolai will hijack Jill’s intended escape chopper, and the player must choose to either reason with Nikolai or destroy the helicopter. If Jill negotiates with Nikolai, he reveals that he has killed the other supervisors and boasts about collecting the bounty placed on Jill by Umbrella before escaping. Regardless of Nikolai’s fate, Jill makes her way to the rear yard and confronts Nemesis one last time after it transforms into a huge, tentacled mutant. After an intense battle, Jill defeats Nemesis with the help of a prototype railgun before meeting up with Carlos and escaping the city via a helicopter. If the previous escape chopper was stolen by Nikolai, Jill and Carlos will instead meet up with S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team’s weapons specialist Barry Burton, who helps them escape in his helicopter. The thermobaric missile vaporizes Raccoon City.
Resident Evil 3 was developed by Capcom and produced by Shinnji Mikami, who worked on the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. After the release of Resident Evil 2, Capcom was working on multiple Resident Evil projects and a team led by Hideki Kamiya developed what was planned to be the next main installment. According to Resident Evil 3 scenario writer Yasuhisa Kawamura, the intended game “was loosely set on a luxury cruise liner and had a general plot where HUNK was attempting to bring back a sample of the G-Virus” featured in Resident Evil 2. However, Capcom realised that the game would not be complete in time for a PlayStation release due to Sony’s announcement of the PlayStation 2, so the project was cancelled. As Capcom did not want fans to wait some years for a new game, the company promoted one of its other projects as the third main canonical game while Kamiya’s team moved onto Resident Evil 4.
The selected project was a spin-off that was being developed by an inexperienced team under director Kazuhiro Aoyama. The spin-off was originally intended to introduce a new character who would have to escape from an infected Raccoon City. However, after the promotion, Capcom decided that Resident Evil protagonist Jill Valentine would be the main character and Raccoon City would be destroyed. Unlike the majority of the early scripts in the series, the scenario of the game was not created by Capcom’s Flagship studio but by internal Capcom writer Yasuhisa Kawamura, who had very little experience with the Resident Evil series at the time. Kawamura had to play the original game to familiarize himself with the series’ fictional universe immediately. Nevertheless, the story was proofread and sanctioned by Flagship to avoid continuity errors with other installments in the series, an issue that was also given attention in monthly meetings between all directors and producers.
Resident Evil 3 uses the same game engine as its predecessors. The environments consist of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds while moving objects such as enemies and some interactive elements consist of 3D polygon graphics. The developers chose this technique because having full 3D graphics would not allow them to create graphically rich and detailed environments. According to project supervisor Yoshiki Okamoto, “the number of polygons allocated for the enemies would not be sufficient. We did not want to have blocky, pixelated zombies.” Interaction with the environment was improved so that the player could shoot objects like explosive barrels to damage enemies. Developers also added more varieties of zombies, who can take the form of policemen, doctors, and ordinary citizens, among others.
Unlike previous Resident Evil games, which normally take place inside buildings, Resident Evil 3 takes place in Raccoon City. The developers noted that the city setting allowed them to create more varied environments. Capcom also decided to give the game a more action-oriented style, which resulted in the 180-degree turn and the introduction of a dodge feature so that the player can avoid enemy attacks. Additionally, the developers designed the game so that up to nine enemies can appear at the same time and improved their artificial intelligence to hunt the player up and down stairs. The eponymous Nemesis creature was inspired by the liquid-metal T-1000 Terminator from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. According to Mikami, “I wanted to introduce a new kind of fear into the game, a persistent feeling of paranoia. The Nemesis brings that on in spades. When it disappears after the first confrontation, you live in constant dread of the next attack. The idea is to make you feel like you’re being stalked.”
The game was developed in tandem with the Dreamcast version of Resident Evil – Code: Veronica and was originally referred to as Biohazard 1.9 due to its setting between the first two Resident Evil games, although the codename Biohazard 1.5 was also used. Although Code: Veronica takes place after Resident Evil 2, Okamoto explained that Capcom wanted Nemesis to be the third numbered game in the series to keep the titles of the PlayStation games consistent. Development of the game began with a team of 20 people. However, as the game was getting closer to its release date, the development team gradually increased to between 40 and 50 staff members. Unlike Resident Evil 2, which features two discs with two different protagonists, Resident Evil 3 is a single-CD game that centers mainly on Jill Valentine. Capcom chose Jill as the protagonist of the game because she was “the only suitable character remaining”, noting that Resident Evil protagonists Claire Redfield and Chris Redfield were previously chosen for Code: Veronica.
Marketing and release
Resident Evil 3 was featured at the Tokyo Game Show in March 1999. A playable version of the game was available at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 1999. At the time, the dodging feature had not been completed and was absent from the demo. To promote the game, Capcom included a brief demo of Resident Evil 3 in the US shipments of their earlier game Dino Crisis, which had a successful launch in Japan. Prior to the release of the game, Capcom spent US$20 million on advertisement campaigns for Resident Evil 3 and Dino Crisis, as well as the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2. The marketing campaign included dedicated television advertising, print advertising, and incentives to the consumer. A double soundtrack album for the game, composed by Masami Ueda, Saori Maeda and Shusaku Uchiyama, was released on September 22, 1999. Additionally, a novelization of the game titled Nemesis and written by S. D. Perry was published in 2000.
Resident Evil 3 was released for the PlayStation video game console on September 22, 1999 in Japan and November 11, 1999 in North America. The first 500,000 units of the game included additional demo discs of Dino Crisis. The game was a commercial hit, selling more than 1 million units worldwide by early October. According to NPD, Resident Evil 3 was the top selling game for the PlayStation in the US during the first two weeks of November 1999. In Europe, the game was released on February 21, 2000 and became a bestseller in the UK, where it received a “Gold” sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association, indicating sales of at least 200,000 copies. As of May 2008, a total of 3.5 million copies of the PlayStation version had been sold according to Capcom.
Upon its release on the PlayStation console, Resident Evil 3 received very positive reviews from critics. GameSpot editor James Mielke considered it the most sophisticated and accomplished Resident Evil game in terms of graphics and gameplay. Official UK PlayStation Magazine called Resident Evil 3 “a modern-day classic”, concluding that the game “creates a believable environment, populates it with a host of evil adversaries and uses Raccoon City’s urban sprawl to enhance the fiendish puzzles.” Computer and Video Games (CVG) remarked that the game preserves the best features of its predecessors and adds “some exciting new elements”. Similarly, Edge described it as an “engrossing” game despite its similarity to its predecessors, and viewed the mercenaries minigame as a valuable addition to the game.
The game’s pre-rendered backgrounds were credited for their rich details and dismal art style. According to IGN editor Doug Perry, “Crashed cars, rubbish and rubble, totally destroyed city streets, and scattered broken glass and debris, all are housed in a suburban area that truly looks devastated in the worst possible way.” GameSpot felt that the 3D modeling of Jill Valentine was greatly improved when compared to the “blocky” models in the original game. The music and sound effects received similar praise, with GamePro remarking that the game “keeps the action hot by hiding what you shouldn’t see, but telling you about it through the audio.” The introduction of the Nemesis creature was highly praised. Official UK PlayStation Magazine described the first encounter as shocking, while CVG said that the creature increases the tension level “to an insane degree” because the player never knows when he will show up.
GameSpot highlighted positively the prompted choices during certain points in the game as they encourage replay value, but also admitted that the game length is too short compared to Resident Evil 2 because it only features one disc with one protagonist. IGN praised the live action choice feature, stating that it “speeds up the pace, increases the tension, and forces a decision that varies the following scene.” Both the 180 degree turn and dodge move were seen by IGN as welcome and necessary additions. In contrast, Official US PlayStation Magazine criticized the dodge feature for being impractical and for relying too much on timing, resulting in doing more harm to the player than against opponents. Other aspects of the game were not positively received. Official PlayStation Magazine and Game Revolution criticized its simple premise and voice acting, while Next Generation noted that the game may be a bit tiresome for players who are already familiar with the previous two entries in the series. The game was a runner up for GameSpot’s 1999 Adventure Game of the Year.