WARNING: This writeup contains scenes of explicit SPOILERS and Gore!
You want S.T.A.R.S? … I’ll give you S.T.A.R.S!
(Also known in Japan as Biohazard 3: Last Escape)
Released: 1999 (Capcom)
Genre: Survival Horror
Platform: Sony Playstation/Re-release on Nintendo Gamecube
Other Information: 1 Player; Analogue controller compatible; Each save require 1 block of PS1 memory.
(This is written about the PS1 version)
This is the third instalment of the Resident Evil series on the Playstation and the final Resident Evil to use the trademark pre-rendered backgrounds which made the series so distinctive. The main female protagonist is Jill Valentine, one of the members of S.T.A.R.S. who survived the horror of the mansion. The nemesis itself added a new feel to certain parts of the game, but essentially it remains true to the classic formula of light puzzles and generally making it through the game alive. Unlike its predecessors Resident Evil 3 does not have separately playable scenarios like Resident Evil 2 (and to a lesser extent Resident Evil 1), however there are points where the player must switch to controlling the secondary character. Much of the game takes place in Raccoon City which is a refreshing change to the usual enclosed environments of the series and shows very different side to the events. On the timeline it is set the day before and the day after Resident Evil 2 with those events happening whilst Jill is unconscious (See Storyline). It even re-visits the Resident Evil 2 police station which is a nice touch.
The game is very typically Resident Evil with no major changes to the control system. The player can walk/run around; draw their weapon and fire; climb on and off objects etc. There is one minor addition to the movement, the inclusion of a quick turn option which proves very useful when you want to get away from something in a hurry and do not want to run in a large circle to turn around! There are all the usual Resident Evil style puzzles involving batteries, switches, key cards and cigarette lighters, none of which should prove too taxing to figure out!
As with all survival horror games ammo is scarce and ammo conservation is the key to the game. In addition Jill has the ability to make her own ammunition from the different types of gunpowder lying around. This is a nice touch to the game as it allows you to choose what kind of ammo you want to use your gunpowder making.
The other big addition to the game is the inclusion of decision points. Suddenly the screen colours are inverted and you will be faced with a choice of two possible courses of action. These are generally fairly insignificant and the wrong decision typically puts you in a situation having to fight more enemies. It is a nice addition to the game however and adds some variety in replay value.
Health turns up in the form of first-aid sprays and the herbs growing around the city. These can be combined in the usual ways for their various effects (Green = Heal; Green + Red = Strong Heal; Blue = Anti-Poison).
As well as some classic Resident Evil enemies (Zombies, Hunters, Dogs etc.) there is also the inclusion of new enemies (Drain Demons, advanced Hunters) which adds some variety to gameplay, although there are no huge advancements in this area. Generally enemies simply vary in speed, zombies are generally slow, dogs quicker and hunters can move extremely fast (and kill you wit one hit incidentally).
Obviously the main addition in this area is the inclusion of the nemesis, not an entirely new concept as it bears much similarity to the Tyrant in the 'B' scenarios of Resident Evil 2. Nemesis shows up all through the game and is both fast and powerful. You can knock him down but it uses a lot of ammo (although he is generally carrying a special item for you to pick up). His presence is accompanied by very distinctive music although it is played later in the game at points when he is not going to appear to create tension.
Even with its pre-rendered backgrounds Resident Evil 3 feels more like a ‘real world’ than its predecessors. There are many times where you might have to run behind a static object, there are flashing warning lights and points where an event may cause damage to a building changing the map layout. The pre-rendered backgrounds are used to make the surroundings look ‘real’, as the PS1 could not generate the levels of detail that the designers wanted. When you look into the backgrounds and surroundings of a Resident Evil game the detail is overwhelming and most other PS1 games could not provide this level of realism using three-dimensional modelling. It was a trade off between having a fully three-dimensional world, and a semi-three-dimensional world.
The character/enemy models are as good as any on the Playstation although they obviously do not compare to those featured in next generation console games.
I think the creators wanted to try and create an even more disturbing environment in Resident Evil 3 (Possibly due to competition from the Silent Hill series). The introduction movies are all of a more gory in nature than the other Resident Evil games and small pieces of detail, such a rotting corpses lying around, add to the disturbing nature of the game.
Jill Valentine has resigned from the S.T.A.R.S. and is planning to leave Raccoon City when there is a T-Virus outbreak plaguing the city with zombies. The game begins as she attempts her last escape! Umbrella (The company responsible for the T-Virus) however has other plans and has created a special kind of Tyrant called Nemesis to hunt and destroy the S.T.A.R.S. members. Brad Vickers tries to warn Jill, but promptly gets killed by the nemesis. The nemesis turns up at various points throughout the game, it cannot be killed, but can be knocked down (make sure you search his body if you do because he usually carries some ammo!).
At the same time Umbrella have sent in a private army (The U.B.C.S. – Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service) to try and ‘help’ any civilians. It transpires however that even this army are merely a way for Umbrella to test the effectiveness of the T-virus and their other creations as biological weapons. A squad of three of the Umbrella soldiers (Carlos Oliveria, Mikheil and Nicoli) who ask offer to help Jill to escape. Nicoli (Squad Leader) however has his own plans, and starts killing all the other squad leaders so he can charge a high price when selling Umbrella the BOW performance data. Once Jill has discovered this fact Nicoli continues to try and eliminate both her and Carlos at various points. Jill and Carlos try and make their escape via a tram across the city and manage to get to the clock tower which is the pick up point for the U.B.C.S. However Nemisis shows up and after a battle infects Jill with the virus. Jill then falls unconscious…
…Whilst Jill is unconscious a day passes which is the same day that Leon and Claire are playing out the events that occur in Resident Evil 2…
Jill regains consciousness and Carlos manages to find an antidote for the virus. Unsurprisingly the game ends in an Umbrella facility and an epic battle against the Nemesis!
The game has many small bonus features for multiple completions:
- 6 Bonus Costumes - For multiple completions
- Mini Game: Mercenaries - awarded on completion
- Character epilogues - For mulitple completions
- Two different endings - Depending if you kill Nicoli or not
- Jill's Diary - Picking up all documents in the correct order
This is not a game for everyone, and if you don’t like Resident Evil then it is defiantly not for you! However it has many good qualities and if you liked the first two and want more of the same then I recommend looking at it.