Fate has not been kind to the citizens of Raccoon City. First, there morale is smashed under the corporate authority of Umbrella Inc. and then they are subject to virtual annihilation by an army of the undead (manufactured by the Umbrella corporation.). Streets that once were populated by blue-collar workers on their way to work are now overrun with reanimated corpses and strange, deadly genetic mutations. Playgrounds that, at one time, might have been a homing beacon to energetic, joyous children searching for recreation are now devoid of any life whatsoever. Only the slow drip-drop of blood on a swingset can be heard on this night where the dead rose to reclaim the city. As fires burn out of control and the lifeless husks that were once people search for subsistence in the form of living human tissue, we find one of the few lone survivors, Jill Valentine preparing for the final battle for freedom. The last escape.
Jill was one of the five remaining members of the S.T.A.R.S. team (a special task force set up by the Raccoon City Police Department.) that were almost completely wiped during an investigation of a secret Umbrella laboratory in the mountains surrounding the city. After disCovering the horrific genetic experiments that Umbrella Inc. were conducting, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers, and Brad Vickers returned the home to blow open the veil of secrecy that Umbrella had engulfed the city within. Unfortunately, their story was scoffed at and their requests for investigation were denied (the police chief and the mayor were both on Umbrellaís "payroll"). Thankfully, these ever vigilant, corporate crime fighting soldiers took matters into their own hands, but by the time they had reached this decision, it was too late for Raccoon City.
With each new chapter in Capcom's flagship franchise, Biohazard/Resident Evil begins to resemble more of an epic adventure than the quick horror fix that it originated as. This latest chapter Biohazard 3: Last Escape has you, once again, taking on the role of Jill Valentine as she escapes the anarchic ruination of Raccoon City.
Most of the game is played and fought on a street level where the zombies rule. The amount of enemies in this game is staggering. At some points in the game, you'll be walking down the street with a puzzle fragment and all of sudden: BOOM! CRASH! Zombies everywhere! This game really packs a punch in the enemy department. If you've always dreamed of mowing down an armada of zombies, wave after undead wave, then look no further. The game also features an enormous variety of zombie classes. While I haven't finished the game, I've counted at least 8 different variations of male and female zombies. (Including the fat cop zombie that left out of Biohazard/Resident 2! Yay!) There are also a great number of others T-Virus mutations including the all-too-familiar zombie Dobermans crows (Goddamn pecking bastards! [-insert sound of machine gun fire-] Die! Die! Die! If only Edgar Allen Poe carried an M-16...) and some new creepie-crawlies like mutant sewer snake thingies and spider-like-zombie thingies. Ah, yes there's nothing more frightening than being stalked by a sewer snake thingy.
Speaking of frightening, Biohazard 3 offers the most shocking experience in its creed. Strolling, running or blasting through the zombified streets is probably the most authentic zombie experience that you're likely to find on any home system (of course, where else are you going to go? Overblood? Pffft.). The environments are rendered in such lurid detail that the game is able to convey a sense of being in the game a lot more accurately. From bloody car/human pile-ups to suspiciously quiet restaurants, everything has taken another gigantic leap in realism for the series. Minor details down to the smallest shard of glass pop out of the screen in such a way, that they rival those of Final Fantasy VIII.
The character models have also gotten a major overhaul resulting in smoother characters with better lighting effects and muscle definition. Most notably is the Nemesis, which looks absolutely amazing and intimidating at the same time. I'll get back to Nemesis later, but for now you must know that the zombies are so meticulously detailed in the way that they look and move (each different form shows different signs of rot) that each head shot gives a is a new experience every time. Mmmmmm. Brainy meatiness is good for the body and the soul.
The audio is a double-edged sword. On one side, you have these great, crisp, clean sound effects like the sound of bullet shells hitting the pavement or the slimy sound of decaying tissue rubbing up against itself and some really exceptional ambient music and effects. You can hear the moans and groans of lurking evils or the stifled, distant gunshots of the few, doomed survivors of the zombie occupation of Raccoon City. On the other hand, the voice acting has, once again dropped to the laughable quality (?) of the first Biohazard/Resident Evil. I was so looking forward to a really lucrative aural experience after Biohazard/Resident Evil 2 exuded some of the best vocal performances ever. Oh well, we canít have everything... but we should goddamn it!!! I mean, consoles have come so far in terms of player immersion, eye candy, and playbility, so why in god's name can't they get something so simple as good (reiterate: good) voice actors? Metal Gear Solid did it pretty well and you'd think that with all of the money that has been made off of the BH/RE games that they could afford some talent. Maybe it adds to the atmosphere for some, but for me bad voice can really stifle a game's potential. And while I'm on my soapbox, what the f*** is up with Carlos the greasy Latino mercenary? Haven't racial stereotypes gone out of style? I seem to recall this little thing called the Civil Rights movement. I think that it would be doing the game a great disservice if the voices are kept the same when itís released in the U.S., not only for quality, but also to show that Capcom hasn't been in a box since the 50's.
The gameplay remains unchanged. Part of the reason for the franchise's success can be attributed to the underlying simplicity of the play mechanics (navigating your character across pre-rendered backdrops all the while solving puzzles and warding off foes with an array of different weapons). The control has always been a subject of controversy. While it fits the game's style, it can cause some confusion and frustration in confined areas or while surrounded by your enemy. The developers have also taken the time to add a few small yet pertinent innovations. The auto-map has been greatly improved; a dodge button has been included (which is a big help in tight situations [of which there are many]). There's also a new non-linear puzzle solving system that allows the player to experience different situations at different times, but will ultimately lead to the same conclusion.
One of the biggest additions to the game is the Nemesis. This takes the scare factor of the game to incredible heights. What (or rather who) the Nemesis is, is unknown. All that you know about it/him/her at first is that Nemesis is big, strong, fast, carries a bazooka and hates S.T.A.R.S. With Nemesis, ther'ís never a dull moment. From the moment Nemesis smells your fear, it's on you. Always chasing you whether you can see it or not. It's always stalking you and constantly scaring the living s*** out of you. You have to be on your guard because if you're not, you're already dead.
Biohazard 3: Last Escape is an amazingly detailed romp through the world of survival-horror. While not without it's flaws, the game delivers the shocks like nothing ever before. And although some will prefer the more psychological mind games of Silent Hill and Clock Tower, those who appreciate a good, visceral (in more ways than one) scare, will be in heaven... or hell... or whatever.
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