Resident Evil 3: Nemesis



I’m just going to start with it: I owe Resident Evil 3: Nemesis an apology. It’s a pretty great game that I’ve mistakenly been bashing for years. This project has made me see that. But how did we get here? How have I been so ignorant for so long? In REvisited – Part 2, I had to face the fact that I’d misjudged Resident Evil 2, realizing that it was a better game than I’d remembered. But in that case, I’d never thought of it as a bad game, I just didn’t think it was a very good game (now I know better). But with 3, I had stronger feelings. I’ve had an immense dislike for it since college when I last played it. However, as with my college playthroughs of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, I remembered very little about the actual game. All I knew is that I had a miserable time with it. But now, after playing it again in 2022, I think I know what happened.

Welcome to REvisited: A Resident Evil Retrospective, an Exposition Break series that explores the highs and lows of the Resident Evil franchise as we go back and replay the mainline games, their remakes, and their spinoffs. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the series introduction to learn more about this project.


So when I started the game for this project, I almost quit. I found the opening hour of Resident Evil 3 to be a slog of cheap encounters on generic and confusing city streets. I was annoyed by enemies placed at the edge of camera transition triggers and thus causing what felt like unavoidable damage. I was dispirited with the speed of some of the zombies and their ability to quickly mitigate any zoning that I’d done. I was angry when I’d get stun-locked by a mob of zombies passing me from one ghoulish pair of undead hands to the next. My mounting exasperation at this combination of irritations only made things worse, as I grew more careless and paid less attention to where I’d been and where I was going. I was lost, low on health, and low on bullets. I turned the game off.


“Fuck this game,” I muttered as reclined on the couch, frustrated by the entire experience, but also self-satisfied with the re-affirmation that the game was trash. I sat there for about half an hour. I still had this project and I couldn’t just skip Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. I considered watching another playthrough on YouTube and writing about that, but it didn’t sit right with me. I considered making this entry of REvisited just be about the opening hour and declaring the game to be definitively the worst mainline Resident Evil game. This also didn’t sit right. I sighed and turn the game back on, loaded my save, and just watched Jill’s idle animation for a couple minutes.

I was staring at the save room door, trying to will myself to just push the Cross button to open it. Instead, I pushed Start and Select on my gamepad, bringing up RetroArch’s emulator settings. I found the Cheats menu and loaded a code library for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. While many game-breaking cheats were available to me, like infinite ammo and the ability to access item boxes at any time, I only enabled infinite health and exited the menu. In my mind, this was the closest I could get to the “real” experience without losing my mind. I’d still try and avoid taking damage, but I’d be less stressed about it, knowing that I could keep progressing regardless.

I played this way for about 10 minutes and a funny thing happened. Infinite health gave me the opportunity to change my play style. I was more reckless and willing to use ammo because I knew I could tank hits if it absolutely came to it. But in that, I also realized that I’d been making the mistake of playing Resident Evil 3 like Resident Evil 2, trying to conserve ammo and dodge enemies. I realized that while 3‘s enemies were more aggressive and plentiful, the game was giving me plenty of ammunition to deal with them. I was previously doing myself a huge disservice by being overly stingy with my bullets. After about five more minutes, I was also getting a feel for the layout of the game’s confusing city streets and how the map worked. I also realized that I was actually having fun. I paused the game, thought for about a minute, disabled the infinite health cheat, and rolled back my save to before I started using it. I was ready to give RE3 another shot on its terms.

Look out zombies! I’m not saving bullets this time!

Memories are a funny thing. A month ago, before playing Nemesis for this project, I’d have told you, “Yeah, I’ve beaten all the mainline Resident Evil games,” but I think now that it might have been a lie. Not an intentional lie, but a lie all the same. I don’t think I actually finished Nemesis in college. I think I started the game, but similarly became frustrated and quit early on. My memory was a false one made up of personal experience of the first hour, speed run videos, and wiki pages.

Man… what else am I misremembering? Best not to dwell… The important thing is that in the year 2022, I beat Resident Evil 3 Nemesis and I’m here to talk about that.

This Time on Resident Evil…

In parts one and two of this series, I did pretty deep dives into the plots of both games, but I think as we get deeper and deeper into the series, the moment-to-moment details become less important, especially as the plot lines become increasingly convoluted. I enjoy the convolution, but it’s best explored in a wiki, not here. Also: by Resident Evil 3, we’ve actually already gotten to know our primary series protagonists, Chris, Jill, Leon, and Claire, and we’ll be hanging out with them for at least the next six games in the series. At this point, we know enough about our heroes, villains, and universe that we can (hopefully) keep to the main story beats. Lastly, RE3‘s story is relatively leaner, so there’s also just less to get into. So with that in mind, let’s talk about the story.

The plot of Resident Evil 3 is relatively simple. Around the same time as the events of RE2, Jill Valentine has been suspended from S.T.A.R.S. and is trying to escape Racoon City as the streets become overrun with zombies. It isn’t long before she stumbles across good ol’ Brad Vickers, the S.T.A.R.S. helicopter pilot from the first game, and instead of being helpful, he just rambles vaguely about someone hunting S.T.A.R.S. members. When Jill asks him what he’s talking about, Brad just says, “You’ll see,” before leaving. Not helpful, Brad!

Mr. Reliable

I’d say at this point, Chris Redfield and Brad Vickers are neck and neck for being “The Worst.” Brad has abandoned us for dead once in the first game and is now being totally vague when he could actually be helpful. Chris on the other hand has his whole tendency to misguidedly go A.W.O.L., putting his sister and colleagues in unnecessary danger. Who will win?

It isn’t long before we find Brad again in front of the police station, and then we watch a hulking monster in a trench coat drive a tentacle through Brad’s face, killing him. So long, Brad!


Well, I guess Chris won… if only because he gets to live on and continue sucking. He could redeem himself… but I’m confident in saying that he doesn’t.

The monster? The titular Nemesis. We can stay and fight, but we run away instead. Even if I’ve never beat this game, I do know that Nemesis can’t be beaten here—at least not permanently. Better to save the health and ammo.


As Jill continues to explore the city, she meets an Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service member named Carlos Oliveira. Jill and Carlos form an uneasy alliance as they both work to get out of the city. It becomes clear over time that Carlos doesn’t actually know anything about Umbrella’s role in the outbreak and actually is altruistic in his actions. One of Carlos’ comrades, Nikolai, however, turns out to be a real piece of crap and is feeding U.B.C.S. combat data back to Umbrella, among other nefarious things.

It’s a shame Carlos never shows up again after RE3. It’s a trend you’ll see with a lot of RE sidekicks.

With Carlos’ occasional help, Jill works her way through the city, attempting to evade Nemesis as he hunts the remaining S.T.A.R.S. member. They eventually manage to signal a rescue helicopter, but as no surprise to this player, it is shot down by Nemesis. Oh yeah, Nemesis gets a rocket launcher.

Games PlayedHelicopters CrashedHelicopters Survived
Chalk up another crash!

Jill and Carlos managed to take down Nemesis in a fight, but not before Nemesis infects Jill with the T-Virus. Carlos find a safe spot for Jill to rest in before he heads out to the hospital to try and find a way to cure her. And he’s successful! There’s a cure! In the hospital! He saves Jill! And the cure is lost! Oh… damn…

I think I saw this in a Castlevania game…

Anyway… Jill and Carlos continue their escape and also learn that the U.S. government has authorized a nuclear strike on Raccoon City to contain the virus. They don’t have much time. While Carlos is securing a way out, Jill is cornered once more by Nemesis. Not only did he not die, he’s mutating into a nasty beast. After delivering one of the better one-liners in the series (“You want STARS? I’ll give you STARS.”), Jill kills Nemesis once and for all. She boards a helicopter on the roof with Carlos and they get out of harm’s way just before a nuclear missile levels the city, destroying all evidence of the outbreak.

“You want STARS? I’ll give you STARS!”

Some time later, we learn that Jill, like everybody else, is looking for Chris Redfield (goddammit, Chris). She has found one of his abandoned safe houses, but no Chris.

Games PlayedHelicopters CrashedHelicopters Survived
And another survivor!

Game Changers

I’ve already talked about how I had to reset my playstyle to enjoy RE3 with it’s faster, more plentiful zombies, but I didn’t talk about some of the other tools the game gives you to deal with this changed threat. First, Resident Evil 3 is the first Resident Evil to give the player a quick 180 turn action. Pushing back and run sees Jill do a fast about-face, giving you a better chance to get out of harm’s way. On top of that, the game has also added a dodge mechanic, which I found so unreliable that I’d rather just liken it to a random dice roll. I’m sure some players can dodge on cue, but I was just happily surprised when my panicked button presses managed to result in me side-stepping an attack. It’s a cool addition, but not something I managed to do intentionally, let alone master. The quick turn, however, has shown up in almost every Resident Evil since and is one of the best additions to the series.

Another way Nemesis shakes up the Resident Evil formula is by giving players opportunities to make choices that can temporarily fork your path through the game. At key moments (usually while confronting Nemesis) the action will freeze and you’ll be given a prompt. Sometimes the prompts are as simple as “do you run or do you fight?” Other times they allow you do something a bit more contextual. When Nemesis cornered me on the clock tower, for example, I was able to toss an electrified cable into a puddle at his feat, electrocuting him and knocking him out. My understanding of this system is that there actually ARE dice rolls happening behind the scenes and the same choices won’t work every time. But I could be mistaken about that.

This one was a little silly

Lastly, RE3 is the most non-linear of the games up until this point. That’s not to say it’s open world by any stretch, but the game will adapt based on where you decide to go when exploring the city. Meeting Carlos, for example, can happen in a variety buildings, and Nemesis’ appearances can similarly change. This aspect of the game, along with the “this or that” choices, makes it so that replays of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis can be pretty different. If I was playing this as a teenager and this was my one game to play for a few months, I’d be pretty happy for the variety.


The Menagerie

The enemies in Resident Evil 3 start to get away from the whole recognizable animals and bugs trend. New enemies in the Mutant category no doubt come from animals and bugs, but they’re no longer recognizable. I miss the weird animals…

Zombie Dogs
Giant Spiders
Large Roaches
Giant Alligator
Giant Moths
Tyrants (Nemesis)
Hunters (new variants)
Brain Suckers
Sliding Worms
Grave Digger
Drain Deimos
G-Types (Includes W. Birkin)
Bold = New in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis | Strikethrough = Didn’t return
Look! A female zombie! A first for the series!


Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a better game than I gave it credit for. It’s still not one of my favorites, but I can see myself enjoying it more in subsequent playthroughs. And that actually touches on a phenomenon that I think is fairly unique to the Resident Evil franchise. With a few small exceptions, I feel like Resident Evil games improve in subsequent playthroughs. You can never reharness the fear and anxiety that a first playthrough gives you, but replays give you a chance to re-explore the games in a new light. It excites me that I finally “get” Resident Evil 3, because I know future playthroughs will be pretty damn fun.

Up Next

Now it’s time to move onto Code: Veronica. This is going to be an interesting one, because before playing through RE3 for this project, CV was hands-down the better game to me and, to some, the true Resident Evil 3. Can’t wait to dive in. See you next time!

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