Monday the 28th: Nightmare in Raccoon City
Resident Evil 3 left quite a lasting impression on me. I was always a fan of George Romero’s zombie films, so actually being able to play through a zombie outbreak scenario was something I longed for. But Resident Evil 3 took it a step further, not settling for just rotting corpses patrolling the streets of Raccoon City. With the threat of the titular Nemesis, the game also tapped into another one of my favorite horror sub-genres: the slasher film.
Nemesis was the first video game character that truly frightened me. Sure, the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 both had its selection of memorably creepy monstrosities, from hunters to lickers, but you felt relived knowing that you could actually kill them and not have to worry about them coming back. Nemesis took a boulder-sized shit on that comfort zone and threw all expectations out the window with his debut in Resident Evil 3.
While dealing with the zombie outbreak, not unlike those seen in Romero’s films, Resident Evil 3’s story also stands up there with that of the classic slasher films we grew up with. Nemmy rivals the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers when it comes to creepy pursuers that won’t stop at nothing until the protagonist is dead, and that won’t stay dead. Nemmy’s poor victim happened to be former STARS member Jill Valentine. The BOW was programmed to completely destroy all remaining remnants of the STARS force still present in Raccoon City, as per Umbrella, which spelled danger for Jill, leading to a horrible night to have a “curse” (so to speak). That makes for a nice set-up for a slasher film in itself, but then you also have a zombie outbreak going on at the same time.
As if the large number of zombies weren’t enough, at certain points in the game, Nemmy would abruptly pop out to chase you, bursting through doors and using his iconic rocket launcher. Yeah, he could actually go through doors. His threat would always be felt regardless of him being onscreen or not, from his first appearance all the way up to the series’ traditional “escape via chopper” ending. You can call him a super zombie. I call him the King of Raccoon City, and a monster that Capcom has failed at surpassing since then (sorry, Ustanak).
I won’t lie, Nemmy has taken the lead role in quite a few nightmares I’ve had as a little kid. I would even be scared whenever my family and I would go to New York City. Driving through the streets made me think of Raccoon City, and I feared looking out the window and seeing Nemesis atop a building, aiming his rocket launcher at our car. Hey, I was small! It’s also fun hearing all the nightmares my younger sister had of him, and Resident Evil 3 in general, due to her spectating my playthroughs.
It’s hard for a horror game, or even film, to maintain players grasped with a strong sense of fear throughout its entirety. There’s moments where you’ll feel relatively safe, knowing nothing can get you until you trigger the next cutscene, or even feel knowledgable enough about the enemies to know what to expect and how to confront them. After all, fans have been taking down zombies since the first game, and while the other BOWS along the way were all formidable enemies, and enough to make you want to run instead of gun, Nemmy was a wholly different beast. This gave Capcom’s threequel to their hit survival horror series a new flavor of horror.
Like the best masked/unmasked (and plastic) stalkers in horror film history, Nemesis just wouldn’t give up. His resilience (sexual desire?) birthed a level of fear and tension new to the series, serving as a nice evolution from Mr.X’s role in the previous game (an awesome, also coated, precursor). We just didn’t know when Nemmy would appear next. This made walking through areas free of any enemies terrifying instead of “oh my cod, finally some room to breathe!”. Hell, I honestly also expected him to make his way into the game’s scattered save rooms (I would’ve needed many spare pairs of pants handy if that were the case). You know the saying “fight or flight”? Yeah, well, I made Pidgey proud with the amount of times I just ran away from Nemesis. Tough guys/girls would actually knock him down, fueled by a suitable amount of ammunition along with just as much courage. When it came to me at that time? NOPE.
As a life-long horror fan, Nemesis’ “STARS!” roar has become ingrained in my brain, along with Jason’s “ch’s” and “ha’s”, Freddy’s laugh and glove screeching, and Michael Myers’ unsettling silence. Nemesis stands tall with the other horror icons we’ve come to love. Thanks to him, Resident Evil 3 was more than just a zombie outbreak game, making it one of the genre’s most memorable and best games to date. What? Some say it’s just a glorified expansion pack for Resident Evil 2? You son of a…