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The RE series has been making gradual improvements in gameplay since the release of the first title. RE1 laid the blueprints for how a horror game should be played out and delivered the "brown-trouser" scares in spades. RE2 upped the ante a bit by introducing a branching system called ZAP in which you played the game with two characters. The first one effecting what the second one could do later in the game. Now we have the 3rd installment and it seems that Capcom has tried to pull out all of the stops. The game really goes somewhat back to its roots with its more straightforward approach when compared to RE2, but it also addresses quite a few of the deficiencies of the first two titles as far as character control goes and flexibility within the game.
First up is the MAP feature. You can now scroll the map N, S, E & W as well as zooming in or out to get the level of detail you desire. The map is much more detailed than ever before and plays a very functional part in the game. A lot of this game takes place in the actual city of Raccoon and as such there are a LOT of doors, alleyways and cross paths that you can take. Learn to refer to the map often or you could end up walking around in a very large circle and losing your bearings quite easily.
Next up is the new ammo system. There is a shell-pressing tool that you now use to make your ammo. As you go through the game you will find two types of gunpowder, A&B. You can add this gunpowder to the tool and out pops ammo. Gunpowder "A" produces handgun shells and from "B" out pops shotgun shells. To make things interesting, you can combine A&B to get C of course! Gunpowder "C" is used to make grenades. Now you can also combine C with A or C with B or C with C to get various kinds of grenades like Flame and Acid. You can also combine three "C's" to get the potent Magnum bullets. There are 13 combinations in all, but many you will need to learn by practicing. You see, the more you mix the same combo's the more skill you gain and soon you will learn to make more powerful ammo. I thought this was a really excellent system and a very innovative idea.
As the game opens up you are treated to a scene that has Jill bursting out of a flaming building. It is here that you take control of Jill and begin blasting away at the zombies. Luckily you get to start off the game with an assault rifle. When set on "auto" all you have to do is aim and hold down the action button to enable yourself to shred through hordes of those stinking meat puppets. You will also note that Jill now has a 180-degree turn move. Just back up and press the run button and boom she turns around to instantly face any attacker. Considering the fact that the zombies are a bit quicker and attack in greater numbers this new feature is an absolute necessity for survival in this game! Another new move is your characters ability to evade zombies at the last instant by pressing the R1/R2+action button just before getting attacked.
After your target practice you turn left and eventually enter through a door. This brings you into a small warehouse and your first conversation with another human in the game. You will be pleased to know that the "B" voice acting appears to have survived for another round as we get treated to a conversation between Jill and some guy in the warehouse. Seems the dude's daughter got all chewed up and he is just too afraid to leave the building so he ends up locking himself up in a storage bin. As you begin searching the building you ascend stairs to the second and third floors. Here is where another "improvement" comes into play you can now actually see and control Jill climbing the stairs instead of getting the cut scene with the foot sound shuffling up the steps. Heck, you can now even run up the stairs if you like. In the warehouse you will find a storage box and a cabinet that contains gunpowder and can choose to experiment with your shell-pressing tool if you like. You will also notice that Jill can now carry 10 items which is nice, but you will still fill up your inventory quicker than a fly on sh
You will also find a key in this room and once you mate it with the proper door it's back onto the streets again and time to kill more zombies. As you make progress through the town I highly recommend checking the map on a regular basis. The town is pretty big and a lot of the alleyways connect with one another. You could end up going around in circles if you don't plot out your course with some level of intelligence. Now that the map has been improved, learn to use it to your advantage!
Being that a sizeable chunk of the game takes place outside there is a good deal more to see. The game still retains its claustrophobic feel due to the wonderfully confined level designs, but walking around outside presents a lot of places where things can jump out at you from. Beware, there are a lot of things that go bump in the night
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