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Resident Evil 3: The number one survival horror series' best game?

A look back at one of the genre's finest...

For many gamers, the Resident Evil series begins in a rural part of Spain with old-timers croaking at Leon Kennedy while trying to part his hair with a spinning hatchet.

And such is the majesty commanded by Resi 4 that I feel reluctant to criticise this youthful, naive and literally wrong, perspective.

The number 4 in the title though should make it pretty clear that there's impressive legacy of Evil to pick your way through to truly appreciate Capcom's viral soap opera, but out of the 11 (eleven!) Resident Evils that came before number 4 it's Resi 3 that still makes the blood pump a little quicker.

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Resi 3 is often overlooked for those looking for authenticity (Resi 1) or aesthetics (Code: Veronica), yet this is the spiritual godfather of the modern series: an athletic action-game compared to the sparse survival horror predecessors.

The game begins with STARS hottie and Spencer Mansion survivor Jill Valentine attempting to escape Raccoon City, which has become overrun with T-Virus victims. Making the situation more complicated are a bunch of sinister Umbrella Mercenaries and a STARS-targetting mac-wearing bio-weapon called Nemesis.

The presentation is classic: fixed cameras, pre-rendered backdrops, door loading screens and the quirky control system. The action is swifter and more intense mainly due to the power shift between you and the zombies as their strength in numbers isn't enough anymore - now they have reason to fear you!

The reasons: Jill is nimbler than before, able to dodge the lunges of the infected with a pump of the shoulder button and perform a 180-degree spin to launch swift counters. Then there's the content of those counters which is often shotgun led thanks to its discovery in the first 10 minutes of the game, aided by explosive scenery and followed-up with Jill's home-made enhanced ammo.

There's also the whittled-to-perfection design of the environment that dispenses with the lung-bursting back tracking of Resi 2 in favour of a labyrinth-like condensing of space.

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It's like an Ikea storage solution in the way it uses and re-uses space, allowing to you to approach set-piece situations from a number of directions and discover just how rotten Umbrella's city is.

All the Resi magic you'd expect, from set-piece jumps to pantomime betrayal, is there - just in a more digestible size than before (or since) that rewards replaying the game.

Lastly, there's the presence of Jill Valentine who manages to carry off a boob-tube and shoulder holster and still smoulder. A truly believable and compassionate heroine at the heart of the most toned, lean and fighting fit of the Resi series.

Don't forget there's still plenty of time to take part in our our splendid Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Reaction Time Challenge, where you can form your own squad and compete to win exclusive Resi Evil prizes including signed artwork and HD TVs.

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