As it was in 1999 with the original release of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, there was a quick turnaround with it only releasing a year later than Resident Evil 2. Just like back then, Capcom were already hard at work to bring us the Resident Evil 3 remake, whilst we were enjoying the fantastic remake of the second game. Similar to last year’s release, there are a lot of nods to its original ancestor. So here we are in 2020 with Capcom treating us to another remake of a classic.
The year is 1998 and you’re in the heart of the hell hole that is Raccoon City. Your story begins before Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield enter the fray in Resident Evil 2. You play as S.T.A.R.S member Jill Valentine, a survivor of the Spencer Mansion incident in the Arklay Mountains. She has been hard at work since the incident to undercover the truth and expose the Umbrella Corporation. However, Umbrella aim to eliminate every surviving S.T.A.R.S member from that mansion incident to keep the conspiracy forever buried in Arklay mountains, and in order to do so, they have unleashed the Nemesis. An ultimate bioweapon with the sole purpose of eliminating every last living S.T.A.R.S member.
The Resident Evil 3 remake plays almost identically to that of the Resident Evil 2 remake. It’s an over-the-shoulder third-person shooter where you fight hordes of the undead with the threat of the Nemesis hot on your heels. There are some subtle changes which retain inspiration from the 1999 original though. Ammo feels more plentiful but you still need to try your best not to be wasteful. It’s not only important to not go all guns blazing, but it’s also vitally important to know enemy weak points such as what body part to hit or what weapons to use.
This is still very much a survival horror game, despite it being more action orientated compared to Resident Evil 2 remake. You’d be mistaken in thinking that this remake lacks tension or moments of horror, because it has all that by the bucket load. However, unlike the Tyrant aka Mr X from the Resident Evil 2 remake, the Nemesis won’t be as persistent in stalking you, in comparison to how Mr X patrolled the corridors of the Raccoon City Police Department. Instead, the Nemesis will harass you during certain segments of the game and during those very segments; the threat of death is multiplied to that of Mr X. Not only is his arsenal of weapons deadly, but the Nemesis is faster, more agile and aggressive. Not only that but he has a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to the utilising the undead or keeping you within his reach.
One of the big differences from the Resident Evil 2 remake is the way the story unfolds. Resident Evil 3 only features one campaign, just like the original. The one campaign does still let you see things from multiple perspectives though thanks to the two protagonists Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira. While each character handles largely the same, both have their own ability of evading the undead. With a well-time press of the R1 button (on PlayStation 4), Jill will evade attacks with a roll or a dodge, while Carlos can barge or punch the enemy. It may take you a few attempts to get the timing right, but once it clicks with you, this is a very handy survival skill, especially when trying to evade some of the more deadly enemies, including the Nemesis. It’s also a very handy way to keep hold of some of that all important ammo.
Visually, Resident Evil 3 is one of the most stunning games of this console generation, especially if you can play on a 4K system. Much like the 1999 original, despite the constant threat of danger, you’ll want to explore the streets of Raccoon City (something that you couldn’t do all that much in the 2019 remake of 2) as you hunt for ammo, secrets and if you’re lucky, a shortcut or two. Raccoon City is a grumbling, cesspool of decay with burning cars, looted buildings, bordered up shops and horrors that lurk around every corner. This new version of Raccoon City has clearly been lovingly created by the developers at Capcom, fully utilising a console at its peak performance as we dwindle towards the end of a generation.
The audio of Resident Evil 3 is also sublime and I’d be hard-pressed to find a greater example of immersive audio design. From the frantic music that turns you into a quivering wreck while being hunted down by the Nemesis, to the instantaneous soothing sounds of the iconic save room theme, knowing that you’ll get a moment of respite. Then you have the sounds of Raccoon City itself, the whistling of the wind, the groans of the undead, gunshots being fired a few blocks down, right on down to the rattling noise of a dripping pipe. In almost every imaginable aspect, this is a master class of sound design and if you have access to a quality gaming headset, then I urge you to wear it while playing Resident Evil 3, because it will immerse you in a way not many other games can.
In terms of campaign length, Resident Evil 3 is about the same as each of Leon and Claire’s campaigns in the Resident Evil 2 remake. For my first play-through, it took me about 12 hours to finish. While I am yet to play it on the hardest difficulty, Resident Evil 3 does offer a slight increased challenge to that of Resident Evil 2, so that perhaps helps to balance out the length somewhat. But then if you hunt down every hidden bobblehead and file, you can easily add on an extra hour or two. During the campaign I regularly switched between the Easy and Normal difficulty so that I could compare them both for this review and even on the easiest difficulty, Resident Evil 3 still offers a decent challenge, so you shouldn’t be put off by lowering the difficulty, especially if you want to hunt down the collectibles or get used to the game.
If I was going to have criticisms with the Resident Evil 3 remake, it would be with its endgame content. The 4vs1 asymmetrical multiplayer game Resident Evil: Resistance is included with 3, which pits four human survivors against one human mastermind pulling the strings in mini-arena of danger and death-traps, but these kinds of games are dependent on maintaining an active player base. Hopefully Resident Evil: Resistance is one of those games that can maintain a player base. If it isn’t though having some extra modes, like Mercenaries that appeared in the original 3, would’ve helped add longevity. Although more single player content may come post launch just like we saw last year with 2.
Resident Evil 3 continues on from the high standards set by Capcom going back to the brilliant Resident Evil remake from 2002 on the Nintendo GameCube. 18 years on, Capcom are still pulling it out the body bag with the quality you’d expect. In terms of its campaign, you have everything you’d ever want from a remake. It’s new but familiar and modernises a classic survival horror game to not only veteran fans of the series, but new fans too. The Resident Evil 2 remake was one of the standout games of 2019 and while this remake might arguably just fall short, it’s still a shining example of how a remake should be done. Just like its predecessor, Resident Evil 3 will go down as one of the best games of the year.
Note: This is a review of Resident Evil 3 only.
By Brett Claxton
I've just had a chunk taken out of my neck by a zombie and there's more of them closing in on me. Health nearly depleted this is the moment the remake of Resident Evil 3 sunk its teeth into me literally and metaphorically. Up to this point the enemies felt easy to get around but the swarms just kept growing. Soon it became clear that I needed to figure out my routes and take out the zombies that occupied it. A tactic that I've done since the 90s that makes me feel like a genius each time.
Resident Evil 3, on more than one occasion, will present you with multiple ways to get from A to B. It's up to you to figure out the best route and try not to die. You probably will die though but it's the moments that you don't you'll remember. Those R1 dodges at just the right moment that see you able to get away. Those moments where a horde is closing in that you notice a trap and wipe them out instantly. Resident Evil 3 empowers the player just as quickly as it makes them feel useless, just as all good action horror games should. Some enemies do feel like they absorb a bit too much damage but then that instantly leads to moments of panic that horror games need.
I took the time to savour my walkthrough. Backtracking to unlock areas I now had access to before pushing forward with story progression moments. Hunting down all the items you could just in case I needed to use them and then realising you have way too much ammo so you might as well go nuts for a bit is always fun. Although Resident Evil 3 is a fairly linear affair there's plenty of fun to be had and new ways to try and wipeout or slow down enemies.
Nemesis is a terrifying nuisance but I found he stalked far less than I expected. That didn't mean I feared him appearing any less though. He makes sure you know his name the second he introduces himself to you. There's plenty of other enemies that will get under your skin too, but the less you know about them the better.
The way the story comes together is interesting, although it does feel at times abrupt with the way it ends a section. Each area feels like a self contained funhouse of monsters and the undead for you to destroy or evade as you'd like. The way it ties in to the wider lore will be interesting to long term fans and new fans will be able to jump in without knowing the backstory and still have a blast.
Resident Evil 3 is a beautiful marriage of action and horror. It never quite hits the highs of 2 for me but I'll be shocked if people are not talking about it at the end of the year when game of the year talk comes around. Even as a standalone product it's something horror fans and action fans will enjoy.