After the brilliance of Resident Evil 2 last year, I was overwhelmed with joy (and fear) when Capcom announced that Resident Evil 3 was also getting the remake treatment. Getting to play as Jill Valentine once again as she scoured the streets of Raccoon City whilst avoiding the wrath of the vicious Nemesis seemed like a dream come true, whilst the quick turn-around of development meant that there wasn’t going to be a stupidly long wait to get to play it either.
Now that I’ve finally experienced the game in its entirety, I’m happy to report that lightning does indeed strike twice. Much like its predecessor, Resident Evil 3 is a fantastic remake that not only lives up to the source material, but does something uniquely different with it too.
Resident Evil 3 puts players back into the shoes of S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine as she looks to escape Raccoon City following the spread of the G-Virus and the zombification of the majority of its citizens. You’d think that escaping a city would be a cakewalk for someone like Jill, especially after everything she went through in the Spencer Mansion in the first game, but the presence of a hulking and vicious monster known as Nemesis that just so happens to be hunting S.T.A.R.S. members makes her life a bit more difficult. With the help of Umbrella solider Carlos, you must find a way to escape and SOMEHOW survive your many encounters with Nemesis in the process.
Those expecting Resident Evil 3 to follow the narrative of the PlayStation original to a tee are going to be in for a surprise – it certainly isn’t afraid to mix things up not only with the narrative, but also with the way events play out in-game. Heck, the intro alone does something completely different and feels like it would belong in Resident Evil 7 more than anything.
That’s not a complaint though; in fact, there is enough that remains the same for it to feel like a new take on the game without sacrificing the things that gamers would have wanted to see again in the first place. There’s no doubting that it takes a lot more risks with the narrative than the Resident Evil 2 remake did though, but it works and makes the whole experience even more exciting.
It also manages to further cement the fact that Jill Valentine is without a shadow of a doubt the best protagonist of the Resident Evil series, with her witty remarks and one-liners bringing plenty of smirks throughout my time playing. The way she pulls off her action-packed manoeuvres with a natural flair just felt believable too… I mean, she doesn’t need to punch boulders to pieces to be a badass. She’s just an iconic video game hero and her representation here is top notch throughout, and yes, she’s STILL the ‘master of unlocking’.
Gameplay-wise, Resident Evil 3 once again remains a battle for survival, with resources somewhat limited as you head across a more open Raccoon City and take out monsters, gather key items, and solve puzzles along the way. Much like the Resident Evil 2 remake, it all takes place from an over-the-shoulder perspective this time around, with fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds now a thing of the past with the series.
It means that gunplay is undeniably more satisfying than it was back in the PlayStation original, which is a good thing seeing as the enemies are more threatening than ever this time around. Once again, zombies are the main type of enemies you can expect to encounter, but their erratic movements and eagerness to… well… eat you, makes them difficult to land clean headshots on without a steady aim. Of course, this IS a Resident Evil game so you can expect to encounter all sorts of other monstrosities during your escape from Raccoon City, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure too.
One thing that’s obvious in Resident Evil 3 is that it takes a more action-focused approach than its predecessor, with enemies aplenty and a decent amount of ammo available for your varied arsenal – there are a lot more environmental options such as explosive barrels and electricity generators available to dish out some hurt too, which can certainly get you out of more than a few difficult situations. There’s even a dodge move introduced this time around, with a quick press of a button at the right time seeing you swiftly slip out of the way of an incoming attack. Given the increased amount of enemies, mastering this manoeuvre can be vital to your success – its implementation is certainly a clever one by Capcom that gives players a bit more of a fighting chance when the odds are stacked against them. It also just so happens to be incredibly useful when trying to avoid the vicious attacks of Nemesis…
Ah, Nemesis – what a f*****g guy. If you thought that Mr. X was terrifying in Resident Evil 2, you’re in for a real treat with just how nasty Nemesis can be when he ground pounds his way into the scene from out of nowhere or smashes his way into your path through a wall. The slow yet ominous stalking of Mr. X has been replaced by Nemesis’ powerful leaps, ranged attacks, and all sorts of different weapons that players will have to evade in order to survive – there’s nothing quite like having to avoid the laser tracking of a rocket launcher whilst on the run or having to destroy the fuel-tank of a flamethrower to stop Nemesis from making toast out of you with it.
Each encounter with the villain is seriously intense, with the fact that he can burst onto the scene at seemingly any moment meaning you’ll never EVER feel truly safe in the game. Sure, you can take him down for a bit by unloading a good amount of ammunition upon him, but he won’t stay hurt for long so sometimes it’s better to just run for your life – I found that the ‘save game, run, hope for the best, and re-load if killed’ approach worked well for me, but hey, some gamers might be braver and will just give the ugly bastard a taste of their shotgun instead.
Whilst the majority of the encounters with Nemesis were brilliant, there were a few moments where I just found his presence to be a little bit annoying – particularly within the game’s first hour where he can leave you in situations where he’ll completely block your path and make it almost impossible to not take some damage, especially since there are so many zombies scattered across Raccoon City’s streets. The random nature of his arrival means that he could appear just about anywhere and force you to use up some resources to get past him, which just felt like a bit of a nuisance.
Thankfully, the scripted encounters are a lot more intense and show off Nemesis’ destructive capabilities in a satisfying and more entertaining manner, so it’s worth noting that your showdowns with him stop feeling frustrating after the first hour of play.
One thing that surprised me a little in Resident Evil 3 was the length of the game, with it easily beaten on a first run in around five hours – that was after scouring almost all of the environments for items too, with the map once again proving useful in marking areas that you’ve fully explored. The shorter length could be attributed to the condensed action-orientated approach that the game takes, with it cutting out a lot of the backtracking and exploration that players saw in the likes of Resident Evil 2, though the fact that there’s not a second campaign to play alongside Jill’s might leave some players wanting a bit more. Of course, you still get to control Carlos in places and he can clothesline zombies, which is ALWAYS a good thing in my eyes – it won’t stop players from being a little underwhelmed by the runtime when compared to Resident Evil 2 though.
That’s not to say that there’s no incentive to give the campaign another run through, with additional difficulties on offer and the incentive of unlockable items adding replayability to the experience. There’s a heck of a lot more to unlock this time around too, with points rewarded to the player to purchase an assortment of different bonuses – nothing quite like playing through the game with unlimited ammo whilst wearing Jill’s original S.T.A.R.S outfit, right?
One other addition to Resident Evil 3 that will certainly add replayability is the inclusion of Resident Evil Resistance: a multiplayer four-versus-one experience that sees four players working together to survive the onslaught of enemies ands traps brought on by a player-controlled evil mastermind (who are mostly established villains from the Resident Evil universe). Admittedly, I haven’t played a whole lot of this yet, but what I have experienced so far seems like a lot of fun – I’m definitely looking forward to trying it out with a few friends.
Everything within Resident Evil 3 comes together nicely to make for a really fun experience. Nemesis might not always hit the mark with his ominous presence, but the tension you’ll feel as you head through the re-imagined take of the game is undeniably brilliant – the shooting and puzzle-solving are absolutely on point too, whilst its also full to the brim with explosive set-pieces.
Fans of the series will definitely appreciate the many nods that the game makes to previous games too, and, as expected, it makes plenty of references and throwbacks to the Resident Evil 2 remake that will give returning gamers a good few ‘a-ha’ moments. It all looks bloody beautiful too, with the environments, the character models, and even Nemesis’ teethy-ugly-mug keeping me in awe throughout. Capcom have something really special on their hands with the RE Engine and if Resident Evil 3 is anything to go by, we can all be VERY excited to see what they do with it in the future.
Much like its predecessor, Resident Evil 3 offers a remake that’s both revolutionary and brilliant in design. It is shorter and more condensed than last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake, but it comes with a bigger focus on action-orientated set pieces and, of course, the epic showdowns with Nemesis. Add to that the all-new ideas that the game implements as well as the inclusion of a multiplayer mode (which admittedly we haven’t got to play a whole lot of yet), and you’ll quickly find that Capcom have something special here.
The shorter length and some frustrating moments here and there do see Resident Evil 3 feeling a little inferior when compared to the Resident Evil 2 remake, but only just – it still just so happens to be a brilliant survival horror experience that fans of the series are sure to love.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC