Since the announcement of Resident Evil 2, I’ve been certain that Capcom would remake Resident Evil 3. While they are very different games, they are arguably two very different sides of the same coin. With Resident Evil 3 releasing so soon after Resident Evil 2 and by a different team, it’s understandable to be sceptical as to whether Resident Evil 3 could have the same impact as last year’s entry. For the most part, it’s just as good, but Resident Evil 3’s successes aren’t as clear-cut as Resident Evil 2, and it’s bound to divide fans with some of the creative liberties the developers have taken.
Resident Evil 3 takes place around the same time as Resident Evil 2. I won’t spoil much, but the story begins before the events of Resident Evil 2 and concludes long after. You play as Jill Valentine, a member of the local special forces who has been investigating pharmaceuticals giant Umbrella after an enormous cover-up of the events from the first game. Amid a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City, Umbrella has its own plans and sends a new bioweapon, code-named Nemesis, after Jill to ensure she never exposes their secrets.
Unlike the second game, Resident Evil 3 offers a single campaign to conquer. You’ll play as Jill as she attempts to work with stranded Umbrella mercenaries to escape the city, which has gone to hell. There are times where you’ll also play as one of these mercenaries, a bit of a charmer named Carlos, but otherwise, this is really Jill’s story as she tries to escape both Nemesis and the city. Some efforts have been made to flesh out some characters, bolstering what was already in the original game.
Whereas Resident Evil 2 flowed in a similar manner to the game it was based on, Resident Evil 3 does a lot differently. While it hits some similar story beats, the flow of things in this remake is so different that it’s bound to be polarising with fans. Gone are the elements that made Resident Evil 3 unique – the randomised elements, the branching paths, and the multiple endings. In their place, however, are aspects that bring Resident Evil 3 up to speed to be just as memorable as other mainline entries.
It’s probably controversial to say this, as a fan, especially, but I question whether the things that have been changed or left out from the original games were even worth keeping. Yes, in the original Resident Evil 3, you could decide what order to do certain things, but, in the end, it really didn’t lead to much. While it does remove some variability from the path you’ll take in the game, it does feel like a much better-paced campaign with zero dull moments from beginning to end.
The other significant change is Nemesis himself. The previously titular creature would stalk Jill throughout the whole game, giving you breaks at predetermined times. The new Nemesis behaves differently, with his appearances much more scripted. While this means that he can be more predictable, he easily poses just as much of a threat, if not more than in the original game. I’d even go as saying that it was a better design decision to have his encounters more scripted, as having Nemesis be this aggressive, whilst always chasing you would be grating and detrimental to the pacing of the game If you didn’t enjoy the tyrant in Resident Evil 2, you’d probably enjoy Nemesis a little bit more. He’s still aggressive and still chases you down, but it’s nowhere near as persistent as other stalkers in the series like Jack Baker or the tyrant.
Much like the original game, Resident Evil 3 incorporates more action-orientated elements while still feeling like a survival horror game at heart. Everything feels a lot faster. Enemies appear in higher numbers, especially, but it still feels like a desperate struggle to survive. Jill herself is given a dodge roll too, which you absolutely must master if you want to clear the game on higher difficulties. Executing a dodge roll at the perfect moment will slow time and give Jill an ideal shot at an enemy weak point. A neat but serviceable throwback to the useless dodge of the original game.
This minor boon to players is especially helpful against the different enemies you’ll be encountering through the story. Featuring a bestiary that’s almost entirely recreated for this game, many of which are uniquely gross and offer some great twists to the typical Resident Evil combat. Yeah, one hit kills can be frustrating, but they do add to the tension of the moment. It’s a little bit of a shame, then, that these enemy types feel very modular in their implementation.
In Resident Evil 2, you’d often find yourself juggling a zombie, a licker, and the tyrant who each have unique properties, and that would add to the tension of the combat. In Resident Evil 3, it feels a lot simpler in the way enemy encounters are constructed. The now spider-like Drain Deimos only appear in their own section, the slippery and gooey Hunter Gamma only appears singularly outside of the first area where you encounter it. It just feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity to mix these wildly different enemies together to offer some more dynamic challenges to the player.
As a remake, though, it’s easy to find areas where Resident Evil 3 falls a little bit short of expectations. For one, areas and bosses that appeared in the original game are wholly omitted. But Resident Evil 3 does an earnest job to make up for these cuts by introducing brand new elements never seen in the original, or in any of the previous games. The result is something that I’m sure will continue to divide fans for years to come, but a direction that I personally enjoyed and preferred to the original.
But on the other hand, it’s hard to not be disappointed at some of the omissions. The Clock Tower channeled classic Resident Evil in the original game but is completely missing here. It would’ve been great to see how the team could have expanded this area into something else or even just something more. Similarly, the level design here is much less open than it could’ve been, and the game is always pushing you from area to area rather than giving you a free roam of the city.
While Resident Evil 3 offers a single story to play through, it still feels like a substantial single-player experience. Dependent on difficulty and skill, Resident Evil 3 should take most players between ten to twelve hours to finish. In true Resident Evil fashion, it’s entirely possible on repeat runs to finish the game in less than two hours, but your first playthrough feels more than satisfying regardless. There are three additional difficulties too, which mix up enemy placements and make enemies more aggressive. It’s definitely a shorter experience than Resident Evil 2, but it always was going to be given the singular campaign.
Much like previous games on this engine, Resident Evil 3 is a visual feast. The artistic direction is a bit of a step up from Resident Evil 2, offering more of a detailed look at the neon-drenched skyscape of Raccoon City and its surroundings. There’s a whole lot more going on in the game, however, which leads to some performance problems in the more intense boss battles. The performance is better than what was in the demo earlier this month, but overall doesn’t feel as rock-solid as previous games in the series. Despite this, some well-designed lighting and a phenomenal use of HDR really helps set some moody atmosphere in some of the later stages.
The score is similarly much more well utilised than in Resident Evil 2. Taking on the original composer to remix and remake the tracks from the original, Resident Evil 3 isn’t afraid to throw either music, ambient noise, or both in your face to establish its grim atmosphere. There are some definite standouts here, especially ones that incorporate music from the original game, but everything on offer is an aural pleasure. It feels less restrained than the Resident Evil 2 soundtrack did, and the atmosphere is much better because of it.
When all is said and done, whether you enjoy Resident Evil 3 really depends on what you enjoyed about the original game or even last year’s Resident Evil 2. The game takes what was great about Resident Evil 2, refines it, and channels that into a new yet familiar experience. And while it doesn’t eclipse the game that came before it, Resident Evil 3 makes excellent efforts to right the wrongs of its past.
THE XBOX ONE VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED ON AN XBOX ONE X FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Resident Evil 3 take some more creative liberties with its source material but still comes out on top. The remake offers a more refined take on the original game to become something much more memorable. While some spirit has been lost in translation, Resident Evil 3 is superbly paced and one of the better modern Resident Evil games, and a chapter that any horror fan shouldn’t miss.