When the reimagining for Resident Evil 2 dropped last year it set new standards in a number of areas. First and foremost it demonstrated how to properly remake a beloved classic, with Capcom putting in a ton of love and effort into staying faithful yet modernising the source material. It also raised the bar for modern day survival-horror adventure titles thanks to a chilling atmosphere and near-perfect gameplay. It’s a tough act to follow, but just over a year later Capcom are back with another REmake: Resident Evil 3. This time around the original isn’t as universally adored as its predecessor, so for many fans the name doesn’t carry as much weight. However RE2’s success means that RE3 has a lot to live up to, and for the most part it delivers a tantalisingly good experience, but as a Resident Evil fan of yore it’s hard not to feel slightly underwhelmed by its heavy action approach.
Raccoon City’s nightlife is to die for
While this may be slightly unfair criticism given that the original Resident Evil 3 strayed into action waters, the game’s fixed camera angles and tank controls still created a sense of trepidation that is lost in the remake’s fluid gameplay. That isn’t to say that RE3 totally abandons its survival horror roots, because there are sequences that are cut from the same cloth as RE2, but they are few and far between.
Much like in the original, RE3 takes place in the hours before and the days after the events of RE2, with revamped iconic heroine Jill Valentine attempting to escape Raccoon City as the T-Virus outbreak spread becomes uncontrollable. Assisting Jill in her efforts to save as many survivors as possible is Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.) mercenary Carlos Oliveira (also playable), who along with his U.B.C.S. cronies are attempting to escape the confines of the city. However, mercenaries be mercenaries, and the U.B.C.S.’s mission is more than just extracting survivors to safety.
Escaping Raccoon City is easier said than done, especially for any member of the Raccoon City Police Department’s S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) who now have a hulking beast of a creature (codenamed Nemesis) hot on their tail. Nemesis comes from the same gene pool as Mr X, but unlike RE2’s trench coat-wearing hustler, Nemesis isn’t as relentless. In fact, it’s almost to game’s detriment that Nemesis is rather tame. Well, as tame as someone stalking you across an entire city with the sole purpose of ending your life can be.
Take a picture it’ll last longer
Where Mr X was relentless and terrifying, almost to the point of being a royal pain in the arse, Capcom has toned down the aggression with Nemesis, with all sequences featuring the tyrant heavily scripted. It means that Nemesis only shows up when Capcom has decided he should, and it takes away that paranoia that Mr X evoked knowing that tussles with Nemesis are designed to be overcome in order to progress.
For a large portion of the game you’ll be playing as Jill, as she endeavours to find a way out of the city, fighting off zombies and other monsters in Raccoon City’s streets, sewers and other areas before switching to Carlos. Once again the atmosphere is top-notch, and whether it’s Raccoon City’s infested streets or the overrun hospital, the visceral use of lighting and gore paints a harrowing picture. However, thanks to the game’s open areas and environmental items (such as explosive barrels), threats are dealt with more easily, and as a result it lessens the game’s survival horror feel for a more action-adventure experience.
The tight gameplay from RE2 returns, with the over-the-shoulder camera ensuring you have a front row seat to all the action and horror unfolding in the city. The gunplay again has chops, with Jill’s arsenal made up of a pistol, shotgun, grenade launcher and magnum. Carlos’ weaponry is of the automatic variety, with his trusty assault rifle his go-to for zombie slaying. Puzzle-solving is featured aplenty and will have you searching for jewels, fuses and other items in classic RE fashion. One element that I was impressed with was the game’s boss fights, which are challenging but not unforgiving. Resources are scarce but not finite and by the end of the game I had enough ammo, First-Aid Spray and Herbs to last me a long-term lockdown.
Thankfully it’s not totally a carbon copy of RE2, as there have been a number of minor improvements made to the formula. Little adjustments such as your knife not breaking and your shotgun not taking up two inventory slots (initially at least) are welcome quality of life improvements.
Once again the atmosphere is top-notch, and whether it’s Raccoon City’s infested streets or the overrun hospital, the visceral use of lighting and gore paints a harrowing picture
When it comes to the narrative, a lot of the story beats from RE3 are replicated here, however there are a number of changes that make it a vastly different experience at times. In the interest of spoilers I’ll keep these a surprise, but fans of the original may feel at odds with the new direction. Personally, I don’t have much of an issue with Capcom taking liberties when it comes to modernising a title, just as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of the core experience. One questionable decision was going with a part live-action intro cutscene, instead of a reimagined CGI version like RE2. It just feels and looks tacky. Although I will give props once again to the voice acting, which is well done and benefits from some not as cringeworthy writing.
The one aspect that did break the immersion slightly is that despite RE2 and RE3 being interconnected, things you do in RE3 seem to have no impact in RE2. For example playing as Carlos you explore the RPD, and here you can open safes and lockers, only for Leon to come along later and find them locked again. I know I’m nitpicking but it feels like Capcom could have adjusted things to make these storylines really feel connected. However in saying that there a couple sequences where the games’ timelines do line up nicely, which is why it’s odd that Capcom didn’t go the whole hog.
Just like RE2, RE3 is running on the RE Engine and it looks and sounds glorious. Character models are detailed with incredible realism, with every bead of perspiration on Jill or Carlos noticeable. The monster designs are gory, grotesque and classic Resident Evil – although practically all of the zombie models are recycled from RE2. The sounds of the zombies and other mutations that skulk around the environments do a good job at inducing apprehension, and the minimalist soundtrack is well utilised.
One of RE3’s downsides is that it’s surprisingly short, with the campaign likely to take you between 7–10 hours total play time. This time around there’s no dual interwoven campaigns, so your replayability is limited to one playthrough. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but charging full RRP for it feels a little rich, even if a set of steak knives are included in the form of Resident Evil Resistance, Capcom’s new asymmetrical multiplayer spinoff.
One hell of a party happened here
By the time I rolled credits I didn’t know how I felt, but make no mistake, as a game Resident Evil 3 is a damn good one. It’s laden with tight gameplay and slick production values, but having tasted how good a modern survival horror Resident Evil can be, it’s a touch disappointing to see Capcom abandon elements that made RE2 such a masterpiece.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro // Review code supplied by publisher