Resident Evil 3 Review – Reaching For the S.T.A.R.S
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has held an unenviable position amongst the pantheon of franchise entries. Fans love it, but it doesn’t quite garner the acclaim that Resident Evil 2 (or its 2019 remake), or Resident Evil 4 do. It’s largely considered an excellent game but was just missing that special something that distanced it from the aforementioned “god tier” entries. Following on from the critically acclaimed remake of Resident Evil 2 in 2019, Capcom has pulled up its socks again to give Resident Evil 3 the same love. The question now is a simple one; can Resident Evil 3’s 2020 reimagining finally elevate the game into that same godly tier?
Similar to the 2019 Resident Evil 2 glow-up, there are a few changes in Resident Evil 3 for fans of the existing game, and many more threads that connect the two games which ran concurrently to one another for a period of time. The core narrative, however, remains intact with the path to the destination receiving a bit of a facelift, with certain scenes added, while others have been removed or tightened up. It makes for a short experience, clocking in at somewhere around 5-7 hours depending on your chosen difficulty, but, simultaneously, gives the players a stronger, more cohesive experience at the same time. You’ll primarily assume the role of Jill Valentine, who was just days from escaping the madness of Raccoon City and her role in S.T.A.R.S, but before she could enjoy that coming freedom, the city is transformed into a nightmare as the zombie outbreak takes hold while Jill finds herself the target of another monstrous beast, the Nemesis, who has eyes only for her and won’t stop until she’s killed. This initial confrontation with the Nemesis serves as the seed from which the adventure grows as Jill meets Carlos Oliveria and a group of Umbrella employees who are fighting for the survival of as many residents as possible. Jill is swept up in their actions as they fight the outbreak and the unrelenting Nemesis in the hopes of escaping alive, while also finding a cure for the outbreak.
Similar to Resident Evil 2’s reimagining in 2019, Resident Evil 3 is the beneficiary of many technical improvements over the recent decades since the initial release, but the core of Nemesis versus its predecessor was quite different, and that remains true in the remake era. While Resident Evil 2 focussed on high stakes, tension fuelled stealth and a strategic mind to carry you through, Resident Evil 3, like the original release, places a much greater emphasis on action. Where ammunition conversation and a considered approach was paramount to your survival in the RPD Police Station, there’s a degree of freedom and risk-taking allowed while roaming the streets of Raccoon City. Ammunition is quite plentiful, but the scenarios with which you’re required to use it are equally plentiful. There are several encounters with Nemesis that drain your ammo count, while you’ll even be forced into some tight encounters with swarms of the undead that will necessitate the expenditure of many rounds in order to survive. Resident Evil 3 introduces a quick dodge mechanic which is great for tight corridors, and in a pinch is handy, but given the prevalence of rounds for your various guns, you’ll find yourself more than equipped to shoot your way out of tricky situations.
Despite the shared setting, and the same big picture plot, Resident Evil 2 and 3, even in their most recent renditions couldn’t be more different than one another. It doesn’t make one good and one bad, they’re both excellent games in their own right, but they’re servicing different types of players. The Nemesis, just as Mr. X did last year, incites terror when it comes for you, and though it doesn’t stalk you like Mr. X once did, the scripted sequences where it pursues and attacks you stir up the same “drop everything and run” mentality that is familiar to all that played the predecessor.
The RE Engine has again proven itself to be a powerhouse with every dilapidated building, run-down donut shop and alleyway looking real but simultaneously menacing. The level of detail on show in every scene, from character design, and their representation in a modern setting, to the locations themselves is phenomenal and is reflective of an impressive focus on attention to detail. The source material has obviously aged significantly over the last twenty years, but this modern interpretation guarantees that every pixel from the original release is given the tender love and care that it deserves. The sound design, much like the visual representation, has been meticulously poured over to ensure that every heave from a zombie, every broken glass, of creak in a building shoots every hair on your neck right up on edge.
The brevity might be a point of issue for some however. Resident Evil 3 is shorter than its predecessor and doesn’t give players nearly as much to engage with beyond the core narrative. There are of course a few collectibles to chase down and concept art to unlock, but without the split narrative that Resident Evil 2 possesses and any major incentive to replay the core experience once you’re done, it’s easy to see why Capcom thought it important to release the game alongside the spin-off Resistance multiplayer game (more on that in a separate article soon).
Resident Evil 3 always had a tough journey ahead of it, having been forever considered the lesser game to the two that sit either side of it, but what Capcom has achieved in changing up the game, whilst still in many respects remaining true to the initial concept, must be applauded. Though it sheds the intense foreboding that its predecessor so competently created, it offsets that with more action, more peaks and valleys in the momentum, and most importantly, it makes you feel powerful, like the fight against Umbrella and the zombies isn’t yet over, not by a long shot. Resident Evil 3 impresses from moment one and doesn’t release it’s grip on your throat until you’ve enjoyed the rollercoaster ride it has laid out for you.
Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on the PS4 with code kindly supplied by Turn Left Distribution and Capcom