Resident Evil 3 is a modern remake of the 1999 original that marked the series’ turn towards a more action-focused experience. Set just prior to the events of Resident Evil 2, the story follows S.T.A.R.S operative Jill Valentine in her desperate attempt to escape the zombie outbreak of Racoon City. Along the way she meets members of Umbrella’s security forces, most notably Carlos Olivera with whom an uneasy alliance is formed and the group must work together to survive the ensuing chaos.
If things weren’t bad enough, Jill has been targeted by one of Umbrella’s most dangerous creations known as Nemesis – a relentless and invulnerable monster who is on a mission to eliminate all remaining S.T.A.R.S members to prevent them from exposing the company’s secret experiments.
Trimming the fat
Where last year’s remake of Resident Evil 2 felt like a bigger and more ambitious version of the original, the Resident Evil 3 remake in some ways feels like a more stripped-down version. Some locations from the original game such as Racoon Park and its Grave Digger boss are cut out altogether and the number of puzzles has also been paired back. The live action choice feature which altered how certain sections played out based on the choices made by the player is also absent.
That said, every other design choice that Capcom has made, whether it be to the gameplay or story, is for the better. Resident Evil 3 is far more willing to take liberties with narrative changes than last year’s remake and that’s something that both fans of the series and newcomers alike will appreciate. Characters are more fleshed out and thanks to tight writing, excellent performances and slickly directed cutscenes, they all feel more real and relatable than they did two decades ago.
In reworking Resident Evil 3’s plot, Capcom has placed greater emphasis on Carlos, and you play as him in two extended portions of the game. Jill is, of course, the star of the show here, but Carlos benefits from the extra quality time. The game also deepens the lore and fills in some gaps in interesting ways and that’s all I can say without veering into spoiler territory. Gameplay mechanics such as the dodge have been expanded and if timed correctly can be used as an offensive tactic against the hordes of zombies coming your way. It takes a bit of skill and timing to pull off but when you do, it’s oh so satisfying.
There’s much less downtime between set pieces than there was in Resident Evil 2, and as such, the pacing is ramped up throughout. Then there’s Jill’s relentless pursuer, Nemesis, who is faster and more nimble than RE2’s Mr X, regularly jumping in front of you to block your path and can trip you up from a distance with his tentacles. Aside from the opening city section where he chases you almost constantly, Nemesis is largely relegated to boss fight encounters later in the game. I like the fact that Nemesis isn’t constantly harassing you throughout as I felt that was one of the aspects of the original that grew a bit tiring, but some fans might lament this design change.
By far the most divisive aspect of Resident Evil 3 is its length. It took me about seven hours to finish the single player campaign and unlike Resident Evil 2, there’s no alternate characters or storylines to explore the second time around. That said, there is an addicting suite of unlockable rewards and difficulties that makes subsequent playthroughs worthwhile. Challenges like eliminating zombies with specific weapons or finishing the game with an S rank unlocks various goodies that can be spent on special weapons and items not found in the main game. The format of the game makes it ideal for speedrunners as well.
There’s also an asynchronous multiplayer component included in the package called ‘Resident Evil Resistance’ where one player takes on the role of Mastermind, setting traps and monsters for a team of four survivors to deal with. When played with the right team, it’s a fun diversion from the intense single-player campaign.
Is it worth buying?
For fans of the series, the Resident Evil 3 remake is absolutely worth playing. Seeing Racoon City realised with the jaw droppingly impressive visuals of Capcom’s proprietary RE Engine alone makes it worth the price of entry. The lighting and detailed character models in particular are best in class.
Despite its cut-down length, Capcom has overall done a great job in reviving another 20 year old classic while making it feel fresh for a whole new generation of players.
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Photo Credit: Capcom