After the success of last year's Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom has released a new reimagining of Resident Evil 3 which sadly isn't as good as its predecessor but still a fun time all the same.
The Resident Evil series is easily the most recognizable survival horror video game franchise of all time. Since the first game released back in 1996, the franchise has seen high points that helped define entire console generations and low points that would have killed any other franchise such as back in 2012 with the awful Resident Evil 6 that took an entire 5 years to bounce back from with the iconic Resident Evil 7. Capcom would continue to ride that wave of goodwill with last year's Resident Evil 2 which set a new high bar for video game remakes. Now, Capcom has given us a similar treatment to Resident Evil 3 and while the game is still a good time, it almost feels like the developers were content to jog in place with this one.
Taking place around the time of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 follows the original's protagonist Jill Valentine. After the events at Spencer's Mansion, Jill finds herself still dealing with the trauma as well as the political fallout at Raccoon City PD. Unfortunately for everyone in the city; the zombie infection that plagued the mansion has somehow found its way there. In order to survive, Jill must navigate her way through Raccoon City and escape with the help of Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service member Carlos Oliveira while a new seemingly indestructible monster known as Nemesis pursues her across the city.
Resident Evil 3's biggest issue is that while it's a well-made game, just about every aspect of it can't help but be compared to the superior Resident Evil 2 remake. The most notable aspect is that it feels less like a survival horror game and more like an action horror game. Right at the start, Nemesis bursts into Jill's apartment like the Kool-Aid man and begins tearing through buildings and smashing up cars like it's an action film thus setting the tone for the rest of the game. The survival horror elements are still there for sure and if you're stupid, you will die very quickly but this time, the gameplay seems more interested in letting you mow down your enemies as opposed to slithering past them. The process is still fun in a different way but it lacks the nerve-racking tension that the previous game had.
The thing that highlights the biggest difference between the 2 games is the way they handle Mr. X and Nemesis. In both games, you're stalked throughout by an unkillable monster until you get to a certain point and have the equipment to take it on. Encounters with both enemies are always incredibly tense and force you to rethink your gameplay style and strategies whenever they appear. The difference lies in their presentation and execution. Nemesis is a character who is incredibly loud and bombastic, literally smashing through anything that's in its path and blasting Jill with flamethrowers and rocket launchers in epic scripted events and is often fought in a boss battle.
Mr. X, on the other hand, is a silent stalker who pops up at inopportune moments to beat the crap out of you and can only be temporarily stunned or hidden from and feels like a constant environmental hazard that inspires terror with every appearance. Neither one is necessarily better than the other but the anxiety that Mr. X inspires leaves a far more lasting impression than Nemesis does.
A lot of this stems from the fact that your characters always seem to be equipped to handle any situation. For years, the best Resident Evil games have stuck to a formula that sees your character ill-equipped and prepared to take on whatever threat she or he is facing for most of the game. By the time the third act kicks in, your character is geared up like a space marine with assault rifles, grenade launchers, and tactical shotguns and ready to take on any threat. The issue that pops up with Resident Evil 3 is that you seem to get to the space marine phase just a little too soon. It felt like in almost no time, I had a grenade launcher and was mowing through larger enemies like they were nothing. That's not to say that the enemies aren't difficult or intimidating but you're still better equipped to deal with whatever is put in front of you than you were in Resident Evil 2. Narratively, it does make sense given our protagonists.
Jill and Carlos are not as good as Leon and Clair; let's get that out of the way. Leon and Clair both had an extra layer of relatability and it felt like they were both in over their heads having been dropped into a city in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. It also helped that for what limited screen time the 2 shared, they seemed to have immediate chemistry that made interactions between them nothing short of delightful. Jill and Carlos sadly lack that. The banter between them is more like generic soldier banter that we've already seen in a dozen action games and the pair never seem to be all that shocked or shaken by what's going on. It makes sense given that this isn't Jill's first time encountering Umbrella's monsters and Carlos is clearly a man with a military record but they're both far less memorable as a result. Thankfully, they're at least charismatic and likable enough that you want to see them get through alive.
This isn't to say that the action-horror elements aren't well done. The whole game can aptly be described as exhilarating, making zombies and other enemies easy enough to kill but hard enough to defeat in that you still feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so. Jill and Carlos are far more fluid than Leon and Clair and you have more control over manoeuvring and dodging enemies. There are a few bugs here and there with some of the voice syncing and some of the zombie AI seemed a bit off but it's overall well-polished which is impressive considering the limited amount of time between Resident Evil 2 and 3.
The one area where Resident Evil 3 is undoubtedly better than Resident Evil 2 is its environmental variety. Many of the Resident Evil games have a bad habit of keeping your characters in confined spaces that require a lot of backtracking. As a result, you get to know these areas a little too well. The process of having to constantly go back and forth from one end of a police station and finding new keys for different rooms could be an incredibly tedious affair and made Resident Evil 2 a bit frustrating at times. Resident Evil 3, on the other hand, constantly changes its environments from more open areas of the city to sewers as well as laboratories and hospitals thus keeping your characters moving within a changing variety of environments which often have their own tragic little stories behind them.
In the end, Resident Evil 3 suffers from not being as good as its predecessor. It's well-made with likable charismatic protagonists and is quite the roller coaster ride but when compared to the tense full-on survival horror game that preceded it, Resident Evil 3 feels like a step back. Still, if you're a fan and are dying for more, this is a solid game that will undoubtedly scratch that itch.
- + Exhilarating gameplay with fluid controls that allow for intuitive manoeuvring
- + Likeable main characters
- + Variety of environments
- - Simply doesn't quite live up to the fantastic Resident Evil 2 remake
- - Feels dumbed down and easy compared to previous installments