Capcom has been on a roll ever since they developed the RE Engine for this generation of games. Starting with Resident Evil VII, the developers have made great strides fine tuning the engine with several titles. This includes excellent games like Devil May Cry 5 and Resident Evil 2, which were both equally impressive. While Capcom’s internal team was working on remaking Leon Kennedy’s first foray into survival horror, the team at Red Works was working on remaking Jill Valentine’s personal living Hell. Fans have wanted a Resident Evil 3 remake for years, and for good reason. Does this remake live up to those expectations? Well it depends on what aspects you focus on.
Even though this is a remake of a classic, the new Resident Evil 3 does take liberties with the story. Chronicling Jill’s escape from Raccoon City, things get worse when she gains a pursuer in the form of the hulking Nemesis. Taking place before and after the events of Resident Evil 2, Jill must do whatever it takes to survive. Finding help in Carlos Oliveira, a mercenary with the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service, they’ll have to work together to achieve their common goal. While the concept of the plot stays mostly the same, there are a lot of details that change along the way. It’s unknown if this sets a new canon for the series, but longtime fans might not appreciate the changes. For newcomers however, it’s an action-packed thrill ride of horrors and explosions.
Action seems to be the name of the game this time around. While Resident Evil 2 put a lot of emphasis on the horror aspects of the game, those elements take a backseat here. While it doesn’t quite reach the levels of later entries in the series, you definitely feel more equipped to take on a threat of this level. Jill feels less vulnerable, perhaps due to her experience as a member of S.T.A.R.S. Her training shows through in her tenacity, and that makes its way into the gameplay as well. Honestly, Resident Evil 3 makes Jill out to be like a superhero with the amazing feats she accomplishes.
On the surface, gameplay will be pretty similar to Resident Evil 2. Players will control Jill (and eventually Carlos) from an over the shoulder perspective. They’ll have full control of aiming their weapons when they face the undead horrors of Raccoon City. Unlike Resident Evil 2, this game offers some new mechanics to give players an edge in combat. The most prominent of these features is the dodge ability, which if players time it correctly, they can even perform a perfect dodge. This changes the game quite a bit, especially with Carlos, who adds a melee punch with his dodge. It’s a fun mechanic that takes a bit of skill to do consistently, but once you master it, you’ll be hard to take down.
Other aspects of the game that put more emphasis on action is the abundance of environmental hazards. Explosive barrels and electric generators are available for players to take advantage of. They’ll even be given a combat knife that no longer breaks, making an excellent zombie finisher. These options will give more advantages to players, and therefore, it’ll make the game a bit easier. While it’s welcome for those trying to conserve their ammunition, the game does offer a healthy supply of it. Even when Nemesis is stalking you, there are moments where fighting him is more than manageable. Thankfully, taking him down is well worth the reward of weapon parts. While Resident Evil 3 is ultimately easier, this does make it less of a chore to replay.
With action taking center stage here, it dials down the horror elements quite a bit. That doesn’t mean there aren’t genuine scares throughout the game though. The first few encounters with Nemesis can easily throw you off guard. Despite this, he is a threat that acts more accordingly to a script. This is a huge departure from the hall-stalking Mr. X of Resident Evil 2, who felt like a constant danger. The upside is that Nemesis is a more capable foe, able to cut off your paths, ensnare you, and even the ability to use weapons. The zombies can also be scary at times, but when you have powerful guns, it’s hard to feel the danger. There’s at least a lot more zombies to shoot, especially in particular sequences.
Despite its differences, Resident Evil 3 does share a lot in common with last year’s game. Since both use the same engine and setting, there are a lot of assets that both games use. This includes zombies, background models, and of course, a good chunk of Raccoon City Police Department. It’s only natural given the direct link between the two titles, and thankfully, some of RE2’s greatness shines into RE3. A particularly eerie background track of sounds and ominous music is just one of the good examples. While it doesn’t beat Mr. X’s footsteps echoing in the halls, it does still manage to be chilling.
Visually, Resident Evil 3 continues to showcase the RE Engine in splendid form. Jill and Carlos have updated looks that fit a more thoughtful and modern design choice. The city lights of Raccoon City create a fantastic ambiance that gives a good contrast to the dreary corridors of Resident Evil 2. This also helps with the level design, as the game gives excellent visual cues for both danger and safety. Using the map can help players prepare for what lies ahead, and while it makes things somewhat predictable, it’s a smart design overall.
The cast of the game does a great job portraying these classic characters. Nicole Tompkins makes for a pretty kick-ass Jill, and she shows exactly how fierce she can be. Jeff Schine does great as Carlos as well, giving him a trustworthy personality that you can depend on. Many other voice actors provide excellent work as well, helping to make the perilous city come to life. It’s also worth mentioning Neil Newbon’s Nicholai Ginovaef, who provides just enough to sell his character. I won’t spoil it entirely for you, but it’s nice to get some of that cheese back in Resident Evil. This brings me to my next point.
One thing I’ve grown to appreciate here is how self-aware Resident Evil 3 is. The characters have a lot of dialogue that point out some of the unusual design choices of the series. Longtime fans will likely enjoy some of the comments, even at the expense of a darker tone. There are even several Capcom Easter eggs like Mega Man and 1942 to add playful fun details. It’s honestly great to see the game not take itself too seriously. The Resident Evil series has often been at its best when it borderlines self-parody. It does take you out of the game a bit, but that just reminds you that it’s just that, a game. We should enjoy our time, which is exactly what I did with RE3.
The game does sacrifice a few things for this reimagining. With the bigger focus on action, puzzles are practically gone, boiling down to simple fetch quests and backtracking. There’s also only one ending, unlike the original which gave players a few options. This new ending also has a pretty significant change, missing an entire character from the equation. Considering that this is a remake, the developers were free to make these changes, though it is an interesting choice overall. The game is also fairly short, lasting roughly five to six hours. It even rewards players for finishing under two hours. Honestly, that just makes for a more replayable game, but some might be disappointed in that aspect.
I never played the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis when it came out over 20 years ago. While I knew of the story, I didn’t quite have the attachment of nostalgia when playing the remake. This gave me the chance to play the remake and judge it on its own merits. Even though it’s definitely a different experience from RE2, Resident Evil 3 feels like a healthy mix of old and new. While it shifts focus from horror to action, it still delivers a short but sweet experience. Add the multiplayer Resident Evil: Resistance to the mix, which we’ll be reviewing soon, and you have a pretty solid package. I’m curious to see what Capcom does next with the franchise, and if rumors are true, we’ll likely be finding out very soon.
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