Capcom has reversed its fortunes completely at the tail end of the current console generation. The string of successes from Resident Evil 7, Monster Hunter World, and Resident Evil 2 has established the Japanese company as a force to be reckoned with once more. While the inclination is towards remakes, who can fault them from placing a fresh take from one of the biggest game franchises? And with Resident Evil 3, another remake of the survival horror icon, we have yet another winner, albeit a slightly flawed one.
Resident Evil 3 by itself is a gem of a game, as it not only looks and sounds wonderful, the moment-to-moment gameplay is intense and satisfying. It is all perfectly brought together with the RE Engine, where the amazing lighting, details, and effects are a feast for the eyes. It is hard to turn away from even the most gruesome of scenes, as you simply do not want to miss the level of detail Capcom has put into the game.
With the visuals accomplishing the task of drawing your eyes into this gorgeously realised world, the impactful sound design is just the cherry on top – from the incessant groans of the zombies, the wetness of sewer gunk, a sudden creak of the gate, to the roar of the Nemesis, everything has been meticulously designed to keep you uncomfortable, and boy does it do its job.
And when you have the dynamic duo of Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira leading the charge, it is hard not to like Resident Evil 3. The newly remodelled Jill is an immediately endearing character, growing through adversity and as tough as they come.
Her ceaseless fight against the unrelenting Nemesis and her desire to save Raccoon City gives us the heroine that everyone would root for. Her development throughout Resident Evil 3 may be fast-paced, but it all feels seamless and natural.
The same could be said for Carlos, whose tale starts off rocky but turns into an engaging redemption story. The changes made by Capcom for Resident Evil 3 finally gives us a clearer understanding of Carlos as a character, and there is plenty to like as well during the sections where he takes the lead. That hair tech is certainly something to marvel at too.
That said, Resident Evil 3 is by no means a lengthy game. Even if you are going out of your way to find all the secrets and exploring optional locations, it will take you from five to eight hours. Once you have the understanding of Raccoon City under the undead siege, you will breeze through the game. This is even so on the harder difficulties. We managed a runtime of just about an hour on Inferno, the hardest difficulty, but we did have a never-ending supply of rockets.
Resident Evil 3 certainly skimps on the brain-racking puzzles the series is known for, favouring a more action-packed approach. While Resident Evil 2 achieved a nice balance of both, this sequel is meant to keep your blood pumping with adrenaline. Although there are certain sections of the game like the foreboding hospital that turns up the creep factor, the rest of the time is spent aiming down a barrel of a firearm.
Mowing down zombies, monsters, and occasionally genetically modified bioweapons, the menagerie of nasties that inhabit Resident Evil 3 are each terrifying in their own right. The basic zombies can be a handful in numbers, the Lickers are still a disgusting sight, and both the Hunter β and Hunter γ will haunt your nightmares with just their looks alone.
Thankfully, both Jill and Carlos have some serious firepower that will be familiar to fans. The pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and the ever-reliable grenade launcher are all death-dealers in their own right, all you have to worry about is ammo.
Carrying capacity can be upgraded, but inventory management might just be a bigger threat than the undead. Between key items, healing herbs, your ammo, and the weapons, there are some hard decisions to be made for the valuable space in your inventory.
When you are looking to avoid a fight, Jill and Carlos can count on their innate agility and dodge attacks. Perform a timely dodge and you might even get the perfect opportunity to counter in slow motion. It creates a gameplay loop that will have you scrounging up resources, taking risks, and see if you have what it takes to take that perfect shot, it is an intoxicating time.
Your improving skills will only be handier when the main villain makes his many unwelcome appearances. Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis is a far more obvious threat than Resident Evil 2’s Mr X. While both monsters have their merits, Nemesis brings his own brand of terror to the table. Rather than a creeping sense of dread, this bioweapon is all about dynamic jump scares and making you panic.
Nemesis is certainly at its best in the urban settings of downtown Raccoon City. His relentless energy and speed make Jill’s escape attempts nail biting experiences, often leaving players at the edge of their seats. Of course, you can always fight back for the sweet upgrades Nemesis possesses, but your body will thank you for learning how to do a perfect dodge. Once he starts mutating into his other forms, gone is the thrill of the chase, only to be replaced by traditional boss fights that can be a tad boring.
The bulk of the criticism for Resident Evil 3 lies in the fundamental changes Capcom has made from the 1999 original. Raccoon City is as detailed as it could get, unleashing players from the confines of the police station, but it is not exactly a sprawling urban playground. Aside from a few optional shops you can explore, it will not be long before you make your escape.
Carlos’ journey to the police station also sees significant changes, but the entire section evokes a pleasant sense of familiarity, especially if you have recently played Resident Evil 2. Capcom has done a bang-up job establishing a connection between the two in terms of the environment and even enemies. It is literally taking a trip back in time before Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy have their turn.
However, upon reaching the clocktower, things take a drastic turn. Rather than exploring a gothic nightmare and solving puzzles, it has been replaced with a straightforward boss fight that takes place at the exterior. There is a piece of the puzzle missing here, and Resident Evil 3 could have used more puzzles to break up the swift pace and linearity of the entire experience. The complete exclusion of Raccoon Park and the Grave Digger fight also boggles the mind.
Once you have bested Resident Evil 3, the world of absurdity that awaits can easily draw you back in. Perhaps you will consider doing a knife-only run like the hardcore fans do, or unlock different weapons with unlimited ammo to feel like a total badass.
Both Nightmare and Inferno difficulties have to be unlocked with completed playthroughs of the preceding difficulty, and mixes things up with more aggressive enemies and different item placements to keep things fresh. Outside of that, Resident Evil 3 is a straightforward enough affair.
All the factors contribute to a feeling that Resident Evil 3 feels somewhat incomplete, but the original game in 1999 was a short experience as well. The lack of puzzles definitely hurt Resident Evil 3 as a gameplay experience, and the increased pace certainly does not help its case considering it is a linear tale. At least Resident Evil 2 had differing perspectives for both Clair and Leon in their campaigns.
Resident Evil 3 is by no means a bad game, in fact, it does what it set out to do. Delivering a modern rendition of the classic with significant changes, with both Jill and Carlos being the standout stars that simply deserve better. The action segments are always a great time, but it lacks the soul of a Resident Evil game with the lack of puzzles and a predictable villain in the Nemesis. This could easily be the problem of the source material on which this remake was built on, but that is no excuse considering the perfection that was the previous remake.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A beautifully realised world and stellar heroes in both Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira cannot mask the fact that Resident Evil 3 has some scary flaws.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 7/10