Resident Evil 3 Review – Top class horror, as expected

Reviewed March 31, 2020 on Xbox One X

Platforms:

Xbox One, PS4

Released:

April 3, 2020

Publisher:

Capcom

Developer:

Capcom

There’s no question that last year’s remake of Resident Evil 2 was a game-changer for horror fans everywhere. Taking one of the classic trailblazers in survival horror video games from twenty years ago and completely modernising it made for some fantastic results. With a lot of love and care given to the source material, it was very faithful to what made the game special in the first place, but incredibly thoughtful in making it work for today’s audience.

Despite the historic fanfare for RE2, younger me much preferred Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. So the prospect of this classic horror game – my favourite in the franchise – getting the same slick remake treatment just one year after Resident Evil 2 became one of 2019’s best games? To say I was excited is an understatement. This package deal also includes a new multiplayer creation set in the same universe, Resident Evil Resistance, which makes it an even more interesting prospect overall – for fans old and new.

Where Resident Evil and its sequel were set in relatively confined spaces (large as they were), Resident Evil 3 takes you to the streets of Raccoon City, giving a much larger scale view of the outside world after the T-Virus has taken over. The story starts pretty intensely and rarely lets up, as Jill Valentine is instantly hunted down by Nemesis, a big hulking creature that is specifically out to get herĀ and only her. While the zombies and other creatures will go after anything living and breathing, having a monster with the sole purpose of chasing you throughout the entire campaign was terrifying when I was younger, and still keeps me on the edge of my seat today.

As you attempt to escape Nemesis, you’ll encounter some help along the way; but the outbreak and its effects are a constant reminder. Streets feel like they were truly lived in prior to the zombie apocalypse, lit only by the flashing of abandoned police car lights and the fires left from the chaos that has struck. Bodies are sprawled about as creatures pick at their flesh, buildings abandoned with debris scattered throughout. Again, this is a stunning visual update, and to see Raccoon City shown off using the power of a current generation console is a real treat.

What follows is an exciting adventure that moves pretty quickly and expects you to keep up, with new areas to explore and new threats constantly being thrown at you and forcing you to adapt. Jill goes through a lot more weird sh*t that Claire didn’t have to worry about, and I found the variety of monsters and things that go bump in the night to be pretty refreshing compared to just mowing down the same zombies over and over again.

The gameplay itself will feel instantly familiar to anybody who played RE2 last year, but I want to reiterate similar thoughts to what I had back then: To bring a game from two decades ago and update it with this visual overhaul and gameplay that is this technically sound and downright satisfying to experience is a triumph in game design. Resident Evil is one of the all time great horror franchises, and Capcom have once again paid it the respect it deserves by updating this classic.

As I said earlier, the core hook is that Nemesis is constantly stalking you as you play, and he’s a big, scary, un-killable threat that is more agile and intimidating than he ever was in the old days. His presence always sent chills up my spine, and when you’re trying to escape from him while avoiding all of the run-of-the-mill creatures that roam the streets, encounters can be incredibly stressful, to say the least.

I will say, after Tyrant in Resident Evil 2 last year haunting my nightmares, I expected Nemesis to relentlessly chase me in the same way, but mostly I didn’t feel quite as threatened here, which is strange given how much of Resident Evil 3 is built around this cat-and-mouse dynamic of being hunted. I do remember people complaining back then that he was almost too much in the way, so maybe it’s scaled back a bit address those concerns. I do recall him being a bit of a pain in the arse back on the PS1.

In the police station with Tyrant, the very nature of that environment meant constantly back-tracking, unlocking different rooms and uncovering more secrets – the station itself a giant puzzle full of upgrades, bonuses and new discoveries. Raccoon City and the other locations feel more dynamic, yes, but given the feeling here is more about “moving forward” rather than searching back, I never felt the dread of “oh god do I really have to venture back there?” in the same way.

Although, Tyrant always did feel kind of avoidable, while Nemesis at certain moments blocks you to a point where you have no other choice but to fight him toe-to-toe, and those battles are always thrilling, ensuring that you have to use every tool in your arsenal – along with your wits and quicker movement – to survive and fight another day.

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In fact, the more linear nature of Resident Evil 3 is what I think will be more divisive for some players. This feels more like a straight forward action game, with limited thought involved in getting from one area to the next. Locked area? Okay, find the thing that unlocks it, then move on to the next area or inevitable encounter with a beasty.

There’s nothing wrong with a linear game such as this, but with Resident Evil 2, it felt like an escape room with lots of puzzles, and you’d collect the pieces as you played not knowing quite what to do with them until it all clicked into place, which was super satisfying. Here, progression feels more clear cut, and items rarely have more than one use, which for this puzzle fan made for a slightly less rewarding experience. This feels like a different type of game in that respect, despite the foundation of the gameplay itself, the inventory, combat and style being the same.

Due to its linear nature, I found myself not getting stuck so much with what to do, which meant that the story itself moved at a far more blistering pace than the slow, shuffling zombie pace from other Resident Evil games. I wouldn’t go as far as classing this in the “action” category, but there is a sense that you’re always encountering the next big enemy, all the while worrying that Nemesis could be just around the corner.

“This time-poor gamer appreciates a succinct, exciting campaign that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but I would have loved a bit more to sink my teeth into…”

While this made for a pretty short campaign (I think I clocked in at around 5-6 hours), it does mean that there is no wasted time and no filler. This time-poor gamer appreciates a succinct, exciting campaign that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but I would have loved a bit more to sink my teeth into, with some areas and scenes seemingly removed from the original, as far as I can remember. There’s always a shop mode and harder difficulties that make for a sort of New Game+ mode for those looking to challenge themselves, and the shorter length and quick pace makes the idea of coming back for seconds pretty tantalising.

Resident Evil 3 comes bundled with the campaign I’ve discussed, along with new multiplayer mode Resident Evil Resistance. This mode pits one player as an over-arching “Mastermind” role that can place zombies on the map and mess with the “Survivor” characters, ultimately trying to stop them from escaping before the timer runs out. It’s a unique take on the 4v1 asymmetrical multiplayer riff that we’ve seen with varying levels of success over the last few years, but this one has a level of polish that maintains the AAA Resident Evil standard that this remake represents.

I’ve not had the opportunity to have a lot of solid matches of Resistance since we are still pre-launch, so you can expect this review to be updated with my thoughts on that once I’ve had the chance to jump into some games in the proper live environment – but it definitely has the potential to be brilliant.

8

Great

Positive:

  • Exciting, intense narrative
  • Another faithful upgrade with stunning visuals
  • Good variety in enemies will keep you on your toes
  • Resistance multiplayer mode has some real potential

Negative:

  • Relatively short campaign
  • Less puzzles and secrets compared to RE2
  • More linear style of narrative could disappoint some

While the gigantic leap forward from the original PlayStation might not seem as captivating here given Resident Evil 2 so recently showed us how it’s done, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is another all-time great survival horror experience that has been given a stellar upgrade in every way to modernise it and make it enjoyable for the gamers of today. It’s a more linear action-packed game with less puzzles and backtracking, but the inclusion of an intriguing new-concept multiplayer mode in Resident Evil Resistance makes the package a much better value proposition. Resident Evil 3 is, unsurprisingly, a high-quality remake that is still a must-play for horror fans everywhere.