Review: Resident Evil 3

Capcom’s Resident Evil series is synonymous with the term “survival horror” and was the face of the genre for nearly a decade. Once the series deviated from that path, it divided the fan base with many thinking the original titles would remain as the only genre-defining games in the series. In 2017, Capcom would reboot the way it handled survival horror with Resident Evil 7. The game resurrected the genre and got the series going back in the right direction. Capcom had also decided that it would remake Resident Evil 2 and the results were astounding as the game racked up numerous Game of the Year Awards. Based on this success, Capcom decided to capitalize on a remake of another popular title from the original trilogy with Resident Evil 3. With the groundwork laid from RE2 that includes the ideological direction and the gameplay engine, is Resident Evil 3 a quick cash-in or another gaming achievement for Capcom?

The original Resident Evil 3 was no slouch compared to the first two titles, but the game did implement new mechanics that slowly began the progression of the series going forward. The remake sticks with the storyline and the characters of the original as the focus is on former S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine. The story takes place in the same timeline as RE2 with some area of interests intertwining shortly before the events of RE2. Jill is immediately on the run in the remake thanks to the bio-weapon Nemesis that has been released to eliminate any members left in Raccoon City that were a part of the Spencer Mansion fiasco from the original game. Jill quickly crosses paths with a task force known as U.B.S.C., who are there for assistance. In particular, Carlos Oliveira will assist Jill and returns as a playable character as you get deeper in the game. The goal for everyone is to escape the city alive.

The story progression for the remake of RE3 is packed nicely for a more cohesive experience. Where as certain story points in the original game featured more involvement, some of the events feel more like cliff notes early on. This game contains four main locations with Jill and Carlos basically splitting two a piece. Rather than being two set locations with a larger scale like RE2, the overall scale feels bigger across the spectrum of the entire game but each individual setting is not as deep as those in the previous game. The remake features Easter eggs from Capcom and while there are still some puzzles in the game, they are significantly decreased much like they were in the original version.

The biggest difference in terms of game design between the RE3 remake and the original is how Jill encounters Nemesis. In the original, Nemesis would pop up and follow Jill from room-to-room negating the traditional blocking of doors. You had the choice to fight or run from Nemesis. That is not the case in the remake. There’s really only one segment that Nemesis chases Jill in a non-scripted experience. Otherwise, there are a few segments of corridor running that feels like it only touches on what the original experience was. All of these cliff note elements on the game design and story may bother the purists of the original game, but it helps to keep this specific game experience fluid.

The boss fights involving Nemesis are always set in an open area that feels much like an arena. Each Nemesis encounter involves different strategy. While the remake of RE3 may have reduced the puzzles, Capcom has replaced the puzzles with an emphasis on strategy. Not only is there a strategy to each individual enemy in the game, there’s an even bigger strategy for each Nemesis encounter. One aspect that carried over from the original version of RE3 is using the environment to bring down enemies. Whether it be explosive canisters or electrical boxes, these become more important in the Nemesis encounters. If you try to just unload ammo on Nemesis and run around the area, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. These encounters also tend to take away from the survival horror elements as there’s usually ammo and health spread out during each fight. You will struggle and use trial-and-error to find the best strategy to finish each encounter. The other issue with this is once you figure out how to take Nemesis down, this makes playthroughs that much easier going forward.

There’s no doubt a bigger emphasis on action in the remake, but the survival horror element is still the prevalent design. Managing ammo and avoiding enemies is key to progressing through the game. This can backfire as leaving an enemy in a location has the possibility of hampering you at a crucial time. The atmosphere in the city is excellent and feels heightened rather than the doom and gloom feel of the original game. Jill features the dodge button and this is needed to conserve ammo at times. It’s difficult to get the timing down on the dodge and it feels inconsistent across the board. That isn’t an issue, but there’s a steep learning curve for each different enemy when it comes to dodging. It’s even bigger when it comes to the Nemesis battles. Carlos is armed with a striking move rather than the dodge and this can help knock out multiple enemies at once. Capcom seemed to channel its inner Resident Evil 4 with this design. Speaking of RE4, the knife in this game doesn’t carry over the same use it had in RE2. The knife has an infinite use and cannot be used as a self-defense weapon. This means if you get a zombie on the ground, feel free to knife away. Capcom has brought back the variables in how zombies die. Zombies can lunge at you in the middle of them trying to stand back up so it can come back to haunt you if you’re knifing them. Tapping X when grabbed by a zombie also rarely amounts to getting out of the attack, but can limit the damage taken if the button is hit enough times.

The gameplay and story designs are specific to the remake while all of it gives a nod to how the original conducted its business. Not only does the remake due a lot of referencing to the original game in its design, it feels like at different times it takes nods from the series as a whole. There are a few new enemies in the game and all of this creates a new and excellent experience while feeling familiar to long time fans. When comparing the remakes of RE2 and RE3, you get in a John Wick situation where it’s difficult to compare them because they’re both amazing in their own regard.

One thing that can be compared are the visuals between the two remakes. Capcom retains its RE Engine and the capabilities of this engine will shine in different ways in RE3 as compared to RE2. Personally, I do not believe there are any better looking player models in any video game to date. Jill Valentine may be the best render of a human being in any game ever. You are able to see dirt, burns and blood on Jill and her facial expressions really add life to the situation. One of the complains about RE2 would involve a big event happening and Leon or Claire simply acting like it was no big deal. Jill improves on that and you really feel her emotions throughout the entire experience. Carlos also looks amazing and while he didn’t leave much of a mark for me on the original game, I feel like going forward he should be the central character for a future RE title. Carlos is suave, funny and sometimes stupid, but in action he’s an excellent character.

Raccoon City comes to life thanks to the RE Engine. It feels like Capcom took a lot of cues from Devil May Cry 5 as billboards and neon lights in Raccoon City stand out. Hallways are dark and dimly illuminated and help to create that uneasiness that fans of the series will love. Zombies are ridiculously detailed as each individual slash of the knife or a gunshot wound are accounted for and visible. There are not a superb amount of zombie models in the game, but it all looks excellent and detailed much like RE2. Running RE3 on a PS4 Pro did amount to a consistent 60 FPS at a higher than 1080p resolution. Capcom cut corners where they could, though. If there are enemies in the distance in RE3, and this is mainly in the city, the models basically hiccup and the animation runs at only a few frames per second. This doesn’t affect gameplay as everything within proximity to the player is fine. This may have been a possible issue in RE2, but due to how close in proximity things were, it couldn’t be noticed. It’s also worth noting that Capcom included new animations for Jill and Carlos such as reacting and shoving an enemy that collapses towards them. Lastly, when a player model is speaking during gameplay, the audio doesn’t sync with the character’s lips. This doesn’t happen in cutscenes but hopefully this is something that can be addressed.

What would a Resident Evil title be without its soundtrack? The original RE3 consisted of a specific soundtrack that helped create the atmosphere for the game. The remake follows suit with its music as Capcom took some of the more memorable songs of the original and remixed them for this game. What’s even better is these mixes include some synth and the results are astounding. The later half of the game feels more hectic and this is due in part to the soundtrack at that point. Across the board, the soundtrack is fantastic. Mix in the same ambiance music that existed in the remake of RE2 and it’s truly the complete package. The voice acting remains top notch in terms of quality and every bit of dialogue draws you in and doesn’t feel like the B-movie dialogue of years past.

Capcom went a different direction with its end-game content for the RE3 remake. For years, the Resident Evil series included either a Mercenaries mode or a Raid mode that allowed for quick and hectic gameplay. RE7 and the RE2 remake did away with the mode altogether and focused on replaying the story to get a better ranking. This would result in rewards. RE3 offers a point system to purchase items or weapons afterwards for completing challenges. The problem is that the game never tells you what the challenges are. The biggest changes comes with the Resistance mode, which was the initial announcement by Capcom prior to unveiling the RE3 remake.

This 4v1 mode allows players to choose one of four Masterminds that will place down enemies and traps in the game and take on four Survivors as they solve puzzles and get keys to advance to the end of the area. Players have a choice of up to six survivors and can customize them as they level each individual one. Each Survivor has a special skill they can use and as of now the six are just random people created for the mode. This is the mode Capcom introduced to include microtransactions with.

The music in Resistance goes right along the lines of the Raid Modes in the Revelations series. The visuals also take a hit as the mode seems to be capped at 30 FPS and only runs at 1080p even on a PS4 Pro. Collision detection seems off and animations can be wonky. During my playthroughs, there were connections issues with the Mastermind and it took a while to start a quick match. There’s a lobby system available and you can play with friends and the survivors do work cooperatively. This is a mode that could be a standalone game, but thankfully it wasn’t and didn’t need to be included to begin with.

Closing Comments:

On its own, the remake of Resident Evil 3 is another hallmark achievement for Capcom. It may not satisfy purists of the original, but there’s no reason that fans of what the RE2 remake accomplished won’t enjoy this. It is hard to compare the two, but RE3 does introduce more action elements much like the original version did and it packages the game up nice for a 6-10 hour campaign. Visually, the game supersedes the remake of RE2 in a few ways while it’s held back in others due to the frame rate issues at a distance. Both Jill and Carlos are well done and Nemesis is as frightening as ever. The emphasis on strategy is a big part of RE3 as the puzzles take a back seat. What wasn’t needed was the tacked on Resistance multiplayer mode, but the grind that it has to offer may entice some people to stay engaged. The technical issues cannot be overlooked, but Capcom states that the main game and Resistance are a complete package, so it’s hard to complain about what amounts to bonus content. The main focus is that Capcom did not miss a step on the remake of Resident Evil 3 as it’s just as astounding in its execution as Resident Evil 2.