After the critically acclaimed return to Raccoon City with Resident Evil 2 Remake in 2019, Capcom were able to re-imagine their horror classic, while including enough nostalgic and new content to please both old & new fans. After the release, many hoped and asked for a remake of Resident Evil 3. Thankfully fans did not have to wait too long, as Resident Evil 3 was in development almost in tandem with Resi 2 and was officially announced to exist December 10th 2019 via a PlayStation State of Play, with a release date of April 3rd 2020
Be My Valentine
Unlike Resident Evil 2’s multiple scenarios, this remake has only one story mode campaign. Jill Valentine returns as the main playable character and the story takes place in the hours before, during and after the events of RE 2. The game is set months after the events the mansion incident from the first game in the series, which saw a viral breakout from an Umbrella underground lab, causing the living and the dead to turn into violent, cannibalistic zombies. Jill was one of five remaining members of the Raccoon Police Department’s S.T.A.R.S. unit set to investigate the incident and uncovers that Umbrella were not only the cause of the virus, but were creating illegal bioweapons.
Returning to Raccoon City, Jill and the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members of Brad, Barry, Chris and Rebecca have been shunned be Police Chief Irons, due to Umbrella corruption in the force. Many of the S.T.A.R.S. team have left Raccoon CIty, with only Jill and Brad Vickers left. This is where the game begins. Jill is set to follow suit and leave Raccoon City, but just days away from enacting her plan, the city becomes overrun with the viral outbreak, which spreads throughout the population and causing mayhem on the streets. Her character has been added to as well. The games introduction eludes to Jill suffering from PTSD, due to the events of the first Resident Evil. This gives a bit of depth to her, which may be explore more through other characters.
To counteract the outbreak, Umbrella send in their own countermeasures team in to ‘save’ civilians, called Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.). Along with the U.B.C.S. which include our secondary playable character Carlos Oliveira, Umbrella send their new attack unit, Nemesis, to take out the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members. Jill is now the prey and you have to traverse the city, avoiding zombies, dogs, hunters and Nemesis, in order to survive and escape alive.
Without spoiling any of the remakes major points, the story has similar beats to the 1999 original, but some may appear in a different order to what fans of the series remember. You will also visit some familiar locations. some of which have had an expanded redesign. Surprisingly, some fan favourite elements are missing. But let’s look into how the game plays overall.
Then vs Now
So what is new with RE 3? Let’s first compare it to its original incarnation. Obviously many things have changed in the twenty odd years since the original. The fixed camera perspective is now a 3rd person over the shoulder angle. Graphics have gone from 2D rendered backdrops, with 3D based objects and character models, have now been recreated and remixed in full 3D rendering. This is down to the stunning RE Engine, which has previously powered RE VII and RE 2 Remake. Fans of the original will recognise areas that are included, while new areas have a sleek look. Lighting plays a big part in creating the atmosphere and tension throughout the campaign. With dark alleyways lit up with street lights, to indoor areas covered in darkness, to the interiors of subways, hospitals and police station, RE 3 looks fantastic. The city is full of small details that breath life into the game as a whole, with grotesque enemies, environmental effects, such as fire and water, all add to building a believable world.
The look of the characters have been giving an overhaul too. Jill has been given a more tactical look, swapping the tube top and shorts, with a tank top and jeans. All the U.B.C.S. supporting cast members have been given a similar makeover, with more a contemporary look. The majority of characters are likable and the interaction between them, although cheesy at times, seem more believable than the original B-movie dialogue. You get to play as Carlos on several occasions and while he handles like Jill, he is certainly more tailored to the action sides of things.
When it comes to gameplay, if you have played last years Resident Evil 2, you will find this very familiar. Jill is highly skilled and can handle a range of weapons. You will use handguns, shotguns and even grenade launchers to cut down your enemies as you progress through the interconnected areas. There are no loading screens outside of cutscenes, so the flow of the game is fast-paced and ever moving.
There are a number of altered and new mechanics to the package. Your trusty knife is now indestructible allowing you to take much needed swipes at downed enemies. There are however, no sub weapons to use if you are grabbed by enemies, rather a button mash occurs to shake off attackers. To avoid enemies, the dodge mechanic has been reinstated, allowing you to move in multiple direction. Making a perfect dodge produces a slowdown of time, allowing you to make an escape or aim some much needed attacks on your foes. New enemies are peppered in with redesigned classics and come at a steady pace. In smaller areas, you can be overwhelmed, so keeping an eye on your surroundings is key. Where conservation of ammo was key in RE 2, there is a steady abundance of ammo this time around, so don’t be afraid to take down a few enemies along the way.
To progress through your campaign, you will have to balance your inventory of weapons, ammo, healing items and key items, used to unlock doors or complete main objectives. The ammo creation system returns, seeing you mixing a combination of gunpowder to make handgun, shotgun and magnum ammo. There are also a number of explosive ammo combinations used for your grenade launcher. The item box returns to store your non essential items and you can expand your inventory slots, by finding RPD hip pouches. Non-essential items can be discarded, while other items can be combined to make stronger healing items or upgraded weapons.
Tall, Dark . . . . and Scary
Now we turn to the big guy in the room – Nemesis. If you got vibes of a menacing, never ending pursuit for RE 2’s Mr. X, Nemesis raises the bar in teeth clenching, sweet inducing tension at times. When on the streets of Raccoon City, Nemesis is diabolical in his mission to take Jill out. These moments may not be as frequent as you may remember, but you have a chance to run or take on the hulking creature, as he towers over all around him. He will chase you at speed, appear from above to block your escape and use weapons to inflict high levels of damage. He can pummel you to a bloody pulp if he corners you. A lot of Nemesis’ later interactions are more scripted and feel less organic than before, but you will face the tyrant multiple times in specific boss encounters.
Taking on the Nemesis is made harder due to his unpredictable nature in the early sections. To combat this, there are a number of environmental hazards that can help slow, or take down your impending stalker. Electrical boxes are dotted around the city. Shooting these causes nearby by enemies to stand still with shock, allowing you to run past them or choose to take them out. Explosive barrels also return to the franchise. These are powerful tools, as they can help delay the Nemesis, or take out a large crowd of undead.
Although it may be advised to run from the Nemesis when you first meet, you can stand and take him on. He is a powerful foe, so you will have to be creative in your use of weapons, dodging and environmental hazards. You can halt his pursuit for a short time, in order to escape the area, but if you can knock him down several times, he’ll drop some handy upgrades items. In later encounters, Nemesis action can be more predictable, but he is a formidable opponent throughout the campaign.
You Want S.T.A.R.S. ?
Although this is a horror game at heart, the action oriented style of this sequel, sees this more of a roller coaster ride that keeps pushing you to the end goal. Because of this there are less puzzles and backtracking compared to it’s predecessors. At times it can be heart thumping action and at other times it is spine tingling chilling. Because of it’s redesign, some classic environments have been cut from the story. This may be due to pacing of the story, so some fans may find this disappointing. Missing from the game is the decision system, which saw a choice system appear at key moments of the original. This added some variety to the gameplay and is sorely missed from this remake.
The big downside to the title is the lack of time with Nemesis in his stalking form. Unlike Mr. X who felt like a constant treat in the Police Station, as you hear his trudging footsteps through the hallways, Nemesis seems under utilised at times. When he appears first, it’s a fantastic game of cat and mouse, while later iterations feel like a ticked box on boss must have list.
Overall, Resident Evil 3 is a solid addition to the franchise. Although not perfect, what it does, it does right. Although short in nature, with a 6-8 hour run through for first timers, it never felt boring. With its quick pace and smooth level design, the constant urge to plough through the city is exhilarating. It is missing the infamous ‘The Mercenaries – Operation: Mad Jackal‘ mode, which was a time-attack mode that added some replayability, RE 3 does come with Resident Evil Resistance. A separate review will be made this online asymmetric 4 vs 1 multiplayer game. If there was some additional content released for single-player gamers, similar to the Ghost Survivors from Resident Evil 2, it could flesh out some aspects of the story & characters.
Resident Evil 3 is now available for PS4, Xbox One and PC right now.
Our trip to Raccoon City, sees the welcome return of Jill Valentine on a non-stop action horror adventure. Not a perfect remake, as it could do with more of the menacing Nemesis, but does get a lot right. There is something for both long term & new fans alike.