A Year Later
Last year CAPCOM blew away fans of the Resident Evil series with the massive, seemingly impossible undertaking that was the remake of Resident Evil 2. The 1998 classic was reimagined for modern day gaming, and it was a heavy hitting experience that became one of my favorite games of the year, and certainly my favorite PC experience. Back in December CAPCOM let the cat out of the bag and revealed that Resident Evil 3 was also being remade, and not only that - we could expect it in April 2020. Well, April is here and I was so ready that I sat down and played through all night to get this out to you; so how is it? Come with me on our journey back to Raccoon City through a different point of view.
A Shift In Perspective
Resident Evil 3 puts players primarily in the role of S.T.A.R.S. officer Jill Valentine. One of five survivors from the original Resident Evil, Jill Valentine is one of two S.T.A.R.S. members left in Raccoon City by the events of Resident Evil 3. Like the original, players will also play as Carlos Oliveira for a portion of the game. Carlos is a member of the UBCS, a mercenary force employed directly by the nefarious Umbrella Incorporated that publically is a peacekeeping force but also has members within the ranks conducting clean-up operations to try to scrub Umbrella’s name off of the outbreak.
Resident Evil 3 begins immediately after the events of the previous title, which opens up the game quite differently. When we begin, the city is literally on fire and people are running from their lives from the undead and escaped bioweapons. The outbreak originally occurred beneath the city streets in Umbrella’s NEST lab, following William Birkin’s infection and subsequent assault on an Umbrella strike force that had come for his life’s work, which served as the backdrop for Resident Evil 2. Resident Evil 3 barely touches on that, as this is a much more intimate story about survival because Jill has a target painted on her back by Umbrella.
Gameplay throughout Resident Evil 3 is in major contrast to its predecessor. While Resident Evil 2 generally gave you plenty of ammo to survive your playthrough, Resident Evil 3 gives you enough to not just survive but thrive. CAPCOM is throwing a lot more enemies at you this time around, and they know you’re going to need the firepower to match. On top of that, Jill and Carlos both handle better in aiming which, intentional or not, seems to match the fact they are both trained operatives and not a rookie cop and a biker dropped into a bad situation. The gunplay felt great in Resident Evil 2, but it feels even more refined this time around; which is perfect because with more threats on the screen we can’t be missing shots.
The game also sees the return of the dodge mechanic that was seen in the original Resident Evil 3, allowing well-timed movements out of the way of danger. This will become necessary to learn because sometimes there’s enough coming at you that your options are either to dodge or die. Overall, Resident Evil 2 is survival horror but Resident Evil 3 is horror action.
The Man In Black
Resident Evil 2 remade the infamous Mr. X/Tyrant for the modern era as well. This hulking behemoth stalked the players around the Raccoon City Police Department for a good portion of the game, and made himself an ever-present threat. Resident Evil 3 has Nemesis, the perfect killing machine. Smarter, faster, more agile, more deadly, capable of using a variety of military-grade weapons, weaponizing zombies, and setting up traps and ambushes. Nemesis, is a nightmare- for some of the game.
In the early game he does pursue you quite a bit, and it’s intense. He is absolutely terrifying, and often it’s better to try to fight him than flee as he will leap in front of you or pull you off your feet often. The game gives you enough ammo to fight, and dodging him after some practice becomes doable. Is he as scary as he was in the 1998 version? Sadly no.
Make no mistake, he’s still an intimidating presence but the fact that Resident Evil 3 now gives you much more ammo to work with, it makes fighting Nemesis outside of boss battles not only much more viable, but encouraged. After you reach a certain point in the game, the organic pursuit stops and Nemesis becomes semi-sidelined for ‘cinematic’ chase sequences and boss fights. He’s still an amazing villain, but it feels like Mr. X got more love in the roaming department than Nemesis. Perhaps there were enough complaints about Mr. X that CAPCOM felt this change for Nemesis would be necessary? Either way, the fact that the organic pursuits die off after the early game is disappointing.
Like the Resident Evil 2 remake, Resident Evil 3 keeps the faith in a lot of ways but veers in new directions in others. Carlos, for example, is less of an action-guy parody and more of a believable character. He’s a man on a mission, with genuine concern for those around him and he’s not afraid to butt heads where’s needed. Nemesis overall still feels like Nemesis, but now it’s more viable to fight him. Changes that keep the overall flavor, but don’t detract from the experience. However, there are some changes that are not as welcome.
While Resident Evil 2 changed a few late game areas, refining them and making them overall better than the original, Resident Evil 3 cuts a few sections worth of content that are sorely missed. I won’t go into spoilers here, but a late game region of the map is completely gone which effectively cuts out what could’ve been an extra 30-40 minutes of gameplay in the end. There are a number of new additions too that have replaced older sections, but the loss of one area, in particular, is very notable.
The Imperfect Predator
I want to make it clear that overall, I love this remake. In so many ways it hits the high notes of just what a Resident Evil remake should be, following last years remake of Resident Evil 2 and the nearly two-decade old remake of Resident Evil. It has horror, action, a refinement of the story, but along the way the things that have changed for the worse or been abandoned hurts the overall flavor. Missing a section in the campaign, removal of the Mercenaries mode and choice-scenes, and putting to rest a long debate about the canon ending of Resident Evil 3 by making only one ending this time around definitely work against it. It’s a game I can play time and time again, but unlike last year's Resident Evil 2 remake it’s more of a rough gem than a diamond.
Intense action, great callbacks to the original Resident Evil 3, the Raccoon City outbreak has never looked better, Nemesis is still an awesome villain overall.
Several instances of cut content, organic pursuits by Nemesis are cut off far too early.