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Back in January 2016, the Resident Evil series was having a sort of renaissance with Resident Evil Revelations 2 bringing the series back to it’s survival horror roots after the less than impressive Resident Evil 6. With this sudden resurgence, sales started to pick up and Capcom started work on possible remakes of earlier games in the franchise focusing on the survival horror template that made Resident Evil achieve classic horror gaming status.
Resident Evil: Origins Collection, containing remasters of both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0, was released to huge success and in 2019 fans were treated to a truly superb reimagining of the classic Resident Evil 2. After the critical success of Resident Evil 2, Capcom almost immediately work began on a Resident Evil 3: Nemesis remake and just over a year later, Resident Evil 3 has been unleashed upon us. The all important question remains, can Resident Evil 3 live up to the brilliance and hype created by Resident Evil 2’s remake or will this new version of a beloved classic feel far too premature and disappoint the Resident Evil community? Truthfully, Resident Evil 3 is a huge let down.
With the Resident Evil 2 fans of the classic series were treated to a lovingly crafted reimagining of a classic that managed to improve on many of the core gameplay elements of the original and provide a modernized take on the story that resulted in utterly compelling gaming that Resident Evil fans (myself included) cherished. Resident Evil 3 attempts to continue in that tradition and from the early cinematic and gameplay trailers, fans felt Capcom were doing this remake justice. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case with the final product.
Like the original before it, Resident Evil 3 follows Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira in their attempt to survive the downfall of Raccoon City and the impending apocalypse resulting from this. As Jill battles her way towards survival she comes into contact with Umbrella’s experimental killing machine, Nemesis, and his terrifying sole purpose of eliminating all members of special police force, S.T.A.R.S.
Almost immediately once you start a new game, Nemesis is bursting through Jill’s apartment relentlessly pursuing her and attempting to kill her. Like in the original Resident Evil 3, your aim is to run for your life and get to safety hoping this Incredible Hulk of death leaves you be for as long as possible. It’s an opening that is sure to send your heartbeat through the roof in fear and as far as openings go, it’s an extremely confident one. There is one huge issue with this scenario though.
In the original, it is much longer before you inevitably meet Nemesis and along the way you get a sense of who Jill is and when she does finally encounter Nemesis, you care for her fight for survival. In this reimagining, we learn very little about who Jill and Nemesis are and before you know it you’ll find yourself running from Nemesis and doing some more running and then an extra bit of running for good measure without any real care for chemistry within both Jill and Nemesis because… well, there simply is none.
Nemesis was the most terrifying aspect of Resident Evil 3 with a genuine cloud of fear overlooking your every move because you, as the player knew, Nemesis could appear from anywhere and given your low ammo capacity, things would not go well. It brought a true sense of dread to the original. With this remake, in no time you will find yourself flushed with ammo and more than capable of roaming Raccoon City damage free without any real fear of danger. Couple that with Nemesis’ many (there’s a lot) appearances and proceedings tend to get a bit tedious.
Almost every encounter with Nemesis is either entirely predictable or completely scripted which is a damn shame. After Nemesis first bursts through a wall to attack you and strike fear in your heart, very quickly you will meet him again and again, and devoid of any real menace like that of the far more unpredictable Mr. X in Resident Evil 2. As the encounters with Nemesis continue you will find things get far more predictable and scripted with some segments simply consisting of just Quick Time events and segments where all you can do is simply run as stopping will result in death.
These scripted encounters might have worked had these segments carried a bit more weight and consequence. One particular segment sums it all up perfectly. Nemesis is hunting Jill through a construction site equipped with a flamethrower and as you simply climb higher into the site looking for an escape you should notice something highly worrying. All throughout this segment, Nemesis is torching the entire site and Jill is jogging at a light pace to safety. It’s extremely disappointing to see an encounter with Nemesis feel like something more akin to Resident Evil 6 and devoid of any real scares because your main character is jogging to safety and Nemesis can’t even lay a scratch on her while she does. It’s laughable and undermines the brilliance of it’s original predecessor.
Further Reading: In The 2010s Resident Evil Updated Old Ideas to Survive
Nemesis isn’t the only glaring issue with this reimagining. With my initial playthrough of Resident Evil 3, I aimed to explore as much as possible attempting to find an abundance of weapon upgrades and those damned Charlie Dolls. Even with this focus on exploring everything, my first playthrough lasted just 3 hours and 51 minutes. I noticed throughout, that entire segments of the original game are gone and I couldn’t help but scratch my head and wonder why?
One would not feel so strongly disappointed with this if there was a possibility of completing two differing campaigns or replaying the entire campaign as several characters but this is nowhere to be found. Resident Evil 2 gave us two main campaigns (HUNK makes an appearance too) but Resident Evil 3 gives us a short run time where you play as both Jill and Carlos throughout different segments. On my second playthrough nothing changed and you continue the same run through as before just this time I finished my playthrough just shy of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
To top it all off, Capcom have slapped a sixty euro price tag on Resident Evil 3 and have packaged it together with a multiplayer game no genuine Resident Evil fan has ever wanted. It’s extremely disappointing stuff to say the least.
It’s not all bad though admittedly and there is a lot to enjoy within Resident Evil 3 too. For one, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Raccoon City has never looked better as vibrant theatre signs and pulsating lighting effects bring the setting to life. Capcom have done a superb job in realizing what Raccoon City would look like ravaged by a zombie apocalypse. No area is devoid of character as some small detail is always there to catch your eye and make you smile at it’s discovery.
Some of the boss fights with Nemesis in this reimagining are also a blast to play through. Although teetering on the easy side of things, the majority of the boss fights with Nemesis are interesting if highly flawed but that spark of interest makes them enjoyable. A rooftop fight with Nemesis wielding a flamethrower is the most enjoyable of the bunch as half way through Nemesis goes full beast mode and attacks you relentlessly. It brings a sense of dread to a scripted encounter for the first time.
Carlos is also a defining positive within this reimagining. Even with this modern retelling, Carlos still has that cheesy attitude from the original that results in some interesting chemistry between certain characters. I cared much more for my experience with Carlos simply because Carlos’ segments are spurred on by his clear admiration and care for Jill. Everything within Carlos’ segments of gameplay have a purpose and it isn’t hard to get behind it positively.
The gameplay is similar to Resident Evil 2 which is also a strong plus. Resident Evil 2’s polished controls really brought a new experience to that environment and now, having a super fluid Resident Evil 3 is great to behold. The simple things like being able to move while aiming just make things feel nice and smooth and encounters with mass amounts of zombies don’t feel clunky and frighteningly irritating. The Reloading Tool from the original, thankfully, has been ditched for the same inventory approach as Resident Evil 2 and makes the pain of ammo crafting much more bearable. The overall fluidity of the gameplay helps to make Resident Evil 3 far more enjoyable than it should be.
Resident Evil 3 is a huge disappointment but at the same time, it is by no means a bad game. There is much to be enjoyed here but the core issue lies in the feeling that this modern reimagining of a beloved classic was prematurely rushed and feels more like DLC for Resident Evil 2 than a standalone Resident Evil 3 experience. The best advice I can give you is to wait until the price drops significantly before delving into Capcom’s newest remake.