It brings me no joy to say that Resident Evil 3 is average. At best, it’s decent. After the success of Resident Evil 2 Remake, Capcom is back with a remake of Resident Evil 3. Where RE2 stuck to the established script and was mostly a one for one remake, Resident Evil 3 goes out of its way to be a very, very different game to its PS1 namesake.
To be fair, I’ve not played Resident Evil 3 in years but from the minute this version began I found very little to remind me of the original. The narrative is almost entirely changed and the Nemesis himself has had his role diminished so much that he’s no longer the threat he once was.
After the phenomenal Resident Evil 2 Remake, it’s pretty disheartening to see Resident Evil 3 turn out this way. Standing on its own, this remake is decent but when its compared to the original game and last year’s Resident Evil 2, it sits at a distant third.
Resident Evil 3 Review
Set before, during and after Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 stars (no pun intended) Jill Valentine, our heroine from the first game of the series. She’s again been given a visual makeover and looks more like Milla Jovovich’s Alice from the Resident Evil film franchise. Thankfully, her ridiculous skirt from the original has been traded in for some sensible jeans.
A much wiser and more practical solution, thanks Capcom.
Jumping immediately into the action, Nemesis attacks Jill in her apartment. What follows is a hybrid QTE/on-rails escape sequence that kicks Resident Evil 3 off with a bang. Once I’d cleared this section, I had high hopes for the game and assumed that everything was going to be peachy.
Unfortunately, things start to go downhill pretty quickly. The significant changes made to the story really work against Resident Evil 3. Those players who are fond of the original will be looking for that nostalgia hit and where it was given to them in spades in Resident Evil 2, in RE3 it’s almost non-existent. I couldn’t find a single thread or hook to latch onto and it wasn’t until midway through the game that I found a section that was similar enough to be familiar.
Clearly changing up the story is a risk Capcom is happy to take but it hasn’t paid off.
In the original, Nemesis was an almost omnipresent, terrifying threat. You never felt safe and anytime he appeared you’d frantically try and escape without losing too much health or ammo. In this version, he’s little more than an occasional annoyance.
And that really, truly sucks.
Nemesis was what set Resident Evil 3 apart from the other games in the series and to reduce him to what he is in this game is such a shame. Instead of a constant tormentor and terrifying antagonist he’s reduced to a cross between Mr X and William Birkin. He appears a handful of times, always at predetermined locations and is frequently part of a short sequence or cutscene before disappearing again.
Even Resident Evil 2’s Mr X was scarier and more present than Nemesis is in this game. Worse still are the changes made to his mutation and evolution. In the original, Nemesis appeared as a humanoid for the majority of the game and only transformed into a hideous creature later on. In this version, he becomes a four-legged, Birkinesque atrocity before the midway point.
In doing so, it vastly changes his appeal, his fear factor and his usefulness. Being pursued by an “almost” human enemy is far scarier than the doglike thing he becomes. And without his signature catchcry of “STARS!” he’s just another B.O.W. He’s also AWOL for much of the second half which probably explains the lack of “Nemesis” in the title.
Another unique element of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis that’s absent from this version are the choices players needed to make while under pressure. In the original, these choices would often seem as bad as each other but depending on your health and ammo situation, you’d be forced to take one over the other. Depending on which choices you made, you’d get to see different endings.
This mechanic doesn’t exist at all in Resident Evil 3. It’s simply been removed without even a facsimile in its place to placate fans or give some nod to the original. Without these choices, an entirely different narrative and a neutered Nemesis, Resident Evil 3 is a shell of its former self.
It’s a very pretty shell and one that plays exceptionally well, but a shell nonetheless.
Gameplay in Resident Evil 3 is almost identical to Resident Evil 2 Remake. Like in last year’s game, Capcom has worked some dark magic to ensure that even though this game feels new and fresh, it still feels like playing Resident Evil 3 of old. There aren’t tank controls yet somehow, it still feels as though there are. Like I said of Resident Evil 2 Remake, “Playing Resident Evil 2 on PS4 feels just like it did playing it on PS1, but it also feels totally unique and much, much better at the same time,” the same is true of Resident Evil 3.
You still collect ammo, herbs, weapons and other items to make your way through the gradually unfolding labyrinth that is the game world. However, this world isn’t nearly as connected or interesting as RCPD. You move through each new area at breakneck speed and there’s very little backtracking or exploring necessary. It feels like you’re being pushed along in order to hurry up and get to the next section.
This idea marries with the narrative context of Jill attempting to escape Raccoon City before its destroyed. Though it doesn’t sit well with the established mechanics of Resident Evil or the tried and tested Metroidvania formula the series is known for.
Something else I wrote in my review of Resident Evil 2 Remake is so relevant to the issues I have with Resident Evil 3, I have to reference it. I wrote, “If this Resident Evil 2 didn’t feel like the original, I’d be able to tell and I would be annoyingly vocal about it.”
Well, this Resident Evil 3 doesn’t feel like the original and I can tell.
Some new additions to Resident Evil 3 do work in its favour. The new dodge mechanic is something that should have been added to the series years ago. By pressing R1 at just the right moment, Jill (or Carlos) can avoid an enemy attack. If you press L2 immediately after a successful dodge, you’ll aim directly at the enemy’s weak point and be able to fire off a few rounds without the worry of missing and wasting ammo.
It comes in particularly handy during one Nemesis boss fight.
Pale Head zombies, first appearing in The Ghost Survivors DLC for Resident Evil 2, also make an appearance in Resident Evil 3 and help to break up the sameness of the standard zombies. They’re a little tougher to take down and on higher difficulties can cause real headaches as you struggle to maintain enough ammo.
That being said, Resident Evil 3 is far too easy and far too short. Where Resident Evil 2 would take between eight and 10 hours to finish, per character, you can breeze through Resident Evil 3 in five hours or less. Without Scenario A and B like RE2, Resident Evil 3 feels even shorter. It’s also far more of an action game than survival horror and thus, it’s far easier.
Times, when I was running out of ammo or herbs, were few and far between, as were puzzles and anything besides shooting zombies. The Resident Evil 3 I remember is pure survival horror. This Resident Evil 3 is an action game, with soft touches of survival horror sprinkled throughout.
This RE3 seems best suited to players who aren’t familiar with the original. Those gamers who played Resident Evil 2 Remake and are looking for more. If that’s you, then you’ll get a real kick out of Resident Evil 3. Old-timers, like myself, might have a harder time swallowing the changes that have been made.
It’s not that Resident Evil 3 is a bad game, it’s not. It looks and sounds great, it’s polished beyond belief and is endlessly playable. However, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis it is not. It does very little to invoke a sense of the original and the changes that have been made only serve to help distance this version from the source material.
I’m pretty sad that Resident Evil 3 isn’t everything I hoped for. I’m still going to play it a few more times, try and earn the Platinum and unlock the Infinite Rocket Launcher but I won’t be enjoying it anywhere near as much as I’d like.
Resident Evil 2 set the standard for videogame remakes in 2019. Resident Evil 3 should serve as a cautionary tale for the pitfalls of videogame remakes in 2020.
Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on PS4 Pro using a digital copy provided by Capcom.
Game Title: Resident Evil 3 Remake