Resident Evil 3 Review $59.99

Title: Resident Evil 3

Developer: Capcom

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Release Date: 2020-04-03

Game description: A series of strange disappearances have been occurring in the American Midwest within a place called Racoon City. A specialist squad of the police force known as S.T.A.R.S. has been investigating the case, and have determined that the pharmaceutical company Umbrella and their biological weapon, the T-Virus, are behind the incidents—though they've lost several members in the process. Jill Valentine and the other surviving S.T.A.R.S. members try to make this truth known, but find that the police department itself is under Umbrella's sway and their reports are rejected out of hand.

3

Bring an Umbrella.

For me, few games are as iconic as the Resident Evil series. Specifically, the first three for Playstation. While I was too young to play and enjoy them at the time, I’ve developed a healthy respect for the series and love their blend of puzzle-solving and campy stories. Last year’s remake of Resident Evil 2 floored me with its reimagining of my favorite game in the series. The developers managed to make a game that felt true to the original but updated with modern sensibilities. With Capcom’s track record over the past few years, I was excited for the remake of Resident Evil 3, but with slight apprehension due to the fact that it was being made by a different team than either RE7 or RE2. Now that it’s here, I can finally tell you whether or not it’s one of the better entries in the Resident Evil franchise.

Set months after the events of the original Resident Evil and at approximately the same time as Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 has players take control of S.T.A.R.S member Jill Valentine as she escapes the zombie-infested Raccoon City. All the while she is being pursued by living a bioweapon named Nemesis, whose sole purpose is eliminating S.T.A.R.S operatives. None of this has changed in the 2020 remake. The tools with which creators can tell a story have evolved, and you get a gorgeous cinematic experience that still maintains much of the camp that early Resident Evil was known for.

Where this remake does differ and carve out its own niche is with the gameplay. While it retains the core mechanics of the Resident Evil 2 remake from last year, it introduces some new mechanics, much like the 1990s version did. A dodge has been added which lets you nimbly (or clumsily) roll or duck pass enemies. If your timing is spot-on and you manage to execute a perfect dodge you’ll be able to enter bullet time and fire off a few shots on your pursuers. I found these perfect dodges to be unreliable though, as I was never able to activate the dodge when I meant to. I’m sure that there’s a trick to getting it more often than not, but it wasn’t readily apparent what sort of timing you need to aim for. I was often knocked or pulled out of my dodge animation. It makes the combat feel much more dynamic like you’re in an action movie, or an action movie outtake if you fail to perfectly dodge.

Also changing from the previous game is the use of sub-weapons like the knife and grenades. While the weapons are still in the game, the way they work has been changed. You select and equip them like any other weapon, and you can’t use them to defend yourself and fend off a zombie attack. With the larger hordes of zombies you face in RE3, I found myself missing the ability to easily stuff a grenade in the mouth of a zombie as they attempt to chow down on my neck.

While the combat gameplay is much of the same, with a few welcome additions, the journey through the world has been compromised. The game is much more linear than I expected and leaves little room for the player to backtrack. My first trip through the main area of the game had me leave two rooms unexplored because I fully expected to be able to make my way back later. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Instead of being a large, interconnected world like most of the early Resident Evil games (and the 2019 remake), you’re going through a series of short, self-contained levels. The levels aren’t bad, but they don’t feel like a cohesive city.  The game is a victim of my expectations, as I was hoping to get a more fleshed-out version of Raccoon City, where Nemesis could be lurking around any corner. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened at all.

Speaking of the big guy, I also found myself a little disappointed with how he was handled in the game. Because the zones are so small and completed within a relatively short period of time, there are few opportunities for Nemesis to be a real threat. Early on he may make a few dramatic entrances, but those are the highlight of the monster’s presence in the game. While he is much nimbler and quicker than Mr. X from last year’s RE2, he feels less threatening because of the increased mobility you have with the dodge, and the larger areas where you encounter him. Much like the original release, if you can take Nemesis down, you’ll be given items that may make the game easier for you. But if you plan correctly, it becomes trivial and doesn’t even feel like a challenge.

Everything I’ve mentioned until now hasn’t necessarily been out of character for the franchise, just a slight let down compared to last year’s phenomenal Resident Evil 2. However, I found myself constantly taken out of the experience by the amount of swearing used in dialogue and documents scattered throughout the game. Now I’m not one to clutch my pearls and gasp when a naughty word comes out, and a zombie outbreak certainly merits the use of vulgarity, but parts of dialogue and documents feel like they were written by a teenager who just mustered up the courage to swear, but doesn’t know the right time or way to insert it into their language. Jill delivers some decent one-liners laced with swear words, but often, I felt puzzled by the use of vulgarity.

Unsurprisingly, Capcom’s RE Engine continues to do amazing work creating grotesque fleshy blobs that are unpleasant to look at. The art, across the board, is solid. What little we do get to see of Raccoon City has hints of life left in it, with pops of color that stand out against the bleak starkness of the zombie outbreak. And other times it shoves you into some sewers where you’re suddenly reminded of scores of games from the days of the Xbox 360 and PS3. 

So. Much. Brown.

While it is not long, the game does leave players with the ability to unlock weapons and items with points earned for completing challenges over the course of the game. These include things like attack and defense boosters, as well as extra hip pouches to give you increased inventory space from the early moments of the game. Additional difficulty modes are also a nice addition as they remix item placement and enemy encounters to truly be more difficult, and not just a tweaking of damage numbers. For those that like to replay the game over and over (to speedrun or achievement hunt), these things are great motivation and ways to improve the experience. For those who only want to experience the game once, you’ll be fine to pay it no mind.

This remake of Resident Evil 3 is a different experience than I expected, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed. While I had fun playing, I hoped for an interconnected city with a constant threat breathing down my neck. Instead, I got discrete levels with a threat that only occasionally showed up for set-piece moments. I was also surprised by how quickly I was able to wrap things up in the game without deliberately speeding through. I played at my normal pace, and only missed a handful of items on my way because of overlooking some minor things. A lack of rewards for completing with a high rank, and barely any costume choices make subsequent playthroughs less enticing. If you’re not a die-hard of the franchise and or looking to play the multiplayer component that is included in the package, Resident Evil Resistance (review coming later), you’ll be fine to hold off on playing Resident Evil 3 until you can get it cheaper later in the year.

Pros

  • Builds on gameplay from Resident Evil 2.
  • Excellent sound design.
  • Great (and disgusting) visuals.

Cons

  • Too short.
  • Discrete levels.
  • Few alternate costumes.
  • No alternate single-player modes.

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