A step back for the franchise.
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Survival Horror, Action, Third-Person Shooter
Capcom continued its renaissance last year with the Resident Evil 2 Remake, which instantly became a stellar exemplar of what a game remake should strive to be. However, all of that goodwill might as well have been for naught with the release of the Resident Evil 3 Remake just one year later.
Don’t get me wrong, the Resident Evil 3 Remake is a brilliant enough game in its own right, but it’s disappointingly inferior to the Resident Evil 2 Remake in almost every way that it can’t help but turn out to be a much lesser shadow of its predecessor.
Simply put, the Resident Evil 3 Remake doesn’t much wrong, but it’s not the best in anything it tries to do, as it follows the established blueprint of its predecessor almost to the letter.
Is This Resident Evil 2 Remake DLC?
Instead of a full-blown sequel, the Resident Evil 3 Remake feels (at best) like an expansion or additional DLC to the Resident Evil 2 Remake. Everything feels overly familiar like you’re playing more of the same game. That might sound harsh, but let’s look at what the Resident Evil 3 Remake has to offer. shall we?
The Resident Evil 3 Remake begins by dropping the player as Jill Valentine smack dab in the middle of Raccoon City right as a pandemic crisis plunges it into chaos. Fires are burning and people are still trying to flee at the beginning of the game, and the game starts with an action-packed sequence as Jill barely survives after getting chased by a massive monster (Nemesis).
This ain’t Jill’s first rodeo -nor is it the player’s- as the game begins cruising at a breakneck pace and never lets up. What distinguishes the Resident Evil 3 Remake from its predecessor is its much faster pace, with more emphasis on progressing from one area to the next as fast as you can.
This is because the game is very linear in nature compared to the twisty and oft-times confusing settings of Resident Evil 2 Remake, which also means that there’s not as much room for actual exploration or taking the time to figure out where to go next in the straightforward structure of the Resident Evil 3 Remake.
The aforementioned sense of familiarity also kicks in when you have to spend time in some of the same locales from the Resident Evil 2 Remake. Remember how many hallways and locked doors the iconic police station had? I’m sure you got lost trying to find your way in there while also worrying about the next zombie that’s going to ambush you. In the sequel, you get to revisit the same place, but it’s now so streamlined and stripped down that it cheapens the experience.
Yes, a sense of general cheapness permeated the duration of my playthrough in Resident Evil 3 Remake. I can’t help but feel how every single gameplay mechanic played better in the Resident Evil 2 Remake.
For instance, the Resident Evil 3 Remake also has a sewer section (a mainstay in almost every horror-tinged Capcom game, which I hate), but it felt like a much less substantial experience. Removing the entire level wouldn’t have lessened the game in any significant way.
Another glaring omission that contributes to the sense of cheapness is the fact that the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in 1999 featured multiple branching paths in the story, which resulted in different endings. None of that is present in Resident Evil 3 Remake, which is a shame considering that it can’t even boast of having the Resident Evil 2 Remake‘s two possible playthroughs with its two protagonists (Leon and Claire).
Sure, players get to switch between the stoic Jill Valentine and witty mercenary Carlos Oliveira, each of whom wields different weapons (besides their handguns). However, the experience is diminished, as they don’t really feel significantly-different to play as. Jill has a shotgun, a grenade launcher and a magnum, while Carlos only gets an assault rifle. Compare that with the arsenal packed by Leon and Claire in the Resident Evil 2 Remake (both of whom have a whopping 13 weapons between them), and you’ll see why the variety is severely lacking in this one.
Unfortunately, what all of those shortcomings ultimately leads to is a paltry five to six-hour-long story mode.
It took me only five and a half hours to complete the game, which I accomplished in a single sitting in one night.
I don’t feel particularly compelled to replay the game, because there’s not much incentive to do so.
It’s so much clearer now why Capcom opted to release the Resident Evil 3 Remake with a separate multiplayer experience companion at launch; Resident Evil Resistance. No other Resident Evil title has ever needed online multiplayer, much less a PvP title in the vein of Turtle Rock Studios’ (failure) Evolve or Friday The 13th: The Game. The suspicions were true; now we know that it’s to shamelessly make up for the embarrassing lack of content in the Resident Evil 3 Remake.
Nemesis Is A Poor Man’s Mr. X
Mr.X, or Tyrant, was one of the most memorable and best aspects in the Resident Evil 2 Remake. His mere presence and act of stalking the player (menacingly) was what elevated the game even more. That is why, when the Resident Evil 3 Remake was initially announced, we had high hopes for the new version of Nemesis.
We imagined the new Nemesis to be an unstoppable and unpredictable force of nature, an unseen stalking enemy that would make the game so scary that you’ll be a paranoid wreck.
What we got in Resident Evil 3 Remake instead is a heavily-scripted bot that you can see coming from a mile away with all the gracefulness of a lumbering ox.
The first encounter with Nemesis is the only one that draws any kind of excitement before you eventually notice the not-so-subtle signs of his impending appearances. This breaks the immersion that Nemesis is supposed to be an intelligent killing machine.
You see, I could easily predict where and when Nemesis would show up. I’ll just be merrily making my way when I notice that the next area looks suspiciously wider, open, or emptier than usual. I’m right most of the time because that’s when Nemesis is usually scripted to attack.
I try to act surprised but it feels like another cheap attempt at eliciting jump scares, which ironically doesn’t work due to how blatantly obvious the signs are for when Nemesis would appear.
Gone are the unpredictability and spontaneous appearances of a hulking enemy like Mr. X. Instead, you have the Nemesis, who only drives fear into the hearts of players everywhere because of how he can conveniently use his super-speed to dash right in front of you and attack with his overpowered tentacles.
By the end of the game, I only felt disdain and utter disappointment that the great and iconic Nemesis is relegated to scripted events and action setpieces, cutscenes, and generic boss battles. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
But Wait, It’s Not All Bad
I realise that I’ve been mostly focusing on the many ways that the Resident Evil 3 Remake is inferior to the Resident Evil 2 Remake, but now I want to clarify that this game still hits a lot of the same notes that its predecessor did just a year ago, and we can thank the excellent piece of software tech that is the RE Engine for that.
The atmosphere in the Resident Evil 3 Remake isn’t as creepy and tense, but that’s more attributed to the open city setting of the game, rather than a fault of the game as a whole. The game still features some of the best almost-photorealistic visuals, fluid animations, and brilliant lighting. While some may find Jill Valentine’s new design to be a bit off, she looks arguably the best she’s ever been, with more distinct and unique facial features.
It’s worth pointing out that one particular creepy hospital setting later in the game stood out amongst the rest of the “been there, done that” locales, but as that place felt genuinely scary and brought back the much-needed chilling atmosphere. Nothing beats the feeling of dread before opening a door or going into the next room, clenching your buttcheeks as you prepare for whatever’s waiting for you.
I’m not too fond of the new evading mechanic (by pressing X) introduced in the Resident Evil 3 Remake, but I guess it was a necessary evil to balance the game with Nemesis’ impossible level of speed and tenacity (when he shows up, that is). It does make the game easier and more action-focused but loses some of its survival horror roots in the process.
Crushed Under Gargantuan Expectations
The Resident Evil 3 Remake couldn’t possibly live up to the lofty ideals of last year’s Resident Evil 2 Remake. In an alternate reality where Capcom launched this game first, it would’ve been just as celebrated.
Alas, that’s not the case, and the game suffers for it. It seems like Capcom gave the Resident Evil 3 Remake the short end of the stick.
If only it received just as much time, care and attention as its predecessor… Oh, well, let’s just hope that the next Remake or new instalment of whatever franchise by Capcom follows the example of the former (Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil 2 Remake) and not the latter (Resident Evil 3 Remake).
- More action-packed and focused.
- Can still be tense and atmospheric at times.
- Looks amazing thanks to the RE Engine.
- Brief runtime; lacks any replay value.
- Loses some of its survival horror roots.
- Nemesis feels too scripted; a downgrade from Mr. X or the Tyrant.
Final Score: 60/100
Note: We will review Resident Evil – Resistance, the multiplayer 4v1 mode that’s bundled with Resident Evil 3, in the near future. It’s hard to gauge an online mode without the public to play with.
Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review copy courtesy of Capcom.