Resident Evil 3 Review

Escape from Raccoon City.

Imagine you’re out for a leisurely stroll in a city that’s casually being overrun with zombies. You’re just minding our own business, shooting a couple of undead and being a badass super cop, then like an RKO out of nowhere, Nemesis appears and delivers a almighty right hook, enrolling you for free into the school of pain.

You’d better get used to it. This is Resident Evil 3.

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Capcom struck gold last year with their remake of the classic Resident Evil 2. It hit all the right notes, paying homage to the original while bringing it bang up to date with modern third person gameplay and cutting edge graphics. It was a no-brainer that a Resident Evil 3 remake would follow in its footsteps, and boy, what a remake it is.

You take control of Jill Valentine, S.T.A.R.S. member and survivor of the Arkalay Incident from the original Resident Evil. Starting off between the events of the first two games, all Jill wants is to get out if the city, but finds herself and her fellow S.T.A.R.S. being hunted down. Her jaunt across Racoon City sees her running into a host of cool and friendly people, including top boy Carlos, Mikhil and of course Nikolai. If you’ve played the original, you know where all this is going.

However, that’s where the similarities begin to fade. Where Resident Evil 2 could mostly be navigated with knowledge of the original, Resident Evil 3 has had some serious remixing going on. The game starts in a fairly similar fashion to the original, but you’ll soon have to put what you remember to one side. Sure, there’s some key areas and moments that return, but there’s a lot that’s new and reimagined. Locations have been remixed or consolidated, people are going to different places in the story and everything has had a fresh lick of paint. After Resident Evil 2, it’s exactly what I wanted.

For instance, the Uptown and Downtown areas of old have been combined into a much smaller map which is almost unrecognisable outside of a few small details. This can make Resident Evil 3 feel smaller in scale compared to Resident Evil 2, but the originals pulled the same kind of trick. Even the interactions you have with people after the first fifteen minutes are different, leading to more than a few surprises. Too often, remakes are slavish in their recreations, but a remake like this delights in many more ways.

As before, you get to pay as Jill and Carlos through the course of the game, and it retains the excellent third person of the last game with the addition of a dodge if you’re Jill and a bodychecking clothesline attack if you’re Carlos. Executing these perfectly will slow time down and let you to snap to perform a quickfire headshot.

With zombies more erratic in their movements than ever, making you miss shots as they get closer and closer, getting these moves perfected becomes all the more pleasing. Initially, my fingers would fail me as I tried to nail a perfect dodge instead of simply saving my own skin, getting me bitten on multiple occasions. It’s easier to pull off with Carlos though, and the result is a slow motion clothesline which looks marvellous. I accidentally defeated an enemy this way and it had me in tears of joy.

Combine this with the heavier armaments on offer, and Resident Evil 3 has a more aggressive, faster paced feel. Where you would take your time, check your corners and plan your route in Resi 2, Resi 3 has you running everywhere with a big gun, anxious that Nemesis is going to clatter into you at any moment. There were very few quiet moments during the campaign, and with each area being fairly short in length, the aggression is real.

All of this means Resi 3 is a shorter game to play through. I managed to dash through the whole game about two and a half times in two days. Initially, I was disappointed by this. Then I remembered that this was a game made for multiple runs. I was only disappointed because I was enjoying what I was playing and wanted more. Diving back in for a second run wasn’t a problem in the slightest, and I felt there was more to do given what can be be unlocked afterwards. It’s enough to keep you going for a while.

Like RE2, there’s a records screen that has various unlocks depending on what feats you perform as you play. Unlike RE2, these feats also give you points which let you purchase items in the new shop. For instance, you can buy an Assault Coin which increases the attack power of your guns when held in your inventory, and can be stacked to make your third run an absolute cakewalk. There’s so much more available that if you’re worried about length, you shouldn’t be. There’s plenty here for completionists, with a bevy of difficulty levels that unlock after you’ve finished the game.

Not that Nemesis needs to be any more difficult. He hits hard as it is. Nemesis is the one who knocks… your teeth out and then slams you into the floors before stepping on you and making you feel small and puny. I had some fun times with him.

While Mr X in RE2 always felt like a threat, you could at least outrun him or cleverly lead him to a different area while saving ammo. Nemesis is on you like a rash that just won’t go away. Think you have distance? You probably don’t. I’ve lost count the number of times I thought I was safe only to have him jump to the rafters in front of me before hitting the floor like Iron Man. I resorted to violence a lot more than I thought I would.

During that first area, it was a problem that I overcame with some careful planning and resource management, but I almost started to miss the guy in later areas. It’s not that he’s not around – he’s definitely about, trust me – it’s just not like that first area. Quite a few of the Nemesis encounters are on rails until you get to the inevitable boss fights, giving him a very different energy to Mr X. They are not the same presence.

He does, however, show up with his box of toys, which is awesome. You can tell he’s getting progressively more annoyed as he brings out more overpowered weapons as time goes on. Mr X just wanted to wear a cool hat and punch you, but Nemesis wants to set you on fire with a flamethrower and insert tentacles in you, maybe even shoot some guided missiles at you. It’s simultaneously awesome and terrifying. Of course, he just gets worse from there.

Is it weird for me to say Nemesis is beautiful? I mean, the whole game is fantastic to look at. Resident Evil has never looked this good, in fact. Just as in Resident Evil 2, the lighting here is superb and every character has been modelled with an astonishing sense of realism. The city also feels alive despite being very much dead, filled with so many details you can take in if you take the time to look for them.

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Summary
Capcom have done a marvellous job with Resident Evil 3, reviving another of their beloved survival horror classics and making it feel completely fresh once again. Nemesis is back and he’s here to smash your face in. 
Good
  • Some excellent set pieces
  • Tons on replay value
  • Looks and feels fantastic
  • Nemesis is a superb… nemesis.
Bad
  • May feel a bit short if you're not planning multiple playthroughs
  • Some areas feel a little too small
  • I found myself wanting more dynamic Nemesis encounters
9
Written by
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.