Resident Evil 3 (2020)
Developer/Publisher – Capcom
Available: PC, PS4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Review contains very minor plot spoilers to the inital premise of the game.
The Resident Evil franchise is no stranger to a remake, this is with almost every game in the series being remade at least once, if not on multiple occasions. The original game was truly ahead of its time, and the run of games which followed in the same style, while still great, are without a doubt a product of their time. With the remakes, however, the dedication to keeping the purity of the source material creates problems; they are held back of by the shackles of technical limitations which haven’t applied for years.
The Resident Evil series has had two major turning points. Once, for better or for worse, with Resident Evil 4 and its shift to overt action over horror. And again, with recent remake of Resident Evil 2, which went further than a traditional remake, acting as a complete overhaul and modernisation of the original game. While some believed the franchise dead in the water before – this new approach to developing games was received with astounding praise. Now Capcom are keeping the keeping this momentum going with a remake of a similar vein, but this time with Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
I give you this history lesson for an important purpose – as whilst Resident Evil 3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, it remains firmly in its shadow.
A few things in a Resident Evil game are guaranteed; zombies are a given, they’re also going to be some keys and cards to some open doors, there’s going to be a section in a lab, and in a sewer. And more likely than not there’s going to be a bioweapon super mutant to be found and defeated, and in some cases, they’ll be the one to find you. In this case: NEMESIS!
Serving as a direct sequel to Resident Evil 1, and potentially concurrently to 2 (timelines! I couldn’t figure it out), we’re following Jill Valentine. After the events of the first game, she’s trying to figure out the conspiracy of the Umbrella Corporation and counting down the days until she can leave Raccoon City for good. However, in a “2 days before retirement” kind of way she’s ambushed by Nemesis, a bioweapon programmed to take down the members of STARS, the team of operatives from the first game. Along the way she teams up with Carlos, a mercenary member of Umbrellas clean-up crew, to rescue survivors, take down Nemesis, and escape the city. The gameplay jumps between the two characters, forming one story. When they split off, we get different perspectives on what is happening in the world.
From a technical perspective, the level of polish is undeniable. Building from the base of RE2, it takes its immense visuals and graphics, combined with its highly developed sound design to create a seriously frightening sensory experience, best enjoyed in the dark with a good pair of headphones. If you’re brave enough that is (I’m not).
The game follows the new standard of modernisation to the classic RE gameplay. Along with some new mechanical additions, like a dodge move to shake things up, it merges the action oriented recent games, with the strategic planning of the older ones. Snapping in and out of item menus to manage your inventory is quick – displayed with a button press, and presented within the interface, this minimises the amount of time away from gameplay. More importantly however, navigating through rooms is no longer a 30 second cutscene/loading screen – the game presents huge levels with minimal loading screens, which can be explored to your hearts content. While this may seem like a small point, anyone who’s played any of the original games will realise the importance of this addition.
The gameplay is very cinematic, and action focused, the trade off with this however is a loss in player control and an increase in linearity. With this shift in perspective, it bridges the series gap between the logic-based puzzles of originals and the run-and-gun shooters of the modern entries. The main attraction to this game however is the addition of Nemesis. Nemesis acts as a levelled-up Mr X from RE2. Whilst with X you were stalked in a game of cat and mouse, using your wits to escape and fight, with its extreme strength and ability Nemesis makes it clear that you are its prey. He’s an intense opponent, tracking you and possessing an almighty force. With this, he serves as one of the most interesting additions to the game; his addition produces a feeling that the stakes have been raised from the previous game. However, Nemesis only appears when playing as Jill, meaning his time on screen is reduced, and with the games already space playtime (I was able to complete the game in around 5 and a half hours), he feels underutilised and under explored.
The noticeably short game time is a major sticking point for this game. While it can be argued that all of the Resident Evil games have short playtimes, instead putting an emphasis on replayability. This game doesn’t have the same level of incentive as other entries. There is some end game content, including challenges to earn gameplay variants, and costumes, but this isn’t as enticing as new stories which we’d come to expect from the series thus far.
While it had everything going for it, the deck was always stacked against Resident Evil 3. Coming out just over a year after already beloved previous game, its still fresh in our mind. Quick development time isn’t always a bad thing, there have been other examples of games built from assets of previous games, however these usually lean into some level of experimentation to justify the lack of new additions. There are plenty of examples where this is done well; Games like Majora’s Mask used a significant and unexpected dark tone, to set itself apart from Ocarina of Time. Fallout New Vegas leaned heavy into traditional RPG mechanics to expand on what Fallout 3 laid out. These are distinctions and innovations used to justify the creations of these games, which Resident Evil 3 just doesn’t have.
There’s no doubt in my mind this is a good game. However, reusing assets, and even some levels of Resident Evil 2, makes Resident Evil 3 feel more of an expansion pack, rather than its own game. Which is fine, but along with a short playtime makes its £50 premium price point sting all that more. While all the pieces were there, there’s just not enough new additions to justify a whole new game, and just not enough time to enjoy what’s actually there.
If you’re a recovering addict and looking for a quick hit of RE2, then go ahead! But otherwise, I’d wait for a price drop.
Reviewers Note: Purchasing RE3 also gives you Resident Evil: Resistance. An additional multiplayer game, not mentioned in the review as it’s its treated as own game, and probably deserves a review in itself.