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As far as gambles go it was a fairly low one – it was clear early on that the Resi 2 remake was going to be special – but it paid off nonetheless because now Resident Evil 3 is here, a mere 15 months after the launch of its predecessor, and the quality level is similarly high.
Resident Evil 3 follows Jill Valentine as she continues to struggle to come to terms with what happened in the original Resident Evil. One morning, after a bad dream, Jill wakes up in her Raccoon City apartment and barely has time to brush her teeth before an enormous mutant (which we all know as Nemesis) bursts through her wall and starts to pursue her.
So begins an exciting chase scene in which Jill has to escape her apartment block while being chased by the Nemesis: and if you’re starting to think “hang on, the original Resi 3 didn’t start anything like that”, you’d better get used to it.
Just as the Resi 2 reboot chose not to stick rigidly to the events of its source material, Resident Evil 3 plays extremely loosely with its take on its 1999 ancestor. Print out a walkthrough for the original Resi 3 and you may as well have printed out a cheesecake recipe for all the good it’ll do you: this is a completely different game.
Some elements remain the same, of course. The characters you encounter are still present, and Jill’s newfound friend Carlos plays a big role in the adventure (though this time he’s playable for a much larger chunk of the story).
Most of the story beats, however, are entirely original, as are many of the locations you’ll come across. This is very much a reboot rather than a remake, an alternate Resident Evil universe where things play out very differently than they did in the PS1 days. But it’s not like Resident Evil lore was straightforward anyway, so don’t worry about it.
One element it does share with the original game is its place in the timeline. Resident Evil 3 is both a prequel and a sequel, split into two parts: the first part takes place shortly before the events of Resident Evil 2, until a certain event stops Jill’s story in its tracks for a period. By the time it resumes, the events of Resi 2 have taken place and Jill is now dealing with the aftermath.
The first section will perhaps be of more interest to those who played the Resi 2 remake, because there are various moments dotted around – some minor, some major – that foreshadow some of the things Leon and Claire eventually experience.
“Print out a walkthrough for the original Resi 3 and you may as well have printed out a cheesecake recipe for all the good it’ll do you: this is a completely different game.”
These are mostly fan service – one callback (or call forward, we suppose) to the previous game’s most heartbreaking moment will give you a little pinch in the feels again – though some also solve a few mysteries, revealing how certain characters and areas in Resi 2 got into that condition in the first place.
None of this should concern anyone who didn’t play the previous remake, mind you: there’s no implied knowledge there. They’re just little bonuses that will make those who get the reference go “ahaaaa” and smile wryly. If you can, play through Resident Evil 2 again before you play this one, just to make sure you don’t miss all the nods.
Of course, the other major element of the original that returns here is Nemesis, the enormous, seemingly indestructible mutant that pursues Jill throughout the course of the game. On paper, it’s more or less the same situation as Mr X in the Resi 2 remake: he can burst into the scene without warning and chase you relentlessly until you can either escape or stun him.
If you thought running from Mr X was stressful, Nemesis will have you chewing your fingernails down to stumps. Whereas his predecessor would slowly lumber forwards, letting you at least escape as long as you kept on the move, Nemesis can run and even do huge Hulk-like leaps if you get too far away. Combined with its grim tentacle attack, you’d do well to escape a Nemesis encounter without taking damage.
This can be a little frustrating at times – maybe even more than Mr X was – but the game does at least try to alleviate things to an extent with the occasional exploding barrel or sparking fuse box. Get Nemesis near one of these to blow him up or electrocute him respectively, given you time to escape without wasting a load of ammo.
Oddly, as the game progresses Nemesis actually gets easier to avoid. When he eventually starts arming himself with weaponry, this slows him down and stops him using his tentacle attack, meaning as long as you can keep your distance you’ll be okay. It’s still stressful any time he appears, but manageable, and at least he doesn’t infiltrate safe rooms as had been falsely reported.
“If you thought running from Mr X was stressful, Nemesis will have you chewing your fingernails down to stumps.”
This faster, more violent Nemesis may as well be a sprinting, jumping metaphor for Resident Evil 3 as a whole, because this is a far more action-focused reboot than the Resi 2 one was. Puzzles are few and far between, there’s fewer key-hunting than usual and even though ammo is still scarce at first, by the final act it won’t be unusual to have an inventory almost entirely full of guns and health recovery items.
There’s even one section that throws exploration out of the window altogether and – without explaining its context in the plot – simply puts you in a room that continues to fill with enemies and tasks you with keeping the tide down by filling them all with bullets until one of your partners eventually figures out a way to stop them for good. At times like this it feels less like you’re playing a traditional Resi game and more like you’re playing one of their spin-off Mercenaries modes (one of which isn’t here this time, incidentally).
More action means more sticky situations and Resi 3’s new dodge mechanic comes in extremely useful here (and also replaces the defence items like daggers in the Resi 2 remake). A tap of the RB / R1 button will see Jill dodge out of the way: you can do this either forwards, backwards or to the side. What’s more, dodging right as an enemy attacks will trigger a ‘perfect dodge’, a sort of counter move that leaves the enemy exposed for a second or two so you can either shoot them or escape. Mastering the perfect dodge makes Nemesis scenes far less difficult.
It also helps when dealing with some of the more dangerous enemies you’ll encounter later in the game, once the obligatory standard zombies are out of the way. Some zombies, for example, have a weird parasite on their head which can lash out with a tentacle: headshots are more or less essential when taking on these enemies and perfect dodges make that easier.
Other enemies are significantly more gruesome and may have a lasting impact on phobic players. A new giant worm will have you checking toilet seats for months to come, while an early section features a horrendous bug creature that drops from the ceiling without warning, forces your mouth open and spews parasites down your throat (requiring you to take a green herb to vomit them out). It’s no Animal Crossing, is what we’re saying.
All of this culminates in a game that is less survival horror and more ‘90s action movie, and doesn’t necessarily suffer for it. This is partly thanks to the newly redesigned Jill, who’s very much the game’s Sigourney Weaver and takes no shit from anyone. “Nice work partner,” Carlos tells her at one point. “Thanks,” she replies, adding: “Not your partner.”
“As her story continues Jill only becomes more endearing, and by the time she reaches the final battles at the end of the game she’s become a badass action movie star”
As her story continues Jill only becomes more endearing, and by the time she reaches the final battles at the end of the game she’s become a badass action movie star, spitting out the sort of fantastic one-liners that will have fans punching the air.
If you’re a Resident Evil 2 remake fan reading all this with fear in your eyes, don’t be too concerned: the tone may have changed somewhat but this is still very much a sequel to that game. There are still plenty of items to be placed on various things, and plenty of backtracking and map use as a result.
The game still finds ways to make players walk down tight corridors and conveniently hides enemies out of sight until you turn a corner, rotate the camera and see them right in front of you. We let out audible swear words numerous times throughout our playthrough.
It still tricks you with set-pieces when you least expect it, too: at one point our attention was deliberately drawn to a group of standard zombies, and while we lined up our aim to kill them a giant creature was silently approaching us from behind. When it swallowed Jill whole, you could have scraped us off the ceiling.
There’s a balance here, then, that attempts to make sure everything that made the Resi 2 remake so special is still present while also trying to make the game its own beast. While it achieves this to an extent, it’s still similar enough that the ‘wow’ factor has been diminished.
Everything about the Resident Evil 3 reboot is astonishing compared to the original version: the visual detail, the performances, the sound design. But that was the case with the Resident Evil 2 reboot too, so rather than last year’s “wow, look what they’ve done with it” reaction, it’s now more a case of “so this is how they’ve done it with Resi 3”: still impressive, but no longer unexpected.
“There is one area in which the original game was superior, and it’s a fairly big one: replay value.”
Some areas from the previous game have even been copied over to this one wholesale. While this is arguably necessary when it comes to answering some of those mysteries we referred to earlier, this section is so unnecessary to the main plot that it’s hard not to feel that the old assets had been bolted on to easily extend the game’s length by another half an hour (this was the case in the original too, to be fair).
There is one area in which the original game was superior, and it’s a fairly big one: replay value. From what we can tell, there are no extra modes in Resident Evil 3 beyond the main storyline: there’s certainly nothing like the Mercenaries mode in the PS1 version, and it obviously doesn’t benefit from the ability to play through the same story as two different characters like Resi 2 did.
Even the multiple choice sections in the original Resi 3 – where at various moments in the game you’d get to choose where the story branched next – have been scrapped: this is a completely linear story and there are no multiple endings or the like as a result. The only incentive to keep playing is to get a better ranking by beating the game quicker while saving and dying less often: you can then earn points that let you unlock various costumes and other bits and pieces the next time you play the game.
It would appear that Capcom’s decision to include the online multiplayer game Resident Evil Resistance as a freebie alongside Resi 3 is its attempt to make up for this, but while its asymmetric gameplay is interesting – one player spawns and controls monsters while four others try to perform various tasks to escape – the jury’s still out on how long it’ll keep players’ interests.
Either way, to some players a new multiplayer mode won’t necessarily be considered an acceptable bonus for what is clearly a solo adventure. It remains to be seen if it’ll get some extra DLC missions like the Resi 2 reboot did (and there are some characters you encounter along the way who could be candidates for similar side-missions) but until then you’re looking at a 6-8 hour campaign that you’ll need to want to play over and over again. Thankfully, for most players this won’t be an undertaking they’ll perform grudgingly.
Another great Resi remake that delivers action by the bucketload, but is somewhat lacking in replay value.
- Looks and sounds phenomenal from start to finish
- A greater focus on action than in the Resi 2 remake
- Jill is a brilliantly animated action hero with great one-liners
- A short adventure with not much to do afterwards