One of our fondest memories of the Resident Evil 2 Remake was the terrifying Mr. X. This hulking, trenchcoat wearing behemoth would stalk you at almost every turn, leaving you paranoid in the midst of battling zombies and solving puzzles. Even back then, it made us wonder how much more terrifying Nemesis would be.
Capcom, not one to shy away from giving fans what they wanted, granted that wish with the announcement of the remake of Resident Evil 3, marking the return of one of the most iconic villains of the franchise. This remake has got some big shoes to fill, following not only in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 2 Remake but also of the original PS1 game.
Will RE3 shine like a S.T.A.R or will it fizzle out like one of those Ivy zombies blasted by flame rounds? Here’s our review.
That’s a good looking zombie
RE3 takes place around a day before Leon and Claire arrive and after a particular time skip, picks up again 24 hours after the RE2 pair makes it out of the city with Sherry Birkin. You control returning S.T.A.R.S. elite Jill Valentine, who, in the process of leaving the city, is caught in the the middle of the virus outbreak with zombies running rampant. Along the way she meets up with familiar faces like Carlos Oliveira as they team up to survive and escape the nightmare that is Raccoon City.
Players of the recent RE2 remake will find RE3 to be familiar territory. Graphically, the game is consistent with the previous remake, with its almost realistic character models and attention to gory details. If anything, RE3 looks even better and more polished. RE2 looked great, but RE3 just kicks it up a notch, running at 1620p at 60FPS for the PS4 Pro version and 2160p for the Xbox One X which sputters a bit with inconsistent frame rates. Surprisingly, the PS4 Pro version is the definitive console experience for this multi platform title, but Capcom may soon put out a patch to fix the Xbox version.
RE3 hits a home run in terms of audio quality. While there isn’t a lot of background music in the game, the voice acting is top notch, save for some exceptions (more on that later). The sounds of guns, zombies, and Nemesis’ footsteps are all spatially accurate, adding depth to the experience especially if you are using a good quality headset. RE2 managed to keep the dread going by having certain sound effects play even without zombies in the immediate area, and RE3 sustains this to keep your heart racing at every turn.
RE3 still has the zombie horde to make your journey a difficult one but Capcom threw in some surprises to beef up the opposing lineup that can give Jill a run. Making a return are the dreaded Hunters, another mainstay of the series, with Gamma and Beta variants to boot. There are also bug like creatures that resemble the Chimeras from previous games, able to infect you with a parasite that drastically hampers your movement unless you consume a green herb, as you disgustingly regurgitate it out.
Little tweaks have been made to the basic zombies which make fighting them feel a little different. When knocking them down, they will very likely lunge at you as they get up if you’re close, prompting you to ensure the kill with a double tap to the head. They’re also a little bit tougher to incapacitate but you’ll be glad to know that the usual tactic of shooting off zombie legs to cripple them is still viable.
Also, is it just us or don’t they follow into rooms as much anymore compared to the relentless bunch in RE2?
You’ll also encounter new threats along the way, namely the Pale Heads and infected zombies. These infected zombies look a lot like the Las Plagas from RE4 and a long range threat. Pale heads are… well, naked white zombies that are way more durable than your average baddie.
Jill Valentine, zombie killer
Thankfully, Jill is more than well equipped to handle the horde. If you’ve played the RE2 remake, then the controls will feel right at home, with a few tweaks that make Jill a one woman army, reinforcing the more action oriented direction of RE3.
Now conveniently mapped to 1 button, dodging now lets you do a quick step in different directions to avoid getting hit, but what you’ll want to concern yourself more with is the perfect dodge. If you time your dodge just right, you can not only avoid an enemy attack, but if you aim your weapon soon after you get some Matrix-like slow down to a counterattack of your own. It’s definitely a combat mechanic you will want to master especially if you want to stand toe to toe with the S.T.A.R. of the game.
Nemesis is exactly what we expected him to be in the Remake. Bigger, badder, and a persistent chunk of flesh that has more than one way to skin a cat named Jill. He’s Mr. X brought to a way higher level, with a wider array of attacks and a more relentless demeanor. And did we say he can jump?
Unlike his MR. X, Nemesis can run and jump as he chases you around the zombie infested locales, making running a sometimes useless effort. Surprisingly, it’s quite hard to gauge how near he is so you’ll need to depend on other means like shadows and the increasing sound of his footsteps.
He also throws a mean hook and can scream at you to stun you for a few seconds. His (Its?) reputation as a relentless S.T.AR.S. stalking monster is more than faithfully captured in the remake. It’s a daunting task to take him down, but fortunately for you, Capcom has tossed over a lifeline.
Environmental hazards make their way back into the remake and throughout Raccoon City, there are explosive drums that will allow you to wipe out hordes of zombies in one shot. New to the remake are Electical generators that will emit a shockwave that can stun zombies in place and can be used again after a certain time. What’s even better is that both hazards work on Nemesis.
Capcom giveth, Capcom taketh
The original game was a highly replayable title thanks to various features that are sadly absent from the remake. The option to choose different branching paths is a glaring omission and while you technically still have the option to face Nemesis or run, certain scenes back in the original had Jill take a different path depending on the story choice you made.
The classic Worm boss also didn’t make it to this remake and players of the original may have to rethink some solutions because Capcom changed those too, even the randomness of the puzzle solutions is gone. We’d be lying if we told you we didn’t feel the least bit disappointed, seeing as how RE2 got most, if not all, of the original game into the remake.
There’s also noticeably less puzzles in this game compared to both RE2 and the original. Though there’s still some incentive to replay the game like the various challenges and unlockables, it’s still just the same scenario. It’s the exact reason why the Mercenaries mini-game from the original is sorely missed. In it’s place however, is the Resistance multiplayer online, which we’ll get to in a bit.
The single player campaign was quite the experience. As a remake, it definitely did its job. Even though quite a number of things were removed in this installment, the plot at least feels faithful. Our 6 to 7 hours with the campaign were fast paced and action packed, making the loss of some locations from the original an afterthought.
Also, just like the original, the remake still has elements of horror despite taking on a more action oriented approach. The balance is just right, prompting scares but at the same time giving you tools to take the fight to Umbrella.
Certain personalities also get some meaningful screentime, although it’s really not a surprise anymore as to who kicks the curb in the game, but we’ll zip it for the newcomers. RE3 also gives certain scenes from RE2 some context, which is a rather nice touch, and this is just Capcom being Capcom and paying attention to detail and enforcing continuity in the story.
On the other hand…
Cease and resist
Once a standalone title but was later relegated to being the multiplayer mode for RE3, Resistance is an asymmetric PVP game where 4 survivors battle it out against the evil Mastermind. As the lone Mastermind, it’s your job to stop the Survivors from escaping the stage and at your disposal are various traps and monsters, even Tyrant types like Birkin and Mr. X.
Opposing the Mastermind are the survivors and it’s up to you and your team to figure out how to escape each of the trapped areas and earn your freedom, all the while going up against the Mastermind’s monsters. On the surface it’s a great concept, however does Resistance have what it takes to be a side game that can compliment Resident Evil 3 just like how Mercenaries was a fun diversion from the original campaign?
Immediately, you’ll notice that Resistance is not graphically up to snuff with the single player campaign. Unlike in RE2 where all the bonus modes like 4th Survivor and The Tofu Variations share the same graphical quality as the main campaign, Resistance feels tacked on (it really is) and not thematically coherent with the rest of the game.
The voice acting, while okay, does sound a tad bit silly, especially when you hear one of the Masterminds gloating over the Survivors. The dialogue isn’t as cheesy as the original Resident Evil script but the Survivor and Mastermind lines aren’t exactly award winning catchphrases.
The main issue with asymmetrical games like these is the imbalance of experience. Resistance is only as fun as your weakest teammate and more often than not, you’ll find yourself losing just because a random isn’t cooperating with the rest of the team.
It’s a general multiplayer weakness with party based games, but it is more amplified here in Resistance where it is nigh impossible to win if you don’t work as a team, unlike certain multiplayer games where you can literally get carried by a godlike team member.
The playstyle of the Survivors is vastly different from the Mastermind. While the Mastermind makes moves through card based actions and via the various security cameras littered throughout the arena, the Survivors have 5 individuals, each with different skills.
For example, Tyrone the fireman is a natural leader so he has abilities that can raise his teammates’ stats. January the hacker is able to mess with the surveillance cameras temporarily blinding the Mastermind to what your team is doing in certain areas. It really takes the cooperation of each team member to make it out alive, especially when each has a unique skill that brings something to the table.
Don’t get us wrong, Resistance is actually quite fun, especially as a Survivor. The tension and fear is there as you’re never sure where a Mastermind will plant that next zombie or trap, or even killing the lights temporarily, leaving you in the dark. The fun, however, doesn’t last very long, as it can get pretty tiring especially with some questionable design decisions like the various time penalties that can be slapped on you, leaving you at a constant disadvantage.
Controls are also very clunky compared to the buttery smooth and intuitive feel that the main RE2 and RE3 campaigns offered.
A redeeming factor would have been to directly connect Resistance to the single player campaign. Much like how Mercenaries earned you rewards which you can use in single player, Resistance could have done the same but missed the opportunity to do so.
What we liked:
- Faithful to the original despite some changes
- Solid single player campaign
- Nemesis faithfully recreated
What we didn’t like:
- Resistance doesn’t offer much compared to Mercenaries
- Key features from original 1999 game removed.
- Lesser puzzles compared to original game and RE2 Remake.
Verdict: Wait for it…
RE3 is a solid entry and a worthy addition to the remakes Capcom has been releasing. Resident Evil 2 raised the bar so high by providing a completely different experience but at the same time remaining faithful to the original, striking a perfect balance between the old and the new. RE3, while maintaining that level of production quality, took too many things away from the original which negatively impacted its overall value.
Even with the addition of Resistance, it was quite hard to justify the full price tag of the game for something that lacked the immense replayability the original game had. Resistance cannot, in any way, replace Mercenaries, and even through the main campaign can be a standalone game, it sports a steep admission fee especially when you compare it to the RE2 remake.
Don’t get us wrong, RE3 is a fantastic game. The pace is much quicker but the survival horror aspect is still greatly felt. Some iconic moments were removed, but looking at the game as a whole, RE3 still gives a solid, albeit short, playtime throughout the 6 or so hours of the campaign.
*Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.