Some would argue this game shouldn’t have been remade, citing it as the “worst Resident Evil game”, but I think that is the perfect reason to remake it. It’s finally getting some justice! I’ve played Resident Evil 3 before and the unique thing about it to me, was always the environments and the perspective from an event happening to you while you’re in the middle of the city. Almost every other Resident Evil involves the main characters purposefully heading into a dangerous situation, but this one takes you by surprise. The city is being torn apart by chaos, and someone wants you dead. Yes YOU, specifically.
In this remake, the destruction and simultaneous beauty of Raccoon City is more evident than ever before, and that’s why I think it was worth remaking. It provides an absolutely stunning spectacle, with the best graphics imaginable with more control over the gameplay than ever.
Who wants some Moon Donuts? I’ll grab a 12 pack for everyone. I love the vibe of this place. Raccoon City feels alive with vibrant colours and interesting shops, fictional movie posters and ads for companies you’ve never heard of before. It’s refreshing to have no ideological or consumer investment into a place. This coherent design to the setting makes you feel like you’re in another world. It feels like a nice place to visit and a genuinely interesting town, making all the mayhem and destruction more impactful because you don’t want to see it burn.
The game in general uses colours very well, without overshadowing the realistic vibe. Dark stuff is still dark. Extremely good lighting and shadows helps enhance the realism, while the colours are purposefully skewed to a higher contrast. The Resident Evil 2 remake took a similar approach to the graphics, but it was hard to appreciate the colours as you spent most of your time indoors. They both still feel like “90s videogames” if we had much better graphics technology then. Of course it helps that the game is set in 1998.
This game takes place at the same time as Resident Evil 2 from different character perspectives, switching between Jill and Carlos as you split up. As a result, there’s some crossover between the areas and plot points of RE2, but that’s just one small part of the experience. Some people are gonna scream “rehash”, but I liked seeing them. It gives the whole situation a much bigger scope than one game, when you can imagine what Leon and Claire are doing at different moments. There’s always something happening across the city, whether it’s the police station, subway, streets or the hospital. Having these games both remade really brings this situation to life with an absurd amount of detail.
G’day mates, got any toilet paper I can borrow? The town supply burnt down, and the restroom at Moon’s Donuts was stripped clean. Hmmm, guess we’ll have to fight over it. You really have to take zombies seriously in this game, as they can take a lot of hits before even reacting. In this situation you might have to back off, or really focus on headshots, or knock one down by hitting the legs. Even this doesn’t work half the time, these zombies have been doing their squats. Their movements are very erratic and unnatural, so you can’t get too cocky even at this distance. They can just swing or charge at you when it looks like they won’t, and suddenly you find yourself in a Jill Sandwich. Oops, too late! They’re coming!
Luckily, we have the ability to dodge now. I know that sounds like a basic feature, but it wasn’t possible in the Resident Evil 2 remake which had more primitive survival horror design. Now with the R button you can lunge out of the way of swings, but you have to time it very well. It’s risky and sometimes you can still roll into their attacks. Definitely not a freebie, but it’s nice to have another movement option. For the sections where you play as Carlos, you get a punch counter instead which rewards aggressive play.
Something that still sucks, unfortunately, is the knife. If you actually want to use this in combat, you either need to do a perfect dodge and swipe, or hit an enemy roughly 20 times. It’s so weak and pathetic it’s almost not worth carrying around. At least it doesn’t break. You can stab enemies a single time just to see if they are alive on the ground or not, or break crates with it. Not very useful in actual combat though. I suppose that’s realistic, but Resident Evil games in the past have had very good knife combat.
Surprise! Just when you’re getting comfortable, it’s time to run for your life. Nemesis, also known as shitbird or fuckface in official lore, is the game’s biggest threat and a recurring theme throughout the game. To put his presence into perspective, this game was originally called Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Much like Mr. X in RE2, he will follow you around at certain parts and can’t be killed, only stunned. There are some spectacular moments with him, but I found the gameplay to be a bit lacking. There’s lots of running, dodging and scrambling. It’s different to Mr. X because you had to solve gameplay puzzles and backtrack while fighting him. Now with Nemesis it’s exclusively action gameplay. I honestly found Mr. X to be more scary and fun for that reason.
Here you don’t have many route options, you need to master the dodge or you’re in for a bad time. If not dodging, then it’s worth shooting him a bit to stun him, just so you can continue running. The horror comes from how fast he is, he can jump straight in the air and swing very fast and hard. As a physical powerhouse, he’s much more threatening than Mr. X, but the gameplay sequence fell a bit short for me. It’s not bad or anything, just a bit plain and he’s very easy to escape from in most cases. Just hold up and occasional dodge, and you’re good. You need to do a lot more thinking to avoid Mr. X.
RE3 in general has more of an action vibe than RE1 and 2, with less puzzles and bigger guns earlier on. It sounds like it’s not in the true RE spirit, but it still feels like a horror game and the gameplay sequences with regular enemies and boss fights are great. There are some tough zombie encounters and a lot of uncertainty about zombie positions. The tension stays pretty engaging, and ammo / health management is still important. I think it’s nice to have different pacing in RE2 and RE3. The game still feels like a survival horror, just with a bigger focus on shooting. It does still have a couple of puzzles and item requirements too, just on a smaller scale. You won’t be finding Spade Keys or anything, in fact Carlos has a funny quote in the game making fun of it. The game is self-aware of the differences between this and RE2, and displays them with pride. Leon and Claire were rookies but Jill and Carlos are professionals, here to slay and save the day.
The game has been criticised for being short, and it does feel a little shorter than every other RE game I have to admit. This is not ideal, as Resident Evil games are on the short side to begin with. Thankfully it makes up for it with tremendously detailed areas with lots of gameplay content. I’ve played through the game three times now and it only came out last week. It just doesn’t get boring. The streets specifically have so much going on, that I’ve noticed new things with each playthrough. Not just static detail, but small events and bits of dialogue.
There’s also a lot of ways to play the game. As you unlock points for beating challenges, you can use the in-game shop (no microtransactions or DLC for this game at present) to buy new guns, items and assists. These can all give you more confidence to raise the difficulty, once you get the infinite handgun for example, Hardcore Mode becomes more appealing. The more you play, the more you learn about the game and the more options you get in return.
I love Resident Evil 3 despite it’s shortcomings. It really does a wonderful job of presenting the scenario it has. The relatively short length, and lack of puzzle solving honestly makes sense in the context of the events unfolding. Running around Raccoon City in the middle of a zombie outbreak, with multiple things happening at once, people fleeing, things constantly changing, Nemesis destroying walls and blowing things up, it just feels very exciting and real. There’s also an extremely interesting backstory of Umbrella and corruption that extends all across the city. Highly recommended if the events in the real world aren’t interesting enough for you.