Released: April 2020
Originally Released: September 1999
Original Developer: Capcom
Also Available For: PC and PlayStation 4
I’ve touched upon this before but, back in 1999, Capcom were on a bit of a roll with their survival/horror franchise, Resident Evil (Various, 1996 to present). Under pressure to develop multiple Resident Evil spin-offs and sequels, Capcom ending up dividing their production team into two: one would work on a title exclusive to SEGA’s Dreamcast while another would work on Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Although Nemesis bore a sequential number, it was, for all intents and purposes, more of an extension of Resident Evil 2 (Capcom, 1998); it ran on the same engine, reused a lot of the same locations, and its story ran concurrently with Capcom’s fantastic sequel. The game was noticeably shorter than its predecessor but bolstered by a whole slew of new control mechanics, crafting options, and the presence of the hulking Nemesis, a massive bio-organic weapon (BOW) that would relentlessly chase protagonist Jill Valentine through the zombie-infested streets of Racoon City. Pretty much immediately after the release of the Resident Evil 2 (Capcom R&D Division 1, 2019) remake, fans cried out for the same treatment to be afforded to Nemesis. It turned out that they were pestering Capcom for a game that had been in development for about three years. Utilising the same RE Engine as its predecessor to realise its characters and gore in glorious high definition, Resident Evil 3 sought to present this fan favourite sequel with a whole new coat of paint.
In the midst of a zombie outbreak in the town of Raccoon City, former Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) member and survivor of a similar outbreak, Jill Valentine, finds herself relentlessly pursued by Umbrella’s newest BOW, the Nemesis, as she desperately tries to escape the chaos alongside Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.) mercenary Carlos Oliveira.
Ostensibly, Resident Evil 3 plays pretty much exactly as its predecessor but with a few more bells and whistles. The first thing you’ll notice when choosing the play the game’s single-player story is that you only have one option available; unlike Resident Evil 2, which offered the chance to play the story from the perspective of either Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield, Resident Evil 3 places you squarely into the shoes of Jill Valentine and the spotlight pretty much stays on her throughout the game’s story.
Although you begin the game in a first-person perspective, this is only a fleeting addition and, instead, many of Resident Evil 2’s gameplay mechanics take precedence; you can place times into magical Item Boxes, save at Typewriters, and combine gunpowder and herbs together to craft more ammo and better healing items. Gunpowder is far more plentiful here than in its predecessor and, while a lot of the same (or similar) weapons return, there’s some new additions and upgrades here (the grenade launcher, for example, fires the traditional grenade, fire, and acid rounds once again and can thankfully fire more than one shot at a time).
While the game is far more action-orientated than its predecessor, there’s still a few of the classic Resident Evil puzzles here that’ll have you collecting jewels, picking locks, and adjusting control panels to power up or unlock new areas. Unlike the previous game, there’s a few cheeky quick-time events (QTEs) sprinkled in here for good measure (thankfully nothing to the extent of other Resident Evil titles) that will see you pressing A and holding R1 to start and drive a car at Nemesis or holding the control stick to push levers or escape Nemesis’s tentacles.
Jill controls exactly the same as Leon or Claire…for the most part. When attacked by zombies or other BOWs, you can perform a side-step by pressing R1. If performed correctly, Jill will roll out of harm’s way, time will slow down, and you’ll be afforded the chance to deliver a critical shot to the enemy’s weak spot. In order to master Resident Evil 3, especially on its higher difficulty settings, it’s basically mandatory that you get good at this dodging mechanic but I can’t say that it’s that easy. I struggled to pull off a perfect dodge at the best of times and found the mechanic to be more clunky than useful.
When Jill is attacked, you’ll be prompted to mash the A button. You might be inclined to think that this is a welcome return of the shake-off mechanic from previous Resident Evil titles (and which was sorely missing from Resident Evil 2, where you were guaranteed to get hurt if you were grabbed) but you’d be wrong. Instead, mashing the A button simply lessens the damage the attack does to you rather than allowing you to shake the enemy off. If you think you can use a defensive item to escape the enemy’s clutches you’ll also be disappointed as, while all those items return in this game, you can no longer jam a grenade down a zombie’s throat, though you can blow up groups of zombies using explosive barrells or stun them by shooting electrical boxes.
This was a major loss for me as these items were incredibly helpful at escaping damage and dispatching enemies in one go but there’s a good reason these have been omitted: Resident Evil 3 is far more action-orientated than its predecessor. This was true of the original game as well but, whereas that title was hampered by the franchise’s signature “tank” controls, Resident Evil 3’s vastly improved control scheme and increased focus on ammo, crafting, and engaging enemies in combat makes it far easier to take the fight to your shambling enemies rather than having to decide been fight or flight.
Speaking of which, one feature that was unique to Nemesis was the ability to pick between battling the Nemesis or running from the fight. If you chose to battle it, you’d be rewarded with some upgrades for your weapons and health capacity but you’d be in for a tough fight as Nemesis didn’t go down easily. Resident Evil 3 does away with these options, meaning that, when Nemesis appears, you either dodge past it and run for your life or attack it to stun it (possibly earning yourself an upgrade or two as you go).
Similar to Mr. X in Resident Evil 2, Nemesis pursues Jill with relentless abandon; it smashes other zombies out of the way, crosses distances in the blink of an eye, bludgeons Jill with powerful swings and slams, and grabs her with its annoying tentacles. Many reviewers and previews stressed that Nemesis would even follow you into save rooms but this isn’t actually true; it can enter one save room if you choose to run back that way but, as you’re more likely to engage with Nemesis or run away from it, it’s not likely you’ll see this in play so you can save without fear.
At a couple of key moments during the game, you’ll switch to playing as Carlos, who plays a little differently to Jill. He has access to different weapons (like an assault rifle), delivers a massive punch to enemies when performing a perfect dodge (similar to Jake Muller), and explores different areas (most notably a truncated version of the police station from Resident Evil 2). Given that Nemesis was much (much) shorter than its predecessor, I was really hoping that Capcom would expand upon the story in the remake by having a separate scenario where players play as Carlos all the way through but, alas, they’ve stuck to the formula of the original game, meaning that you swap to Carlos for a brief period but will be sticking with Jill for the majority of the game.
This is disappointing as, like many reviewers have noted, Resident Evil 3 is a much shorter experience than its predecessor. Considering that you have to finish Resident Evil 2 in under three hours to unlock the best weapons and perks, though, having a game that clocks in at around three to five hours (depending on how good you are) doesn’t seem that bad in retrospect. However, it can’t be denied that the game is noticeably shorter; it seems Capcom were banking on Resident Evil: Resistance, an asymmetrical-multiplayer game included with Resident Evil 3, extending the life-span of the game but, while Resistance is an interesting inclusion, dodgy connection issues and my personal lack of interest in online multiplayer make this a questionable choice.
Graphics and Sound:
When I reviewed Resident Evil 2, I said that “graphically, the game has no equal right now” and those same, high-quality graphics return here. Resident Evil 3 makes fantastic use of lighting, swamping areas in a moody, unsettlingly darkness that is only lit by Jill or Carlos’ little torch or flickering lights.
Resident Evil 3 is far more open than its predecessor; now, you’ll explore the streets of Raccoon City as it descends into chaos around you, entering wrecked pharmacies, restoring power to a spider-infested power plant, and breaking into a toy shop, among other things. Each area is rendered in fantastic detail and Raccoon City has never looked better; areas from the previous game are back in their full glory as well and expanded upon in a natural way. You might be blocked off from exploring the entirety of Resident Evil 2’s locations but seeing where certain previously-blocked alleyways lead or noticing familiar locations is always a thrill.
The graphics extend to the game’s enemies as well; zombies have never been gorier than in these remakes. You can blast their limbs off and expose their tendons and skulls with well-placed shots and will marvel at how truly grotesque Umbrella’s BOWs can be thanks to the game’s realistic graphics engine, which makes characters (and viscera) look more real and stomach-churning than ever. Having said that though, there were a couple of times when the graphics went a little janky; generally, when picking off zombies from a distance in larger areas, I found the enemy models were jerky and of low quality (though this did remind me of the original PlayStation titles).
Of all the Resident Evil titles, I’ve played Nemesis the least so I’m not massively familiar with its soundtrack but, like in Resident Evil 2, the game opts for ominous, subdued melodies as you explore your surroundings and ramps up the tension whenever enemies (especially Nemesis) are onscreen. Seriously, when that bastard is hot on your heels with a rocket launcher, a lot of the adrenaline you’ll feel is thanks to his foreboding theme.
Enemies and Bosses:
If you’ve played a Resident Evil title before, you’ll be familiar with a lot of the enemies here; some of the zombies are exactly the same as those encountered in the Resident Evil 2 remake and the annoying zombie dogs are also pretty much identical (though, thankfully, far less prevalent here). There’s some now variants, given the game’s new settings but, for the most part, you’ll be battling or dodging the same neck-munching monstrosities as before; as in the last remake, zombies can take loads of damage before they’ll go down for good. Many times, you’ll think a zombie is finally dead only to find it clambering up your leg moments later.
There are some new enemies here, though; the Tremors (Underwood, 1990) inspired worm enemy from the original game is gone, replaced with the bipedal Hunter γ, a grotesque, slimy frog-like thing that will eat Jill whole if she gets too close. Notorious by their absence in Resident Evil 2, spider-like enemies crop up at that Raccoon City power plant where they slash at Jill with their spiked legs or infect her with a parasite that will, eventually, burst out of her in gory fashion.
You’ll also encounter Pale Heads, naked zombies with regenerative capabilities that are best put down with acid rounds, the returning Lickers and Hunters (which dodge your fire, can rip out your throat in one swipe, and must have their protective shell blasted open before they can be put down), and Nemesis-infected zombies. These are regular zombies with big, stupid-looking globs on their heads; these globs slash at the player with tentacles and can only be destroyed when they open up and expose their glowing eye.
Throughout the game, you’ll also encounter the Nemesis; like Mr. X, Nemesis is a massive bullet sponge and capable of dealing tremendous damage, meaning it’s usually better to run from these battles (running is generally mandatory as well). Nemesis can be put down, however; if you manage to dodge its attacks and blast its power core, it will eventually drop to one knee stunned, which will give you a chance to run for it. As you battle Nemesis, it will mutate into bigger, more animalistic and uncontrollable forms; these must be fought in a series of boss battles that range from blasting a fuel tank on the monster’s back, to shooting it down from a clock tower, to powering up a gigantic rail gun to finally put Nemesis down for good. As much as I like Nemesis, part of me was always disappointed that it eventually degenerates into yet another massive glob of tentacles, glowing weak points, and sharp spikes but there’s no denying that Nemesis and its various forms greatly benefit from the fresh coat of paint this remake offers (even if its individual encounters are notably reduced).
Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As you play and explore your surroundings, you’ll pick up new weapons. Jill begins with a standard handgun but soon acquires a shotgun, a grenade launcher, and a magnum; Carlos, however, starts with a handgun and an assault rifle and doesn’t get to pick up any other additional weapons. Unlike in the original, where Nemesis dropped an upgrade almost every time you put it down, here you’ll only get a couple of upgrades from defeating the creature. Other weapon upgrades can be found in safes or in other areas, allowing you to add sights, grips, and other benefits to your weapons.
As you play, you’ll earn points; the better you perform, and the more of the game’s challenges you complete, the more points you’ll earn. Many of these challenges are tied to the game’s Achievements and are story based but many others are purely to unlock new concept art and models; you’ll be awarded points for killing a certain amount of enemies with certain weapons (and overall), finishing the game on higher difficulty settings, and more.
Once you clear the game, you’ll unlock the Shop, where you can spend these points on new weapons (including a heated knife and infinite rocket launcher), a new costume for Jill, and other bonus perks like coins that regenerate your health over time or increase your strength and defence. Clearing the game on higher difficulties will also unlock other, even harder difficulty settings (Nightmare and Inferno), which will make the game more challenging and lead to more points being earned.
As many of the game’s unlockables are tied to the Shop, there is far less on offer here than in other Resident Evil titles. There’s no New Game+, no alternative story mode, and no additional costumes beyond the one in the Shop and the pre-order bonuses. Many of the perks and items from the Shop will make your next playthrough easier but there’s a distinct lack of replay value here as there’s not much incentive to play again as all you’ll get are Achievements.
Nemesis never included side stories like Resident Evil 2 but it did include the “Mercenaries” mode; both of these are absent here as Capcom instead put all the replay incentive into Resistance. In this mode, you’ll play online with four other plays either as a Survivor or a Mastermind. The Survivors must…survive…in typical Resident Evil fashion (collecting items and ammo, solving puzzles, and battling enemies) while the Mastermind tries to obstruct and kill the Survivors from behind a security camera.
I played a couple of games in each mode and found the game an interesting novelty but it’s not really my thing. For one thing, I had a lot of network and connectivity issues; two games just ended entirely and, more often than not, I kept getting warped, stuck, or glitched into the environment. I had a similar experience with the game’s obvious inspiration, Friday the 13th: The Game (IllFonic/Black Tower Studios, 2017) but, overall, I found that title to be far more stable and enjoyable. A lot of my experience with Resistance may have been tainted by my poor connection while playing and my general dislike of online games so I’m sure people who enjoy such games will find plenty to like about this additional title.
Resident Evil 3 is a fantastic companion piece to Resident Evil 2; its predecessor was always more of an extension of Resident Evil 2, kind of like an extended piece of downloadable content (DLC), and this remake doesn’t really do much to change that. When the Resident Evil 2 remake came out, I was hoping that Capcom would merge Nemesis with the game so that, after clearing it, you’d unlock Jill and Carlos’s story and play through their side of the events as I really didn’t think Nemesis had enough content to justify a full-blown remake without massively expanding upon its narrative and gameplay. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and it really should and could have given that Resident Evil 3 was developed pretty much alongside and immediately after Resident Evil 2 and I would have been happy to wait another year to play a combined Resident Evil 2 and 3 remake. Instead, Resident Evil 3 offers an all-too-brief, action-heavy gameplay experience that, while enjoyable to play and absolutely stunning to look at, just can’t hold up to the depth and variety of Resident Evil 2. Regrettably, it looks as though Capcom won’t be offering anywhere near the level of DLC for this game that they did for Resident Evil 2, meaning that it’s probably best if you wait for this to go on sale before picking it up.
Did you pick up the Resident Evil 3 remake? What did you think of it? Do you agree that it was a bit lacking compared to Resident Evil 2? What are your thoughts on the original game? Which of the classic Resident Evils is your favourite? Leave a comment below and be sure to check out my ongoing review of the WildStorm Resident Evil comics for the remainder of this month.