Capcom has taken advantage of the fact that its fanbase doesn't hold the PSone version of Resident Evil 3 in quite as high a regard as its predecessor. After successfully bringing back its classic survival horror undertaking last year in Resident Evil 2, the Japanese publisher is primed to do it all over again. However, this time around it's not treading on such hallowed turf. Complete with the new third-person perspective, the game looks set to make vast and sweeping changes to what you remember while ensuring what makes it unique is better than ever. Resident Evil 3 builds upon the remake of the franchise's second entry in a similar fashion to the 1999 experience, introducing new mechanics and expanding the scope of Raccoon City to such a degree that it puts the hallways of the Raccoon Police Department to shame. It's more Resident Evil, but that's exactly what we were hoping for.
If you aided Leon S. Kennedy's escape of the zombie-infested Raccoon City then you're going to feel right at home in the shoes of Jill Valentine. Capcom hasn't done too much in terms of differentiating how the two characters play, control, or feel. The same set of commands upon the DualShock 4 makes for an experience which picks up right from where Resident Evil 2 left off, while movement and feel are just as smooth and natural.
The same style of user interface will greet you when a file or tooltip needs to be read, the same menu is on hand to allow the inspection of items, and the same map system highlights key items, the bullets and herbs you didn't pick up, and indicates whether or not you've fully cleared an area. It's very safe to say that the nuts and bolts holding Resident Evil 3 together have been lifted wholesale from its predecessor, however, that's where the comparisons end.
While still remaining true to its survival horror trappings, the series' third instalment was always famed for its slightly heavier push towards action. The remake makes that clear by providing more ammo to scavenge, but also more members of the undead horde to eliminate. Handily placed red barrels can be taken advantage of should you manage to get a cluster of zombies to group up around them, although they come at a premium. For the best part of the two hours we spent with the title, ducking and dodging out of the way of their outstretched arms and taking potshots at those who truly stood in our way seemed to be the best course of action.
It actually creates a sort of balancing act where you could realistically clear an entire section of Raccoon City to leave yourself fully free to explore, but that will, in turn, leave you short-changed for the proceeding section. And if anything, that ups the ante. You may have to resort to simply running away and avoiding danger at all costs, but then Resident Evil 3 accounts for that with a useful dodge mechanic.
Press R1 at any time and Jill will dash forward and circumvent the threat facing her. You'll need to use it sparingly as there appears to be a hidden cooldown dictating when it can be employed, but it's enough to get you out of a spot of bother. As such, it makes for a protagonist who can quickly react to the sort of unexpected scenarios Raccoon City throws at you. That is instead of a character whose means of escape is a 180 turn and running in the opposite direction. The dodge may seem like a minor inclusion, but it defines the focus of the remake.
Raccoon City itself became just as much of a character as the few humans still left inhabiting it during the original experience, but Capcom has gone above and beyond in its attempt to bring the downtown district into the modern era. Many of the shops and buildings in the early game are new additions to the high street, making for a series of avenues and roadways you can explore to your heart's content. Some of them are even completely optional, containing useful items to aid Jill's escape and adding flavour to the experience by not having any obvious use or meaning. Thanks to that, the establishments feel believable despite the mess left on the shopfloors as neon lighting invites you in from the outside -- a direct contrast to the newly-found dark and terrifying nature the city has taken on.
Various puzzles tested the brain as we rummaged through buildings while a lockpick picked up later on in the demo gave us a good enough reason to backtrack to the various padlocks we had initially passed on. Certain aspects do indeed differentiate Resident Evil 3 from the rest of the pack, although when it comes down to it, you're still going to be engaging in that familiar loop of solving the brain teasers of 20 years ago and doing your best to stay alive. Again, it seemingly makes for another incredible experience, but this is more Resident Evil in every sense.
And then there's Nemesis. Capcom has gone on record stating that it is trying to surpass Resident Evil 2's Mr X in every way, and on the face of things, it has absolutely achieved that. Nemesis is, for the lack of a better term, insane. Rather than making its presence known through slow, booming footsteps, the Tyrant charges at Jill every opportunity it gets -- meaning you can't simply run away from the impending doom it brings. A large number of bullets are enough to stun Nemesis, but once again you're never going to kill it completely. The imposing, towering figure is primed to take back its title as one of the most terrifying enemies in gaming.
However, there's so much more to Raccoon City than the sights and scenes found on street level. Venture into the sewers and you'll encounter the newly designed Hunter Gammas while a swarm of revolting Deimos stand between you and turning the power back on in their lair. It's a creepy scene indeed, complete with a new status effect called Parasite that renders Jill unable to sprint and clutching on for dear life after a single attack. A green herb amends things, but the intense scramble to either find one in the aftermath or quickly bring up the menu to heal yourself is especially thrilling.
Resident Evil 3 might be making many more radical changes than Capcom chose to commit to in its predecessor, however, that also brings with it even more potential. The publisher doesn't feel the need to stay true to what made the 1999 experience a success quite so much this time around, opening the door to a better game two decades later. It still has a lot to prove, but with Nemesis and a much-expanded Raccoon City in the bag, Resident Evil 3 could be about to take the franchise's top spot. After being held back by the capabilities of the PSone for far too long, it might just deserve that honour and everything that comes with it.
We would like to thank Capcom for inviting Push Square to the preview event. Resident Evil 3 releases on PS4 on 3rd April 2020, but are you excited about returning to Raccoon City? Do you think it'll be even better than Resident Evil 2? Try and avoid Nemesis in the comments below.