When Capcom claimed it would be making drastic, sweeping adjustments to its second remake in as many years, the Japanese developer most certainly wasn't kidding. Resident Evil 3 has used the PSone classic as inspiration rather than a rigid structure it largely needs to stick to, dramatically changing the narrative and even cutting some important locations and enemies entirely. The impact of that will depend on your experience with the original game, but for those who return to Raccoon City more often than not, it'll be tough not to come away disappointed. Resident Evil 3 is absolutely more than worth playing. However, it continues to linger in the shadow of Resident Evil 2.
Jill Valentine's attempted escape of the T-Virus infested city has always differed from Leon S. Kennedy's plan to rid the world of Umbrella. And thankfully, that contrast remains intact to this day. Resident Evil 3 is a much more action-oriented experience than its predecessor, complete with a dodge mechanic to get you out of trouble, a surplus amount of ammunition, and more zombies than ever to eliminate.
It can still be classed as survival horror, although you're going to find yourself in the thick of combat much more often. Complementing that fact is gunplay which feels better than ever. Jill's assortment of weapons are all responsive and truly pack a punch -- even more so when upgrades scattered throughout the various environments are taken into account. Resident Evil 2's mechanics may not have been enough to deal with these undead hordes, and so the updated action is more than justified. Miss Valentine controls flawlessly, making for intense, exciting action that never lets up.
Raccoon City once again plays host to the outbreak, this time expanded to the point where it feels like a real-life location. You'll have the chance to fully explore a selection of its streets and interiors to your heart's content as you backtrack for items, take in the vibrant, neon shops that have been left deserted, and eventually make your way to the Subway Substation. It's so much more open, allowing you to take in the uncertain chaos of the place while scrounging for bullets and Green Herbs. Hardcore fans will even spot references and Easter eggs here and there, helping to keep the location feel like a tribute to the classic 1999 trek towards the Raccoon Police Department. A triumph of a setting, that's for sure.
The hospital is another location which has been subject to a lot of love, broadening its corridors to a two-storey setting filled with puzzles and all manner of threatening creatures. With the lights switched off, an impending sense of dread makes every door a challenge and the zombies on the other side an uphill task. The excellent backdrop even makes up for the all too brief return to the RPD, where Hunters make their welcome return before coming into their own on the hospital wards.
It's Carlos who plays the role of protagonist at the two aforementioned locations -- a much more likeable character this time around. Equipped with an assault rifle, he backs up the game's commitment to action with sequences that fill the screen with zombies and dodge moves, hearkening back to the dramatic takedowns of Resident Evil 4. The two main characters still get the hots for one another far, far too quickly, but at least there's some depth and development to Carlos over 20 years later.
Capcom has done a fantastic job of expanding upon and bringing life to a selection of classic locations, but the title's biggest talking point is the places that aren't featured. The park and the Dead Factory no longer exist while the Clock Tower makes only the briefest of appearances. The courtyard outside of it sets the scene for a boss battle, but you never actually go inside. It's heartbreaking to see such vital areas from the original experience left by the wayside, especially so when the title is already rather short in the first place. The cherry on top is that spiders and the Grave Digger boss fight aren't actually in the game at all.
And then there's Nemesis. The Tyrant primed to top Mr X is actually a colossal disappointment. Outside of its early appearance on the streets of Raccoon City, encounters with Nemesis are restricted to quick-time events, set pieces, obvious chase sequences, and boss battles. Those are certainly exciting in the moment, but you'll never ever find yourself in a situation where the seven-foot monster is on your tail as you naturally explore the environment. Nemesis feels like a prop that conveniently pushes Jill towards the next area rather than an enemy you need to be constantly accounting for as you attempt to solve puzzles and explore environments. It all feels incredibly ham-fisted, ditching the nature of Mr X for the spectacle of a Tyrant that’ll occasionally chase you.
An initial playthrough of Resident Evil 3 will last roughly six hours if you commit to fully exploring every area, with harder difficulties on offer should you wish to return. Replayability isn't one of the game’s strong points, however, with just a single campaign to work through compared to the alternating routes of Leon and Claire in Resident Evil 2. That’s not necessarily the remake's fault, but when so much content has been cut from the experience, it's hard not to feel like the game is over all too quickly.
Resident Evil Resistance will attempt to extend that lacking play time, but it's got quite the task on its hands if it hopes to have its lobbies populated beyond the first couple of weeks after release. The 4v1 multiplayer mode is a fun enough distraction which pits four survivors against a mastermind who works to stop the team from escaping. That's done through the placement of traps and enemies throughout the match to halt the other team from collecting puzzle pieces, hacking into computers, and destroying Biocores.
More objectives may be on offer across a somewhat healthy map count, but the mode's biggest issue is that playing the role of the mastermind is so much more enjoyable than anything else it has to offer. Setting a trap for an unsuspecting survivor and then taking control of a zombie to take a bite out of their flesh is incredibly satisfying. However, there's a very noticeable downgrade in overall feel and quality when compared to the main game which makes for clunky controls and awkward shooting in the moment. It simply doesn't feel good to play as a survivor, and with the role of the mastermind being so thoroughly fun, we struggle to see a real community forming as every player fights to selfishly play for themselves.
Returning to Resident Evil 3, however, and the RE Engine has delivered the best-looking entry in the franchise to date. Character models look outstanding, Jill and Carlos in particular, while the environments they investigate impress with intricate designs and details which bring even the most dilapidated of locations to life. Some of the gore which made the title's predecessor really stand out is nowhere to be seen, but then it's obvious that a lot of time went into ensuring Nemesis looked just right. Across its various forms, the Tyrant is one of the best looking enemies in all of video games.
Resident Evil 3 had the potential to better its classic predecessor, but a disappointing amount of cut content and the let down that is Nemesis hold it back from greatness. It's still an experience very much worth revisiting, with Raccoon City and the hospital receiving a lot of love and attention, however, it only makes us question what could have been that little bit more.