No matter how hard I try to keep my expectations to a minimum for any game there’s always some who’s get set high anyway, for better or for worse. Usually it’s because it’s either from a known developer or an IP that I’m a fan of and, try as I might, it can be hard to distance yourself from the things you’ve enjoyed and the people who created them. Such is the case with the new Resident Evil 3 remake; I loved the original a lot and the surprisingly awesome remake of Resident Evil 2 meant I was setup to expect good things. Whilst a lot of the good of the previous remake is still here I can’t help but feel that this is a weaker remake than its predecessor, lacking enough to make it stand on its own like the original did.
Resident Evil 2 takes place around the same time and place as Resident Evil 2 but puts you in charge of Jill Valentine. She is a former Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) member and, right off the bat, is attacked in her apartment by an Umbrella-created intelligent bioweapon known as Nemesis, who attempts to kill her and all remaining members of S.T.A.R.S. After fleeing the scene and witnessing the horror of the current zombie apocalypse it’s not long before the nemesis tracks her down again. Thankfully you are saved by Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.) mercenary Carlos Oliveira and you begin to figure out how you’re going to get out of Racoon City alive.
Resident Evil 3 uses the same RE Engine that powered the previous remake and for the most part looks just as good as it did. There are some oddities during cutscenes or when you’re put up close to the characters, like the way the hair moves in weird ways or when some of the animations are weirdly stiff for no discernable reason. There does seem to be a lot more outside and larger scenes though as I can remember RE 2 feeling a lot more claustrophobic than this one does. Performance is also good too and I’m sure that, given both of these remakes were in development at the same for a while, improvements in the original have made their way into this one. Overall it’s exactly what you’d expect for a game released one year after another using the same engine: largely the same but a few improvements here and there.
The gameplay is, as you’d likely expect, identical to RE 2. It’s a survival horror game at heart and so you’ll be spending most of your time managing your inventory, trying to figure out the path of least bullets between point A and B, and all the while trying to avoid the wrath of the nemesis that’ll be chasing you. Unlike the Tyrant though he’s a lot more capable in chasing you down, being able to leap around, whip tentacles at you and move a heck of a lot faster should you manage to put some good distance between you. Indeed this is likely one of the reasons why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as I did RE 2; it feels like I’ve done this all before. Whilst this was still true of the original games the comparison is a lot more stark here, given the short time between releases.
There’s a lot more combat in RE 3 than there was in 2, partly due to the increased number of forced encounters with the Nemesis but just overall it seemed like the game was designed to eat up more of your bullet reserves than its predecessor did. One technique that I’m pretty sure worked consistently well in RE 2 was stabbing zombies you just shot down to confirm they were actually dead and, should they not be, you could pretty much always knife them down before they could attack you. That’s really not the case here anymore as the first dozen or so times I tried it I think it only worked twice, every other time resulting in a bite that I’d have to deal with. Suffice to say that meant I ended up ignoring a lot more zombie bodies than I did before which, of course, lead to more jump scare moments with ankle biters having a go at me. Still it was kind of fun to have access to a lot of ammo more often, even if the combat systems themselves were all basically identical.
There are some new mechanics added in (like Jill’s dodge and Carlos’ body slam) to try and spice up combat a bit but overall they don’t really change much. That is until you come across enemies that have 1 hit kill maneuvers, something which is incredibly irritating given there’s no real build up to them appearing nor is that particular attack indicated as something that you can’t do anything but dodge away from. Really what they’re useful for is getting through areas without having to use as many rounds of ammo to do so, which is nice, but not really enough to differentiate the two games enough in my mind.
The same streamlined puzzle mechanics are present in RE 3, meaning most of them are pretty well self contained and somewhat linear in their execution. You’ll still be juggling your inventory a lot as you cycle through different loadouts to match whatever situation you happen to find yourself in. Most puzzles will have clues to their solution either right next to them or somewhere in the general vicinity, making them all relatively easy to solve even if you didn’t feverishly explore every crevice of the map before trying to solve them. The benefits of exploration are very much worth it as getting into places that aren’t taking you directly to the next area will usually net you a trove of items that’ll come in handy later on. Of course the game will also do its worst on you to make sure that that stockpile doesn’t last as long as you hope it will.
There’s a few small areas of polish needed but nothing too drastic, just small things like triggers not working and requiring a reload or the janky AI for certain enemy types. The latter is probably something I hope they never fix as some of the more challenging enemy fights can be made a lot easier by opening and closing a door on them. Indeed I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle the area with 2 Hunter Betas in it without being able to mess with their pathing by closing a door on them.
The story is a cut down version of the original, leaving out some areas which weren’t as key to the story as the others were. This is what has led to numerous complaints about the game’s length and replayability which I somewhat agree with but honestly I was kind of done with it after about 5 hours. You see the plots have never really been the strong point of these games, it’s more the weird and wacky puzzles coupled with the intense survival horror gameplay that really made them special. RE 3, being so similar to RE 2 in almost every way, meant that the main differentiating element is the story and with that being so-so it made for an overall mediocre experience.
Resident Evil 3 doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the previous remake, making it feel like you’re playing the same game again just with a different skin. I’ll have to admit to my expectations being somewhat high given my great experience with the previous one and so it would’ve taken quite a lot for Capcom to meet them. That is the gamble you take when releasing games like this so close together, it’s far easier to make comparisons to something when the memories of the previous one are still relatively fresh in everyone’s mind. This hasn’t dampened my expectations for Capcom’s new instalments in the franchise however as I’m hopeful they’ll continue with their penchant for experimentation and take the IP in new directions. So, all in all, Resident Evil 3 is a competent yet disappointing remake only because Resident Evil 2 set the bar so high.
Resident Evil 3 is available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 right now for $92.95. Game was played on the PC with 5 hours of total play time and 46% of the achievements unlocked.