The Post-Modern Prometheus.

April 3rd is almost upon us and with it, Resident Evil 3 will soon be within the grasp of gamers worldwide when it launches tomorrow for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Following hot off the heels of last year’s stellar Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom have had their work cut out for them with Resident Evil 3 this time around, featuring a remix of the narrative structure of the original as well as a completely revamped antagonist: Nemesis, who was the star of the show within the 1999 original. While Resident Evil 3 is accompanied by the asymmetric multiplayer game: Resident Evil Resistance, this review will be covering the contents of the Single Player only. As always, I’ll be covering the PS4 version of the game, detailing the good, deconstructing the bad, while ultimately discussing whether the title is worth your time and money at the £49.99 asking price (EU PSN Store).

Capcom have had a good run in recent years, completely turning around the hammy reputation the Resident Evil series garnered following the releases of Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was responsible for bringing the series back to it’s roots in survival horror, and last year’s excellent remake for Resident Evil 2 took a beloved classic and reinvigorated it for modern consoles, offering a new take on the game while still retaining enough identity of the original to give an unprecedented sense of nostalgia (shamelessly plugging my own review of the game here). I’ve made it no secret over the years I’ve been writing for Game Hype that I’ve had a very love-hate relationship with Resident Evil franchise, holding the memories of the original trilogy close to my heart, but absolutely despising almost everything after Resident Evil – Code: Veronica due to the action-oriented direction the series took with the release of Resident Evil 4. It should come as no surprise that I was front row on the hype train when the rumours surrounding a remake of Resident Evil 3 (in the same vein as last year’s RE2) were doing the rounds last year, only to explode into one of my worst episodes of fanboy-ism when the remake was officially announced with a trailer to boot. I make reference to this due to the fact (and say the following with a very heavy heart) that Resident Evil 3 pales in comparison to it’s predecessor from last year. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Resident Evil 3 is a bad game (quite far from it in fact) as it does a lot of stuff right (especially when it comes to fan service) it’s just that what it does right, gets overshadowed by some of it’s more glaring issues (some of which are exceedingly hard to ignore).

While the above is quite the contradictory statement when you consider how much glowing praise I was giving the demo in my analysis the other week (article can be seen here) the overall production feels like a step back for Capcom when you consider what they achieved with Resident Evil 2 last year. The premise is similar to that of RE2, a built from the ground up remake of the 1999 original within the RE Engine, changing up the narrative structure and visuals in an attempt to keep things fresh while keeping the nostalgia intact. While Resident Evil 3 achieves this somewhat, there are a number of issues (in comparison to the original) that detract from the experience, especially when compared to how Capcom knocked the ball of out the park with Resident Evil 2. Narrative wise, the remake follows the plot (loosely) of the original, placing you in the shoes of S.T.A.R.S veteran: Jill Valentine, three months after the T-Virus outbreak in the Arklay mountains which was dubbed the ‘mansion incident’. The game starts out with a live action newscast showcasing the onset of Racoon City’s epidemic (once again, a bit too realistic with the COVID-19 situation currently escalating across the globe) as civil unrest begins to occur with police forces beginning to lose their grasp of the situation. Jill’s story begins in her apartment, playing from a brief, first-person perspective (I knew I wasn’t going insane when I saw it in the trailer) until she gets a frantic call from a fellow S.T.A.R.S. member: Brad Vickers telling her to get out of her apartment ASAP, moments before the big ol’ boy himself: Nemesis busts through the wall, prompting Jill to get out of dodge, systematically setting up the premise for the rest of the game. While it’s certainly an entrance, Nemesis turning up within the first ten minutes of the game exposes one of Resident Evil 3’s biggest problems: Nemesis himself.

Game Hype - Resident Evil 3
Bustin’ the door down: Nemesis’ intro definitely throws you head first into frantic terror, but it’s unfortunately the beginning of Resident Evil 3’s problem with the titular behemoth.

In the 1999 original, Nemesis was a living nightmare that stalked Jill through the dilapidated streets of Raccoon City and beyond, never relenting in his pursuit to the point when even when he wasn’t around, you still never really ever felt safe. Following the formula of the RE2 remake (and certainly showcasing it in the recent demo) Resident Evil 3 had the solid foundation to make the creature more terrifying than ever, free from the system limitations of the original PlayStation; the reworked AI, pursuit mechanics and increased aggression should have been an explosive cocktail of one’s worst nightmares, which it is in a way, but it fails to deliver any kind of long-lasting tension like the original did, purely down to the fact that most of these mechanics are painfully underused for the vast majority of the game. As aforementioned, Nemesis turns up within the first ten minutes of the game, throwing you head first into a relentless pursuit that is prominent for the vast majority of the game. However, Nemesis is primarily confined to scripted sections that lead into either a cutscene or a boss fight, offering very little in the way of ambient unpredictability that many were hoping would accompany the creature. The first part of the game (which is comprised mainly of what was available in the demo) is where Nemesis shines, albeit briefly. When stalking you at certain points in the early game (albeit heavily scripted) his pursuits are relentless; when he’s not sprinting after you, he’s using his tentacles to whip you down to the floor or drag you back, or power jumping forward to get directly in your face, forcing you to adapt on the spot. Should you decide to take the creature on and manage to down him, he will drop Umbrella crates containing powerful ammo and weapon mods which is a nice touch in terms of a returning feature. These mechanics work perfectly, and it pains me to imagine how great it would be to see them in action against a truly unscripted foe with a much broader chunk of the early game for him to fit into, unfortunately outside of the first couple of encounters Nemesis falls flat fast, lacking any real sense of purpose beyond being an occasional boss battle now and again, which bleeds into another one of Resident Evil 3’s glaring issues: the narrative framework and the overall length of the game.

While the original RE3 wasn’t exactly a powerhouse in terms of playtime, it was a very replayable game for a plethora of different reasons. By comparison, the RE3 remake feels like the footnotes of what the original game intended to be, making it seem like what is on offer would have been better suited as a £15.99 expansion to last year’s vastly superior Resident Evil 2. For starters, the game took me five and a half hours to complete on the game’s standard difficulty, offering very little in terms of replayability beyond higher unlockable difficulty levels and challenges (start this game on Hardcore to get the most out of your first playthrough). The second issue is that huge sections of the original game have been cut from the remake this time around, with the narrative structure cutting nearly half of the original plot for the sake of an updated and more cohesive narrative (I use the word cohesive very loosely). Location-wise, Resident Evil 3 is a far smaller game when compared to the 1999 original, having very little in the way of recognisable locations, cutting out whole sections like Raccoon City Park, Saint Michael’s Clock Tower as well as enemies such as the Grave Digger boss and the spiders infesting the Clock Tower; while Resident Evil 2 did this also, spiders were a lot more prevelant in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, so it would have been nice to see them featured in some way in the remake. While it was documented before launch that the RE3 remake would be removing the live selection feature, branching paths and multiple endings of the original, it’s hard not to think after playing the game that it would have benefitted greatly from these features had they remained intact, as what we do have feels like a very stripped down, anaemic retelling of the original rather than a high-quality remake like it’s predecessor.

Game Hype - Resident Evil 3
“Do you know what Nemesis means?” – While Nemesis is initially terrifying with his reworked AI, it largely goes unused as the creature is primarily reserved for scripted chases and boss fights.

While it may seem that I’m being overbearingly harsh about Resident Evil 3, it does manage do a lot of things right, one of which is fan service. Resident Evil 3 has an exceptional ability of fitting itself seamlessly into the timeline of the Resident Evil 2 remake, offering answers to questions that were asked when RE2 came out last year, as well as other call backs to the original trilogy that old-school fans will instantly recognise if they have a keen eye. Additionally, is the level of detail afforded by the RE Engine, which is still manages to impress with the level of performance and graphical fidelity it’s able to put out. Coming in at 2880x1620p with the usual checkerboard rendering of the PS4 Pro, the game manages to keep a consistent 60fps with features like HDR throughout the vast majority of the game, only dipping into the high 50’s when there are a number of enemies on screen in an enclosed space all at once. The OG PS4 slugs somewhat behind at 1080p with a frame-rate that varies between 30 and 45fps, making me think the game would have benefitted from an option to cap the frame-rate at 30fps to provide a more stable and consistent experience. In addition Resident Evil 3’s environments are absolutely gorgeous and dripping with detail, from the neon-soaked streets of Raccoon City, to the hauntingly silent halls of the Spencer Memorial Hospital, the game’s environment design is just as on point as it was in Resident Evil 2, only missing some of that good ol’ atmosphere due to the game being more action-focused than it’s predecessor.

In terms of the scare factor, there is still a lot here that quantifies the game’s status as a survival horror title over action horror, even though it’s sitting on the very edge of that definition. As with the original, Resident Evil 3 is more grounded in action when compared to it’s predecessor, offering a far more liberal amount of ammo, as well as more enemies on screen to turn into swiss cheese as a result. While there are some sections of the game that do feel very shoe-horned in (you’ll know the section I’m referring to once you play it) the game manages to keep a consistent, breakneck pace throughout most of the game, replacing situations such as one or two zombies and very little ammo, to six or seven with a fair ol’ bit of ammo but your exits are cut off, which offers a different kind of horror experience, but it’s still one that still manages to get the heart racing. One of Resident Evil 3’s standout features is some of the classic creatures that have been reworked from the original, the Drain Demos at the substation, the Hunter Gammas that lurk in Racoon City’s sewer system and even the Hunter Betas, which are downright terrifying this time around, being the first time the creatures have been featured in a Resident Evil title since Resident Evil Revelations from 2012 (once again shamelessly plugging my own review here). A final point that is definitely worth a mention as to what Resident Evil 3 does well, is it’s soundtrack, which is goes above and beyond in comparison to it’s predecessor. One of Resident Evil 2’s biggest complaints was the lack of an original soundtrack (although this was mitigated somewhat with the original BGM DLC) something that Capcom have taken on board with Resident Evil 3, remixing a number of the original tracks from the 1999 release, bringing back all of the audio nostalgia from the original game.

Game Hype - Resident Evil 3
What lurks beneath: One of Resident Evil 3’s beat features are it’s redesigned enemies from the 1998 original; the Hunter Gamma and Beta absolutely shine in this regard.

Overall, it’s a shame that Capcom have pushed out Resident Evil 3 so soon (even though the hype kind of demanded it) as the foundations were already there. Had they fleshed out the narrative a bit more with more factors from the original, made the initial streets of Raccoon City a bigger area to explore and designed Nemesis with unpredictability in mind, this review would have taken a very different stance. As it stands Resident Evil 3 feels like a step back for the publisher, which is a shame because they’ve had a pretty good run over the last couple of years, especially when it comes to the Resident Evil franchise. When it comes to value, it has to be remembered that the game does come packaged with the asymmetrical multiplayer horror game: Resident Evil Resistance (which was difficult to play at the time of writing this review due to the servers only being populated with those who managed to get early copies of the game) so you are effectively getting two games for £49.99, which isn’t a bad deal at all. Hopefully Capcom takes constructive feedback well, they’ve done it before, and with the wacky rumours that have been circulating Resident Evil 8, this is definitely not the last time we’ll see the publisher deliver the quality that fans of the franchise have come to expect (Code Veronica next guys!).

A PlayStation 4 review code was provided by Capcom Europe.

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