My memories of the original Resident Evil 3 are hazy, but that was because of the amount of time I spent hiding behind the sofa. The concept of Nemesis always kept me going though; this hulking, deformed being stalking you on top of the zombie outbreak you already had to deal with. It’s what drew me in to the Resident Evil 2 remake, having Mr. X pursue you, and I had a blast with that. My heart yearned for another Tyrant though…
The Resident Evil 3 remake takes place before and after the events of Resident Evil 2. In this instalment you play as Jill Valentine – returning from the first Resident Evil game – and newcomer Carlos Oliviera, navigating Racoon City. Jill is a member of S.T.A.R.S., that is the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, a branch of the Racoon City Police Department. Carlos, a member of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service, has been sent to quell this zombie outbreak. It is impossible not to warm to both these characters; both are excellently written and there is a definite chemistry between them, despite what they initially think of each other.
The other main star of the show is undoubtedly Nemesis, a more intelligent Tyrant that is also able to use weapons in his fight. Nemesis has been created with the sole purpose of hunting and killing S.T.A.R.S., which unfortunately means Jill. He’s(?) received a bit of a glow-up since the PlayStation 1 original – and a fair bit of dentistry work – but is largely the same menacing, bothersome fool from before. When he shows up at least.
Nemesis is definitely more threatening than Mr. X with his tentacle arms and ridiculous turn of speed, but his only real appearances are throughout set pieces where you are simply told to GTFO of there, or boss fights. You can certainly feel his presence even when he is not around, but he doesn’t show up and start causing trouble anywhere near as often as you would hope away from the aforementioned scenarios – something that the sadist in me was hoping for a bit more of.
When Nemesis isn’t around though, it isn’t just simply regular zombies that take his place. There is still plenty of enemy variation included here with the likes of Zombie Dogs, Drain Deimos and Hunter Gammas. The latter two only appear in specific locations – and for brief periods – which can make these sections feel ripped from larger sections and crammed together to make a Resident Evil 3 remake Greatest Hits compilation. There is a niggling feeling throughout that parts of this game were removed in favour of a rushed release.
For this reason and many more, Resident Evil 3 remake feels like an extension to the Resident Evil 2 remake. There is a more action-oriented focus compared to the core game – without straying into Operation Racoon City levels of action – but many of the same assets are re-used here. Certain locations such as the wonderful labyrinth of Racoon City Police Department are revisited, and there are encounters with other minor NPCs offering foreshadowing to their plights in Resident Evil 2. In fact, so much is built around Resident Evil 2, it feels more like a larger chunk of DLC rather than a full-priced offering. And the overall runtime does not do much to dispel that feeling.
Resident Evil 3 remake does come packaged with the 1v4 online multiplayer game Resident Evil: Resistance to justify the price tag though – our thoughts to come on that at a later date.
What is included in the remake though has been given the same care and attention as the previous entry. Graphically and aurally, Resident Evil 3 is pushing current hardware to the limit. The walking dead have never looked better and – aside from a few repetitive zombie models popping up – you will be hard pressed to find a better looking game. This is particularly true in the fire physics; Nemesis is vulnerable to flames, so you’ll never tire of seeing him alight for two reasons: it is doing him damage and it looks so bloody good.
The level design is also fantastic. In real-life terms the long and twisting corridors make little sense but when used in a survival horror game they should be highly commended. It feels at times like the game is directing you where to go – almost itself like being controlled by one of the Masterminds from Resistance – with its use of blocked corridors and locked doors funnelling you into that room full of zombies. Resident Evil 3 wants you to experience things in a particular way, and it does this so brilliantly.
Criticism has been aimed at the game’s short length, which adds further argument to this perhaps being sold as DLC to Resi 2. But Resident Evil games have always been about repeat playthroughs, and 3 is again no exception. There are harder difficulties to unlock, and after your first completion you unlock the Shop, where you can use credits earned for completing certain in-game challenges. In the Shop you can purchase coins that you hold in your (very limited) inventory slots that can raise defence and regenerate health; more extravagant purchases include a rocket launcher with unlimited ammo.
Certain sections of Resident Evil 3 will also split the fanbase down the middle: there are new and non-standard things for the franchise included. Perhaps the most divisive moment is towards the end of the story as Carlos must defend the hospital reception from waves of zombies. It is certainly nothing original in gaming standards, what with having a choke point to defend, but it is unusual for a Resident Evil title. Again though, this shows the more action-oriented approach this entry in the franchise is known for.
Resident Evil 3 has 32 achievements in total, and like any Capcom game they don’t use the term ‘achievement’ liberally. You will be required to complete several playthroughs and on the hardest difficulty – albeit made so much easier with the infinite rocket launcher – but there are also achievements for not using the item box and only using one of fewer recovery items that will require planning before attempting them. It does however seem a slightly easier completion than the Resident Evil 2 remake.
After an explosive start, Resident Evil 3 on Xbox One quickly falls into a familiar rhythm. Having a Tyrant hunt you down is now the new norm for Resident Evil, but the most feared of all will always be Nemesis. He quickly disappears into the cutscenes however, without as much of an impact as you would perhaps hope. Thankfully though, there are enough environment and enemy variations crammed into this short experience that you never get a chance to settle down and acquaint yourself with any one enemy type, and as a survival horror game that is exactly how you want to feel.