Friday, July 29, 2022

Resident Evil 3 (Remake) - Review


Resident Evil 3 is a unique game in the series. After the success of Resident Evil 2, it was only natural that Capcom would want to release a follow up. However, things weren’t going to be quite that simple. The PlayStation was nearing the end of it’s life cycle, and there were other games being planned as well. Resident Evil Code Veronica was one such game that would be releasing on the SEGA Dream Cast (and later the upcoming PlayStation 2), but they still wanted one last send off for the original PlayStation. This game is what would ultimately be named “Resident Evil 3,” and it’s a game that would put pressure on it’s development team, and be rushed to it’s completion. With their tight timeframe in mind, RE3 would ultimately be shaped into something unique, and would eventually become known as the “black sheep” of the series. Rather than being a pure horror survival like RE1, 2, and the upcoming CV, 3 would take a much more action approach, and would tell a story set directly before the events of it’s predecessor. By doing so the team would be able to reuse assets, and entire areas, from RE2, and finish the project just in time. Of course, this is all only a small part of the story. The true history of Resident Evil 3 is quite a bit more complex, but that’s not why we are here today...

Jump ahead roughly 20 years, and the Resident Evil 3 “REmake” is finally here. It’s a game that was in development along side REmake 2, and is a title that fans have been asking for ever since 2’s success last year. As expected, the game does in fact reimagine the original Resident Evil 3, but the real question is... What does this exactly mean? What is the Resident Evil 3 remake, and is it a worthy follow up to Resident Evil 2? Well, I know the game has already been out for awhile now, but I figure it’s never too late to answer that question. This is my review of Resident Evil 3 REmake.

The Story of Raccoon City:

RE3 is both a prequel and a sequel to Resident Evil 2, and, as it’s a follow up to RE2’s remake, it’s actually a continuation to that game. What do I mean by that? Well to put it simply, RE2’s remake did alter the original story slightly, and add some things that were not covered in RE2’s original plot. RE3 continues this trend, and actually builds off of what RE2’s remake established, rather than simply reinventing the classic 3. Think of it as a “new canon” to the original games, that will basically replace them. Don’t go into this game thinking it’s story will be the same as you remember, and don’t assume that it will reference events from the original Resident Evil 2. This story fully expects that you have already gone through 2’s remake, and are familiar with the changes made. That being said, it’s actually not required. Especially considering most of 3 is a prequel to 2, and that it follows Jill and Carlos, and not Leon and Claire. That being said, the basic story is mostly unchanged. 

Resident Evil 3 picks up not too long after the original Resident Evil. The special police force STARS has uncovered the dark secrets of the Umbrella corporation, and have come face to face with the bio weapons they have created. After “stopping” the STARS team captain Albert Wesker, who was involved with Umbrella and their bio weapons, the remaining members are now left to try to cope with the horrors they endured. Initially they think that their nightmare is finally over, but it doesn’t take long for Jill to realize the truth of the matter. This is only just the beginning.

The game begins with Jill being attacked by a giant zombie like monster named Nemesis. This thing as seemingly been sent out by Umbrella to destroy the remaining STARS members, and Jill quickly finds herself fighting for her life. She manages to escape the creature and leave it behind in her apartments, but she soon realizes that this monster is actually the least of her worries. The T-Virus she encountered in Resident Evil 1 has now been released into the city, and the zombie apocalypse is awaiting her. Monsters roam the streets, innocent people are dying and joining their numbers, and now she must do whatever it takes to make it out of the city alive. Even if that means teaming up with Umbrella themselves.

Return to Horror (Action) Survival:

Although Resident Evil 3 seems to be similar to previous “classic” Resident Evil games, it’s actually a lot more action oriented.

The basic gameplay has you, the player, taking control of Jill, and exploring the world in order to find a way to survive. You initially start out with basically no supplies or resources, but by searching every nook and cranny you can find different materials required to make it through this ordeal. Ammo is pretty limited, but by finding items like gun powder you can craft more to give yourself an edge in a fight. On top of this you’re also armed with a knife to use, and thankfully, unlike in RE2’s remake, it’s the one thing that will never break on you. It’s a general defense weapon that can be used to kill weakened zombies, and is your last resort if you run out of ammo. To go along with the knife, Jill can also dodge enemy attacks by using a side step, and doing so with the right timing will cause time to actually slow down. This can be used to get off some easy headshots, if you have a gun, or simply get as much distance between you and the enemy as possible. And sometimes, that’s the best option. 

(Especially if you're going up against one of these!)

Like in past games, RE3 is broken up into different areas, and each area has a different objective you must accomplish if you want to move on. Sometimes this will be something simple like “find all of the keys,” but to find each key you may have to solve a different puzzle. And to make things even more complicated, sometimes you can’t even access the areas required unless you have already found other usable tools. Basically the game forces you to play through each section in a specific order, yet it also rewards you for going out of your way to explore “extra” areas. This includes areas you have no business being in, but may already have prior knowledge of thanks to RE2. Often these areas will provide you with tools or upgrades that’ll make your life easier, but are not actually needed to progress through the story. Due to the game’s linear nature however, it is possible to completely skip these areas, and miss out on some great rewards if you’re not careful. Once you progress into the next main area of the game, you cannot go back — which can cause problems.

Despite having a larger focus on combat, RE3 does still rely on resource management. It is completely possible to run out of supplies, and basically make it so it will be nearly impossible to continue on. Boss fights will almost always have enough supplies laying around the room for you to use, but if you end end up with no health items and no ammo in a room full of zombies, then you just might not make it out. Of course it’s actually pretty hard to get yourself into this type of situation — assuming you didn’t just use every health item the moment you found it, and then wrote your name on the wall with bullets. (Which is something you can do, since bullet holes will actually remain... Just like in Resident Evil 2.) That being said, the same can’t really be said for every difficulty mode in RE3, as there are other ways you can actually play it. That’s where the true game lies.

Difficulty and Ranking:

A huge part of classic Resident Evil actually comes from mastering the games. These games can be pretty short (you’re looking at about 8 hours from a normal play through), but they are set up in a way that you can continue to replay them while improving your own skills. Memorizing the map is key with speed runs, and eventually you’ll start to learn exactly what resources you’ll need, and which ones can be ignored to save time. Enemies and bosses have their own weaknesses, and as long as you know what you’re doing, you can actually take them down much quicker than you did the first time you fought them. This is where the real fun of Resident Evil 3 comes from, as you constantly try to improve your score. But it doesn’t stop there. As mentioned before, RE3 has multiple difficulty modes, and each one provides you with a different challenge.

While RE3 sports some generic “harder” modes like you see in most games, there’s actually a bit more to it than you would expect. The “normal” hard modes do everything you might expect. They make resources a lot harder to come by, enemies are faster, more aggressive, do more damage, and are harder to kill, and there are some other alterations thrown into the mix. It’s basically still the same RE3 that you’d see in it’s normal mode, but just harder. It’s the “Inferno” mode that makes all the difference.

By the time you reach Inferno mode, you would’ve already had to memorize the game perfectly. You’ve gone through it at least a couple of times, and have beaten the original “hardest” mode. Basically by this point you’re a “master” of RE3, who knows every item location, the enemy placement, and the best way to deal with every single situation... Then Inferno comes along and flips everything upside down.

Rather than being a simple “harder” mode, Inferno changes nearly everything. Item placement is different, enemies are different, bosses are much harder, and there are other new “surprises” hidden for you throughout the game. It is essentially a completely new game, that uses the original game’s story and maps as a base. It’s the ultimate challenge for RE3 fans, and forces them to relearn the game while also dealing with the greatly increased difficulty. It’s pretty much everything a classic RE fan could ask for, and greatly extends the length of the relatively “short” original playthrough. But the down side is, you do have to go through the original story before you can reach that point. But that’s okay though. Since RE3 does not feature a playthrough “A” and “B” as Resident Evil 2 did, this acts as a sort of replacement. It just takes a little bit more work to get to it.

The Changes from the Original:

The biggest thing that a lot of people might want to know about RE3, is how it is different from the original. Well there are a few things that stand out in this area. First of all, the game is more cinematic, with quite a few new cutscenes, as well as recreations of classic RE3 moments. Not everything is here though, and some things happen in real time or are just small references to the source material instead. This doesn’t really take anything away from the game, but some fans may be disappointed by this. The other major change comes from the removal of some areas like the Clock Tower. The Raccoon City Police Department has been reworked in this version of the game, and is used as a way to set the stages for Resident Evil 2’s remake instead. So the scenes that play out here directly reflect some of the more “memorable” parts of the station from RE2, and are basically limited to one side of the building. This means many areas cannot be accessed, and that means even the Clock Tower was removed. Of course that’s not to say that the remake is shorter, as many of the removed areas were replaced by new sections entirely. That might not make every old fan happy, but overall it’s not that big of a change. 

Besides the changes to the areas, some story moments have been altered as well, with some things being expanded on. One plot point from RE2’s remake even resurfaces, with Jill witnessing something that will only make sense to those who played 2’s remake (as it was not in the original 2 or original 3). The game is also completely linear, and removes the choices that were present in the original RE3. In other words, scenes will always play out in the same way, and you have no control over the outcome of the events. This “story choice” system is something that many fans from RE3 loved, and may be disappointed to see it has been removed. Other than this, areas have also been redesigned, and the action and gameplay itself has of course been greatly improved. This is a fully 3D game after all, and a big step up from what we had in the past. But, again, this may not be what everyone wanted. This is more than just a “remake,” as it’s a full reimagining.

The Good and the Bad:

The Resident Evil 3 remake is an outstanding game, but it’s also not a game for everyone. First of all, the game looks amazing, and it plays great as well. The smooth “modern” controls are a huge step up from the tank controls seen back in the day, and the action aspect of the gameplay has even improved greatly because of it. The game is simply fun to play from start to finish, and I often found myself just admiring the detail put into this recreated world. Assuming you like the classic RE style gameplay, there’s really nothing to complain about here. The game’s issues actually come from fan expectations, and the game possibly not being what you were hoping for.

Nemesis is a big part of RE3 (heck, his name was in the sub title), and many people expected that he would work similar to “Mr. X” from Resident Evil 2. In that game Mr. X would chase you through the police station, and make your life a lot harder. Nemesis is an “upgraded” Mr. X who can grab you with tentacles, and even use weapons! In theory he should be a much larger threat, and in return make RE3 a lot harder; however, that is not the case. Instead of constantly being there chasing you, Nemesis is more of a “boss” fight, with his encounters being completely scripted. There are only a few key moments where he’ll actually chase you, and during these moments you can actually use him to get resources. He’s not the big bad scary “constant” threat that many were expecting, and the “chase” scenes only last up until he becomes a real boss. Many, myself included, will see this as a good thing, but just as many others will also be let down by this fact. It really depends how much you enjoyed Mr. X in 2, and if you were hoping for an upgraded version of that gameplay mechanic. If you despised Mr. X however, then you’ll be happy with the change in 3 for sure. 

Other draw backs to RE3’s remake, is the fact that extra modes like mercenaries were removed. Sure, it does come with an extra multiplayer only game on disc, but this is not a review of that. That is basically a game of it’s own, that is included in the RE3 package. It’s also nothing like mercenaries, and that may be a let down for many. Of course mercs not being included doesn’t actually impact the enjoyment of RE3’s main game, but it definitely will be a point taken away for long time fans of the mode. But honestly, these are the only real “gripes” one might have with the game. Well, these and the fact that some areas were changed and removed. But again, this is a reimagining of Resident Evil 3, and not a 1:1 remake. As long as you are aware of this, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Overall, RE3 is still a fun game. It’s a little on the short side, but the inclusion of Inferno mode helps make up for that. It’s a game built for replaying anyway, and, even then, the first playthrough will still take some time to get through. Again, the play time will roughly be around 8 hours, with some playthroughs taking longer depending on what you all do. Some safe combinations can be tricky to figure out (unless you brute force them), so going back for those can eat up quite a bit of time as well. While the game may not seem like as “complete” of a package as Resident Evil 2 was, there’s still plenty here for you to do. It’s a game you can spend countless hours replaying to improve your score, and if you rather not, then your first time through will still provide you with non stop fun. It’s well worth checking out.