The times they are a-changing indeed. We are staring down the barrel of an immense crisis and people are understandably afraid. Much of our normal way of life has seen drastic interruption with cancellations and the urgency of limited public interaction. As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, we’re urged by government officials to stay inside and participate in what is being called “social distancing” for all non-essential reasons. For a lot of people this means staying at or working from home, for all those that have the ability to do so. One thing that can seem rather daunting during this crisis is the worry of cabin fever setting in when being confined to the same space for days on end.
You know what helps with being a big-time distraction? Video Games!!! Especially now that we live in a time during a big boon in digital sales, it has never been easier to be a gamer especially when these new restrictions are being imposed on us. Why just the other day I canceled my physical pre-order of Doom Eternal (due out this Friday; review coming next week) and pre-ordered it on my Xbox directly. This is a time of grave importance so being able to rip and tear through hordes of monsters and demons and such is a great way to relieve some of that pent-up stress and un-ease.
So, color me excited when I found out I had early demo access to what is possibly my most anticipated title of the year…RESIDENT EVIL 3. For fans of my writing and of the site in general, you’ll remember that I wrote a stellar review of last year’s RESIDENT EVIL 2 remake and revered it as an instant classic. I’m a hardcore RE fan and as of the writing of this article, I currently have all but one of the games downloaded to my PlayStation hard drive. The demo officially drops on March 19th, which is tomorrow but I had the opportunity to play it a day early and let me tell you… this game is going to blow you all away. The demo itself is really just a small sampling of what we can expect but it gives you a healthy dose of all the main expectations and then some. The only complaint I had, which I’ll get out of the way right now is that there was some screen juddering and ever so slight frame rate drops. Ill chalk that up to being something that will be addressed when the full game drops in a few weeks. Now for the good stuff.
The demo drops you right into the middle of the action as STARS officer Jill Valentine meets up with Carlos Rivera and the rest of UBCS soldiers who will be her main companions through this nightmarish descent into undead hell. The situation is dire as the whole of Raccoon city has been reduced to a smoldering melting pot of creatures and genetically enhanced freakish bioweapons with one goal… to kill and feast on flesh. The player is given control of Jill after a few minutes of exposition setting in motion the plan to escape the city. The goal is to get the subway tram up and running again so the team can get to an extraction point with the few survivors left and safely leave the city. Right off the bat, the mood and tone that was established in RE2 remake is continued to great effect here. The key difference being that within that game… it was more about isolation and fear of the unknown. In RE3 remake… the fears stem from the unrelenting stress and fear of constantly being stalked by creatures bigger and more powerful than you looking to take you out. Once the player reaches the streets above the subway station, you bear witness to the destruction firsthand. The graphics and attention to detail on display are quite jaw dropping and the new RE engine which was developed for last year’s remake are working in full force here.
Even though we have the whole of Raccoon City to run around in and explore, in a way it feels even more isolated because the city is literally crawling with the zombie menace under every nook and cranny. Another thing I really liked about the demo was the scarcity of the resources you had to defend yourself with. For hardcore fans of the RE series, you’ll know that at one point these games became bullet heavy action cheese fests and almost completely ditched the horror aspect. Well when Resident Evil 7 came along and then the RE2 remake after that, Capcom realized that you can have a horror focused game that is still entertaining as all hell to play. Resident Evil 3 is definitely going to focus a little more on the fast-paced action side of the series, but not at the expense of terrifying you along the way.
We also have to talk about the games main antagonist, whom is featured front and center nearly more so than the main playable character, THE NEMESIS. This thing is a hulking towering behemoth of Lovecraftian design. It stalks you everywhere you turn. While there will be designated “safe” areas he cannot enter… most of the demo he stalks you everywhere you go and leaves not a single moment for you to take a breath. Mr. X from the RE2 remake was terrifying but the more you played the game and got used to his patterns of movement, he became more of a nuisance than a threat. Here, the Nemesis is much more unpredictable in its movements and can follow you just about everywhere the player can move. You are woefully out classed and outmatched and the only option you have, especially in this demo, is to run in the opposite direction. There are ways to temporarily disable him, giving you a little time to put some distance between you and him but that requires almost all of the ammo and grenades you’ve picked up along the way leaving you vulnerable to the rest of the threats you face along the way. So, these moments boil down to inventory and time management. While the game seems more fast paced and action heavy, it’s not a bombastic gun crazy spectacle and still retains a lot of the horror and fear of being powerless to help yourself.
It took me roughly 20 minutes to complete the demo, and my hands were trembling the whole time. Resident Evils 2 and 3 on the OG PS1 are some of my favorite video games of all time and to see them so lovingly re-created on the current generation of hardware fills me with the warm and fuzzies. This demo was a huge blast of fun and fear inducing panic at the same time. While I understand that maybe playing a horror-based video game about a virus that turns people into flesh munching creatures of the night might seem a bit squeamish for some right now, I promise you that this game is totally going to be worth your time.
We are living through a scary time right now. There are tons of conflicting reports and misinformation floating around out there. So, I argue maybe playing a video game where you’re a gun toting badass taking down bad guys and monsters one shotgun shell at a time might just be the trick, putting the power in your hands to save the world.
Resident Evil 3 Remake demo is technically out tomorrow on March 19th and the full game releases on April 3rd. Between Doom Eternal coming out this week, RE3 a few weeks after that and Final Fantasy 7 remake a few weeks after that, there’s going to be no shortage of badass video games to keep you distracted and entertained while we all ride this out together. Stay safe out there, guys. And blast a few zombies for me 🙂