I’m going to get straight to the point with as little preamble as possible, Resident Evil 3 Remake(which will be referred to in this review as RE3R) checks all the boxes and kicks all the asses. Last year Capcom studios came out with the remake of Resident Evil 2 and it was almost unanimously hailed as a masterpiece and revitalization of the classic RE formula. It was a scary as hell game with equal doses of repurposed nostalgia and fresh takes on what made the original such a beloved classic. Its perfect mixture of the old and new really rocketed the storied franchise back to the top of the food chain. If you’re at all curious, go and read my review to get a more in-depth idea of that particular game and what I thought.
Once the dust had settled and the game came out, fans we’re immediately clamoring for a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. While Nemesis was a kick ass game in its own right, the shadow of RE2 loomed large over it, and as such the game is often over looked when discussing the highs of the series. The game we eventually got wasn’t even intended to be the true sequel, it was originally supposed to be a What If? Spinoff story and RE: Code Veronica was intended to be the true sequel to RE2. However due to some internal struggles at Capcom, RE3: Nemesis was promoted to mainline status and Code Veronica was pushed further down the line. Due to this reconfiguration of the release schedule, Nemesis was rushed through a hurried production process to meet a particular street date. Miraculously, the game passed muster and continued the strong tradition set forth by the previous two games in the franchise. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a thrilling adventure starring Jill Valentine from the first game and the titular villain which became an iconic monster in all of pop culture. The game itself had a few shortcomings, most notably the length. The shorter production process meant that certain things had to be cut and streamlined to make sure the game hit its target. So a lot of the loftier ideas that the production team had come up with when it was just considered a spinoff had to be cut and rejiggered to fit the mythology of the main franchise. So yes, RE 3: Nemesis was a great game, but still falls just short of Resident Evil 2.
Why do I bring up all that backstory? Much of that mirrors the production process of Capcom’s latest two remakes for both Resident Evil 2 and 3. RE2R had a much longer and thoughtfully planned out production so as to please fans and make sure all the right nostalgia buttons were touched upon from the OG title. RE3R was produced right alongside RE2R and in playing the game you can tell because a lot of the same in game assets are repurposed across both titles. Also not unlike the original RE3, the remake is a much shorter more action focused title than its longer and more slower paced horror filled brother. Whereas RE2R has 4 separate playthroughs spread across 2 playable characters, RE3R has one single story being told primarily from the perspective of one character. So the “length” difference is kind of an artificial cheat RE2R gets away with. Yes technically the game is longer because you’re having to play through the campaign four separate times to technically complete it, but a single play through of a single campaign is roughly the same amount of time that it takes to complete RE3R. So these arguments from fans and critics about RE3R’s length seem confounding to me. There’s ultimately only one question to answer when it comes to RE3R… is it any good?
Well I might be a bit biased as a dyed in the wool Resident Evil fanatic, but I am here to tell you that this game is awesome and really needs to be played by all fans of the series. While I still feel RE2R from last year is overall the better game from a technical standpoint, I think I can honestly say I’m having more fun with RE3R. It’s tighter narrative focus, intense moment to moment set pieces, powerhouse of a graphical engine, and kickass lead heroine come together to formulate a game that needs to be experienced by as many people as possible. There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt on the internet comparing this to RE2R and citing RE3R’s shortcomings because of what came before, and I kind of don’t think people are being totally fair about it. Yes, it is natural to compare a sequel to what came before it. It’s also quite normal to compare a remake to the source material that it’s cribbing from. RE3R always had an uphill battle to fight because the original game always lived in the shadow of its bigger and more widely praised older sibling. I never at any point expected RE3R to be bigger longer or more epic because that wasn’t the story the original game was trying to tell. Resident Evil 2 is about a rookie cop and his newly made friend’s fight to bring down a mega corporation for its evil machinations and human genetic tampering. It’s a sprawling story about the lengths and evils greedy corporations will extend themselves to all in the name of profit told against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. Resident Evil 3 is a much smaller story about one woman’s escape from the city suffering said zombie outbreak. Simplicity doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. I like epic multipart stories told in grand fashion, but I also like a nicely tight and compacted story staying focused and getting the blood pumping. This is exactly what RE3: Nemesis and RE3R set out to do. They hit the mark and then some.
Now, there are plenty of key differences between Nemesis and its remake. The key difference being that this isn’t simply a remake. RE3R takes the skeletal structure of the original game, with all of its main story beats, and re-imagines it for a modern audience. Jill Valentine is still the badass star of the show, The Nemesis is still a hulking monstrous behemoth, and Raccoon City is still a hellish prison teaming with undead biological nightmares. Everything you love about the original game is still here, just with a different and fresh coat of paint. There are a few things that were cut out, and I gotta be honest I’m not that upset about it. A lot of fans are screaming online that certain levels and mid game boss battles are completely absent, but I challenge them to go back and play the game while imagineing those missing components in this modern re-telling. While they were fun and outlandish in the original game, they wouldn’t fit the more serious and slightly down to earth tone this new remake universe seems to be going for. Besides, there’s plenty of new stuff they included to more than make up for the stuff the excised out. The newly realized Drain Deimo’s and the disgusting Hunter Gamma’s are perfectly deadly foes that very much keep you gripping your controller that much tighter.
Let’s talk next about Jill Valentine. In last year’s RE2R Leon and Claire were fresh faced rookies who were new to this whole nightmare. Jill had already witnessed firsthand the type of horrors that Umbrella had now become famous for. Not only that, she is an experienced member of the Special Tactics and Response Squad, so she’s more assured of her ability to escape the city unscathed. Jill isn’t a superhuman robot who laughs off pain and danger; there’s still plenty in this game that she reacts to unfavorably. She’s just seen the horrors born of Umbrella’s fruit before so her confidence and smartass attitude shines through a lot in this game. Some of her dialogue could be ripped straight from a cheesy 80’s action film, and that’s okay because there are some truly memorable zingers to hear. Some portions of the game you play as UBCS officer Carlos Olivera. If you remember the original game, you played one section of the game as Carlos. You’re tasked with going to a local hospital in search of a vaccine for the virus plaguing the surrounding city. The whole section takes up maybe 20 minutes if that of gameplay and it’s over fairly quickly. In this new version, Carlos has a much more fleshed out role and directly contributes to more of the central plot than he originally did. The arc of the working relationship between he and Jill is essential to the story and I really hope we get to revisit these characters again in a future game down the line.
To wrap things up, RE3R is an excellent game indeed. Is it perfect? No. There are some small issues that hold it back from being a perfect game. The harder difficulties you unlock as you progress through the game become ball bustingly difficult to manage and lose some of the fun through cheap tactics disguised as scares. Unlockables through in game challenge progressions are fun but are limited and can be finished in about 2-3 playthroughs which will diminish replayability for some. There are a few other small potatoes but most of it is subjective stuff that might not ruffle everyone’s feathers. The things that this game succeeds at far outweigh the negatives. The boss battles with Nemesis are suitably intense, the weapons are fun to unlock and reuse in creative ways, the graphics are next level gorgeous. This a fun horror based action game that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for people. Sure, I do love the old school slow paced fear and dread of classic Resident Evil, but this hybridization of the new and old really packs a wallop. There are going to be a lot of reviews and hot takes that will bemoan this game as not being a value for the 60 dollar asking price, and those people are certainly entitled to their opinion. However, I really disagree and find that RE3R stands toe to toe in the fun department against last year’s RE2R. Its shorter campaign doesn’t take away from the razor focused narrative and game mechanics deployed to perfection. Bigger doesn’t always mean better and RE3R is the perfect case for a small contained blast of fun that doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’ve had the game since launch last Friday and I’ve already sunk in 50+ hours and am on my 10th playthrough and I don’t show any signs of slowing down… at least till Final Fantasy 7 gets here later this week.
Resident Evil 3 Remake is a fun as fuck game that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Combing the ruins of Raccoon City as Jill Valentine sending each zombie and monstrosity back to hell one shotgun shell at a time is as fun as it sounds. Yes the horror takes a slight backseat to the action set pieces but that is not to the games detriment. RE3R is the Aliens to RE2R’s Alien. Both games perfectly complement each other and serve as a reminder that the Resident Evil series is here to stay and just as vital and exciting as ever.
P.S. For those wondering, I purposefully didn’t comment on the online multiplayer Resident Evil: Resistance that got packaged with the game. I couldn’t complete a whole game in one setting with the serves dropping in and out every several minutes. If and when I can get a stable connection again and some time to digest what it has to offer, I will revisit the game at a later date.