After the rousing success that was last year’s release of the Resident Evil 2 remake it only made sense that Capcom would follow the series’ history and release a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis a year later, exactly like they were back in 1998 and 1999. With the original release featuring a number of adjustments to the standard formula the focus has now been placed once again on the familiar face of Jill Valentine who must escape from a highly infected Raccoon City. Now with a relentless foe chasing her down and a variety of changes made to mirror the original release’s style of gameplay, does Resident Evil 3 manage to succeed the original successfully?
A couple of months have passed since the surviving members of S.T.A.R.S. managed to escape the Spencer Mansion outbreak but since then the group has been suspended with no one in any position of power willing to take action against Umbrella. With Jill Valentine growing tired of being under constant surveillance in her apartment, she is preparing to leave Raccoon City once and for all only to quickly find the city falling apart around her. Compared to the original release that saw a fairly cold open to the events unfolding in Raccoon City, Resident Evil 3 now features a far more impactful beginning that throws Jill into the chaos far quicker than before.
In fact it takes almost no time at all before she ends up meeting with Carlos and the other members of the U.B.S.C. task force. Driving most of this chaos is the Nemesis, a nigh invincible bio-weapon designed to hunt down the S.T.A.R.S. members and anyone else that gets in its way, making Jill a walking target. In many ways Resident Evil 3’s storyline and pacing have been modified and adjusted to try and create a more cohesive plot. The Nemesis is quickly introduced to players as a threat while the U.B.S.C. members including Carlos are given a bit more depth as to why they are there, giving Jill more of a reason to work with them as a whole.
Compare this to the slower beginnings of the original and we see that the more action oriented pace that Resident Evil 3: Nemesis tried for once again rings true in its remaster with Resident Evil 3 taking things to the next level. This sees a number of locations in the game either removed entirely or expanded upon in an attempt to help bridge previous gaps but alongside these changes come the removal of some other elements as well. Players will find that the time-freezing choices that could be made from time to time in the original have been removed, resulting in there being very little variation in-between replays of the game which only hurts the already short length of the campaign even more. While this is unfortunate, the more cohesive storyline as well as the expansion and addition of a few areas, including some new plot beats, help expand the story a bit for longtime fans of the series who may be a bit disappointed about the lack of variation. Though these longtime fans will certainly be pleased with the few extra nods that the game makes towards the events interwoven between Resident Evil 3 and Resident Evil 2 here.
In many ways the original release of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis saw the franchise taking a step towards having a bit more action mixed in with the survival horror and that carries over fully into Resident Evil 3. Jill Valentine is a veteran that has already lived through one disastrous night facing down the undead and various bio-weapons, giving her some keen reflexes that allow players to dodge incoming attacks and, if timed properly, even perform an evasive roll that can be followed up with a slow-motion gunshot to the attacker. On the other side of things, Carlos is a more physical type that can perform a shove combination that can knock a number of zombies down or out of the way. Alongside this Jill carries with her an unbreakable knife that can be used to tag potential zombies or take advantage of an opening on a downed opponent. There are some caveats however as the knife is now no longer a defensive weapon, in fact all previous weapons such as the grenade and flash grenade that could previously be used in Resident Evil 2 to avoid taking damage are now no longer used for that purpose. Instead if Jill is grabbed by an enemy players will need to mash A to avoid taking extra damage by escaping their grasp.
Ammo crafting makes a return similar to the original release though it is worth noting that players no longer need to worry about carrying an ammo kit with them to do so, that being said there are fewer weapons available in the game as well as fewer ammo types for the grenade launcher, with the coveted freeze rounds now being replaced with an ammunition type previously found in another weapon. It is also worth noting that the remake also makes use of the original’s environmental hazards as players will find things such as exploding barrels and faulty generators that can be shot to take out a horde of undead or temporarily stun an enemy. This is a very useful feature as often players will be forced to face off against more than a few zombies at a time and couple that with the Nemesis and other bioweapons that make an appearance in the game, things can quickly turn in the enemy’s favor.
Now for the big bad himself, the Nemesis. In the original release Nemesis would often appear and players would be given a choice to either run or fight the creature and potentially take him down for a time but with those choices now removed, it is instead on the player’s own skill to avoid the never-ending onslaught that the creature can bring. The Nemesis is a powerful threat that can deal a lot of damage in a short period of time, even with Jill’s dodge move being the player’s best friend in these encounters. Unfortunately while the Nemesis is powerful and has a variety of moves at his disposal including being able to quickly appear from a number of locations, there is only really one major area where he feels like an ever-present threat, since even if he is downed Nemesis only remains in this position for a short time.
Once the player manages to pass this area of the game nearly every other encounter with Nemesis feels like a more scripted and forced event that sees players either running through a narrow corridor in an action set-piece (or downing Nemesis once more while still having to run) or being chased into a boss arena. These boss battles against the Nemesis are a big delight and often feature some various elements that require players to think outside the box a bit to defeat him as the Nemesis can soak up tons of damage, but the fact that nearly every encounter past the one area ends up being a standard scripted affair tarnishes the threat that the Nemesis used to provide.
It is worth noting that the focus on the action does leave the puzzle aspects of Resident Evil 3 even more on the smaller side than what was found in even the Resident Evil 2 remake. Players will only encounter a few puzzles that are only minimally challenging while a few other instances simply provide little easter eggs to content found in the original game. Alongside these diminished puzzles are also the enemy types that players will face off against. While the zombies remain an ever present threat and most other bio-weapons including a new type make a return appearance players will find the removal of a few smaller enemies and another boss a bit disappointing as it leaves only the Nemesis as the only significant threat players will face.
Outside of the core game Resident Evil 3 comes with Resident Evil Resistance, a 4 vs 1 multiplayer mode that we will be covering separately at a later time, as well as RP that is rewarded for completing various challenges in the game. While the original release included a Mercenaries mode players will now find that they can use earned points to purchase everything from infinite ammo for certain weapons, to various buffs for the characters, and even a few other items as well.
Visuals & Audio
Utilizing the same RE Engine that made Resident Evil 2 look so great has only made Resident Evil 3 shine all the brighter as the character models for Jill Valentine and all of the human characters in the game are absolutely gorgeous to witness. Between Jill and Carlos the two characters have a great deal of emotional range when it comes to experiencing the horrors that play out in front of them through cutscenes though their models do lose a bit of luster during normal gameplay dialogue. Raccoon City itself is also flush with detail as players will travel through some amazingly detailed looking locations while on their journey for survival. The zombies and other bio weapons that players face off against also share a similar level of detail with some great re-imagining taking place for the extra enemies players face off against. It is a bit unfortunate however that the gore does appear to be toned down quite a bit this time around, since while enemies still reflect damage down to them by slashes and gunshots, actual decapitations (outside of a critical headshot) and limb severing is nearly non-existent even when using a shotgun or grenade launcher on an enemy.
When it comes to background music Capcom has once again nailed it down when it comes to creating a haunting atmosphere that can quickly fluctuate from simple exploring to bombastic action piece depending on what is happening at the time. There is always a sense of tension while exploring thanks to this type of sound design and the quality shows in this regard. The voice work is also handled expertly with the voice actors fitting their roles perfectly when it comes to the new dialogue and personality types of Jill and Carlos and one must give recognition to the signature S.T.A.R.S. growl of the Nemesis remaining as threatening as ever.
Resident Evil 3 will likely be a fairly divisive title when it comes to fans of the franchise. Unlike the previous remake released last year this one happens to take quite a few more liberties with the original storyline and gameplay to create a survival horror game with quite a bit more action elements to it compared to what was originally on offer. Coupled with the fact that the Nemesis, as threatening as he is to face, is now relegated mostly to set pieces, Resident Evil 3 ends up being a solid, albeit even shorter than the original, game that doesn’t quite know if it wants to reinvent itself or stay true to the source.