Title: Resident Evil 3
Genre: Survival Horror / Action
Official Site: https://www.residentevil.com/re3/us/
Release Date: April 3, 2020
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
I immediately knew that Resident Evil 3 was going to be great. The thrilling and tense opening moments immediately grabbed me, and I found myself frantically wandering the streets of Raccoon City, completely immersed. Resident Evil 3 accomplishes two things: making both running for your life and fighting back satisfying and fun.
This is a more action-packed game than its predecessor, but it still has the elements of survival horror that initially defined the series. The name of the game here is harmony. Self-aware yet acutely indulgent, frightening yet entertaining, Resident Evil 3 provides the best of both the worlds, a bridge between the horror of Resident Evil 2 and the action of Resident Evil 4. And while it may have let some of the most admired aspects of Resident Evil fall to the side, it succeeds at so much that the experience is ultimately excellent.
Another Day, Another Virus
Resident Evil 3 takes place around the same time as Resident Evil 2. Jill is in her apartment, clearly investigating the Umbrella corporation, as Leon is driving to his first day at work (poor guy). But it doesn’t take long for us to be thrown into the action. Jill finds the city to be infested with the undead and begins her struggle to survive.
She soon meets Carlos, a member of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.). After saving Jill, he implores her to help him evacuate some of the survivors of the outbreak. Jill, being awesome, agrees, and so the meat of the game begins.
I found myself to be much more engaged in the story than I usually am with Resident Evil games. I am a massive fan of the series, but the overarching narrative is a mess, and although the campy, awkward dialogue gives the series character, there is a line that is crossed quite often. But there was a certain self-aware tone to the story. Whenever Carlos says something cheesy, Jill looks at him like he’s an idiot. When Carlos encounters the spade door in the RCPD, he comments, “Here’s a weird ******* door!” It achieves a perfect balance of respecting the source material but acknowledging its tropes or weaknesses. Such a combo brings a smile to my face without fail.
The story works dramatically, though, because of the characters. Jill really comes to life in this entry. I wasn’t a huge fan of her look before, but now that I have played the game, it’s perfect. It’s perfect because, this time around, Jill is a badass. She’s heroic, strong, brave, and tenacious. Seeing her diss the Nemesis, this hulking apex-predator, when her life is in danger, is hilarious and awe-inspiring.
Carlos is undeniably charming. Heroic as well but full of bad jokes, Carlos is Jill’s partner in crime. In fact, you play specific segments of the game as Carlos. These segments have a lot more action than Jill’s sections. Ammo isn’t as scarce, and the assault rifle can trivialize some enemies. Regardless, given how much I love Jill, I figured these parts would slow the game down. But Carlos is just as strong a character, and so it’s a joy to play as him as well.
Of course, the presentation also helps enhance the story. The game looks beautiful. The monsters look terrifying, the environments exude detail, and the detail on characters’ faces allows for more emotional expressions. This is the best way to experience Resident Evil 3. The entire game just really comes to life.
A Fallen City
The level of detail given to the world makes it fun to explore. Expert level design makes it easy to find the correct path and then promptly ignore it. After all, there are healing items and ammo littered throughout every area of the game. Finding these are necessary for survival. Although Resident Evil 3 is much more action-oriented than what came before, you’ll still be surviving by the skin of your teeth. If you explore, you’ll find what you need to succeed. If you don’t, well, good luck.
Raccoon City was definitely the best environment in the game to explore. With different shops and buildings, there is a lot to find for those who look hard enough. But it also shines because I never knew what was around the corner. Even if I approached a situation carefully, and I always did, I would be surprised with a nice bite to the neck. The level design and zombie placement work harmoniously to create a consistently tense trek through the city.
Other areas of the game are also excellent, but they don’t quite reach the heights of the first. Part of this is because they are rather small. There just isn’t too much to explore because there’s very little space to do anything but stay on the linear path. Most areas in the game felt like pit stops until the next significant location. They’re excellent pit stops, but small nonetheless.
But even in big areas, there is a lack of puzzles. And by a puzzle, I don’t just mean more complex ones, like the water sample puzzle in the original Resident Evil 3. I missed just finding an item, not knowing what it did, and keeping it in the back of my mind until I found its home. Almost all items in the game, besides ammo and healing items, function only for the story, and they are quickly used and disposed of. There isn’t much mystery regarding items, and the game didn’t require much brainpower.
Nemesis – Big Bad, Good Dental
Of course, I’d be remiss to discuss exploration without talking about Nemesis. This hulking giant hunts you throughout the game, and some of the most intense moments in Resident Evil 3 are either you running from or fighting him. Encountering him in Raccoon City is incredibly frightening, and the frantic nature of the first encounter is genius.
Nemesis has a host of abilities to take you down. He punches you, like, really hard. It’s necessary to dodge his attacks in order to survive. Unfortunately, his punches come much quicker than you expect them to, so you must always be on your toes. He can also grab you with a tentacle and drag you to his feet, but this attack sounds much more intimidating than it actually is. It’s scary to look up at Nemesis’s ugly mug, sure, but he takes so long to hit you while you’re down that you can just get out of the way before he finally attacks. Nemesis can also use weapons, as I’m sure everyone knows by now. Each of these weapons presents their own challenges, but how challenging they actually are differs based on the situation and weapon itself.
All the boss fights with Nemesis are excellent. Every time I went toe to toe with him, it was an intense and incredibly fun affair. He’s tough, and he won’t go down easy. It is best to save your ammo as much as you can because you will need all of it for the multiple showdowns you’ll have with Nemesis. But that’s why Resident Evil 3 works so well. The Nemesis is challenging because he is the ultimate bioweapon. Running out of shotgun ammo during the fight was frightening because it felt like I was in real danger. After all, it seems like pistol shots only tickle the guy.
But I am a bit torn on Nemesis. He is incredibly intimidating. Boss fights with him are intense, and being chased by the giant is riveting, but there are multiple encounters with Nemesis that are more or less scripted. In these segments, I knew I was safe, or at least I knew that if I followed the right path, I would be ok. These moments work well in the first few hours of the game when everything is new and fresh. But once you have seen Nemesis so often, you know how many individual teeth he has, these moments lose their magic.
Shoot and Roll
Resident Evil 3, and this probably comes as no surprise, feels great to play. Movement feels good, and weapons feel good to use. Just like Resident Evil 2, getting a critical headshot and seeing that head pop is incredibly satisfying. There are a variety of weapons you can find. Though there are fewer weapons here than in other entries, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The weapons all felt great to use for the entirety of the game.
The biggest difference from other games in terms of combat is the dodge mechanic. If you press the right bumper, Jill will move rapidly in the direction of your choice. This is incredibly useful in avoiding zombies to save some ammo or to get yourself out of a tough situation. If you dodge right before a zombie grabs you, you do a super cool roll, and time will slow down for a brief moment of time. Again, this is handy in getting out of some tough situations, but it is certainly a skill you have to learn. In the beginning, I dodged straight into a zombie more times than I care to admit.
What keeps combat fresh in this action-oriented title is enemy variety. There are lots of baddies in Resident Evil 3 of all shapes and sizes. Your standard zombies remain intriguing because they are always dangerous. They move in strange ways, which can make landing the shots you need to difficult. Nemesis, of course, is always on your tail and consistently entertaining to combat. The hunter beta provides an intense challenge later in the game. There are more enemies than I am listing here, but the variety makes it consistently interesting to stand your ground and fight.
Verdict: The Cure
Resident Evil 3 isn’t perfect. It lacks interesting puzzles, the scripted moments with Nemesis become dull, and locations are sometimes too small and too short. But, for every flaw, there is a multitude of strengths. The gameplay is intense and satisfying, the story is surprisingly engaging, boss fights are challenging, and exploration is as compelling as ever. It manages to have enough elements of survival horror to make the game intense and more than enough thrilling action to make me smile.
It may be short, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Areas could have been expanded, but for the most part, I was satisfied with the time. This is partly because there are incentives to play through the game again. There are items, like the infinite rocket launcher, you can unlock by completing certain challenges. There’s also the constant allure of trying different runs – no healing, no saving, no item boxes, and, of course, speedruns.
Ultimately, I loved Resident Evil 3. It’s a great time with just enough survival horror in it to keep the experience intense. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go relive the nightmare.
Have you played Resident Evil 3 yet? What are your thoughts? Are you liking the changes Capcom is making to the original games? Let us know in the comments below!