Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?
HIGH That’s a way more satisfying final boss fight than the original.
LOW Groups of more than two zombies can stun-lock like mad.
WTF I’m sad that the giant worm boss didn’t make the cut.
If the Resident Evil series were an amusement park, Resident Evil 3 would be the roller coaster to Resident Evil 2‘s haunted house. There’s no subtlety to be found here — no slow-burn tension. No, it’s just one burst of action followed by another until the player is left exhausted. If RE2 wanted to scare players, RE3 wants to blow them away, and at its best it does just that.
A fairly faithful remake of the PS1 game Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, 2020’s RE3 wastes almost no time tossing players into its high-octane nightmare world. After a minute of first-person perspective designed to trick fans into thinking it might be a RE7-style exercise in grueling horror, the camera pulls back to third-person-shooter distance just in time for the fan-favorite Nemesis to burst onto the scene.
What follows is perhaps the best first fifteen minutes any game has ever offered. It sets up the Nemesis as an implacable, tireless foe, series protagonist Jill Valentine as a scrappy survivor, and Raccoon City as the site of open warfare between the living and the dead. Moving seamlessly between half a dozen locations, the chase that opens RE3 is a masterpiece of experiential design — yes, it’s completely scripted at every moment, but it’s such a rush that it’s impossible to find fault in it.
Once Jill escapes, RE3 finally opens up… but not all that much. The player is given a set of tasks to aid survivors in a downtown subway station, and this quest makes up the first third of the campaign. Considering RE3‘s interest in being a faster, more action-packed entry, it’s notable that the chores Jill has to perform are far more grounded in reality than one would expect, given the series’ history.
In fact, RE3 is almost completely lacking in puzzles, keys and backtracking. Essentially, Capcom has stripped out everything that would slow it down — RE3 seems mostly concerned with moving the player from setpiece to setpiece, as if terrified that they will become bored if they go more than a few minutes without gunning down a horde of zombies.
At this point it’s important to note how threadbare the plot is, and just how short the running time will probably be for most players. I spent ample time searching every nook and cranny and unlocking all of the hidden chests, and my first playthrough lasted only three and a half hours. By optimizing my path and skipping cutscenes, I got that down to around 75 minutes on my second run — in light of all this, and a bunch of reused assets and locations, RE3 feels more like an expansion pack for RE2 than a game with its own identity and story to tell.
One big problem is that Nemesis was originally intended as an amped-up version of 1998’s Mr. X who would be able to follow the player from screen to screen, turning the first RE3 into a terrifying chase. Unfortunately, since last year’s RE2 remake has already transformed Mr. X into that kind of foe, Nemesis winds up feeling redundant. He’s also too easy to dodge and beat up, and the player can exploit this by luring him into the game’s many traps.
Other than the diminished menace of Nemesis, RE3‘s weakest quality is the character work. The game is so action-heavy that there’s no time for anything but the shallowest action-movie banter between two main characters who almost never interact. This was a problem with the original, of course, but that iteration made up for its relatively shallow plot by offering two big innovations.
The first innovation was that there was a branching path through the campaign that led to different climaxes and character outcomes. Second, each time the game was completed, players were treated to an epilogue featuring a character that fans were invested in. RE3 has cut both of these features, so surface-level is action is all it has to offer.
Fundamentally, Resident Evil 3 is two great chase scenes, four awesome boss fights, and a bunch of mediocre filler to make up the rest of the running time. It’s a magnificent, breathtaking ride the first time through, but once that initial ride is over, it becomes a competent zombie shooter and little else.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Capcom. It’s currently available on PC, PS4 and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 25 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. It has no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The ESRB gave this game an M rating, and it contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. It’s horrifically violent and packed with swearing. Heads explode into flaps of flesh, throats are torn open with teeth, and people are swallowed whole. This is horror violence as nasty as it gets, and parents need to keep their kids away from it.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played the majority of the game without sound and encountered a few difficulties. There’s no onscreen indicator to let players know when zombies or other creatures are approaching, so without the ability to hear zombie moans or Nemesis’ clomping footsteps, players can expect to get ambushed a LOT. There’s even one monster that one-hit-kills Jill if she’s caught unawares. I’d suggest playing on Assisted mode, where the frequent autosaves and regenerative health will serve to smooth out the difficulty spikes. This game is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls on PC.