The Bottom Line
- Developer: Capcom (in association with M-Two)
- Publisher: Capcom
- Release Date: April 3, 2020
- Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
- MSRP: $59.99
- Genre: Survival Horror, Shooter, Action
What it is
High-octane thrill-ride third-person shooter with heavy emphasis on action, ridiculous cinematics, and a comic-book heroism.
What it isn't
It's not RE2 Remake. It's not a purely authentic remake of RE3 Nemesis, either. The scary ambiance and terrifying, claustrophobic environs are still there, but the game feels less threatening because you can chew through everything with powerful guns. It's much faster paced and very cinematic.
Playtime: 4 hours 25 minutes
Here's a good analogy that pretty much sums it up: if RE2 Remake is Alien, then RE3 Remake is Aliens. RE2 was the horror movie released right in time for Halloween, and RE3 is the summer popcorn flick.
At its heart, RE3 Remake is more like a movie than it is a game. But it's still quite interactive even if you spend a lot of time watching cinematic scenes.
Jill's adventure is more like Lethal Weapon, Planet Terror, and Last Action Hero combined into one explosive package. It's much more condensed (which is something I quite like), and it creates some bold over-the-top scenes that must've been a blast to make.
In one scene, Jill revs up a muscle car on the top of a roof and smashes into Nemesis, flying off the edge and smashing to the ground. Jill, unharmed by the daring feat, shrugs off what should've been many broken bones worth of injuries and keeps going.
In another scene, Jill hangs off the edge of a window cleaner scaffold and is yanked around crazily like a ragdoll, and then falls right on her back. She deftly moves out of the way before the scaffold can crush her alive (of course).
One of my favorite sequences is when Nemesis shoots a rocket at the giant mascot of Toy Uncle, Raccoon City's local toy shop (which happens to sell Mega Man figures). The cyclopean mascot's head blows off and comes rolling down at Jill, and she must run away from it, Indiana Jones-style. It's absurd, ridiculous, and plain fun.
In a very real sense, Resident Evil 3 Remake feels more grindhouse than it does macabre. It's not meant to really shock you. It's meant to thrill, meant to dazzle with explosions, and meant to keep you engaged.
There's a playfulness about the game as if it doesn't want to take itself too seriously. Yes, the story beats are there-Umbrella Corporation is evil, the zombie outbreak is destroying the city, etc.--but its tone is more of a shlocky action-horror film than a heart-racing cerebral experience.
A lot of the sequences are somewhat predictable, but sometimes the game will throw you a curveball that you're excited to catch. The grisly gore is there, as is the city on fire, and people are still being eaten alive, but it's a lot less dire this time around because of your guns, and because of the situations that happen on the screen. Some moments had me grinning and shaking my head.
Capcom is clearly showing off its skills and flexing RE Engine's developed muscles while having some fun in the process.
Normally I'm against the action-izing of specific franchises. EA's over-emphasis on action led to games like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem being watered down. But in this case, it fits like a glove. It's like RE3 Remake was always meant to be reborn as a renegade that breaks the mold.
Right off the bat, the game throws you into the chaos. You get a phone call, and suddenly Nemesis smashes through your living room, forcing you into a fleeing chase scene. These scenes are prevalent throughout, but they're invigorating. There's an excitement to the action sequences that is sure to attract a mass audience but possibly at the detriment of alienating core fans who expected a slower, thought-provoking, and dark experience.
This time around, there's more emphasis on fun over terror.
There's a distinct level of machismo with RE3 Remake that isn't quite as overt as a Superman comic book, but there's an undercurrent of the titular invincible hero throughout. Or, in this case, heroine. Jill is constantly getting banged up and simply walking it off. She exhibits the derring-do of an adventure hero who performs death-defying stunts without hesitation.
The game follows the tried-and-true action hero formula. Characters constantly pull of awesome and near-impossible feats throughout, creating a kind of amped-up testosterone-fueled atmosphere. The scenes are just dripping with action film aspirations: Carlos fires perfect shots, and a gas truck explodes in fiery chaos, Jill nimbly avoids being blown to bits by a nearby mine, makes a one-in-a-million shot and breaks a chain to send a gate crashing down on a baddie, and somehow survives dozens of brutal body smashes, falls, and cuts.
At one point, Carlos calls Jill a supercop.
That's really what she is, a kind of mythical heroine that defies all odds. The game teaches you quite soon not to take things too seriously. Jill's always firing off snappy one-liners that'd made Arnold proud. She grins in the face of danger, and her attitude is straight out of a 90s action flick.
RE3 Remake dispels the believability and breaks the boundaries of video game mentality to create something that's more purely enjoyable than it is purely scary.
RE2 Remake was more somber, and its creepy atmosphere oozed its way into your psyche, transporting you to a grim world where survival is only possible by careful decision making, live-wire reflexes, and paying attention.
Resident Evil 3 Remake somewhat breaks the mold. You can shoot your way out of practically any situation, and the game is liberal with ammo and resources. You're more engaged, more prepared, and more blown away by the insanity that happens throughout. It's shameless entertainment for the sake of it, and the larger-than-life chaos is wholly unnecessary.
But Resident Evil 3 is all the better for it.
Combat, Nemesis, and Gameplay Mechanics
Combat reflects this newfound action focus quite a bit. Jill is more tactically trained than Leon or Claire, so she can do more athletic things like the new dodge evade. Time it perfectly, and you get a brief window to pull off a few shots or a few slices with a knife. Time it wrong, and you're lunchmeat.
Things feel a lot less threatening because of Jill's dash ability.
Nemesis is more of a nuisance than an intimating walking wall who hunts you down. The rocket launcher-toting freak still wants your blood and is still a towering monstrosity, but he's no Mr. X. And honestly, I think that's okay. Nemesis fits the bill for what Capcom clearly wanted to deliver with RE3 Remake; he's more of a punctuation mark to the sequences that keep things fresh instead of a wall of text that will wreck your day.
Resident Evil 3 Remake is still very much a RE game, though. There's still puzzles, lots of zombies and merciless mutants who will devour you whole, and a general feeling of being hunted. It has those creepy down-time moments where you must roam and continuously backtrack around creepy areas to find items, flick switches, and solve objectives.
The environments and levels all have that indirect loop-around circular pathing the series is known for, and this time around, the visuals are a lot more dazzling. RE2 was creepier (well, at least until you get to the hospital segment), but RE3 is more well defined, more vivacious, and bombastic.
The areas are clever, uniquely designed, and force you to think and pay attention.
RE3 Remake does channel RE2's darkness, but it doesn't stay there. There are shades of RE2 here - the shadowy sewers with the hulking misshapen beasts who will chew you in half, the blood-soaked streets with their crashed cars, burning mayhem, and half-eaten corpses-but RE3 jumps out of the darkness and into the light quite often.
That's really a good metaphor for the game. It doesn't stay in any one place for too long and is always moving. It was refreshing and made the game feel tremendously cinematic.
It's not until you get to Carlos' segment that the game dives into the darkness again. Carlos arrives at the Raccoon City Police Department HQ, and his sequence sets up RE2's events. It's a nice little prequel that explains how certain things happened before Leon or Claire show up at the station.
The Carlos gameplay is a lot more terrifying and creepier than Jill's. The hospital portion is actually pretty damn scary, and I found myself suffused in the destroyed clinical atmosphere utterly and completely. There's an air of danger at every corner, and the environments really showcase Capcom's macabre mastery. The scenes are straight out of some of the best horror movies, maybe something from Craven or Carpenter.
Carlos' segments are a nice clash to Jill's heroic stunts. He's the yin to Jill's yang.
When you switch to Carlos, things seem more dire, and his assault rifle creates a kind of thrilling tension as the game serves up tons of walking corpses for you to expertly headshot. But the assault rifle reticle is so to zoom in on that pinpoint that you're trying to make every shot count without getting overrun. There are lots of Walking Dead moments with Carlos, those moments where combat skirts on the edge of total chaos.
There's one scene right out of the old school Night of the Living Dead, where Carlos makes a stand against hordes of zombies. That sequence was a total blast and kept you on your toes.
Environments and Animations
RE3's animations are absolutely spell-binding. Capcom is making amazing progress with its RE Engine, and its artists have created something special here. The game is constantly seamlessly flowing in and out of gameplay sequences like butter, reinforcing that cinematic movie feel.
Jill's expressions are nuanced and extremely realistic. She goes through an entire spectrum of facial expressions in the game. We can tell when she's mad when she's afraid, and the confident smirk always follows a snappy one-liner.
Carlos' hair flows and sways as if caught by a constant unseen breeze. Other characters like Nikolai are immaculately detailed, as with minor characters like Kendo or Marvin, who show apprehension and pain in equal measures.
The characters' expressions speak volumes and really make you forget you're playing a game.
RE3's environments are likewise incredible. Jill gets to explore the ruined Raccoon City, whose bright and colorful neon signs clash with the visceral mayhem that surrounds it.
The sheer level of detail that went into Raccoon City is staggering. Cars are smashed every which way; the roads are utterly demolished, there's blood, guts, and body parts everywhere. Fires blaze, ghostly buildings stare ominously down at the undead city, the moon hangs in grey clouds while fog rolls on the cobblestones. The lighting is immaculate. From reflections to ambient fog and particle effects, the scenes and areas are always captivating.
The city feels so alive even if it's completely dead. The environments themselves tell a story without saying anything.
The interiors are just as unnerving as RE2, but lose some of their power without the constant tension. Capcom's clever use of lighting and shadow suffuse players in a blanket of creepiness. The environments are foreboding and contrast well against the explosive action.
Final Thoughts and Score
Resident Evil 3 is a great game, but it's not the game you might expect. It's more like a horror film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger than it is a Wes Craven flick. Action is in the driver's seat, and horror is in the backseat. How much you enjoy RE3 depends on what kind of game you want. It's not completely authentic to the original game. Some things are missing, like the gravedigger boss and the giant spiders.
If you want something like RE2 Remake, or a total faithful recreation of RE3, then it could disappoint. But if you want something a little different, something shorter and more cinematic, definitely pick the game up.
Capcom is at the top of their game here and chose to experiment with a new action focus that explodes on your screen. It's fun, goofy, thrilling, and scary all at once, a kind of medley of experiences rolled into one supercharged and compact package. It's not the longest game, and it's certainly not the scariest game, but it looks and plays damn good on the PlayStation 4 Pro. The RE Engine is clearly working wonders even on limited current-gen systems, and we can't wait to see how Resident Evil 8 will look on next-gen.
Overall, RE3 is a great nod to Resident Evil and old-school action films of the 90s era. Its guns-a-blazing gameplay doesn't betray the horror sentiments of RE2 Remake, but things definitely feel less dire. I personally like that, though. I'm less stressed and able to have more fun. That's really what RE3 is about: fun over terror.
Whether or not it's the right game for you ultimately depends on what you're looking for.
- Crazy over-the-top action sequences
- Combat is overall tight and fluid
- Graphics, animations, and environments are immaculate
- Characters have personality
- Jill steals the show with her bluster and devil-may-care attitude
- Extremely memorable scenes
- Retains horror themes without compromising action focus
- It is short, around 4.5 hours
- Very linear, choices are taken out
- Combat sequences can get cluttered
- Nemesis never feels like a threat
Game Mechanics & Combat
Visuals and Graphics
Resident Evil 3 is a sharp contrast to RE2, with over-the-top chaos straight out of a 90s action movie. It's shorter, but more dazzling.
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