Resident Evil 3 (2020 Remake) Review

Introduction

As I said, the last post was supposed to be a RE3make review, but that got bumped because I felt it was important to cover the RE2make first since the two are intrinsically linked.  As a remake of the 1999 game and a game in the lineage of the REmakes, it had a lot to live up to, but even as a non-RE fan I was hyped from the announcement trailer.  I knew the RE2make was acclaimed, and through Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 I had a understanding of the kind of unstoppable force Nemesis could pose.  I bought it launch week, not long after the covidity really struck, and put it off until very recently.  I’d dipped my toes in before, but I just dove in this time.  When I surfaced, however, things did not look or feel the same.

The Good

This game continues to prove the power of the RE Engine, giving all of the characters a truly lifelike feeling while maintaining the “game”-ness of their designs.  I know Jill and Carlos’ redesigns brought mixed responses, but I think they fit their respective characters, and Nemesis is imposing and grotesque, looking like he’s had his skin stretched over his head and his big, pearly whites just freaking me out.  On a similar note, all of the environments – even the sewers – look amazing.  The emphasis on outdoor sections really pushed my PS4 to the limit, but it was worth it.  The soundtrack hits hard here too, with some areas featuring more ambient tracks that are unsettling, and others featuring grander, more actionized tracks befitting the breakneck pace and intensity on display.

Like geez. The RE Engine is intense.

Similarly, the gameplay has been re-tooled from RE2make to be faster and more action-packed.  Gunpowder and ammo were plentiful when I knew where to look and how to use it, and the emergency dodge – a mechanic introduced in the PS1 original RE3 – makes a grand return as a quick escape-or-evade option from nearly everything.  Pulling it off even puts you into bullet time, allowing for some clean kills or knockdowns.  Jill gets access to a wide assortment of weapons, from a customizable handgun and shotgun to mine rounds for the grenade launcher and a burst action handgun like Leon’s Matilda.  In the scenarios where you play as Carlos, he gets access to an assault rifle and a counter-punch (replacing the evade) to round out his basic kit as well.  Speaking of, instead of two stories with shared locations, everything’s on a linear path made up of smaller zones.  Your mileage may vary, but for a 3rd person action game, it works.  Jill and Carlos share only one area that changes meaningfully based on their skillsets when you explore it.  It works, at least for me.

The Bad

In my review of RE2make, I made a big point of talking about how good the atmosphere was and how effective the game was at re-imagining an old title, and in both instances, I haven’t finished the originals – just another mini disclaimer.  This game goes “horror atmosphere?  More like, no fear, shoot guns and blow stuff up” (somebody please take away my blog).  Nemesis, the perennial stalker, the unstoppable force, the namesake of the original game, is reduced to boss fights and scripted encounters, with only one incredibly quick stalking section that pales in comparison to Mr. X in RE2make.  He’s even, disappointingly, stoppable, with grenades, explosive barrels, and electrical discharge boxes dotted around the landscape.  I’ve heard that isn’t the case on the unlockable higher difficulties, but those are unlockable.  I just wanna play the game.  Your mileage may vary on this, but the game changing into a more action focused, gunplay and dodging game took away most of the fear I had regarding Nemesis, T-virus zombies, the Hunters, and made it just a fun, spooky 3rd person action game.

Just toss a grenade, it’ll be fine.

Additionally, the shift from a more open, non-linear experience in RE2make to a linear series of pseudo-open levels in RE3make is, well, a shift.  If you liked the setup in RE2make, this is gonna feel weird and different, and you might not like it.  I personally did, and even though I can appreciate the change in structure, I still prefer RE2make’s setup.  Metroid games were my favorites in my preteen years, and RE2make captured that while RE3make didn’t hit home nearly as closely for me.  I can imagine it’ll frustrate fans of the original RE3, and people who were hoping for more games closer to the original puzzle-based setup of classic Resident Evil.  It’s just not here, and it’s not what this game was going for.

The Ugly

I think it’s kind of clear to see that this game was developed quickly, even with a different team working on it than the RE2make.  The single campaign on offer lasted me around 10 hours, less than even one of the campaigns in RE2make, and that’s long compared to HowLongToBeat’s estimate of 6 hours.  I tend to take longer with these kinds of games since I play cautiously, but I finished this in a single night once I sat down to do it.  A lot of assets appear to be taken from the previous game, and you even re-explore the RPD like in the PS1 version, albeit with less areas to explore.  There’s even re-used bosses, with one of the Nemesis fights being repeated late in the story.  The game does open up a shop for you to purchase stat boosts, helpful items, and infinite weapons with points you get by beating the story over and over, and there are unlockable difficulties that apparently ramp things up to the extremes.  Ultimately though, it doesn’t make for nearly as compelling replay value as the 2nd runs and additional story scenarios from RE2make, and leaves this game feeling emptier in comparison.

I… feel underwhelmed.

There’s also, and this is a personal complaint, a lack of costumes and additional options to play with.  I would’ve loved to have played the game with a blocky, polygonal Jill or even the retro Nemesis design, but all we get are the classic outfits for Jill and Carlos, and a S.T.A.R.S. outfit for Jill you unlock in the shop.  There’s no beta designs like the Elza Walker outfit, no weird stuff like Leon’s Noir outfit, and no PS1 alternate OST to play with.  Overall, it leaves me with this impression that the game was done quickly, and intended to cash in on the success of the RE2make.

The Awesome

Ugly and awesome aren’t mutually exclusive, and there’s a lot of awesome here.  The boss fights, all of them with Nemesis, are intense and engaging struggles that flow amazingly and have good mechanics to them.  It’s natural to me that blowing the fuel back on his flamethrower up would be the solution to stopping such a hulking monster, and his attacks take advantage of Jill’s mobility options.  The second fight is, in my opinion, one of the highlights of the story, as it’s this big, fast paced fight where you have to use the unique mine rounds and all of your tools to take him down.  Jill giving Nemesis the finger in the end is just so… cool.  It caps off the adventure fantastically.  There’s other cool set pieces too, like Carlos versus a horde of zombies, the showdown in the underground warehouse, and the return to the RPD.  It’s a thrill ride through and through.

Oh god DAMN IT.

Also, and maybe this is just me, but there’s something so satisfying about Jill kicking so much ass and taking no prisoners.  I get Aliens-era Ripley vibes from how determined she is and how stubborn she is in the face of everything, never giving up and constantly using the resources she finds both in cutscenes and in gameplay.  Even when she begins to warm up to Carlos and a select few other members of the U.B.C.S., it feels earned and like a natural growth in her character.  While I’m on that, Carlos and Tyrell are great dark action movie characters, and the interplay between them and Jill is fantastic when it’s on display.  Casting William Hope, Lieutenant Gorman himself, as Mikhail, makes the Aliens fanboy in me go squee.

Conclusion

Maybe that’s the best way to look at this game; it is to RE2make what Aliens was to Alien, in a strange sort of way.  It’s a less terrifying, more action-packed successor that draws on positive elements of the original, but focuses more on a breakneck pace and set pieces over isolation and suspense.  The lack of additional, post-story content does make it less of a easy recommendation at full or even half price, and I didn’t even bother touching the Resident Evil: Resistance game that comes packaged with new copies of the game.  If I wanna play Left 4 Dead, I’ll play Left 4 Dead.  I’d rather get engaging single player content over a multiplayer mode, but maybe that’s just me.  If you liked RE2make and are willing to accept a potentially shorter run time, pick this game up.  It might not be worth full price, but it’s sure worth giving a shot.  Jill’s last escape is an adventure to remember.

Published by Casey S-G

I'm a college student who likes movies, TV, videogames, and music. You'll never guess what I post about next.

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