Resident Evil 3 (PS4) - ReviewEvan Norris , posted on 06 April 2020 / 1,906 Views
This review covers only the single-player portion of Resident Evil 3. Stay tuned for our coverage of the multiplayer component, Resident Evil: Resistance.
The remake of Resident Evil 3 is a victim of its predecessor's success. One of the best games of 2019—indeed VGChartz ranked it the best—Resident Evil 2 set a high bar, for both original and retooled content; one that this year's Resident Evil 3 reimaging cannot reach. It's still a fine game, with high production values, detailed environments, tense third-person shooting, and some thrilling set-pieces. Yet it's also short and somewhat scripted, and underuses its two most notable assets: Raccoon City and Nemesis.
As with the 1999 PlayStation original, on which this remake is based, Resident Evil 3 takes place before, during, and after the events of Resident Evil 2. Most of the population of Raccoon City has succumbed to the T-virus, a nasty infection engineered by the corporation Umbrella that transforms normal people into reanimated corpses hungry for human flesh. On her way out of town, S.T.A.R.S. operative Jill Valentine (one of the heroes of the premier Resident Evil game) runs into packs of zombies, mutated "hunters", a platoon of Umbrella special forces mercenaries, and, worst of all, a hulking, unstoppable bio-weapon codenamed Nemesis.
As with 2019's Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 is not a 1:1 facsimile of the 90s original. Some environments and features introduced in 1999 are absent altogether, replaced with brand-new segments and several satisfying links to last year's remake. The game also, gratefully, fleshes out supporting character Carlos Oliveira, who has more to do and say, and even a couple of playable segments.
Whether you're controlling Jill or Carlos, Resident Evil 3 plays out in largely the same way. It's a third-person action-adventure game with a focus on resource management, light crafting, exploration, and, most of all, over-the-shoulder shooting. Players will explore Raccoon City, both above and underground; collect bullets, healing herbs, and weapon upgrades; fight or flee from shuffling zombies; and contend with the single-minded Nemesis.
Resident Evil 3 starts rather brilliantly, with a foreboding cinematic featuring Nemesis' deployment, an unannounced arrival by the bio-weapon in Jill's apartment, and a mad dash into the blood-splattered streets of Raccoon City, a town in the process of devouring itself. Its early chapters suggest an urban open-world and an omnipresent enemy. Yet soon enough the game narrows its focus, moving away from city streets and shops toward sewers, bunkers, and confined facilities. Nemesis, disappointingly, is limited mostly to scripted chase sequences and boss battles. In many ways, Mr. X from Resident Evil 2 was a more unpredictable and unnerving enemy. At the very least his encounters were more emergent.
This latest Capcom remake might not leverage its urban milieu or its signature enemy in the most satisfactory ways, but what it does deliver is consistently engaging. This is a solid third-person shooter with tense fight-or-flight scenarios, visceral combat, and rewarding exploration. Thanks to smooth aiming, early weapon upgrades, and a handy dodge maneuver, Jill and Carlos are more effective in combat than Leon and Claire from Resident Evil 2—making this newest remake more satisfying as a straightforward action title. Conversely, it represents an inferior survival-horror experience.
While Resident Evil 3 tends to lean toward linear action, it still offers a few interconnected environments filled with secrets and light puzzles. The best of these is the hospital, explorable as both Carlos and Jill. With several branching paths, locked doors, and dangerous enemies, it's a worthy, if smaller scale, successor to the police station from Resident Evil 2.
No matter these successes, Resident Evil 3 is a relatively short game. Playing through the campaign on normal difficulty should take somewhere between six and seven hours. While the game is fun while it lasts, a New Game+ mode or B scenario would make the package feel much more substantial. Multiple endings would also be welcome, and bring the remake more in line with the original game on PlayStation. That said, beating the game will unlock a shop that sells costumes and modifiers you can equip on subsequent playthroughs.
In terms of presentation, Resident Evil 3 is outstanding, with incredibly detailed environments, realistic character models and animations, and some spectacular lighting effects. It will be exciting to see what Capcom can do with its RE Engine heading into the next generation.
If you go into Resident Evil 3 expecting the greatness of last year's Resident Evil 2, you'll probably end up disappointed. If you reset your expectations for a straightforward, thrilling action title things will probably end on a higher note. Its brevity and linear design is disappointing and it misuses its signature villain and urban setting, but its gratifying action-adventure gameplay, tense enemy encounters, visceral gunplay, and excellent graphics make it a solid entry in the long-running horror franchise.
This review is based on a digital copy of Resident Evil 3 for the PS4, provided by the publisher.