Less of the same: Resident Evil 3 Remake

Xbox One
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As COVID-19 continues to plague both our health and our sense of normality, what better way to pass the time than to talk Resident Evil 3? Up to this point, you’ve more than likely seen the reviews pile up – and…they’re mixed. As the threat of novel coronavirus heightens, it’s become commonplace for both movies and video games to be delayed – most indefinitely, while others are pushed back as far as this time next year. The most recent disappointment ironically fell upon Naughty Dog’s sequel to their award-winning post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Last of Us Part II.

As unfortunate as it is, this has become our reality. Self-proclaimed game nerd and YouTuber Dreamcastguy addressed Sony’s decision to delay The Last of Us Part II in his most recent video. He highlights specifically that people tend to cling on to any ounce of positivity in the world, considering the circumstances. Though he ultimately respects Sony’s last minute decision (which was slated for May 29th, after a previous delay from February), he disagrees with their reasoning by explaining that during these complicated times, positivity goes a long way. Aside from the possible ethicality behind delaying the game due to its similar reality to our own, Resident Evil 3 is here. I have to point out, it was pretty surreal – a deadly virus, within a matter of a couple of months, has evolved into a global pandemic. Sound familiar? After breezing through its five-or-so-hour campaign, and diving head first into its asymmetrical multiplayer mode Resident Evil Resistance, I often questioned how it compares to the fantastic 2019 remake that is Resident Evil 2

As of December 2019, Resident Evil 2 has sold more than 5 million units, surpassing the sales of the Playstation original’s lifetime sales. It would be completely inappropriate to assume that this wasn’t well-deserved. Serving as a faithful adaptation of the original, while also modernizing its mechanics, Resident Evil 2 earned its popularity and overwhelmingly positive reviews. It’s important to clarify that I am by no means a die-hard Resident Evil fanboy. Thanks to the remarkable reimagining of the series’ core perspective and recent tone in Resident Evil 7, I’ve only recently caught hold of the hype train. Not to be controversial, but I found some of the other entries to be completely preposterous, from its characters to its gunplay…and who could forget the cheesy voice acting? That being said, I have a massive amount of respect for both the series and its dedicated community. After completing Resident Evil 3, it’s clear that this and its 2019 predecessor offer two incredibly unique experiences – for better and for worse.

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Carlos’ playable sections are hit or miss.

Though a disappointingly short game, Resident Evil 3 is, from start to finish, a relentless, pulse-pounding nightmare. Don’t roll your eyes – I’m serious. I’ve been playing games for most of my life, and throughout the years as the technology continues to break new boundaries, video games have blurred the lines between itself and cinema. The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Halo and more of the like presented us with well-crafted worlds either set in the past, 200-years in the future, or even those grounded in fantasy. Video games are engaging, voyeuristic – maybe even emotionally resonant to the fullest extent. Resident Evil 3 may not check off every aspect of that list, but it consistently demanded my attention. Much like its 2019 predecessor, Resident Evil 3 offers a new twist with a fresh coat of paint, that I was unable to experience during its initial 1999 release (due to the fact that I was, well, three). 

The technical prowess of Capcom’s RE engine is astonishing. From the rotting corpses reanimated for the sole purpose of bringing you closer to the inevitable Game Over screen to the meticulous details of each environment, the RE engine fully immerses the player in this twisted universe. Utilizing this hardware has enabled the developers to create photorealistic rendering and realistic shading. Both RE2 and RE3 are technical powerhouses; the mitochondria of all the game engines, if you will. Noticing the trivial details added a nice layer of discovery in my playthrough. Early in the game, as the T-virus runs rampant through the streets of Raccoon City, I came across a bloodied, lifeless soldier. Next to him, a suicide note describing the sheer terror of war – the physical and emotional tax held on a human being. He goes on to explain that nothing could have prepared him for the hell that would eventually unfold in Raccoon City. A bullet to the head was seemingly the only reprieve. While further examining the corpse, I noticed an entry and exit bullet wound. The notes lying around each environment detail horrifying events, all while grounding the reader in a bitter reality. It is in these moments that Resident Evil 3 truly shines among the copious action set pieces. 

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I don’t know what’s scarier, Nemesis or this clown.

Littered with clever Easter eggs that call back to Capcom’s past game franchises, Resident Evil 3 takes full advantage of its environment. RE2 forced the player to spend some time in its environments – to allow the story to unfold through discovery. The Raccoon City Police Department, where Leon and Claire spend most of their time, serves as the game’s more complex puzzle. Specific doors required specific keys, and certain obstacles force the player to scour every inch of the environment to find the necessary tool for progression. This sense of discovery and puzzle solving was replaced with more cinematic set pieces and high-octane action in the third installment. I quickly noticed that Jill and Carlos, the two playable characters in RE3, spend a considerably less amount of time in each locale – but wouldn’t you if a hulking bioweapon armed with missile launchers and flamethrowers was relentlessly chasing after you?

If I had to make a crude movie comparison to distinguish RE2 and RE3, I would confidently say that RE2 is the A24, slow-burn horror movie to RE3’s Michael Bay-produced Friday the 13th – or more fittingly, the Resident Evil cinematic universe. The puzzles in RE3, or lack thereof, are in similar scarcity and difficulty to that of RE7. Nemesis is the name of the game, and he poses more of a threat than RE2’s Mr. X – for a limited amount of time. 

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A big NOPE for me.

The 1999 Playstation original had Nemesis tacked on to the end of the title, unlike the 2020 remake. The truth of the matter is, Nemesis is a faster, stronger, and more resilient foe than Mr. X, but I found myself disappointed in how Capcom handled him for this remake. There’s been quite a bit of chatter and disdain concerning his new look, but the biohazard trash bag outfit, to me, is reminiscent of Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part II. The opening hour, without over-exaggerating, offers some of the best moments in the entire game. Two months after the horrific events in the Arklay mountains, Raccoon City has gone to hell three days before Jill’s planned exodus. Fighting through the hordes of the undead, Jill attempts to restore power to the subway. Much like Mr. X, Nemesis actively hunts you down, adding to the overwhelming intensity of navigating the decrepit streets packed with zombies. I was pleasantly surprised at how his presence fits within the gameplay with little to no frustration – which was a concern of mine after learning of his abilities prior to playing. There was a moment early on where I found myself low on health without an herb in sight. I made my way with my newly acquired lock pick to the Charlie Doll toy store. Inside, it was actually quite pleasant what with all of the Mega Man Easter eggs…that is until I looked out the window. Outside, Nemesis just…waits, staring at me through the window – waiting for me to exit the store, poised for an assault. 

I wanted to take some time to analyze both Mr. X’s and Nemesis’ introductions. As most of you know, Mr. X kind of just…appears in RE2. After extinguishing the flames of the crashed helicopter, Leon backtracks to where he previously wasn’t able to access. As he walks toward the downed black hawk, Mr. X, in all of his fedora-wearing glory, effortlessly lifts the helicopter and menacingly paces towards you. It’s simplicity at its finest, and it made for one of the most horrifying and hilarious moments in the game – dare I say the series even? From this moment on, RE2 excels in creating a constant tension. Nemesis’ introduction, albeit different in tone, is equally as horrifying. While Mr. X’s introduction seamlessly blended into actual gameplay without a cinematic, Nemesis blends cinematics, quick time events, and actual gameplay into one cohesive introduction. I’ll leave you to experience it – have fun. 

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Take a picture…it’ll last longer.

As I had previously mentioned, Capcom fails to utilize Nemesis nearly as much as they should. The opening hour feels like an ill-purposed tease, and serves as one of the too few unscripted moments. Without sugar-coating my thoughts, Resident Evil 2 is a better remake than its sequel – this is mostly due to the replayability factor. Resident Evil games enforce multiple playthroughs. RE2 offered the ability to play the campaign as either Leon or Claire with a few differences in narrative beats, boss battles, cosmetics and locations. Once beating both campaigns, an additional mode played through the eyes of Umbrella Special Agent Hunk called “The 4th Survivor” is unlocked, as well as Tofu mode – which is, well, as self-explanatory as it could get. These additional modes and campaigns add many more hours to the overall length, which brings to question why Capcom cut out some great moments from the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis for this remaster. Let’s just assume that it was a financial move after the overwhelming success of its predecessor.

It was also incredibly disappointing to see the lack of polish to the gore physics. An awesome feature to the RE2 remake was the ability to shoot zombies’ limbs until they literally peeled off, hanging by a thread of skin. While natural decay and bullet impact are still present in RE3, the amount of detail is grossly limited. This is surprising, especially since they both run on the same engine.

Aside from the runtime limitations (which you’ve probably read about more than twice), Resident Evil 3’s story unfolds at a break-neck pace. RE2 saw a slower, more methodical pace to its nightmare, making both feel like two very different experiences. This is one admirable aspect of this series – the fact that they all feel so different. Acting as more of a prequel, Resident Evil 3 takes advantage of Raccoon City right as the T-virus breaks out, offering Jill Valentine the time to showcase her combat experience. Jill is an action hero; the Lara Croft of the Resident Evil universe. The voice acting for both Jill and Carlos is also convincing, successfully reimagining the original script’s ‘cheese’ moments. 

Before stopping at our final destination – Resident Evil’s asymmetrical multiplayer mode – I wanted to applaud Capcom’s enemy design. The series has stood on this pedestal of classic status from the very beginning, but a core aspect of this success is the creature design. From Mr. X to Nemesis, the reimagining of these classic Tyrants is wholly creative. Yeah, yeah pretty environments, haunting enemy design – been there, done that. Let’s get to the nitty gritty and offer some critique. I’d like to preface – what with the toxic masculinity that floats around the internet these days – that games, like any form of media, are unquestionably subjective. The final moments of this game, though maintaining technical consistency, are undoubtedly marred by horrendous difficulty spikes. I’m all in for a fight, but Capcom continuously confuses artificial difficulty with arduous yet rewarding challenge. It’s artificial in the sense that you could spend most of the game playing rather conservatively with ammo and medical supplies, then face a narrow corridor with multiple zombies and two revamped Hunters (that can one-hit you if your health drops below a certain point) that are there to simply block the necessary component of progression, all while draining the supplies you’ve so meticulously rationed and organized for the past six hours. This kind of design gives off the impression of being a more difficult survival horror title, when in reality it merely serves to hinder the already overwhelming potential that RE2 had earned. Room after room, reused lab asset after lab asset, I watched as my resources drained until I was completely unprepared to face off against the final boss. In all transparency, I could have saved some powerful ammunition for more formidable opponents – I try to play devil’s advocate…even against myself. Forgive and forget, Resident Evil 3, forgive and forget. Folks, aside from moments of blood-boiling frustration, Capcom once again offers an excellent adaptation of a beloved Playstation classic – for better and for worse. It’s tough to ignore the sheer technical achievement of these remakes, and for that, I’d do it all again.

Just over 6 hours to complete the story, while also taking time to explore for collectibles.

Previously teased as a standalone multiplayer experience based in the Resident Evil universe, Resistance sparked some negative reactions. RE7 and RE2 remake were two steps in the right direction for the once beloved series that, throughout its lifespan, seemingly stumbled into borderline mediocrity and confused identity. Fans questioned whether another remake or mainline entry in the series was in fruition, which made it all the more frustrating that Capcom focused their attention on a Dead By Daylight-inspired multiplayer mode. Announced a couple of months before release, Project Resistance would be included in a full-priced package alongside Resident Evil 3 remake – a smart move for Capcom. After around ten or so online matches, and no prior knowledge of the core mechanics of the mode, I’ve pretty much seen everything it had to offer. Does it justify half of the package price? Yes and no. 

In an attempt to avoid review territory, I will assume that you are aware of the game’s existence, as well as its core mechanics. The hesitation in my answer to the question above is due in part to some issues with the server and overall balancing. I believe that by viewing this as a live-service title in the same vein as Destiny and Tom Clancy’s The Division, it could diminish some initial distaste. Then again, others could argue the justification of purchasing a half-finished title. The fate of Resistance relies in the hands of Capcom at this point. If they decide to consistently polish and seasonally update with new cosmetics, weapons and playable characters, then we could be looking at the exoskeleton of a cult hit. Only time will tell, but for the most part it is an amusing distraction once completing the main attraction. Considering Resident Evil’s dismal track record with multiplayer spin-offs – ehem, Umbrella Corps – and its blatant exclusion in recent entries, this marks a massive step forward for the series.                                                          

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