Monday, October 12, 2020

Resident Evil 3 (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

SPC checked out Decap Attack for a retro review last week as part of our Halloween-themed game coverage this month, but now let's look as something more modern with a review of the remake of Resident Evil 3. 

A scary good time with Miss Valentine

One of my favorite games of 2019 was the remarkably done remake of Resident Evil 2. No doubt with a sequel releasing just over a year later, you can imagine that many fans had doubts as to how good this next remake could be. Despite this remake of Resident Evil 3's cut content compared to the original Nemesis and shorter campaign when compared to Resident Evil 2, this remake managed to grab hold of me and not let go--five runs through the game and on. 

Occurring during the same timespan of the events of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3's remake sees Spencer Mansion survivor and S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine doing her best to escape the zombie-filled, monster-infested streets of Raccoon City. Of course, like any Resident Evil protagonist, Miss Valentine's mission is plagued with problems and in true horror fashion, practically everything goes wrong. It also doesn't help that she's being relentlessly stalked by a massive monster named Nemesis, who is tasked with eliminating every single member of S.T.A.R.S. that could reveal the truth about the Umbrella Corporation. 

Along the way, Jill meets up with an Umbrella task force operative named Carlos Oliveira, whose partnership with one another starts out decidedly rocky. However, through overcoming the odds, facing horrors beyond their wildest dreams, and doing so in a somewhat realistic fashion, the two grow closer through their mutual adversity. 

The RE Engine really looks sensational in Resident Evil 3.

Resident Evil 3's remake is structured differently from last year's remake of Resident Evil 2. For one, there is but one campaign to play through as opposed to the four (Leon's two and Claire's two) of RE2. While this severely limits the longevity of Resident Evil 3, it makes for a more streamlined and focused game. Though there is only one campaign to play through, there are two playable characters that the game switches between as specific points of the campaign. Jill Valentine, of course, is the first, but a second in the form of Carlos gets his time in the spotlight as well on occasion. Carlos is more likeable this time around, has more personality to him, and his assault rifle is great for gunning down groups of enemies in a jiffy.

Carlos helps this Hunter out with its bullet deficiency.

Unlike the big, interconnected areas of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 is more segmented and split up. There's less of a focus on solving puzzles and picking up hints in the game (though both are in the game), and more of a focus on action this time around. That's not to say there aren't moments of exploration, or that the game doesn't deliver a lot of frights; It definitely does have both. The first area, the streets of Raccoon City, offers an immense amount of paths and points of interest to explore, and it along with the hospital were my two favorite areas of the game. That's due to the fact that they're the most open and complicated of the areas within Resident Evil 3, and the streets particularly are a wonderful way to open the game.

The streets of Raccoon City is a strong start for Resident Evil 3's campaign.

Yes, Resident Evil 3 starts out strong, and really, it doesn't let go from beginning to end. That's more on the campaign being on the short side, with the first run for me taking about five-to-six hours. A lot of that time was spent getting accustomed to the mechanics, watching cutscenes, and learning the general layout of the areas of the game. Future runs brought that time down considerably, where one can rush through the game in less than two hours. While some might think of the shorter length of the game as a detriment, I found it most refreshing. It enabled me to make multiple runs through the game on each and every difficulty setting, sometimes doing speed runs, sometimes doing tailored runs like never opening an item box, and not getting as burned out as I did with Resident Evil 2's repeated, more involved, and more time-consuming play-throughs. 

Even though the subtitle "Nemesis" has been dropped from this remake, the actual big, hulking, menacing monster is still very much a massive part of Resident Evil 3, and he's as much of a terror as ever. Throughout Jill's journey to escape Raccoon City, Nemesis will cross paths in his patented forceful and frightful way, doing his best to take out Jill before she can escape. A persistent presence throughout Resident Evil 3, Nemesis pops up at specific points throughout the game, each time more menacing than before. This is in opposition to Mr. X of Resident Evil 2, who could appear anywhere and at any time within the confines of the excellent RPD section of the game. Still, Nemesis is threatening as all get out, despite being more scripted in this remake, due to the fact that he can outrun you, damage you heavily, and just spook the hell out of you with his frightful presence.

Oh... This... This isn't going to end well for Jill.

Fortunately, Miss Valentine is hardly a damsel in distress. After all, she's dealt with bioweapons and zombies before. Jill has a repertoire of weapons she can obtain, as well as upgrade via items found throughout Raccoon City. Weapons like the handgun, shotgun, grenade launcher, knife, or grenades by the themselves can be assigned to one of four shortcuts, immediately accessible via the D-Pad. The guns pack a serious visible punch to them, and the gunplay itself feels better than ever before. With all of the enemies, whether they be zombie or bioweapons, that Jill will encounter, she'll need all she can to even the odds against and survive. That's if she's taking the fight directly to the enemy, or using environmental goodies like exploding red barrels or electric boxes that can shock foes so Jill can cut loose or escape with her life intact. 

What also assists in allowing our heroes to stay alive more capably is a new mechanic in Resident Evil 3 allows Jill and later Carlos to initiate an evasive maneuver with the right shoulder button. With precise timing, they can avoid a lunging enemy, slow time, and deliver damage to a foe. This move is practically mandatory for later difficulties, where enemies are much more aggressive, attack with much more strength, and ammo is much harder to come by. 

Nemesis appears at scripted times in Resident Evil 3, whether in chase sequences like these or boss battles.

Not just ammo, either, as Jill and Carlos's inventory are limited with regard to how much they can carry, a classic Resident Evil mechanic brought to this remake as well. You need to be smart and strategic in what you pick up, as well as what you leave behind. You can mix herbs together to make for more powerful healing properties, in addition to combining gunpowder and explosive varieties to make helpful ammo.

You'll need lots of ammo, or at least clever ammo management, to survive the unlockable Nightmare and Inferno difficulties. The latter difficulty eliminates the ability to auto-save completely, as well as removing several typewriters from rooms, making for longer sessions without being able to save your game. Certain key items and all enemy placements are altered in these difficulties, too, meaning that it's essentially a whole new campaign to learn all over again. Specific enemies that in other difficulties wouldn't appear until late in the game make earlier appearances in Nightmare and Inferno, so it's quite the taxing challenge.

Despite Resident Evil 3's short length, there's plenty of content to be found, as long as you don't mind replaying the campaign again and again. I certainly didn't mind, as as soon as I finished my first six hour run of the game, I immediately leaped back into Raccoon City to play the game again. Only this time I had more knowledge and skill to survive more competently. Regardless, there's of course the new difficulties to try to overcome, but there's also specialty runs like speed runs, "S" rank runs, and minimalist runs to take on. There is also a series of challenges and tasks to accomplish, which reward points that can be used to purchase new items from a shop in the main menu. These items range from infinite ammo weapons like the lovely rocket launcher and assault rifle to coins that when held offer higher attack, defense, and health recovery. The added bonus with these is that they can be used in any run to make the higher difficulties much more manageable. 

Resident Evil 3 brings a welcome return to Raccoon City, delivering a more action-oriented romp than the previous Resident Evil remake from last year, yet remaining a tense (and intense) game all the same. Though there isn't as much longevity in the base campaign, that made for me a campaign that could be enjoyed multiple times in various ways without a sign of burnout on my end, quite unlike my experience with the otherwise excellent Resident Evil 2. All in all, revisiting the horrors of both Raccoon City and Resident Evil 3 made for a gloriously gruesome and great gaming experience.

[SPC Says: A-]

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