Resident Evil 3 captures the magic that was the original game while adding enough new elements to create a truly fresh package. While maybe not as elegant as Resident Evil 2, this follow up still deserves your attention for it's action-packed set pieces and strong characters.
The problem with remaking Resident Evil 3 just a year after Resident Evil 2 received the same treatment is juggling expectations. While the second game in the franchise, and the first to receive the remake treatment to resounding applause from all spheres of the internet, was almost guaranteed to be a success considering the love many already held for the original, Resident Evil 3 never quite reached the same heights back in the day.
Many went in expecting it to be just more of the second game and were left a little disappointed. As it tends to do, history has repeated itself with the remakes Capcom is clearly so keen on providing fans, and while it certainly not 2019’s instalment, Resident Evil 3 is still a thoroughly enjoyable game from start to finish.
Taking place just before the events of Resident Evil 2, the third game follows Jill Valentine, still recovering from the trauma of the “Mansion Incident” that fans will instantly recognise as the events of the first game.
Stuck in Raccoon City just as the T-Virus makes it out onto the streets and pursued by the dangerously dedicated (if we’re being kind to it) creature known as the Nemesis, Jill must team up with Carlos, a member of Umbrella’s private military division. Together, they have to escape the city and hopefully cease the endless pursuit of the constantly irritated super bio-weapon that has eyes only for Jill’s destruction.
As far as Resident Evil plots go, it’s arguably the simplest and easiest to follow from start to finish. While you certainly have the intrigue of shady tech corporations and greedy villains, the primary plot is simply “Escape the city”. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, a basic narrative is often made all the better by compelling characters. Something Resident Evil 3 is blessed with. Jill is an absolute badass and the journey she and Carlos are forced to undergo together, starting off on different sides and growing to trust one another, makes for a story that’s easy to invest in.
While Carlos himself doesn’t have the same spirit as Jill, he’s just enough of a “Best Boy” to make you root for him. He’s just a nice guy, and I think in times of zombie plagues and genetically engineered bio-weapons, a dude who can throw you a thumbs up and tell you that it’ll all be okay before massacring a load of zombies in a police station foyer is someone you want by your side.
I say massacring because there’s actually more outright zombie killing in Resident Evil 3 than you might expect. It makes sense though, given that the original game was far more action-orientated than its precursor. While RE 2 was a tense survival-horror game, RE 3 blends those features of dark corridors and sparse ammunition with more bombastic action.
More explosions, more scripted chase scenes and a greater emphasis on “horror through havoc” rather than prolonged tension. It’s something you’ll either hate or tolerate, possibly even enjoy as I came to after a while. Once you accept the fact that Resident Evil 3 is intentionally separating itself from the “horror-only” cage it bound itself in, there’s a load to enjoy about the game. The final boss fight is also just…well, it was spectacular.
Which I suppose is the advantage of having your main villain be such a persist threat throughout the game. While Nemesis is definitely more scripted than Mr X, the roaming Titan featured in Resident Evil 2, I didn’t mind it. Mr X was great and added a lot of horror that felt organic to the moment but the emphasis the game places on dramatic, over-the-top chase sequences and boss fights with Nemesis makes every following encounter grow in stakes.
The final boss fight works so well because the antagonism between the creature and Jill has built for so long that their last encounter feels earned, a deserving end to their game of cat and mouse. While maybe not as frightening, Nemesis works as a more solid foundation for the story of Jill overcoming the corruption of the Umbrella Corporation.
Look, it’s difficult to recommend Resident Evil 3 to you if you’re the sort of person who just wanted a continuation of RE 2. It’s not that game and if you want it to be then you’ll be disappointed in RE 3. Yet if you open your mind to the idea that maybe a Resident Evil game can have both tense horror segments and full-blown action sequences to spice up the pace of a franchise that can often become a little plodding with all the dimly lit corridors, there’s a lot to love in the remake of this third instalment.
Great characters, solid mechanics and to top it all off it looks damn gorgeous from start to finish. You should play Resident Evil 3 and then when you’re done with it play it again on the hardest difficulty setting. Now that’s what I call a satisfying conclusion.