Resident Evil 3 Review

I’ve not been shy about my love for Resident Evil 2 Remake in the past year or so. Topping my game of the year list and cementing a place as one of my favourite titles of all time, what Capcom managed to do in remaking a classic was nothing short of phenomenal. I think it’s safe to say that the third entry in the franchise isn’t quite thought of as fondly, so their work was cut out in updating it to match the quality of RE2R. What has been achieved is brilliant, scary and thrilling, but it does err towards the action element that put some long time fans off the later entries.

RE3 takes place around the events of RE2, with returning favourite Jill Valentine as the main playable character; the first few hours take place prior and, after a mid-game event occurs, we skip forward to a few hours after the events of Leon and Claire in the RPD. It was neat to come across some familiar faces, and sheds some light on events that occurred in RE2. This is much more of an action experience than survival horror, though not quite to the degree of something like RE6. Jill is more than capable of handling herself, but we never quite feel safe, even going through areas that we’ve previously cleared.

This feel permeates pretty much the entire game. Rare down moments are to be savoured as you can be sure that Nemesis will pop his ugly mug up just as we start to feel at ease. He’s not as permanent a threat as Mr.X was, instead popping up at (fairly predictable) points and chasing us down until we manage to escape to a safe room or area. That’s not to say he’s not a threat at all; he is fast, powerful and often loaded up with some form of huge weaponry. Seeing the laser pointer on his rocket launcher turn red on Jill’s back as we try to dodge the incoming fire is about as tense as things come – and that’s one of the more sedate examples. Knocking him down requires a fair whack of ammo (and likely a few herbs), though doing so offers up a reward, often a new weapon part for one of our guns.

Truth be told though, I often found a handful of zombies more threatening. While he’s powerful – if he get’s us, we know about it – dodging his attacks was fairly easy, whereas trying to weave in and out of a few undead was much more of a challenge and regularly resulted in being munched upon. The tough to kill zombies return from RE2, with even a few good head shots not enough to finish them off. Later enemies take even more punishment, raising the tension and heart rate. Not that we need to avoid combat too much. Ammo is far more prevalent in RE3, the only time I truly struggled was at the very end when I’d spent too much time hoarding grenade rounds and not enough pistol ammo to deal with the lesser foes. There are a couple of new things to contend with, such as the Hunter Gamma creatures in the sewers who are not only tough, but genuinely scary. The animation when we get caught in their grasp is something I won’t be erasing from my mind anytime soon…

Nemesis comes into his own for the boss battles though. I won’t go into details, but each one is a spectacle to behold and really quite tough. Jill is able to absorb quite a lot more damage than Claire or Leon, and is a better shot too, so Capcom were able to really go big for these fights. They all have a big budget action film feel and look great, as well as keeping us on our toes. Combat is much more fluid than in RE2, with Jill able to dodge enemies attacks (a mechanic that works far better than in the original). Time it just right and we get a few seconds of psuedo-bullet time, Jill’s sights trained on the vunerable parts of whoever she just evaded.

Occasionlly we get to play as Carlos Oliverio, a U.B.C.S soldier sent to help control the situation. He can’t dodge enemies, but he must have trained with Chris Redfield, as instead he is able to one inch punch zombies across the room. His sections feel even more action focused, with access to an assault rifle meaning we can spray groups of the undead down in seconds. Whoever we’re playing as, there’s no denying that although the action is fast, there’s still a constant sense of dread. I wasn’t quite as hesitant entering new areas as before, knowing I could likely deal with whatever approached fairly easily, but there were more than a few moments of literally exclamations of “What the fuck?!”.

There is room to explore a little, but for the most part I found I was funnelled forward in a pretty linear manner. Hardly a downside, it kept the flow of the game moving along nicely. It also helps with keeping repeat plays moving along as this time out there are no alternate scenarios as found in RE2. This wasn’t an option in the original, but it might have been nice to expand Carlos’ story in to an A-B style like we saw with Claire and Leon.

What is here though is a thrilling roller coaster that reinvigorated one of the series less fondly remembered entries into an action horror title that, although not quite up there with its predecessor, is still one of the best games I’ve played this year. I’m hoping this trajectory doesn’t result in future mish mashed titles á la RE6, but Resident Evil 3 manages to hit that fine line just about right.

The RE Engine gets another cracking showing to its name too. The RPD and its underground lairs looked great, but there was a definite muted feel to the pallete. Here there are vibrant colours, brilliantly detailed areas and a feel that the world is more than going to hell; scattered debris, bodies left lying and the entire town seems to be on fire. The character models are again some of the best in the business right now, with wonderfully detailed facial animation and outfits. If you’ve got a 4K/HDR screen with a One X, you’re in for a treat.

Conclusion

Resident Evil 3 is another solid Capcom reinvention. There’s a wonderfully tense atmosphere punctuated with an action slant that means it’s never really as scary as it could be, but it still manages to get a good few moments in. Nemesis is initially terrifying, though his best moments come when it’s a one on one fight, the encounters in the world with him tend to be brief and easily overcome. Even at it’s worst though it’s still better than the majority of titles out so far this year and well worth a look.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Brilliant reimagining of Racoon City
  • Tense, frightening atmosphere
  • Incredible visuals thanks to the RE engine
Bad
  • A little on the short side
  • More could have been made of Nemesis
  • Action over horror has lead the series astray before...
9.3
Excellent
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 10
Audio - 9.5
Longevity - 8.5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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