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Resident Evil 3 Demo Hands-on Preview

After the smashing success and popularity of 2018 Resident Evil 2, everyone knew that a Resident Evil 3: Nemesis remake was inevitable. Resident Evil 2 impressed with the RE Engine’s ability to render photo-realistic gore, and vividly realized a piece of Raccoon City. Resident Evil 3 aims to further flesh out the doomed city, while also reintroducing the series’ most harrowing stalker; Nemesis.

The Resident Evil 2 remake already had Mr. X, who had to be further buffed from his original game to be made an increased threat to an already dangerous game. Just how much more could Nemesis be realistically made more dangerous, and not become an unfair wall of death?

With the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis already being the weaker of the original PlayStation trilogy, a remake stands as an opportunity to improve a lot on its sloppier aspects. The demo does show a lot of promise, but this remake also strays so far from the kind of game it used to be, that it’s utterly divorced from the source material.

The original game was as classic of a survival-horror as can be. It was a product of its time, and was founded on point-and-click adventure game fundamentals. Finding key-items, solving puzzles, and encounters that emphasized on placement rather than shooting.

As expected, Resident Evil 3 follows the modern game format of making everything into a third-person shooter. It would be naive to expect Capcom to take a risk and to make big budget remakes that follow the same adventure game style as Resident Evil: HD Remaster. This is the safest and most marketable choice they possibly could make, even if it comes at the cost of faithfulness.

As far as third-person horror games go, Resident Evil 3 shows a lot of promise in being consistent with the previous remake. Jill Valentine is still extremely limited with what she can use, and even a single zombie can take a substantial bite out of her health pool.

One of the changes that will become noticeable to fans of the previous remake is Jill’s knife. It is now unbreakable, and can no longer sever limbs off the undead. Dismemberment overall is much more restrained than it was was, and only focusing gunfire on specific points will relieve it from its connection.

The sequence in the demo involves putting out a fire to move forward, and like a real survival-horror, players are expected to explore a hostile environment festooned with threats. Trying to find a fire hose and taking it to a fire hydrant is the bulk of the demo’s loop, but Jill is able to engage in a few side objectives like acquiring a shotgun and getting a brief glimpse of things to come.

The demo is also generous enough to let Jill get smacked around by the headliner himself. Jill’s sidestep will prove to be ineffective against the brute in black, since he is so much faster than Mr. X ever was, and his tentacle whips have unbelievable reach. Nemesis apparently can engorge zombies with some kind of tumescent growth on their heads, which is something to avoid.

The presentation is off the charts. The RE Engine proves to be one of the best graphics engines in terms of lighting and depicting realism. Striking shadows are cast for dramatic effect, and fire naturally flickers light on characters and the wet slick streets of Raccoon City. The density of objects littering locations make the atmosphere feel lived in and authentic.

Jill Valentine in particularly is fantastically modeled. Her hair is grimy, and nuances in facial expressions like pain are very believable. While we lament the absence of her action skirt from the original, the level of detail put into her is staggering. Capcom got their best men to ensure that she maintained a Hollywood action style disheveled look while remaining beautiful.

Nemesis’ design has gone through some changes since he appeared in the PlayStation game. He more closely resembles a corrupt and deformed Mr.X than a cheap, beefy Cenobite kncok-off. Which design is better is debatable, but when actually confronting the beast there is so little time to get a clear view of him because he is so fast and deadly.

Impressively, there was no loading between areas. Raccoon City in flames is such an iconic location in the pantheon of horror games, and to see it realized so deftly in this demo gives hope that Resident Evil 3 could honor its source. Jill is able to seamlessly travel between locations, even whiled being pursued by Nemesis.

Capcom is enjoying a renaissance with this series beginning with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and since have had a push for “60 frames per second or die” attitude. Resident Evil 3 is still aiming for that, but even on an Xbox One X, this target can only be met with some unusual compromises. Zombies that are only a few meters away will function in a lower frame rate than the player-character.

It does not affect gameplay too badly, but it is noticeable and can potentially distract and break immersion. Survival-horror lives and dies by immersion so hopefully this drawback has been addressed in the final build.

There is some Dark Souls style short cuts to be made that loop back around to familiar locations in this sizable demo section. It will be interesting to see the extent these get implemented in the final game, since moments like this help make an environment feel all the more convincing.

A dodging system that works like the Resident Evil: Revelation 2 mechanic, does help give the atmosphere a very desperate and white-knuckle air about it. One thing about the dodge mechanic is that the animation for it does look suspiciously similar to Claire’s animation from the same game.

Some likely expansions that you can gleam from this demo is the possibility of saving people in the city. At the start there is a dialogue exchange that suggests that Jill can partake in some side missions, which involve rescuing people Dead Rising style and bringing them back to the subway train.

It is not clear what kind of reward this will net, but the original Resident Evil 3 was a very short game. Any kind of substantial value added to Jill’s desperate escape will be welcomed if it is worth it.

Keep an eye open for Easter Eggs, even in this demo there are tons of amusing sight gags to see. Adorable references to Mega Man and some very obvious cues that are acknowledgements of Resident Evil’s most important cinematic influences. Hilariously, the demo’s subway station is plastered with ads for Resident Evil 3.

Resident Evil 3′s demo looks to be promising a hell of a ride. The original game had branching paths and alternate routes, and hopefully these features won’t get cut in the remake like how “zapping” was outright removed in the Resident Evil 2 remake. It is disappointing that the franchise has dropped its adventure game appeal, but maybe it was necessary if it was expected to last this long.

Resident Evil 3 was previewed on Xbox One using a publicly available demo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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Fingal Belmont

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A youth destined for damnation.