Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was both impressive and disappointing sequel back in 1999. It was developed in an incredibly short amount of time, and was much more scaled back compared to Resident Evil 2 (1998). It made up for its taught scenario with incredible replay value.
Where it impressed was how it realized Raccoon City, and had introduced the first persistent “stalker” enemy of the series; Nemesis. When it came time to remake Resident Evil 2, the developer took a reoccurring bad guy and made him function like Nemesis. Now that Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is remade, it would be easy to assume he would also function like a persistent stalker.
The original version was a flawed but enjoyable entry in the Resident Evil canon. Out of the PlayStation trilogy, it was the one that could benefit from a remake the most. More than 20 years later and with one of the most impressive game engines around, can Capcom give Jill’s game justice? Or has history repeated itself?
Resident Evil 3
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Release Date: April 3, 2020
Resident Evil 2 (2018) was an impressive attempt at a remake of the original game. It took a few liberties and some things got cut, but it was very faithful and did an admirable job at telling the story of Leon and Claire’s descent. It gave a very different gameplay experience so it could never outright replace the original.
Resident Evil 3 is not that kind of remake. At times it barely feels like a remake at all, and it may as well have been a sequel to Resident Evil 7. There has been very little preserved from the 1999 game with only a few nods that happen early on. At times, it seemingly homages Resident Evil 6 the most.
Quick-time-events that fans of the series lamented have returned, full force. You can’t even get bitten without having to mash the X button. The linear, corridor level design philosophy from Resident Evil 6 rears its ugly head around the halfway point. However, unlike that game, Resident Evil 3 does not have the versatile take-downs and trick-shots.
This remake was a chance to right a lot of the wrongs from the original, but instead only embraces the worst aspects of when the franchise was at its lowest. For a game that is so action focused, it has so few boss battles.
This is especially disappointing because Resident Evil 3: Nemesis had several moments where you could choose to fight optional battles with the big man himself. Nemesis has none of the unpredictability he used to have, and behaves more like Resident Evil 6′s Ustanak; a scripted wall of meat the appears for purposes of action and adventure.
Not much can really be said about Nemesis’ new design since he moves so violently fast it’s extremely hard to get a clear view of him outside of cutscenes. His guttural growls make him sound more inhuman, and much more animalistic. Special attention has been given to his angry animations- which is a stark contrast to the calm yet purposeful stomps of Mr. X.
There is almost no branching off from what you have to do, outside of a few very minor excursions for some extra items or weapon parts. Areas are rarely big enough to warrant much route planning, so useful resources tend to be very easy to acquire with very little risk.
Resident Evil 3 abandons all pretenses that it is a survival-horror, and becomes a generic third-person action game. Resident Evil 2 managed to be an excellent remake, but also still a legitimate survival game by having intricate and labyrinthine areas, with hidden resources and tons of threats.
Crafting the streets of Raccoon City with so little in it and barely any locked doors, just makes it feel so shallow. The playability still follows survival-horror sensibilities with Jill’s weighty animation, but that does not make for a riveting action game which would favor snappy movement. This was one aspect of the original 1999 game where the remake should not have been faithful.
The story of Resident Evil 3 is both a prequel and sequel to Resident Evil 2. As Jill Valentine, you get to see Raccoon City in flames and witness the civil unrest while it lasts. The pacing is quite fast, and rarely lets up. The plot pushes you forward at almost all times, with the quiet moments being punctuated with large mutants.
The story moves too fast at times. Characters are introduced and then disappear, only to never be heard from again. What is the point of having some of these characters if they co not contribute anything? Some of it is just forced fan service, but no fan will appreciate such clunky and sloppy writing.
Resident Evil 3 needs to slow its roll at times to let players absorb the atmosphere, and to let characters breath a bit. It is a shame too, since Jill is finally depicted with some personality and a character arc for once in this franchise.
Resident Evil 3 takes many cues from cinematic action games. Most of the sequences involving Nemesis are highly scripted appearances, and pre-baked animations where you don’t have much control over Jill.
Some of the most frustrating moments involve the implacable monstrosity completely defying the laws of space and time, just for the shock of an appearance. It is a cheat, and if it was done sparingly, it could have been earned.
Very early on, Resident Evil 3 shows no restraint with how far it will try to shock and awe the player, and it breaks the suspension of disbelief. Nemesis could easily crush every bone in Jill’s body with how far and fast his leaps are. The developers never would let him do that, because then there would be no game, despite that you can see him display the ability to do it.
It is disappointing how Nemesis is used. Every Resident Evil 3 fan was expecting Mr. X, but faster and meaner in a much larger environment. It was fair to expect that because that is the logical way to go considering the original. There was a lot of potential for that, but the level design just can not allow it.
If this was not being touted as a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and did not have to follow up on two of the greatest remakes of all time, then this would have been impressive. The boys at Capcom clearly put a lot of work into ensuring that this looked good.
Character modeling and facial animations are truly impressive. Eyes and nuances in facial expression appear very natural and are full of character. Hair is especially believable; Carlos’ puffy mop in particular is flawlessly rendered.
For a such a detailed looking game that targets 60 frames per second and stays there, there were no corners cut on lighting and materials. The wet streets glisten brilliant neon reflections from Raccoon City structures, and it looks very convincing.
The filthy and disgusting underground is full of slimy and wet surfaces. Rivers of sewage with all kinds of odds and ends floating by realistically, never stress the system so much as even a single frame drop.
The most important part of any Resident Evil is juicy and visceral gore and Resident Evil 3 delivers. Some of the imagery is almost sadistic, and is one of the few instances where the developers did not overplay their hand. Some especially cruel visuals are saved for one moment and then never again, which makes them more special.
The music in this remake is very reminiscent of the original 1998 game. This was a problem in Resident Evil 2 (2018), which has very subdued and atmospheric approach to the music, to the point it was barely recognizable.
The tone and atmosphere is well preserved thanks to a combination of the visuals and music. It is enough to spark a sense of nostalgia to anyone who might have grown up playing the originals.
There are even some new tracks that have no 1999 counterpart, and even they succeed in drawing you into the setting and scene.
Resident Evil 3 is going to frustrate and likely disappoint fans of the original game. The new areas to make up for the missing locations lack the personality, and fail to live up to the iconic settings. With only one actual puzzle that required any thought, this is likely not going to satisfy most survival-horror fans.
Considering the shockingly short time to beat the game, it begs the question if this should have been a DLC expansion for Resident Evil 2 (2018). There is so little replay value since many of the unlockable content from the original game is gone. A first time play through is roughly the same length as Ada’s Separate Ways campaign from Resident Evil 4, or a single campaign from Resident Evil 6.
This is an enjoyable single-player adventure with some impressive set-pieces and beautiful cutscenes. There are even some butt-clenching moments that are genuinely exhilarating, but the overall package is much to meager. If this was a Resident Evil movie, it would easily be the best one.
Resident Evil 3 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Capcom. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.