'Resident Evil 3' Remake: Game Review

Nightmare-inducing, yet refined.

Capcom's latest reimagining of an entry from the classic survival horror franchise doesn't quite reach the heights of last year's 'Resident Evil 2', but it's undoubtedly a worthy addition to the catalogue and another standout release from the studio.

My heart is pounding, my nerves are shot and I've just escaped death for the umpteenth time from the hands of the ruthless Nemesis — and I've never been more exhilarated. 

Twenty years since the original Resident Evil 3 launched on the PlayStation, Capcom's latest remake (which follows last year's reimagining of 1998's Resident Evil 2) offers a neat combination of tight and accurate controls, responsive enemy interaction and genuine fear and horror. Just like last year's remade offering the long-running survival horror franchise, Resident Evil 3 reinvents the original in a way that successfully harkens back to what made it great yet still stands as its own unique experience. 

Nemesis is terrifying. He's a persistent huge chunk of zombie meat that crashes through walls and uses his tentacle arms to reach out and grab Jill Valentine, a former police officer and the main playable character for this deadly adventure. Naturally, Nemesis is comparable to Resident Evil 2's similarly-daunting Mr. X, an oversized baddie who slowly stalked your every move and became lethal if you let him get too close. Nemesis is much more menacing, but he's also a different kind of scary, utilizing a sheer power that erupts into frame at the worst possible moments. 

On the gameplay front, Resident Evil 3 doesn't differ much from last year's remake, which already established a clean and entertaining style. The addition of the dodge mechanic changed my approach to fighting zombies and bosses enough to make a noticeable, and more rewarding, difference. There's a slight tone shift from the previous remake too, and it works. Throughout the campaign, there's more of a focus on action-oriented situations, like the defense segment where you fight off swarms of undead trying to barge through a barricaded door or the mad dash to turn on all four breakers in a maze packed with giant, infected spiders. There are still moments of quiet unease, but things are a bit louder and flashier when compared to Resident Evil 2.

It also helps that Nemesis is more integral to Jill's story. Whereas Mr. X simply felt like an ever-looming presence, Nemesis is a constant threat from beginning to end. The game's spooky lightning amid a glow of a deteriorating city, along with the stellar soundtrack, all make Jill's desperate attempt to survive and escape the more engaging.

Raccoon City is chillingly gorgeous. The pre-rendered backgrounds of the original are fully recreated and bring the once-static metropolis to life, even if there isn't much actively going on outside the randomly placed zombies and occasional stray fires. That said, it does tend to get a bit repetitive, mainly when backtracking in later levels, specifically the hospital area.

Resident Evil 3 doesn't forget its roots either. Just like Resident Evil 2 last year, this new adaptation is a welcomed modernized take on an aging classic. Firing my pistol or launching a flame round out of my grenade launcher feels just right, while each enemy reacts in a way that's believable. Movement, action commands, they all connect as you would expect them to in a modern game. Classic elements like collecting keys and tools to unlock new areas, managing inventory space and combining and examining items are rightfully retained and don't feel out of place. 

Oftentimes, remakes make the mistake of staying too close to the original, remastering even the bad to stay true to the source material. Such is not the case for Resident Evil 3, save for one story segment when I was brought back to a location featured in last year's remake of RE2. While callbacks are fine, spending another half hour traversing the same location with little to no changes was tiresome and, frankly, lazy. Seeing as both games take place in the same general timeline, it's hard to imagine much could be changed, thus it shouldn't have been featured at all, especially when RE3 already takes great liberties to include brand new areas and cut full sections completely out. Reusing assets and locations from previous games is the kind of fluff and padding you'd expect from a game in the PlayStation 1 era and has no place in today's titles. However, the original game's ability to make choices that would affect the story and areas you visit was thankfully dropped, as it only seemed to exist to extend the replay value.

While Resident Evil 3 doesn't quite achieve the same level of mastery of last year's remake, it is undoubtedly a worthy addition to the franchise's catalogue and another standout for Capcom. Now, I'm left with one single question: What will they remake next?