When Capcom confirmed (it had leaked already, likely on purpose) that they were following up last years RE2 remake with a remake of RE3 – the sidequel of that game – the Resident Evil audience was split. Where RE2 was a traditional, dreadful metroidvania game, the follow up RE3 was much more of an action thriller, albeit with most of the same basic elements. So in a way, one can accurately say that the difference between RE2 Remake and RE3 Remake is similar to the difference between the original games. However, RE2 Remake more or less did a good job of presenting a loosely similar experience.
Unfortunately, it would be disingenuous to say RE3 presents the same experience as the original RE3: Nemesis, or even similar, but it’s an experience worth having.
It’s impossible to approach these games, for me, as anything else but a “core” Resident Evil fan, and a purist at that. So while the obvious and expected differences can be tolerated, some of them are simply wrong. Remake starts out with a FMV video reel that clearly took too much “inspiration” from the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse. It can be forgiven, because it made sense, but the entirety of the intro was so clearly aiming for cinematic storytelling that was abandoned pretty quickly once the game starts. All they had to do was put in one final scene showing the Nemesis get airdropped into the city, or even one of the Nemesis busting out of its container. Instead it’s up to the player to accidentally find it.
The beginning of the game features heavily on scripted action scenes and that continues throughout the entirety of the experience. At one point RE6 even rears its awful head when you are forced into a QTE scene in a car. There’s only one, so it can be forgiven. Although the game deserves flak for once again putting in a “start and drive the car” quick-time event- Resident Evil 6 and 7 both did this and it should never be done again
On their own, action cutscenes and scripted sequences are fine but in this title they’re being used in the place of gameplay to present an experience that’s nearly as devoid of Resident Evil elements as Resident Evil 6 was.
In an interview, Masachika Kawata and Peter J. Fabiano – producers of the RE3 remake – told Famitsu the game would be much more action-oriented in comparison to RE2 Remake.
That statement alone was innocuous to people who played Resident Evil 3 when it was new because, that accurately describes the original game. It was definitely “much more action oriented” as it included several mechanics keyed towards higher mobility and faster movement, as well as action sequences. It was also a vague enough statement to mask what they truly meant. The core elements of a Resident Evil game are extremely downplayed in this remake. It isn’t an exaggeration to say there are no puzzles whatsoever in this title. Every single puzzle in the original game is missing. There’s one puzzle in the entirety of the remake, and it’s at the end of the first plot segment. It’s quite straightforward.
Just to re-iterate, RE3 was already not as focused on the standard gameplay as the first two titles. There wasn’t a huge emphasis on the ‘vania to begin with, as you didn’t spend tons of time going back and forth in the same area. However, there were still quite a few puzzles solved to progress through the game – the Mayor statue/car battery/parking garage, the gas station, storage room, etc. and those were just the beginning of the game.
Entire sections were omitted from the game – the church, the grave-digger, the clock tower, the newspaper office, the gas station, and more.
RE3 Remake replaced all of this gameplay with actual backtracking – as non-fans refer to it – for literally no other gameplay reason than that Jill’s lockpick is gated. As in it is behind a gate. Inside a box. Also because you have to get bolt cutters to get the shotgun and open a couple of doors. All areas of the game are full of lockers and safes and doors that have to be opened with the lockpick (other than the few safes with a combination) and that is often the only reason to explore them.
The plot always feels like it’s driving the gameplay, instead of the gameplay driving the plot as it did in the first 5 Resident Evil games. It isn’t automatically a bad thing but like most AAA games, you seem to just be doing what’s necessary to get the next cutscene.
On a sidenote, RE3 Remake has given us a new trope to laugh at. Jill can’t maintain her balance for shit, apparently.
Lack of puzzles isn’t the only problem with the gameplay. When RE2 Remake came out and featured the invincible, teleporting stalker enemy who literally never fucks off until he dies, it was plain to see what was going to happen in RE3 Remake. That mechanic was wasted on the Tyrant and on RE2. It never should have been used to the extent it was used, and as expected, it wouldn’t have worked in RE3 – the game where it should have been used – so it was discarded. The invincible stalker jumped the shark. Instead, Nemesis just shows up sort of at random – but always at key plot points.
Frankly it makes the game easier because you aren’t under constant threat from a giant dude you can’t kill. He’s also a lightweight at the beginning of the game and can be incapacitated with ease. The dodge and “perfect dodge” mechanic also make the game much easier, and it only gets more ridiculous once you play as Carlos – think RE5 or 6. To make matters worse, the “randomly show up and stalk you” mechanic only happens at the beginning of the game. After that first hour or so, he only shows up as a scripted boss fight.
Fortunately, some of the other elements fill in the gap left by the failure to recreate Nemesis correctly. RE3 features classic enemies like the original as well as some that the original didn’t, and those enemies maintain their trademark attacks. Drain Deimos make their return – but they seem to have been merged with the Brain Suckers into the same enemy, which makes sense because they were more or less very similar. Standard enemies like Cerberus and, of course zombies, are back, as well as Gamma Hunters. Remake features the expected Gamma Hunters, but also has Alpha Hunters, and Lickers, and the Alpha Hunter has never looked or behaved better. Paleheads – an anemy from the RE2 Ghost Survivors DLC – also make their return in the later section of the game.
The whole thing just feels like a rushed, on-rails action expansion pack for RE2 that truly should have been sold as a $30 or $40 DLC – with Resistance included – for RE2. That’s how a lot of people expected the games to be marketed, because it was obvious the decision to remake 3 came at the same time as the decision to remake 2.
Raccoon City has never looked as good – and it’s been redone so many times between the Chronicles games, Operation, RE2, RE3, RE2 Remake, and RE3 Remake. You don’t get much opportunity to actually experience it, but when you do it looks great.
RE Engine was a wise decision for Capcom and it produces some absolutely great visuals for these games (RE, DMC). It should be considered an affront to Capcom’s artists, though, that RE2R and RE3R both entirely lack a photo mode. Devil May Cry 5 had one – why do none of the Resident Evil games made with this engine? Or any of them? The only way to take photos with a free or first person camera is on PC using the same third party script as RE2 – and it’s not very user friendly nor does it really have the features you’d want in a photo mode.
Some of the artistic decisions in this game are highly suspect, while I’m on that topic. There is no way anyone who actually played Resident Evil 3 approved the redesign of the Gamma Hunters below. The three versions on the right are closer to the original – and look cool. They settled on the left. I’ll go ahead and say it – it’s garbage. It can’t even be defended by saying “it fits the story” because there’s minimal story to justify this. The Gamma’s in this game aren’t scary at all. They can still eat you whole, but, you’d have to be pretty terrible at the game.
Another point of contention was the redesign of Jill based on Sasha Zatova. When Capcom started using RE Engine, with 7, and there was anger about Chris Redfield looking different, their excuse was “We want these to be modelled after and look like real people.” Well, ok, except Jill Valentine was already modelled after a real person and has been since RE1 remake, 20 years ago. It seems like their only line of logic in replacing Julia Voth with a younger, Russian model was “She’s 24. In this game, Jill is 24. Makes sense, see?” Fortunately there’s a mod to fix that.
Carlos also seems to have been replaced with a kind of generic white dude. When he was most clearly Hispanic before – if the name Carlos Oliveira wasn’t enough. Even so, all the characters look great, and they’ve added more characters that didn’t really serve much purpose.
Resident Evil 3 is worth a couple of plays, just to experience the game and appreciate the artwork if nothing else, but I can’t in good faith say it’s worth the full price tag – especially considering that Capcom seems to be expecting Resistance to make up for the lack of content.