The infectious bite of Resident Evil is far less deadly this time around. Just a year after the phenomenal remake of Resident Evil 2 took us back to the intricately designed corridors of the R.P.D Police Station and Capcom has delivered what we thought would be a delicious dessert to 2019’s main course. In reality, the dessert is just a pack of digestive biscuits, and compared to the perfectly-baked dinner of last year, they’re a bit stale.
If I were to pin the 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3 down to one simple phrase, I’d call it the “Hollywood Remake” of its PSOne original. While it’s not as bad as a Gus Van Sant shot-for-shot, it’s far from a Brian de Palma darling. In fact, it’s most similar to the likes of Peter Jackson’s King Kong: Gorgeous, action-packed, well directed, but far more tedious.
That’s not to say that Capcom has massively expanded the source material into an overwhelmingly long circle-jerk of what fans remember the original to be, although at times it does feel like it. Instead, Resident Evil 3 has been examined, chopped up and filled in with organs they think should be there, but they shouldn’t be.
Most disappointing is the high amount of cut content that Resident Evil 3 has seemingly forgotten about.
It starts off well enough. Playing as protagonist Jill Valentine dredging through the wide streets of an infectious Raccoon City sets a solid first impression, but it’s different. Whilst Resi 2 took the already-acclaimed map and events fans adore and reforged them into a false memory of what they used to be, albeit better, Resi 3 instead displays all-new layouts that feel more realistic, but also more basic and barren.
Despite the photorealistic visuals, there is no sense of awe outside of the game’s sheer scale. The spread-out two-lane streets may have flaming car wrecks to create narrower paths for zombies, but they’re easy to kite into the game’s new favourite toys: exploding barrels and electrical traps. Combined with an easily-executed dodge roll and Resident Evil 3 quickly makes itself known as 2’s action-packed sister, but its action mechanics feel tacked on, less interesting and easily exploitable. Are we back in 1997?
It is an interesting parallel to the original release. Despite only having two Resident Evil games since the start of this generation, Resi 3’s remake feels rather derivative while also straying too far from what made the original game memorable. You’ll begin to explore Racoon City only for it to be replaced by an uninspired sewer level with one-hit-kill enemies. You’ll begin exploring the last game’s Police Station, but it’s cut short, much like most of this remake.
For those who vaguely remember Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, you’ll likely be wondering how the new game incorporates the once-titular antagonist. Simply put, it’s underwhelming. Whereas the last game’s Mr X Tyrant stalked you throughout the entirety of the game’s primary location at key moments, Nemesis only appears for very brief moments, mostly in simple run-to-the-objective set pieces. Every time the Nemesis appears, the encounter is entirely scripted, often leading into a half-baked boss fight that also disappoints.
Most disappointing is the high amount of cut content that Resident Evil 3 has seemingly forgotten about. Entire locations, boss fights, characters and mechanics aren’t recreated here for modem audiences; even the multiple choice system that made the original repayable is entirely scrapped. Whereas the last year’s game felt like a love letter to its source material, Resident Evil 3 feels like a quick cash-in. There aren’t even any puzzles!
While performances are strong and the story is still enjoyable, Resident Evil 3’s good points are mostly inherited from its far better predecessor. An enjoyable combat system can’t entirely save a game that feels this rushed, but it does help.
No matter how you look at it, Resident Evil 3 is a stark fall from grace for Capcom. With the developer firing on all cylinders ever since the return-to-form release of Resident Evil 7, this is the company’s first blunder in years.