Resident Evil 3 Review: A Beautiful Monstrosity

Return to Racoon City and take on the horrors of your youth. Resident Evil 3 just abandoned all hope and left Mr X behind for the glitz and glamour of the big city. Now we find out if this remake was worth the wait.

Originally unleashed on Playstation 3 in 1999, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was, of course, the third in the mainline Resident Evil franchise. Following the fate of Jill Valentine, a surviving member of the STARS tactical team, it updates the original zombie apocalypse and brings is onto PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

Resident Evil 3 Review racoon city

Hi Def Destruction

This long-awaited return to Racoon city moves away from some of the more claustrophobic elements of 2019s moody and deliberate Resident Evil 2 remake, instead throwing players into a whole new horror experience. Starting off in an apartment complex. gamers are faced with an entire city full of death. Things have gone decidedly sideways and the howls of the dead and desperate lick up around the windows of this opening scene fueled by the fear of anything left alive. It’s not somewhere you’d want to go but there’s only one way out. Unfortunately for our protagonist, they end up being flung headlong into this atrocity dashing through the streets and subterranean tunnels of Raccoon City. Hospitals that remain open are turned into dimly lit deathtraps with zombies secluded around every corner, while the streets that aren’t lit by buzzing neon lights are awash with fire. Stepping out into Resident Evil 3, it’s clear that the same impressive upgrades that bolstered Resident Evil 2 are waiting for players and they will be with you as you strive to escape this hellhole. Whether it’s scrambling across the tarmac among overturned firetrucks or trawling through garbage, this labyrinth of horrors is immediately striking. There’s a definite sense of scale and grandeur to the entire experience. Just look at the opening shot of the City that waits on you.

While the processing horsepower available in the modern age of the zombie apocalypse has given Capcom free rein to build a world that feels alive and full of danger, the nice little design features lose their shine when you look close enough. The blurred text on walls or immoveable barricades show where this massive sprawling cityscape turns out to be closer to the dungeon run of the original RE:3

Resident Evil 3 Review creatures

Creature Discomfort

Creature design is just as impressive this time around and follows on from the equally impressive Resident Evil 2. While zombies are serviceable and recognizable enemies like the hunter get a 2020 upgrade, it’s the redesign of Carlos and Jill that stands out as most impactful right from the off.
Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira, however, are very much the epitome of how the franchise has grown up with these remakes. Characters that were stuck in the technology of the past look and feel like they have been through hell. Supported by some stellar voice acting and a script that probably still airs somewhat on the side of cheesy action, these two action heroes are far more relatable than the foils of the late 90s games. It’s a good thing that these two fit the bill as front-page survival stars because players gunning their way across Racoon City get to spend a good deal fo time hanging over their shoulders.

Unlike the rumored first-person mode of resident Evil 8 that is due to break out in the future, Resident Evil 3 takes a third-person approach, walking through a hellscape with Jill and Carlos as they blast and break their way through a range of encounters. Gameplay is largely split into a range of shot and loot dungeons filled with collect and crack puzzles, while the undead loiter ominously waiting for a bite.

From the spectacle of Racoon City on fire to the dimly lit corridors of the local Police Department, danger is around every corner. Creeping through emergency lighting, exploring confined alleyways, or searching abandoned buildings is fraught with potential problems as it seems there’s a pair of arms ready to snatch you at every door. While I found the design of these enemies to be not much more than faithful upgrades of the original games, their difficulty proves to be well balanced in this new Resident Evil. Zombies are entirely capable of overwhelming STARs best and provide the same sort of slow, edge of your seat creep that RE:2 excelled at.

Resident Evil 3 Review In The Crosshairs

The Nemesis

Resident Evil 3 manages to distinguish itself from its predecessor with the inclusion of the Nemesis. We were always getting to this hulking beast and Capcom don’t waste any time in thrusting players into its crosshairs. Right from the off, the ominous sounds that echo outside Jill’s apartment complex come crashing into her life again as the Nemesis makes an appearance. That early introduction to the Nemesis is indicative of the changes introduced for this act of Resident Evil.

When the Nemesis arrives, what unfolds is an immediate dash for freedom where one mistake is likely to be your last. With this hulking monstrosity hot on your heels, quite literally when it gets a massive flamethrower, the tension is ratcheted up immensely. This makes the Nemesis monster a satisfying counterpoint to the previous antagonist, Mr X, and creates encounters that accelerate from momentary relief into frantic action setpieces. These work best when they race into zombie-filled alleys, where ammunition and escape seem like a rare commodity.
The threat of impending death is exactly where the exceptional sound design elevates Resident Evil beyond remake into its own nerve-racking delight. While moody moments in the back of a store are made all the more menacing by the distant wailing of a zombie and the clatter in the empty night, the thundering footsteps of the Nemesis play along to a chorus of explosions, reminding you of the direction of your demise and quite how close you’ve come to death. If you can play Resident Evil 3 in surround sound do it, or grab a device that can simulate it well. These moments are where the game truly excels.

What starts out as a tendency towards action combat ends up with a series of boss style encounters which, again, reflect Resident Evil’s shoot first and ask questions when you run out of bullets attitude. During RE2 pacing provided the opportunity to escape and hide, while Resident Evil 3 seems to actively encourage players to blast past zombies when they aren’t being chased down by The Nemesis. This isn’t exactly Doom Eternal but a healthy selection of weapons and ammunition comes scattered across the locations of Racoon City, from the ever-helpful shotgun to grenades and rifles. Between the range of safes, lockboxes, nurses lockers, and storefronts in the City there really is no shortage of explosions or questions to be asked about medical staff and hand grenades. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but as the game begins to unfold shotgun shells become more plentiful, the threat of each impending boss fight seems to fade off. What starts as a tightly fraught scramble for survival segues into that aforementioned run and gun scenario.

Resident Evil 3 Review Inventory

As player arsenals increase and the boss fights that interrupt a planned escape from Racoon City being to lose their threat, Resident Evil 3 still manages to pull players through the remainder of this journey. Whether it is the novelty of exploring are wrecked Racoon City or the investment in Jill’s ultimate fate, Resident Evil manages to just about pull off a dramatic shift from the mid-stage on. Ultimately, Racoon City could have done without many of the set-piece boss encounters, which left me largely feeling empty and could have stuck to the nasty back alleys that make the opening moments so intense. Fewer guns, more runs.

Even with my most terrifying moments behind me I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Resident Evil 3 to fans or first-timers. While the puzzle, quest, and item management is all relatively rudimentary for fans of the franchise it also stays faithful to what we’ve seen established in Resident Evil 2. The game makes for an utterly gorgeous return to Racoon city, as long as you aren’t looking for an open-world sandbox, and The Nemesis is a thundering juggernaut that sets an unrelenting pace right from the off. While things cool off further down the line, there is no doubt that if Resident Evil 3 doesn’t set your pulse to frantic then you’re probably undead. Grab Resident Evil 3 now on PC via Steam, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.


a copy of this title was provided by PR for this review

A move to Racoon City wouldn't be the best choice right now. Resident Evil 3 is everything that you wanted from the game the first time around. Rooted in the same claustrophobic alleyways of the first incarnation, this return to a classic manages to enhance the original while edging in its own direction.
  • Fantastic Graphical Update
  • Fraught With Tension
  • Fantastic Audio And Voice Acting
  • Puzzles are Just About Good Enough
  • Boss Fights Loose Impact As The Game Progresses
Written by
For those of you who I’ve not met yet, my name is Ed. After an early indoctrination into PC gaming, years adrift on the unwashed internet, running a successful guild, and testing video games, I turned my hand to writing about them. Now, you will find me squawking across a multitude of sites and even getting to play games now and then

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