Resident Evil 3
Playstation 4, 2020
The original Resident Evil 3 came out in late 1999. A comprehensive and aesthetically beautiful remake was released earlier this month, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Here is the one image review:
The central hook of the original Resident Evil 3 was that you (Jill Valentine, the long-suffering female lead of the Resident Evil franchise) were constantly pursued by the Nemesis, a sort of super-tyrant engineered by the evil Umbrella Corporation’s European branch. Unlike other series antagonists, the aptly named Nemesis would actively pursue the player; he could open those infamous Resident Evil doors and wasn’t married to a single location. You never felt safe; when Nemesis’ foreboding theme was playing, he might show up at any time. It was one of the first games to really fill me with a sense of dread.
Of course, that feeling was largely an illusion; anyone that has played the original RE3 more than once can tell you that Nemesis’ appearances follow a very predictable logic. It’s an effective illusion, no doubt, but once you learn how Nemesis behaves, the game becomes markedly less terrifying.
In early 2019, Capcom released a remake of Resident Evil 2, which featured a new and improved Mr. X who would stalk the player in real time. In the original RE2, Mr. X 1998 simply showed up to surprise the player for a series of predefined jump scares. Mr. X 2019 basically stole, and improved upon, Nemesis 1999’s gimmick. He didn’t pretend to follow you; he actually did follow you. The new Mr. X was loved by critics and players alike, the RE2 remake sold like gangbusters, and of course, the RE3 remake followed.
Interestingly, in the RE3 remake, Nemesis 2020 behaves less like his original incarnation, and more like a refined version of Mr. X 1998; while there are situations where he’s actively stalking you, more often than not, he’s running you down in an elaborately staged set piece.
I have seen critics and fans say that this robs Nemesis of some of his menace; that he’s nowhere near as scary in the RE3 remake. While there is some truth to this strain of criticism, I think it fails to acknowledge just how downright enjoyable it is to square off against Nemesis 2020. I may not have been SCARED of him, but I smiled every time he showed up with his increasingly ridiculous selection of weapons. Unquestionably, I enjoyed fighting and defeating him more than I ever did in the past. The RE2 remake already nailed the “relentless pursuer” vibe. Had RE3 simply provided more of the same, it would have been redundant. And, for what it’s worth, I think the fear induced by the redesigned Hunter β more than makes up for the changes to Nemesis’ behavior.
Beyond gameplay, longtime fans will find a lot to enjoy here. Ironically, Raccoon City feels as lived in as it ever has as the series’ secondary characters are given a chance to shine. Players finally get to learn exactly how Marvin Branagh came to be infected with the T-Virus, S.T.A.R.S. member Brad Vickers finally gets the chance to go out with dignity, and Carlos Oliveira is given an improved characterization and expanded playable section.
I legitimately enjoyed the RE3 remake. It never quite reaches the heights of the RE2 remake that preceded it, but it is an undeniably competent and gorgeous game with an appropriate degree of reverence for its source material. If you have any fondness for the Resident Evil franchise at all, I’d recommend giving it a shot.
Fun bonus fact: The original RE3 was number one on my Christmas list in 1998. I’ve always loved the Resident Evil Series, and I was champing at the bit to sink my teeth into its newest installment. Unbeknownst to me, My mother pre-ordered the game from Electronics Boutique, and received a free t-shirt as a result. She wrapped up the t-shirt in its own box and didn’t reveal the game to me until I’d opened up every other gift in front of me. Top notch parental cruelty. It was a great shirt, though.