With a rather timely story centered around a virus pandemic, Resident Evil 3 is almost too much at times. Reading the notes left behind by doctors about the mounting casualties of the virus is unsettling, and not in the way Capcom had intended. Although, to their credit – they had no idea they’d be releasing this game in the middle of a pandemic and I’m happy that they did not decide to delay the release. We need entertainment now more than ever.
Resident Evil 3 see players taking on the role of Jill Valentine, the heroic supercop of the Raccoon City Police Department’s (R.P.D.) elite unit S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) best known for her foray into the mansion during the events of Resident Evil 1. Jill is nearing the end of her tenure in Raccoon City, a town on the verge of collapse due to the ongoing virus, when she is woken up by a call during the night and an unexpected visitor.
Out of courtesy to Capcom, I won’t spoil any more of the story. Just know that those who played the original will see most characters return, although some of their stories may play out differently. Brad, Jill’s S.T.A.R.S. partner and Carlos, a member of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS), both return, alongside Mikhail Victor and Nikolai.
Resident Evil 3 opens with a surprisingly unexpected and thrilling beginning, perfectly setting the tone for the adventure to come. From the start, Jill is placed against insurmountable odds, with an unstoppable Tyrant on her heels and both a city and a hospital filled to the brim with zombies. Jill’s story remains tension filled throughout its rather short six or so hour campaign.
Less survival horror than Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 focuses more on run and gun action. You still have to micromanage your items and be wary of using too much ammo on any particular enemy, but I tend to horde ammo and by the end I had far more than I ever needed and lamented holding on to my better ammo only to end up not using it.
Sure, the game is still scary. There are cramped corridors and dark alleys scattered throughout, and you still never know what to expect behind a closed door. Enemies remain almost too powerful, with many zombies taking upwards of ten shots to go down, even when hit in the head. Even if the game skews easier than Resident Evil 2, don’t let the abundance of ammo lure you into a false sense of security – you can and will get overwhelmed quickly if you aren’t careful.
Thankfully, save rooms are almost always nearby and the cost of death is just having to replay a particular area again – only this time you have the knowledge of what is going to happen and may even pull through in better shape than you would have originally.
While the game does auto save, I’d recommend saving on your own when possible or else you may find yourself replaying long stretches just to get to a specific point again.
Jill has a variety of weapons at her disposal, although in normal mode she begins with only a handgun. Later you will find a shotgun, magnum, grenade launcher, flash bangs, and grenades. Most weapons feature upgrades for players who diligently search their surroundings. Thankfully the knife is unbreakable, unlike in Resident Evil 2, but now cannot be used to deflect incoming zombie attacks. Still, it is useful to knife anything on the ground to make sure it is dead before progressing.
To help with your search is an intuitive map system, seen previously in Resident Evil 2, which shows a full layout of each section. Areas in black have not been visited, areas in red include items which have not been found, while areas in blue have been fully searched. Since Jill can only carry a specific number of items at a time, sometimes you will have to leave items behind. In cases like this the map will retain the location so you can return later. The map also highlights any locked doors, chained gates, or areas you have encountered but could not complete. This map is extremely helpful, especially for completionists. We all know how easy it is to forget about a locked case or locker after exploring and not go back to open it once the right tool has been found.
Non-consumable items can be discarded after they have served their purpose. Keys, the lock pick, ID cards, etc can all be used in specific areas and when all uses have been found the items will display a trash can next to it, letting you know that it is now OK to discard the item permanently. Without this useful notification players would almost certainly hold on to items far longer than necessary, taking up valuable space.
Resident Evil 3 takes place during essentially the same timeline as Resident Evil 2 and as such, you’ll encounter some of the same areas – most importantly, the police department. While your time there is rather brief, it was fun to wander the station again and witness the back story to some of the events Leon and Clair stumbled upon during Resident Evil 2’s campaign. It’s also a nice break from Jill’s story as you will take the reins of Carlos, who has an assault rifle and tends to encounter larger swarms of zombies.
Raccoon City is gorgeous detailed, an incredibly realized set piece where the chaos and destruction feels both natural and new. This is a city on the verge of total destruction, but small remnants of normal life remain scattered throughout. The advertisements littered along walls, movie posters, magazine covers, and window displays all tell the story of a world that had quickly ceased to exist. Again, during the current pandemic these instances stand out even more.
Resident Evil 3 isn’t just a remake of a 20 year old game, it is a complete reimaging. This both helps and hampers the product. The polished graphics and improved game play engine make Resident Evil 3 far more fun to play than it was back on the PlayStation 1, but in return several areas of the game have been removed. While I did not mind the changes, many online have been taken aback by the removal of specific set pieces.
Personally, I feel the story still flows well and the set pieces which remain all feel necessary, with no fluff to artificially increase the campaign’s length. From a pure entertainment standpoint the game remains fun throughout.
The Resident Evil series has never been known for its length. Whether or not this will be an issue will lie solely on the player. Many will play through the campaign repeatedly in attempts to speed run or to play on harder difficulty levels. Of course, this wouldn’t be Resident Evil without collectibles, of which there are many. Scattered throughout the set pieces are bobbleheads which you can destroy, and completing specific challenges will unlock concept art and models. Unlocking everything will require multiple playthroughs.
Alongside Resident Evil 3 is Resident Evil: Resistance, a multiplayer 4 vs 1 scenario where survivors must work together to survive an onslaught of deadly traps by an evil mastermind. Fan Fest News will be reviewing Resident Evil: Resistance separately from Resident Evil 3.
Resident Evil 3, despite its short length, is a thrilling action romp full of interesting characters, frantic set pieces, gorgeous graphics, surprising Resident Evil 2 revelations, and grotesque enemies. During these rather uncertain times it is a perfect escape – despite hitting a bit too close to home at times. Do yourself a favor and pick Resident Evil 3 up.
Resident Evil 3 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and on Steam. Special thanks to Capcom for providing Fan Fest News with a review code for the purpose of this review.