Resident Evil 3 Review

Richard Walker

Originally conceived as a Resident Evil 2 spin-off, it wasn't until later in development that Resident Evil: Nemesis actually became Resident Evil 3 – a full-fledged sequel in which Jill Valentine found herself trapped in Raccoon City. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Resident Evil 3 remake feels like something of a B-side to last year's Resident Evil 2 remake. It's a resolutely linear affair that rolls by like a freight train – a game that moves at a swift pace, and proves to be a beautifully grim joy while it lasts.

Where RE2 felt like a comparatively seamless and claustrophobic slow-burn ordeal, RE3 doesn't quite manage to achieve the same level of tension. It is, however, extremely adept at making you feel constantly hounded and under pressure, the looming presence of Nemesis generating serious nail-biting moments of stress. When your towering pursuer isn't around, you're wondering where he's going to strike next during the game's 3-5 hour runtime (a 2-hour speedrun is possible, too). When brick walls pose no obstacle for the Terminator-like mound of diseased skin and muscle, you know you're in trouble.

Starting with a beautifully orchestrated cinematic set-piece in which Jill awakens into a living nightmare, as formidable and seemingly indestructible bioweapon Nemesis relentlessly stalks her through the burning, abandoned streets of Raccoon City, Resident Evil 3 barely lets up in generating persistent dread. In the remake, Nemesis is certainly an intimidating presence, and an all-pervading one during the game's opening moments. Oddly, he seems less threatening than RE2's Tyrant (AKA Mr. X), as you'll rarely encounter him in confined spaces, and in the open, he's fairly easily evaded, despite being able to trip you up and reel you in with his tentacles.

In fact, avoiding almost anything and everything is fairly straightforward using Jill's dodge manoeuvre, intact from the original 1999 PSone release, which returns with a stylish roll that enables you to deftly duck beneath incoming lunges and attacks with a well-timed jab of the right bumper. And armed with a lockpick, Jill is able to open simple locks to access useful and much-needed resources that you'll be grateful for when shit really hits the fan. Resident Evil 3 remains a fraught, often terrifying experience, even with the ability to exploit Jill's gymnastics and her skills as the ‘master of unlocking’, thanks to sparse resources, zombies that take numerous bullets to fell, and set-pieces that place your heart right in your mouth and your arse on the edge of your seat.

As Nemesis evolves, however – much like he did in the original game – he somehow grows increasingly less fearsome as he becomes more animalistic – Nemesis proves more effective in a relatively humanoid form. This does nothing to detract from the menagerie of monsters elsewhere, Capcom's remarkable RE Engine once again conjuring gruesomely detailed creatures like the Hunter Gamma, the Drain Deimos, and the vicious Hunter Beta that can slice your jugular with a single swipe, should you dare to veer too close.

Raccoon City's broken streets and the places that lie beyond are wonderfully atmospheric, too, ensuring your nerves are constantly wracked. Capcom knows when to expertly deploy its scares, while the story, set prior to and after the events of Resident Evil 2, neatly fills in some of the gaps from Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield's journey. Resident Evil 3 is a far more compact, concise game than its forebear – it feels like you're always moving forward through the game's various environments with little of the backtracking Resident Evil is known for. There’s a lot missing from the original game, but what’s here is refined and fully realised – there’s absolutely no filler whatsoever.

Extended playable segments where you play as Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service operative Carlos Oliveira (and his lustrous mane) let you off the leash with extra firepower and a zombie-felling punch rather than Jill's swift dodge. Most of the sections in which you play as Carlos have been completely remixed, and indeed, RE3 is markedly different to the original, far more so than RE2 was. Gone is the reloading tool that you could use to create handgun ammo with a single dose of gunpowder, or combine gunpowders to make various types of ammo (you can still mix them without it); gone are the binary decisions you'd be presented with at certain junctures; and gone too is the maze of tight alleyways that made up the oppressive, claustrophobic streets of Raccoon City.

By comparison, Raccoon City in the remake is – as you'd expect – far more immersive, feeling like a real, lived-in place that's very recently gone to hell. A far more condensed place, there are still numerous nods to the original, peppered throughout the city, that fans will lap up. And while it's unfortunate that the choices (mostly fight monster or run) from the 1999 version have been nixed, the tightly scripted, pared back, and linear experience the remake delivers is superlative stuff – it's just a shame that it's over so quickly. In all probability, you'll want to dive straight back in for multiple playthroughs, however, and the selection of challenges that can be completed for currency to unlock bonus content helps immeasurably with that.

Then there’s the inclusion of Resident Evil Resistance, the new multiplayer component that pits a team of four Survivors against a single, player-controlled Mastermind. It’s an interesting concept and more than a simple distraction, using the RE Engine and environments from Resident Evil 3, alongside some original locations. As the Mastermind, your job is to dispatch the Survivors by deploying zombies, hijacking cameras, and placing traps, and as such, proves a sadistic joy. Playing as the Survivor is the more intense, involved experience, much closer to the sort of thing RE3’s single-player campaign provides. RE Resistance is solid enough, but we’re unsure of its long-term appeal (look out for more on it soon).

Another stellar remake, Resident Evil 3 struggles slightly in the shadow of Resident Evil 2, a remake that raised the bar. As such, Capcom was always going to be facing something of an uphill battle in remaking Resident Evil 3, but all that aside, this is a fantastic game and total reimagining that feels like an entirely fresh, and wonderfully nerve-jangling survival horror experience that will stoke nostalgic memories and simultaneously defy your expectations completely.

Resident Evil 3

Short it may be, but Resident Evil 3 is also delightfully sweet. Or as sweet as a survival horror game possibly can be, anyway. Pared back, streamlined and completely brilliant, you'll have a blast outrunning Nemesis all over again.

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A chilling soundtrack that maintains heightened tension from beginning to end. Voice work and performances are also fantastic.


The RE Engine proves once again that it's capable of creating truly stunning visuals. Every grimy corner of Resident Evil 3 is caked in grisly detail, while Jill herself is covered in grime and scrapes. Carlos has lovely hair, too.


Picking up where RE2 remake left off, RE3 keeps the dodge move from the original while retaining the tight, intuitive gameplay of its predecessor.


Resident Evil 3 might be a bit on the short side (my first run took just over 4 hours), but it's another sensational remake that you'll want to play multiple times. RE Resistance and bonus content adds plenty of replay value.


Some overlap from RE2, many of the same challenges make a comeback, but there are some nice, fresh objectives here to tackle, too. A good, solid list.

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