Resident Evil 3 is a Relentless Remake That Keeps Survival Horror Front and Centre

Resident Evil 3 is a Relentless Remake That Keeps Survival Horror Front and Centre

Richard Walker

Raccoon City is an absolute mess. Fire rages in all corners, zombies have taken over the streets, and there's a big lad called Nemesis roaming about on a single-minded mission to crush your head with his gigantic, pallid fist. Welcome back to Resident Evil 3, Capcom's inevitable remake of the 1999 survival horror classic that marked a gradual shift towards a more action-oriented approach for the series. It added a handy dodge move so you could evade zombie attacks with deft timing, and made ammo slightly less scarce than it was in Resident Evil and RE2.

For the Resident Evil 3 remake, Capcom has preserved the dodge manoeuvre – executed with a jab of the RB button – while upping the ante in terms of challenge with miserly quantities of ammunition, zombies that can take a lot of bullets to topple, and (based on 90 minutes of hands-on experience with the game) an unrelenting sense of tension that's only exacerbated by the constant looming presence of the 10-foot tall leather-trenchcoated menace. Given a grisly makeover, the Nemesis is a fearsome foe, stopping at nothing to mash you into the ground.

Like Tyrant in the Resident Evil 2 remake, Nemesis is a persistent threat that can seemingly appear out of nowhere, at the most inopportune of moments. During a relatively short session with the game, we had about four or five encounters with the grotesque lunk, one of which was an underpants-soiling affair (not literally, honest) as he burst through a wall during a rare instance of apparent calm. Pursued by Nemesis, Jill Valentine jogs at an all-too-leisurely pace, which only ratchets up the feeling of panic as he closes in, wrapping tentacles around your ankles to trip you over and reel you in. Clearly, Jill needs to work on her cardio.

Jill is slow, but it's not her fault that we somehow managed to miss vital items that made progress through our RE3 demo that much harder. A visit to a fiendish maze/hive (where Jill must throw transformer switches to bring power back online), inhabited by voracious Brain Suckers, proved especially taxing without an inventory-expanding hip pouch, which would have given us the extra space required to store valuable healing items. And when you're racing against time to nab a green herb to expunge a poisonous insectoid egg from your belly, it's not ideal. It should go without saying that keeping your eyes peeled for ammo and other helpful resources is of paramount importance in RE3.

Nemesis, with his expanded arsenal – now including a flamethrower, in addition to his standard rocket launcher – is, of course, but one beastie you'll have trouble with in RE3. Slug-like Hunter Gammas slither out of waste pipes in the sewers before trudging menacingly towards you, their hideous maws wide open, glistening with mucus. The level of detail in both RE3's environments and its creatures is remarkable, but it's the unyielding pressure that puts your heart right in your mouth, especially when you're grasping for a single, priceless bullet that could get you out of a jam.

Don't go thinking that the dodge is a surefire way to squeeze your way out of a desperate situation either. It's helpful and ensures the remake is faithful to the original game, but it hardly levels the playing field, even if it does prove valuable when you're trying to evade the unstoppable advance of the Nemesis and his ferocious haymaker. Run through the donut shop, and Nemesis will follow you. Shoot a sparking fuse box or a red fuel drum and you'll slow him down briefly, but he'll keep on coming. He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Attempting to battle Nemesis will only result in wasted ammo, so the best course of action is to turn heel and run for it. There’s little to be gained from pumping perfectly good shotgun shells into his mush, especially since you’ll need to hoard every scrap you possibly can. Clearly, Capcom has resisted leaning in to Resident Evil 3’s slight action bent, instead capitalising on what made the Resident Evil 2 remake such a roaring success, favouring resource management, nerve-shredding tension and seat-of-your-pants survival horror thrills over Resident Evil 6-style excess.

Much like Resident Evil 2, RE3 is a remake that looks profoundly good, thanks to the RE Engine (you almost wish that Capcom would remake all of its games in this way, and your mind can't help but go off on a flight of fancy, imagining how mind-blowing a Dino Crisis remake could be). For now, Resident Evil 3 looks more than capable of fitting the bill where stellar remakes are concerned, offering another total revamp that promises to have more than a few surprises up its tattered zombie sleeve.

  • Can’t wait for the RE4 remake... lol
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