After the massive success of last year’s Resident Evil 2 Remake, being able to go back to Raccoon City so soon was a highly appealing prospect for a lot of eager Resident Evil fans. And although the relatively short wait for Resident Evil 3 wasn’t made any easier because of the high standards set by its predecessor, I’m glad to report that the wait was definitely worth it.
Set almost simultaneously alongside the events of the previous game, Resident Evil 3 places players into the role of our protagonist Jill Valentine, a member of the S.T.A.R.S. special forces, as she attempts to escape the T-virus outbreak in Raccoon City and is at the same time hunted by the bioweapon known as Nemesis.
Alongside her we also meet our deuteragonist Carlos Oliveira, a member of the Umbrella Corporation’s security forces, as they both band together in an effort to find a way to leave the ruined city and help evacuate any surviving civilians.
The story of the game in general is pretty great, with a few surprises and additions that were not present in the original game, and it features a cast of great supporting characters. But the real showstoppers are undoubtedly Jill and Carlos, and the budding friendship and banter between the two of these characters is a highlight of the game, and it gets us to care a great deal for both of these characters as the game goes on.
You take control of Jill for the vast majority of the game, but you’re also occasionally put into the shoes of Carlos. The core gameplay loop remains the same during both of these perspectives, but there are slight variations that differentiate the two.
Jill is fast and agile, and can make use of the brand new quickstep ability to dodge out of harm’s way. Timing is key when using this move, as a perfectly timed quickstep slows down time and gives you a brief moment to catch your breath and take more precise shots. Carlos on the other hand doesn’t have a dodge, and his unique ability instead allows players to deliver a powerful blow that can knock enemies to the ground when timed correctly.
Combat in the game is hectic, and revolves around players making use of a number of different weapons like the Handgun, Assault Rifle, Shotgun and Grenade Launcher. Each of these weapons come in handy in specific circumstances, and calculated and precise use of them can allow players to empty out entire rooms filled with zombies in an instance.
You also have to keep an eye on your ammunition at all times, but if you’re even a halfway decent shot, you’ll almost always have enough on your hands. If you ever find yourself lacking however, there are always enough items scattered around in the world for you to craft some more for your guns.
Inventory management is actually a very important survival aspect in the game, and properly utilizing the space available to you is a fun little mini-game in of itself. Combining items to clear up space, storing unessentials in safe rooms and sometime even sacrificing unnecessary items are all actions that you have to sometimes undertake in order to survive.
It’s almost always a good idea to have a third of your inventory space free so that you never find yourself overburdened and unable to pick up that sweet new weapon or healing items. At the same time though, you need to keep yourself sufficiently armed at all times, because the enemies in the game are much more resilient than before.
There’s a fair variety of enemy types in the game, ranging from zombies dogs and giant spiders to even freakish tentacle headed beings that can attack you from across a room. Each of these have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and even your basic zombies can take a lot of punishment before they go down. A regular zombie can take anywhere from one to four headshots to drop dead, so you often have to keep the pressure on for a while.
There are also the occasional environmental hazards like open circuits and explosive barrels found around the maps, that can help you take down or incapacitate large groups of enemies with a perfectly timed shot.
Now it goes without saying that the biggest and meanest enemy in the game is Nemesis, and the encounters involving him are some of the most action packed sections of the entire game, boss fights and chases both included. I obviously won’t go into too much detail about the various encounters involving this monstrosity, but I will say that they keep ramping up in intensity and excitement as the game goes on.
His appearances are not nearly as spontaneous or shocking as those of Mr. X in Resident Evil 2, but he’s a tough enemy that is relentless in his pursuit to hunt down Jill, and he’s still used to great effect over the course of the game.
Now there are some fans who might be worried that some of the more action oriented parts of Resident Evil 3 might take away from the horror aspect of the game, and I’ll tell them not to worry too much. This game is often times better at conveying a sense of helplessness and dread than its predecessor, and fantastic use of lighting in both indoor and outdoor locations combined with excellent sound design and the resilience of the enemies make for some of the most terrifying moments in the entire franchise.
Most of the locations are in fact so beautifully handcrafted and so perfectly detailed that with the use of proper environmental cues and subtle storytelling nudges, the game can make you feel miniscule and powerless even in a brightly lit room. It’s all really nerve wrecking.
My biggest and perhaps only major issue with the base game of Resident Evil 3 is it’s $60 price tag. It’s a phenomenally crafted horror game that I’ve loved playing, but it’s also a very short game. My playthrough took a little less than 6 hours in total, and I didn’t even rush through it.
Beating the game once on any difficulty gives you access to a shop in which you can purchase cool goodies like buffs and new weapons to take with you on subsequent playthroughs, and that’s fun and all, but it’s still not enough.
Also included with the game is Resident Evil Resistance, which is a new five player multiplayer mode that pits four Survivors against one Mastermind. The Survivors have to make use of different weapons and abilities to find a way to escape captivity, while the Mastermind can hinder them by deploying traps and various monsters.
It’s an okay multiplayer mode to be fair, with mostly the same gameplay as the campaign, but it’s just lacking all of the atmosphere and dread that makes the base game fun. There’s nothing scary about a group of players all unloading bullets into zombies at the same time, and the challenge mostly comes from the Mastermind player spamming their traps and other creatures.
In conclusion, Resident Evil 3 is an incredible survival horror experience that will appeal to both older and newer fans of this beloved franchise. It’s beautifully handcrafted map, fantastic combat and intriguing story will keep me coming back for subsequent playthroughs again and again, but it’s current price tag is a little too steep for a game that is just around 6 hours in length.
Resident Evil 3 is available now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed and published by Capcom. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
Resident Evil 3 Review
Although the entire experience is very brief, Resident Evil 3 is nonetheless a masterfully crafted survival horror experience.