I know, I know, what cons? It’s perfect! Believe me, I mostly agree. The trailers and gameplay footage for the Resident Evil 3 remake look utterly spectacular. The sublime foundation established in the Resident Evil 2 remake look to have transcended to an even greater level. For sure, I have almost completely good things to say about what we know.
I do have some concerns, though. Small ones, but concerns all the same.
The New Designs
I wrote a retrospective about the amazing Jill Valentine some time back, and in it, I remarked on the absurdity of Jill’s outfit in the original Resident Evil 3. It remains an absolutely baffling design choice. Why have your special forces officer, who had a pretty logical and well-designed outfit in the original Resident Evil, fight the city-wide zombie apocalypse in a mini-shirt and tube top?
Thankfully, in the twenty-years plus since that game came out, Capcom came to their senses. While maybe a bit too Lara Croft-ish, Jill’s redesign hits all the right notes. It both calls back on the original while also making sense as something someone would actually be wearing in this situation. Maybe she could have something protecting her neck and shoulders, but I can buy that Jill was wearing this when the outbreak happened and she decided to flee the city.
Design choices may seem like a small thing compared to larger gameplay systems and such, but they can often speak to larger flaws or poor decisions. Jill’s new outfit is a small, but important bit showing the larger pattern of great decisions the RE team makes with these remakes. See also; the new Carlos and the redesigned monsters. Gamma hunters are horrifying.
No, literally. Everything about the Nemesis is a pro. This monster was probably the biggest worry everyone had when the remake was announced, and everything about it looks perfect.
While the crooked nose got a bit of flak when the new design was revealed, those jokes and worries quickly dissipated when we saw Nemesis in action. In action, this creature is absolutely terrifying. We worried Nemesis wouldn’t run. Not only does Nemmy run, it has a ridiculous leap ahead move to catch up to Jill. It uses its tentacle in its first form now. It has a new flamethrower alongside the classic missile launcher.
Combined with what we can infer about Nemesis’s ability to follow the player, based on Mr. X’s ability to follow you almost everywhere throughout police station, and Nemesis looks like it will retain all the terror of the original. It may even surpass the original.
Plus they kept the drops players get for taking Nemesis down, something sorely missing with Mr. X. Thank goodness.
While most fans wanted nothing like a truly open-world Raccoon City, we did hope for something a bit more expansive from the Resident Evil 3 remake. More open areas, more wide streets, more squares and areas like the beginning of the original, where players could tackle areas in the order of their choosing to collect the parts necessary to fix the tram leading to the clock tower.
While definitely limited, some of the gameplay demos we’ve seen show these kinds of open areas, mostly centered around a donut shop. It looks very promising, with multiple buildings and circular paths leading in and around the square in front of the shop. We also know there is an expanded sewer and subway area that unlocks multiple ways to backtrack through the city. This will apparently create opportunities for bonus content for interested players.
While the original did this to an extent, the remake seems poised to expand upon the idea. Ideally, that’s what you want a remake to do.
The original Resident Evil 3 featured a considerable increase in action over horror compared to its predecessors. Fans mostly liked it, but you can tell how the technology limited the execution of the idea. There was a dodge, but using it was wonky and unreliable. Nemesis was often frustrating because he was built for player maneuverability that didn’t always work. The game was a bit easier outside of Nemesis because the player found more ammo and health, and had access to big weapons much earlier on.
The remake looks to be doing the same thing, but with more success.
The Resident Evil 2 remake had absolutely sublime gunplay, and Resident Evil 3 will have that same gunplay. Explosive barrels make their return from the original RE3, alongside new electrical boxes you can shoot to stun enemies. Instead of defensive items, players have dodge capabilities to avoid damage from enemies, including a perfect dodge that slows down time and lets Jill unload into an enemy.
In theory (and lining up with the footage we’ve seen), Resident Evil 3 has more options to deal with enemies, but they can also pack more in to maintain the horror. You might not be dealing with packed, claustrophobic corridors, but it’s harder to deal with 5 zombies in an open square than 2 with no way to come at you than straight ahead.
It’s been a long journey, but RE3 looks like it will deliver on everything the original wanted to deliver on. It’s not all perfect, though.
Yes, the knife is no longer breakable! It’s now a weapon like any other, and I couldn’t be happier. One of the best ammunition-saving techniques in the RE2 remake is to slash enemies with the knife rather than pump them with ammunition, and considering the increased enemy count this time, ammo preservation will be even more important.
The knife jabs rather than wide slashes, but who cares? I’m glad to know I can save my ammo by kneecapping zombies and finishing them with it. And if you’re worried this might make the game too easy, well…the three zombies wandering from the other side of the courtyard might beg to differ.
Wait, didn’t I say that Nemesis was perfect? Well, yeah, for me. But there are concerns.
While an amazing concept mostly pulled off well, the original Resident Evil 3 wasn’t quite technologically equipped to handle everything it tried to do with the Nemesis. This often made boss fights very, very frustrating. Having this giant monster that could easily run you down, shoot you with a rocket launcher, and even insta-kill you sometimes with grab moves, was a bit much for the original Playstation. It was enough to wear down even the most patient fans.
While the remake makes Jill more capable, it also made Nemesis more capable. For those who could barely handle Mr. X in RE2, Nemesis could push them past frustration and into not liking Resident Evil 3.
We still have a lot of questions about how present Nemesis will be, exactly how difficult it will be to deal with, where it can and cannot go, and so forth. The potential definitely exists that it will again be too much. I love the idea, just like I loved Nemesis the first time. I can easily see how the concept will again be better than the execution, though.
The Loss of Live Selection
One of my favorite features of the original Resident Evil 3 was the Live Selection events sporadically placed throughout the game. They provided great replay value because of the way they changed the game. Sometimes it was only small things like the entrance into a new location. Sometimes they changed a boss fight. One choice even changes the ending of the game.
Capcom has already confirmed these events won’t return for the remake, and I can’t help but be disappointed.
In theory, you don’t need events like this because the improved tech can give players the ability to pull these options off in real-time, without prompts. That won’t be uniformly true, though. How could I pick whether to hide in a basement or blow up a kitchen to stop the Nemesis? How can I choose whether to jump off a bridge or not? I guess the game could theoretically still provide these choices without a prompt, but considering what was possible in RE2, I doubt those options will be in RE3.
It’s a small complaint, really, but one in line with the disappointment fans had with the scaled-down differences in the A/B scenarios of RE2.
The Perfect Dodge
Again, I know I listed this among the pros and I’m not taking it back. The feature is awesome. My problem right now is the execution. Honestly, the perfect dodge looks very jarring in an otherwise smooth game. Between the flash of light and weird animation, it’s a sloppy-looking mechanic reminiscent of the bad days of RE6.
I know it seems petty and I don’t mean to suggest RE3’s gameplay will be anywhere near as mediocre as RE6. I still hope this feature gets tuned up before release. At the very least, they should patch it after launch to at least get rid of the flash of light.
Overall, Resident Evil 3 looks amazing. It looks almost like the culmination of the concepts the series has been trying for throughout its entire existence. Resident Evil has been a remarkable series full of industry-changing highs and existential lows. The RE2 remake brought it back to the kind of highs once seen with RE2 and RE4. Will RE3 keep it going? I can’t wait to find out.