In the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, back on the PS1, being relentlessly hunted by the eponymous bioweapon made for some of the survival horror franchise’s scariest moments to date. Fast-forward 21 years, and the trick still works – never knowing when an unstoppable creature will launch into another ruthless attack helps craft nerve-wracking tension in Capcom’s latest high-def remake of a classic Resident Evil.
Coming a year after the brilliant Resident Evil 2 remaster, expectations are high for this threemake – and for the most part, it delivers. It masterfully brings the original into the 21st century, with a cinematic makeover that brings the doomed Raccoon City to life like never before. Resident Evil 3 looks and sounds phenomenal, particularly on a 4K HDR set up – the night may be dark and full of terrors, but it also looks amazing, with neon lights reflecting off broken glass on the streets, perfectly accurate shadows, and stunning detail throughout. A constant unease is crafted through the sound design too, from the crunch of objects underfoot to the rattling of chainlink fences as zombies strain against them, to the subtle skittering or crawling of enemies, just out of sight. It’s terrifically, terrifyingly immersive.
The plot gets something of an overhaul from the original. While the emphasis remains on Jill Valentine – protagonist and survivor of the original Resident Evil – more emphasis is placed on Carlos, a mercenary encountered early on, and the main playable character in a few sections. Set concurrent to Resident Evil 2, Jill’s story begins as a simple drive to get out of the city, before evolving into something of grander scale.
Capcom has judiciously re-edited events here though – some sections have been dropped or trimmed down from the original, while others have been added or extended, including a few clever links to the Resident Evil 2 remake. More often than not, this editing works in the game’s favour, streamlining what is meant to be a desperate dash to escape. However, in cutting some of the slower moments from 1999’s Nemesis, the remake evolves more into an action game, which some returning players may dislike.
This push to action is reflected in what feels like a more abundant supply of ammo, a relatively early arsenal of weapons, and an evolved ‘quick step’ mechanic that, once mastered, means you can dodge most regular enemies. While the biggest fear remains the encounters with Nemesis, now evolving into increasingly disturbing monstrous forms, normal zombies start to feel like an inconvenience after a little while. Environmental aids – such as electrical breakers you can shoot to electrocute a wide area – and a comparatively sparse allocation of puzzles further nudge Resident Evil 3 away from the tense survival horror vibe of its predecessor.
While returning purists may lament the reduced prominence of puzzles and the omission of some of the stranger locations and plot points of the original Nemesis, 2020’s Resident Evil 3 stands strong as its own creation. It looks and sounds amazing, the voice acting is light years ahead of the original, and most importantly, it can still bring the scares. If it were a touch longer – it clocks in at around eight hours, although it’s only fair to note that Resident Evil games almost always offer speedrun potential – and had some more replay value, it would be nigh perfect.