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(Note: this is a review of the single-player section.)
Continuing off last year’s successful Resident Evil 2 Remake, Capcom has returned to the streets of Raccoon City for another survival horror romp in this year’s Resident Evil 3 Remake. A (mostly) faithful retelling of the 1999 original, RE3 Remake continues the work of its predecessor by retaining the OG’s tight story and intricate puzzles, while updating everything to a more modern, more terrifying standard. Some of these changes aren’t for the better: cut content and backtracking being among the game’s few, though notable, prevalent issues. Gripes aside, RE3 Remake is an exceptionally fun, fast experience that captures the spirit of a Capcom classic… but you’ll probably wish it was a little longer.
Reach For The S.T.A.R.S.
Much like the original, the game throws you in the shoes of special operations Officer Jill Valentine trying to escape the apocalyptic Raccoon City, now overrun with the mysterious T-virus turning citizens into undead nightmares. She finds herself the unwitting target of a towering flesh giant called Nemesis – a relentless monstrosity whose sole purpose is to eliminate Valentine and all remaining S.T.A.R.S officers via any means necessary. Her escape leads to a reluctant partnership with Carlos, a gung-ho damage control agent sent by Umbrella, the same corporation responsible for the T-virus (who Jill wisely distrusts, yet has no other choice but to work with). Around every corner, challenges await, none greater than the lurking Nemesis – all leading towards a tense, breakneck ride.
The game consists primarily of scrambling from point A to B, searching for solutions to the latest blockade furthering your path. Although it can feel a bit repetitive traversing back and forth for parts, it’s almost always been a fundamental aspect of the franchise and especially common in the older titles. Amidst these ‘puzzles,’ you’ll find yourself navigating a berth of tight corridors and narrow spaces overrun by wandering zombies. Thankfully, one of the game’s best new additions, a dodge mechanic, helps ease these areas by quickly evading enemies and darting in a specific direction. This feature proved especially handy during the game’s higher difficulties. Gameplay felt tight and responsive; the basic controls are almost identical to the (already excellent) RE2 Remake’s, making the lack of a learning curve for both new and returning players feel refreshing.
Wedged between puzzles are boss fights, almost always resulting in encounters with Nemesis. Each boss fight adds a new form to the ever-unstable behemoth, seemingly larger and more dangerous than the last. You’ll be dueling on rooftops, plazas, and within research facilities trying to take the big ol’ sucker down. Whenever I faced him, I found myself utilizing loads of gathered ammo and items to survive each fight, making each walk off win a bloody, but well-earned victory that left me momentarily shorthanded. It never felt unfair or draining, though it became a continual, fun challenge to conserve resources so I’d be even more prepared for the next bout.
Sights and Sounds of Raccoon City
Unsurprisingly, Resident Evil 3 Remake uses the same engine as the RE2 Remake, aptly named ‘the RE Engine.’ And for good reason: the game looks fantastic running on a PS4 Pro. Buttery smooth gameplay and detailed-looking cutscenes maintained throughout the whole affair. Environments both lit ablaze and drenched beneath the sewers all look vivid, making each location a standout stop on your way through the town. It’s a good thing, too comparing the original game’s graphics to the modern standard easily drives home the necessity of this remake.
Likewise, audio is crisp and well presented. You’ll hear the groans of the undead echo down hallways, and Nemesis’ screams of “S.T.AAAAA.R.S” have never been more terror-inducing. Although the game’s score is effectively composed by Capcom veterans Kota Suzuki and Azusa Kato, it seemed to disappear a little into the background; no track, besides the creepy little ‘save room’ number, managed to stand out meaningfully. But this music gap is suitably filled by a wave of distant, ambient tracks that cover the hikes between locations keeping you on edge for whatever is around the corner.
A Cold, Cruel, Clock Tower-less World
Obviously the game’s presentation and gameplay are both up to standard; however, it’s the cutting room floor where things start getting a little murky. Fans of the original know RE3 was never a long game to begin with, but even they might be surprised how short the finished remake feels. That’s because certain sections, such as the infamous clock tower or Jill’s stop by the R.P.D., have either been skimped or eliminated entirely from the final story. New fans may leave none-the-wiser, but even semi-experienced survival horror players can swiftly finish the game in or around five hours leaving everyone a little short-handed regardless of prior knowledge. It’s easily the Remake’s biggest issue; there’s never a reasonable excuse for why these sections are absent and it makes the finished product appear shorter than expected.
As a solution, there’s a few replayability aspects added to further your time post-game. An unlockables shop offers new weapons and quality of life items meant to ease replays. These prove to be almost mandatory for tackling the game’s tougher modes and can be obtained by completing challenges that offer spendable points. These are nice additions, but depending how deep your desire is to replay a game ad nauseam they might feel a little empty at the end.
Resident Evil 3 Remake carries the franchises’ torch in the same promising direction. After a few post-RE4 duds, the series has been revitalized and reinvigorated with a duo of competent remakes that return to the roots- frenzied survival-horror based action coupled with unique puzzles and fun gameplay. Crawling through Raccoon City has been a blast; and though it might end a bit sooner than expected, the overall experience is still worth the price of admission. And I can’t say I wouldn’t mind another.
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