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Resident Evil 3 review

Setting a new bar for modern horror

Resident Evil 3
(Image: © Capcom)

Our Verdict

Capcom proves once again that, when it comes to modern horror, it's the master. Resident Evil 3 is testament to the fact that a good horror game needs to be more than just scary, offering skilful urban level design, stunning visuals, a formidable foe – and lots and lots of zombies. If you liked the Resident Evil 2 remake then you're going to love Resident Evil 3.

For

  • Plenty of urban environments to explore
  • Nemesis is a unrelenting foe
  • Dodge ability adds new layer to combat
  • Zombies are difficult to avoid
  • Stunning RE Engine Graphics

Against

  • Often can't re-track areas
  • Puzzles less challenging
Review Information

Platform: PlayStation 4

Time played: 15 hours

You could be forgiven for sleeping on the Resident Evil 3 remake. The original Resident Evil 3 may not be considered as popular as its predecessor, and the hype hasn't been quite as much, but let us assure you: it's not one to miss.

Capcom had huge success with its Resident Evil 2 remake in early 2019, cementing the game's legacy as a stone-cold classic. So when it was announced that the studio was also planning to remake Resident Evil 3, with its release due only a year after its predecessor, we were somewhat skeptical. Could lightning really strike twice? Well, it most certainly has. 

Resident Evil 3 is the epitome of a modern horror game – and Capcom has set a new bar for anyone who dares to try and steal its bloody crown.

Streets of Raccoon City

Resident Evil 3

Jill and Carlos are looking better than ever (Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 3 is a breath of fresh air, metaphorically speaking – the air itself here is distinctly fetid – following Resident Evil 2 Remake. A remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Resident Evil Evil 3 sees you finally getting to venture into the T-virus-riddled streets of Raccoon City, and it's a wonderful change of scenery – but more on that later.

For those who haven't played the original, Resident Evil 3 sees you taking on the roles of two different characters: S.T.A.R.S. officer Jill Valentine, and Umbrella corporation mercenary Carlos Oliveira. Set after the events of Resident Evil but before Resident Evil 2 (confusing, we know), the game follows Carlos and Jill as they attempt to escape Raccoon City amid the T-Virus outbreak. 

Obviously, things aren't all that simple. Between zombies, back-stabbers and one very pissed-off mutant, the escape isn't as easy as grabbing a car and high-tailing it. But simple wouldn't be fun, would it?

With the story focusing on the two protagonists, players have control over either Jill or Carlos, although you don't get to choose – throughout the game you jump between playing as one of the two, depending on whose story is being focused on at a given time. However, you don't get to share your inventory, and each character has their own set of weapons and equipment. For example, Jill has a useful lock pick for getting into hard to access places, while Carlos has an assault rifle that's perfect for mowing down hordes of the infected.

It's a nice change of pace to jump from one character the other – it gives the story more dimensions, and helps you see what's going on outside your current character's bubble. At one point, Carlos visits Raccoon Police Department (just before the events of Resident Evil 2), while Jill traverses the banks of Raccoon City. The sequences are running parallel, and provide somewhat of a more complete city view, while tying together the series' various entries.

It's actually a big part of what we loved about Resident Evil 3: the varied urban locations. No longer are you confined to a mansion or police department; instead you can roam the stunningly-detailed streets of Raccoon City, the blood-stained hallways of the hospital, and even the sewers. The exploration feels less confined, although we did find that this meant Resident Evil 3 allowed for less backtracking than its predecessors. 

While Resident Evil 2 Remake and Resident Evil kept you in one location (within reason) that you could explore over time and pretty much at your own pace, Resident Evil 3 pushes you on to new locations and levels – meaning that if you missed picking up something you won't be going back to get it later. 

As completionists, this stung. And the constant push forward may be a little jarring for those who enjoyed the laid-back nature of Resident Evil 2 Remake. At many points, it feels like you've been injected with a shot of adrenaline – and there's one mutant in particular that is administering the dose.

Don't stop now

Resident Evil 3

Guess who's back - again and again and again... (Image credit: Capcom)

That's right: Nemesis is back, and more formidable than ever before – if you thought Resident Evil 2's Mr X was bad then you're in for whatever the opposite of a treat is. Nemesis is not your run-of-the-mill Tyrant: it's violent, smart and fully armed. What's worse, it's in pursuit of Jill and her fellow S.T.A.R.S. officers – and it's not easily deterred.

Throughout Resident Evil 3, Nemesis pops up as it relentlessly hunts down Jill. It's quite the imposition, and having to continually avoid it is frankly exhausting, but it's made somewhat easier by the game's new dodge ability, which lets you swiftly move out of the way of its attacks, if timed properly.

While frustrating, Nemesis provides plenty of mini-boss battles throughout the game, keeping you on your toes  – you don't know when it'll appear next – and driving the game forward. Each battle proves more difficult than the last, as each time Nemesis is taken down it disappears and mutates further, becoming stronger and more aggressive than before.

However, the aforementioned constant pushing onwards is also a pain for those who want to sweep up any hidden items: Nemesis doesn't care for your backtracking. 

It's not only Nemesis that's more aggressive. In comparison to its predecessors', Resident Evil 3's zombies come at you much harder, much faster and in much greater numbers. While in Resident Evil 2 you could get away with avoiding most of the infected, Resident Evil 3 almost forces you into combat, with instances where you'll be greeted with hordes of zombies and no way out.

Again, this is where dodge comes in handy – as does Carlos' assault rifle. While these instances are challenging, between your varied arsenal, dodge ability, and desire to not get bitten, they never feel overwhelming; it just feels like Capcom has suitably stepped things up here. 

It's also worth noting that everything looks better. From the cutscenes to the zombies themselves, the RE Engine has done wonders on revamping Resident Evil 3's visuals to create the most immersive (and impressive) Resident Evil game yet.

It's not all zombie shooting

Resident Evil 3

Sir, I'm not sure you have the credentials to be back here (Image credit: Capcom)

But the beauty of Resident Evil games isn't just in the action-packed zombie-slaying; you've also got to get your brain working.

Resident Evil 3 still offers puzzles, like its predecessors, but they're considerably less frequent and arguably less challenging. Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 relied on puzzles for progression, and would often see you sitting with a pen and paper trying to work out what to do next; however, Resident Evil 3 doesn't particularly offer that. Sure, there are puzzles, but they're pretty easy to solve, and generally require you to collect items in order to solve them. But there's not much in the way of actual brain-ticklers.

In one way this is great, as it means the pace is never really slowed down to a halt. However, it is something we missed, as it's one of the key aspects that sets Resident Evil games apart from other horror games. However, there are still plenty of locks to pick, doors to unlock and objects to find. 

It doesn't feel like it's a huge part that's missing; instead it feels like Capcom has tried to put more emphasis on the action than the exploration. So it really comes down to what you're playing a Resident Evil game for. If you want more action and less puzzles then you'll be thrilled; but if you're in the mood for some brain-scratchers then you may be a bit disappointed. 

Verdict

Resident Evil 3

Here's why you shouldn't flush goldfish down the toilet (Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 3 has rightfully earned its place as one of the best horror games on the market. While Resident Evil 2 Remake may be seen as the golden child, the Resident Evil 3 remake is faster-paced, more action-packed, graphically superior, and forces you to face your fears head-on – whether you want to or not. 

If you were a fan of the original then you won't be disappointed; but that's not to say that Resident Evil 3 is just for those who have dabbled in the franchise before. Whether you've played no Resident Evil games, one, or a whole bunch, Resident Evil 3 is easy to jump into – and not to be missed.

Vic Hood

Vic is an award-winning games journalist, bringing experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table.