Recently, I grabbed Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 on my Switch because they were silly cheap, and I also kind of justified the purchase because it certainly seemed to fit the mood. I mean, you’re suddenly isolated from the rest of humanity and must fight for your life against a deadly virus with escalating death tolls? That could totally be a headline today, and no one would think that’s unrealistic. Anyway, I loved those two games, which motivated me to get the absolutely amazing Resident Evil 2 Remake from last year on my Xbox about a week ago, with just enough time to finish it before Resident Evil 3 got dumped in my lap.
Resident Evil 3 Remake, like its predecessor, is a complete, you know, remake of the original, and includes most of the same improvements – the fixed “tank” camera is gone, for example, replaced with an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective. And it looks beautiful, I simply can’t fault it on the pixel front. I was a little concerned that the game’s controls would feel clumsy (you hurt me, Resident Evil 5), but my apprehension was unfounded. Imagine my surprise to find that they were, in fact, even better than Resident Evil 2 Remake. One other mechanic is probably responsible for me labelling it as “better”, because they’re essentially the same – only now there’s an added dodge. Hopping between the four games, I realised that Resident Evil 2 Remake was sorely lacking this, and it made the game much harder to master in close quarters. Resident Evil 3 Remake has the best dodge out of the lot, in my opinion, because not only was it extremely responsive in a pinch, but you also have the option to do a counterattack if you time it right. It’s tricky, but once mastered it’s almost invaluable.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though, and I have two gripes with Resident Evil 3 Remake. Firstly, its quite short. I took my time getting through it, explored every inch of real estate, went back and forth way more than I needed to, and spent far too much time trying to squeeze into spaces where I just couldn’t really go. Not to mention the time I wasted trying to backtrack once I crossed a progression threshold. But even so, I was done in under ten hours.
By comparison, I finished Leon’s campaign in Resident Evil 2 Remake in about seven hours, again, taking my sweet time (I paid for this, okay, I want my money’s worth). But then I still had Claire’s campaign, and while large parts of it are the same as Leon’s, there’s a different story and chain of events to it. Resident Evil 3 Remake doesn’t have this – it’s just Jill Valentines campaign, that’s it. On the surface of it, there’s no compelling reason to replay it.
My other gripe is with Nemesis himself. In Resident Evil 2 Remake, Mr X was an unknown variable. Once he starts showing up, he continues to do so at totally random times for the remainder of the game. It made things much more tense – hearing the footsteps on the other side of the wall, or above you, or below, not being sure at any point if he is going to be right there when you opened a door or went up or down a flight of stairs. Mr X was the perfect suspense mechanic. Nemesis, not so much. I would go as far as saying his interactions were almost completely scripted. Always showing up at the same point in the game, always in the same place. His presence in the game became annoying rather than a constant anxiety, and because of this he feels more like a squandered opportunity to do something meaningful or, at the very least, interesting. He starts off great, coming through the wall with more flair than the Kool-Aid Man, but the OMG OMG OMG factor pretty much stops there, with further appearances serving to only push you down a pre-defined gauntlet of mayhem towards your next objective. Meh.
Capcom really has come to the party with these recent remakes of a much loved franchise. Resident Evil 3 Remake looks great, plays great, and is, overall, um, great. But it's also kind of short, and measures up poorly against Resident Evil 2 Remake - and not because its bad, it’s… erm, great, but it feels like half a step back instead of one or two forward.
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