Resident Evil 3 Remake (Playstation 4 Review)
Resident Evil 3 Remake’s hasty release comes as no surprise thanks to Resident Evil 2 doing so well last year. A quick turnaround, however, usually means ideas are left on the cutting room floor, kinks that still need to be ironed out or even design choices that leave players questioning why.
This time we play as Jill Valentine during the endemic event of Raccoon City. Taking place both before and after the events of Resident Evil 2, Jill must evade the pursuit of the Nemesis T-type Tyrant through Raccoon’s back alleys, sewers and promenades all the while searching for answers to many of her long running questions linking this viral outbreak. Unlike its predecessor, Resident Evil 3 Remake has a primary focus on one character for the most part. There is no character select this time round. A secondary character, Carlos Oliveira, is playable in segmented portions of the game and contrast’s Jill’s reserved playstyle. Jill’s sections are more focused on the survival horror element with fewer enemies and less ammo to deal with them, while Carlos has waves of zombies and creatures alike with a payload of munitions to back him up. Both characters shine in their respective scenarios and affording each other a cheesy one liner or two when their path’s cross or chat over the radio. A few NPC’s share screen time with both characters but come off as openly cliché — which is fitting for a traditional Resident Evil game — that clashes with Jill and Carlos’ more restrictive attitudes, making them feel out of place.
What’s also jarring is Jill’s enhanced reflexes this time around. With a press of a button Jill will dodge in a desired direction to evade enemy attacks. Time this just right and time slows down for her to riposte with a quick 180 headshot manoeuvre. This feature was somewhat present in the original, but never prominent. And that’s my main critique, Survival Horror pairs better with more methodical, slower paced gameplay and upping the ante with Jill’s dodging, speed and some of the later scenes being an overblown spectacle net Resident Evil 3 Remake the honour of being in the same league as its less popular, more action heavy later entries.
This reality becomes clearer the deeper you dive into Resident Evil 3 Remake’s gameplay. Ammo is in abundance and that’s to counteract the severe increase in enemy numbers. Enemies are faster, requiring them to be killed instead of avoided whenever possible. Progression is very linear, resulting in more scripted sequences and high octane fights. While all of the above doesn’t make Resident Evil 3 Remake bad, it does twist a lot of what fans would’ve expected. To keep the action flowing and the player from getting complacent, zombies no longer stay down for the count. Killing a zombie then checking their body with the ol’ one-two knife stab to see if they get back up is no longer useful. All signs of a zombies vitals say they are dead, only for you to leave the room for two seconds to return and see them stand back up, leaving the only clear means of disposal the elusive critical hit. Compounding all of these elements takes its toll on resource management as well. Ammo spent quelling zombie forces feels wasted as they are inevitably immortal and you already have to contend with one unkillable monster stalking you, let alone a horde.
The unkillable monster in question is of course Nemesis. The bigger, beefeier older brother of Mr.X. Nemesis is a wrecking ball of pure anger and determination that can appear out of nowhere to deliver a series of quick haymakers or slam dunk you into the pavement. His role in hunting down Jill leads to tense moments of fight or flight as you duck and weave through doorways to safe rooms for respite, but only momentarily. What irks me about Nemesis is in his apparent design to be a constant nuisance rather than an organic enemy within the playable world. Nemesis will often teleport into, and out of, seemingly impossible areas just to catch you off guard or halt progress. One time I downed Nemesis in an interior space, leaving him gasping for breath on the ground, only to see him do a superhero landing as he speedily descended from the heavens a second later in an outdoor area. It’s at this point I realised I wasn’t fighting a living breathing organism, like Mr.X, but a string of 1’s and 0’s. His obvious machine like behaviour took me out of the immersion of Jill’s desperate struggle for survival. While Nemesis’ stalking appearance only berefts the initial opening scenarios, it debilitates Resident Evil 3 Remake’s introductory segments significantly.
Thankfully, the latter two thirds of Resident Evil 3 Remake are smooth sailing compared to the first. As Jill wrangles herself through the sewers and Carlos battles for evidence at the RCPD, you’ll notice story beats and plot events fly by very quickly, and that’s due to its linear design. Gone are the days of complex puzzle work and heavy inventory management. In Resident Evil 3 Remake a puzzle is to find a key to a locked door. There are one or maybe two optional conundrums to crack on the side, the main path however is loosely tied to sprinting from A to B. Environments are semi-open structured, but there is usually one critical path to take. This could be an added benefit for repeat playthroughs though, since the possibility to miss items increases with optional routes. But with no secondary character to play from the beginning repeat playthroughs may only appeal to hardcore fans that appreciate Resident Evil 3 for what it is, rather than added rewards. The unlockable shop offers potential game changing weapons and tools but unless you’re loving the game for what it is, reasons to return are finite.
That’s where Resident Evil Resistance steps in; a multiplayer game bundled with Resident Evil 3 Remake. Asymmetry is the name of the game here as four players team up as Survivors to take on the single Mastermind. As a survivor your objective is to solve a series of challenges varying in difficulty from stage to stage. One stage could have teams hunting for keys and the next could have you destroying biohazard containers. Communication is key here. If you don’t have a posse of friends to play with, solo queueing can be a nasty obstacle to overcome. When Survivors aren’t sticking together and coordinating objectives the Mastermind has an easy win ahead of them. Playing the Mastermind is relatively easier as you only need to rely on your own skill and awareness to come out on top. The Mastermind controls cameras throughout the map and in doing so lets you spawn monsters in the same room you’re currently controlling said camera in. A successful win only comes under once the Survivors in-game timer expires. Doing damage, killing them and blocking hallways all contribute to that. And if they lack the team spirit needed to push through then singling them out is a no brainer.
Unlike other asymmetrical games, Resident Evil Resistance leans more towards player skill than blind luck and unbalanced attributes. That being said, there’s still a progression system tied to completing matches and switching up which character you play as from time to time; encouraging people to diversify playstyles. It’s this mechanic however, that slowly cripples my enjoyment of it. While not unique to Resident Evil Resistance, levelling up either the Mastermind or Survivors (individually) gives them perks and buffs to fend off the opposition better, giving them an edge. For the life of me I can never understand why there isn’t a skill based matchmaking system in place to prevent incredible high level players being placed with low level ones. Matches that had a level playing field with tense and nail biting moments whilst games with high level opponents with low level ones were over in a matter of seconds. This was either because my teammates quit or the mastermind was so filled up on perks that we couldn’t combat them.
As far as package deal goes, It’s alright. Resident Evil 3 Remake, while not a bad game, comes with questionable changes that put it in danger of mimicking past titles it desperately tries to distance itself from. Resident Evil Resistance on the other hand tosses out another asymmetrical multiplayer game into an ecosystem full of more competent ones. A few steps back and a few steps forward, Resident Evil 3 Remake may not know what it’s trying to be but at the end of the day it’s still Resident Evil.