Resident Evil 3 remake: a shoot-em-up filled with frustration

Resident Evil 3 remake

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By Brian Wells

I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil.

I’m also a huge fan of using profanity.

But when the two come together, it can be either a good thing, or — more commonly — a bad thing. The curse words I hurled with reckless abandon at my TV set while playing the new Resident Evil 3 remake was, unfortunately, predominantly, the latter.

I’ve been a big fan of the series since I played the remake of the original title on my GameCube back in 2002. I followed it up with the remaster of Resident Evil 2 on my GameCube and then Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on my PS1. I thoroughly enjoyed both, even though at that time they were starting to feel dated in both gameplay and graphics.

In the last year or so, both games were given remakes for the current generation of systems. I played the ever-loving snot out of the demo for Resident Evil 2 (at least, as many times as I could with the time limit), and I was so incredibly hyped for the game. My local GameStop had an early release for it, which I was one of the first in line for. I stayed up until about 6 a.m. playing it and had it beat within 14 hours of getting it.

Related: Red Dead Redemption 2: Does the hype hold up?

So when Resident Evil 3 was announced shortly after, I was hyped, at first. But it felt like it came out under the radar, completely overshadowed by everything else going on in the world — which, in a way, reflects what happens in the series. Except without the zombies.

The game was released on Friday, April 3, and I debated whether or not I wanted to grab it until Saturday afternoon. I used my local Best Buy’s curbside pickup, because I’ll take a physical copy of a game over digital any day of the year.

Initially, I was blown away by the graphics. It starts off in first person, and for those few minutes, it felt like it was going to have a feel similar to 2017’s Resident Evil 7. But even when it switched to the third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint we’ve gotten used to in the series, it wasn’t disappointing. The controls, graphics and atmosphere all felt very similar to the Resident Evil 2 remake. All was well.

Even when I had my first encounter with Nemesis, everything was good. The character models were excellent, and so was the detail put into the environment. The first bit of the story was great, and I was hooked.

But then I started fighting the zombies. 

Good lord. They added a button combination for dodging the zombies. Can’t dodge for one reason or another? Too bad, here’s a bunch of damage. Want to try and take them out before you get too close? Good idea, hope you have a full mag to dedicate to headshots. And even if you do, here’s a zombie sneaking up on you from behind. Nice try, you old, fuckin’ casual.

See? I told you I like profanity.

Let me be clear: I don’t mind a challenge. But at many times, I felt like this game was demanding and daunting. It replaced the creepiness of the original survival-horror titles with downright stress and frustration. 

With that said, I don’t think it’s fair to single this title out for being more of a shooter than survival horror. The series has seen this shift happening since Resident Evil 4 was first released on the GameCube back in 2005. 

Related: FF7 Remake: a refreshing twist on a classic

But the creepy ambiance felt mostly intact, although it disappeared almost entirely with the release of 5 and 6. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard felt like it would be a triumphant return to the original feel of the games. And while 2019’s remake of Resident Evil 2 was still full of action, it didn’t exactly miss the survival horror mark either. 

Navigating the streets of Raccoon City also felt like it was a bit of a chore. Zombies would sometimes come out of nowhere and grab me and proceed to eat Jill’s face and deal damage. It took a while to learn where some doors and alleyways were, and even longer to remember where to go to get to which store. I think it would’ve done wonders for the experience if stores were labeled on the map, even if only in the easier difficulties.

Surprisingly, being chased by the semi-unstoppable Nemesis was actually one of the least stressful parts of the game. Like the original version of the game, your encounters are scripted, so after your first playthrough you know where he’s going to be and when. He’s much less daunting than Resident Evil 2’s Mr. X.

But, seeing the new Resident Evil 3 played out in modern-day graphics and using current mechanics was pretty excellent. Getting the chance to revisit the Raccoon City Police Department — identical in many ways to how it was in Resident Evil 2 — was also pretty cool. It also felt like the characters in this remake were more fleshed-out and showed more personality than they did in the original version of the game.

So, with me being the stubborn person I am, I slugged my way through the game on Standard difficulty, and I gladly accepted the silver trophy I was given for clearing the game. Then I set it down for a bit and started a new playthrough on assisted/easy mode, and I’ve found it much less stressful, but I don’t think I’ll come away with a feeling of accomplishment, and there’s definitely something to be said for that.

Would I recommend the game? Sure. I think die-hard fans of the genre and people just getting their toes wet will enjoy it. Maybe just don’t be stubborn, like I am.

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