Bringing a fan-favourite in line with modern expectations is no simple task; even more so when that title is 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. The original did little to push the fledgling series to new heights, opting instead to hone in on the action that had players hooked, and act as a companion piece to its predecessor.
The Resident Evil 3 remake released earlier this year had the potential to more confidently assert itself as a worthwhile game in its own right. However, upon release in April, it was unmistakably clear that this was not the case with critics citing cut content, poor pacing, and gameplay elements outright absent from the original.
At first glance, the reasoning seems agonizingly simple; Capcom couldn’t wait to return to the Resident Evil ‘honey pot’, and so had a lesser team push out a half-baked product. As with most internet conjecture, this was just baseless rumour-mongering. In actuality, Resident Evil 3 had the same goal as the original; offer a tight action-packed playthrough, with a large focus on replayability.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was similarly seen as an odd duck back in 1999, criticised for retreading already worn ground in series lore, while also offering a more stylised action-film focus that hinted at where the franchise tonally would go. More akin to a spin-off than a traditional sequel, RE3:N was intended to give fans an alternate, more combat focussed jaunt through Raccoon City.
A remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was an intriguing concept. Under the right guidance, Capcom had the opportunity to take one of the most polarising mainline series entries and bring it up to par with their vision for the future of the franchise. The project fell upon the shoulders of Red Works, a newly established studio overseen by former PlatinumGames Kiyohiko Sakata, Lead Programmer on titles such as Resident Evil 4, Vanquish, and The Wonderful 101.
In addition to this, Capcom would also help fund former PlatinumGames President Tatsuya Minami’s brand new studio M-Two Inc., who would provide assistance on the Resident Evil 3 remake.
It’s undeniable that Red Works and M-Two Inc. were a perfect fit for injecting a beloved Resident Evil title with a kind of Platinum flair. The game would open with an almost Uncharted-like set piece that has players guiding Jill out of her burning apartment building, before being treated to a QTE wherein players attempt to (quite literally) drive their pursuer off a rooftop.
Not only is this stylish flair presented through a penchant for interactive setpieces, but with the introduction of a flashy new dodge mechanic that makes evading undead swipes and bites all the more engaging. Similar to other modern parry systems, hitting that dodge button at the last possible second is rewarded with a brief window of slow-motion and the opportunity for a critical hit. It’s possible to ignore Jill’s new evasive skills on easier difficulties, but it becomes absolutely integral as you ratchet up the difficulty for repeated playthroughs.
Any Resident Evil fan worth their salt is familiar with repeated runs after initially finishing the game, with even casual players getting a kick out of running through familiar hallways with the iconic infinite rocket launcher. The unlockables available in RE3 are kicked up a notch, with a larger collection of items to help players tighten up their routes or more effectively dispose of the meddling dead.
It allows greater customisation for returning veterans, and those of us less inclined to jump back into another run will be tempted by the option of regenerating health and infinite ammo. It’s a game that knows just how good it feels to overcome your fears and whittle an 8-hour experience down to a little over 60 minutes by your fourth playthrough.
Perhaps my most damning criticism of Resident Evil 3 is that it moves too fast. Much like the original release, I found the game moved through scenes at such a speed that I never became as intimately familiar with a single location as I would have liked.
Ultimately, Resident Evil 3 made the mistake of releasing only a year after Resident Evil 2 which received multiple Game of the Year nominations. This game feels like classic Survival Horror fare with a dash of the Stylish Action Platinum made their name on, giving it a unique flavour that separates itself from other instalments.
With recent rumours implying that M-Two will be taking the lead on a supposed Resident Evil 4 remake, I have little doubt that they’ll be able to recapture the charm of the original, while also giving it an opportunity to stand on its own.