Resident Evil 3 should have been $20 worth of DLC for Resident Evil 2 instead of pretending to be a full priced $60 game. It’s a 4 or 5 hour linear experience with little replay value. It doesn’t take good advantage of its Racoon City setting and it completely squanders the potential for engaging and emergent cat and mouse gameplay with Nemesis.
The first hour or so of the game is pretty promising. After getting chased out of your apartment from the STARS obsessed Nemesis, you find yourself exploring a few square blocks of downtown Raccoon City. There are actually multiple stores that you can enter, and a couple of different paths around the environment. You have to move back and forward across this section of the city while you solve puzzles that unlock previously locked stores or alleyways. Your goal is to get a Subway train working again in order to evacuate some civilians. At some scripted point in the story Nemesis shows back up, and he chases you around pre-determined areas while you are trying to get things done. It’s actually all pretty cool, but unfortunately once you get the subway train up and running again (which takes about an hour), the game throws out this semi-open world level design and moves on to tight corridor’s and even more tightly scripted Nemesis encounters. It’s a real shame, because if the rest of the game was actually like the first hour, I could maybe forgive its short length.
You don’t really get to experience the city setting anymore once you get off of the train. The city is there as a backdrop, but it doesn’t factor into the gameplay at all. When you do go back outside, it’s very obvious that you are just walking down what are essentially outdoor hallways. There is always conveniently placed debris blocking off all the side streets and alleyways and generally no branching paths that you can take. A quick glance at the map confirms there is only one path forward. The remainder of the game takes place mostly indoors anyway, including a short trip back to the Racoon City Police Department, the Racoon City Hospital and of course a secret Umbrella Lab. During these sequences you are mostly just walking down hallways blasting everything that moves. This game has a way more action focus then Resident Evil 2, and throws tons of resources at you. I finished the with tons of ammo and healing left over plus the materials to craft a lot more. You are never resource starved, and the game feels easy as a result.
There is also very little in the way of classic Resident Evil style puzzle solving. It’s almost all traditional keycard hunts that would feel more at home in a Doom game then the odd and elaborate puzzles we have come to expect in Resident Evil games. You won’t be putting Medallions in statutes to reveal hidden passages or slotting chess themed fuses into the correct boxes to unlock doors. Instead, expect to search dead bodies for company ID cards that you slot into card readers in front of doors. Resident Evil feels more like an action game series again instead of survival horror. Bummer.
I think the biggest disappointment of Resident Evil 3 has to be the Nemesis. What I wanted to see was an intelligent enemy that chases you throughout the game. Basically, an expanded take on Tyrant (Mr. X) from the Resident Evil 2 remake. Instead what we got is highly scripted chase sequences where Nemesis shows up and chases you down pre-determined paths until he gets temporarily dispatched in a cutscene at the end of the hallway. Once that happens, he is completely gone until he shows up in the next cutscene / scripted sequence. You can’t kill Nemesis during these sequences either, although you can temporarily knock him down if you do enough damage. There are four Nemesis encounters in the game where knocking him down will cause him to drop a supply case, but its only worth doing during the first two. Knocking Nemesis down at the Power Station and outside the Donut Shop will drop you upgrades for your handgun. The other two encounters will only give you some ammo. Tyrant from Resident Evil 2 was a better take on this concept in my opinion, and I would have just rather had that over what we ended up getting.
The game looks and runs really nice at least. Even on my aging computer I was able to run the game basically maxed out at 1440p and sustain a framerate above 70FPS at all times, often over 100FPS. The RE Engine is really solid technology. There is a ton of detail in the scenery, and I have to mention how exceptional the character models and their facial animation are. The only real complaints I had about the presentation is that the reflections still look really bad, and that zombie animations in the distance run at like 30 frames per second which is really distracting and annoying when you are trying to hit someone far away. I would love to see an option on PC to adjust that, as it doesn’t seem necessary to save on performance.
I think what it comes down to is that this game needed a lot more time in development. Supposedly the game was in the works for years before it was announced, but it just doesn’t come across in the final product. The whole thing feels rushed and unambitious. It’s just entirely too short, and it doesn’t make good on the fantastic opportunities they had to do something special with the series. We get a glimpse of that potential in the game’s opening act, before being pulled back into rudimentary level design and an over emphasis on combat and scripted sequences. The asking price is way too high, wait for a sale before you buy.
The whole thing feels rushed and unambitious. Its just entirely too short, and it doesn’t make good on the fantastic opportunities they had to do something special with the series. We get a glimpse of that potential in the game’s opening act, before being pulled back into rudimentary level design and an over emphasis on combat and scripted sequences. The asking price is way too high, wait for a sale before you buy.