Kinda weird to wish a zombie outbreak lasted longer, huh?
Playing the remake of Resident Evil 2 last year was a bit of an unusual experience for me; I missed the initial Resident Evil train by a long mile, and have never been a particular fan of horror games to begin with. I was surprised by Resident Evil 2, though, because it was a genuinely great experience in puzzle-action, even for a neophyte like myself. This is why I was excited about Resident Evil 3, a game with Resident Evil 2‘s bones that would also feature Nemesis, a bad guy so well-known that I love him despite never actually playing his original game. While I can say Resident Evil 3 was a good time, it didn’t quite meet its predecessor’s lofty standard.
Resident Evil 3‘s story runs concurrently with 2‘s, following former STARS agent Jill Valentine as the Raccoon City outbreak ramps up for real. Days before she leaves the city to spread the word about Umbrella’s bioweapon shenanigans, her wall is caved in by Nemesis, eager to wipe the last vestiges of STARS from existence to protect Umbrella’s name. Stranded in the escalating outbreak with Nemesis hot on her tail, Jill has no choice but to team up with Umbrella’s own anti-bioweapon squad to seek a way out.
RE3 plays similarly to RE2, which makes sense since it was built from the same engine and assets. You navigate through a few self-contained areas of Raccoon City, solving inventory puzzles and shooting zombies. The general loop isn’t especially different, save for the new perfect dodge mechanic that gives you a couple of seconds of slow-mo if your narrowly dodge a zombie’s lunge. Compared to RE2, RE3 has more of an emphasis on setpieces instead of general exploration. For example, the section where you need to navigate a power station overrun with giant mutant spiders has returned, and it’s still super gross. When Nemesis appears, the game becomes more about escaping than avoiding. Compared to Mr. X in RE2, who you can just sort of run into sometimes, Nemesis never appears before he’s actually supposed to. It’s simultaneously a relief and a bit of a let-down; Nemesis is a much more aggressive pursuer than Mr. X, so his sections are very tense, but you lose that urgency during regular puzzle-solving.
But let’s stop the sizzle reel and get to what everyone wants to hear: the game length. Rumors circulated before release that RE3 is notably short, and unfortunately, they’re correct. I finished my playthrough on standard difficulty in about five and a half hours, which is half the time it took me to get through RE2. By all means, they were a very enjoyable five and a half hours, but I’d also understand that such a short length would be a dealbreaker for many.
In an effort to make up for the reduced story, RE3 also includes a multiplayer mode, Resident Evil Resistance, in which a Mastermind player deploys zombies and traps to prevent four survivors from escaping a gauntlet. Playing as the survivors is closer to the regular game, though each character has specialties, like dealing more damage or the ability to ping items. The Mastermind plays more like a strategy game/griefing simulator, which is why it’s a little more fun. Of course, everyone wants to be a Mastermind, so good luck trying to land the spot in matchmaking. Since the game just came out, it’s definitely on the janky side; there’s an abundance of bugs, the netcode needs tweaking, all of the Masterminds are arbitrarily locked behind rank ups, and there will probably be a bunch of balance patches. But despite the jankiness, it’s actually kind of weirdly fun, at least for a couple of rounds a day.
I don’t regret playing RE3, but for the length of the campaign, as well as the jankiness of Resistance, I would recommend getting it on sale at $30, $40 tops. It’s fun, but I’m not sure I’d call it sixty bucks worth of fun.