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‘Resident Evil 3’ is a thrilling experience, even if it can’t quite sink it’s teeth in

‘Resident Evil 3’ is a thrilling experience, even if it can’t quite sink it’s teeth in

‘Resident Evil 3’ is a thrilling experience, even if it can’t quite sink it’s teeth in
April 24
12:00 2020

“Alright, come on you creepy-ass stalker!”

In late September 1998, an outbreak of the undead swallows the midwest town of Raccoon City. Suspended police officer Jill Valentine (Nicole Thompkins) is forced to flee from her apartment. Finding assistance in friendly corporate merc Carlos Oliveira (Jeff Schine), Jill plans for a desperate escape, as the sinister Umbrella Corporation unleashes a terrifying bioweapon called Nemesis.  Against hordes of zombies, bioweapons and the relentless Nemesis, Jill and Carlos must do all they can to survive and more.

2019’s “Resident Evil 2” video game remake was my favorite experience from the last year — challenging combat and resource management against a rogue’s gallery where even zombies were a considerable threat, a back-to-basics approach and a world that was begged to be explored.

So, now we have this year’s remake of 1999’s “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis,” developed by a separate team from RE2. First thing that should be understood is “Resident Evil 2” is a slow-burn descent into an increasingly worse situation, while “Resident Evil 3” has its protagonists immediately thrown into the deep end and forced to run like hell to escape. RE2 is slow and methodical, while RE3 is a roller coaster that keeps you moving.

I haven’t played the originals, but I’ve watched long plays and I understand those had a similar dichotomy, so I’m game.

Was it worth it? Well, “Resident Evil 3” is definitely a good time, but one with a lot of rough patches.

The series stape of inventory management is carried over from the last game and it’s just as refined, with a minor quality of life improvement in that picking up duplicate items is shorter (I.E. boxes of ammo or herbs). You can mix chemicals to create more lethal ammunition and helpful healing items. As usual, you need to decide on what to pick up and leave behind. After that, you have to decide when to use what you have. Maybe a couple of shotgun shells to exterminate an annoying flesh-eater you’ve had enough of or dodge by with the chance they could take a chunk out of Jill’s surprisingly resistant shoulders. Careful play is the name of the game.

Then there’s the cast, which is now my favorite of all the RE games (I’ve played 0-7, Rev 1-2 and a couple other spin-offs).

Nicole Thompkins might be the best person to ever play Jill Valentine. While “Resident Evil” has shown the more vulnerable and human sides of its characters, I absolutely love Thompkins’ performance as the voice and mocap’er for Jill. She’s got this incredibly human confidence mixed with a bit of PTSD from the original “Resident Evil,” as well as fear from the absolute behemoth pursuing her. If Capcom plans to do any more games starring Jill in the future, they need to keep Thompkins on speed-dial.

I also loved Jeff Schine’s take on Carlos — quippy but grounded, with a side of genuine character development as he investigates the people he works for. He has possibly the best chemistry ever in the series with Jill. Again, Capcom should keep him in mind if they want to do more stories with Carlos. I’m just going to say that while I loved last year’s reboot of Leon and Claire, I actually prefer Carlos and Jill as main characters, as they’re more emotionally engaging. For any faults this game has, the actors trump them.

The creature design is also on point. While I won’t talk too much as to not spoil, the redesigns for the Hunter enemies were a delight – the frog-like Gammas turning into these huge-headed, salamander-esque swallowers that grossed me the hell out when I first came across them. The Hunter Betas, on the other hand, lose some of their original appearances while gaining these “Predator”-like mandibles and increased durability against assault rifle rounds. The Drain Deimos are more insectoid, which is kind of a shame as I liked the grotesque humanoid bug they originally were.

While RE2 was more free-roam and focused on exploration, this game is more of an all-thrills roller coaster from the second act on, shuffling you from set piece to set piece. This works for a bit . . . but it can kill the mood. The big hope for many with this one was that we’d get to explore more of Raccoon City outside of the police station and sewers system and we do — but only for the first act. Aside from the second act climaxing in a creepy hospital, none of the locations really left an impression after act one. If I was able to explore more in an open-world sort of way, it could have been more engaging.

There’s also some pretty apparent cut content. I wanted more exploration in this fascinating setting that is so important to the RE universe . . . and I feel this game doesn’t quite have it. I rarely had the chance, especially during the prologue and after the first act, to take in these hauntingly desolate sights. Instead, I was railroaded with not even a rear-view mirror for reflection. Bummer.

Then there’s the iconic villain from the original game returning here, the Nemesis. While others have had decidedly mixed-to-lukewarm reactions to his redesign, I quite liked it, though I’m not as much of a fan when it comes to encountering him. While his predecessor Mr. X stalked you in a similar manner throughout a large building, Nemesis stalks you through open streets and narrow alleyways . . . and it didn’t quite work for me?

For one, his coding is a bit off. He seems to pause to reorient himself to get around an obstacle or door and while he can be taken out with a single grenade, I think the balancing with him early on is bizarre. Nemesis has better mobility and increased range with his attacks than Mr. X did, something I found more annoying than intimidating early on. He has a pretty satisfying boss fight involving a flamethrower, but I wasn’t thrilled when he showed up — a huge mark against the game when it comes to one of the series’s most iconic villains. Then there are these parasites he plants into regular zombies, strengthening them and empowering them with mid-range tentacles. Again, more irritating than intimidating.

The game also has a multiplayer component, “REsistance.” It’s fine. Not much to really say, it’s four people against one player deploying and control bio-weapons against them. Nothing to write home about, and it feels like an undercooked add-on to a game that needs more. The over-the-top nature can make for a fun time, I guess.

“Resident Evil 3” is a fun experience, for sure. Great characters and decent pacing paired with tight and gripping gameplay. However, that’s marred by some odd design decisions, choices with the plot and a creeping feeling that it needed more time in the oven. My recommendation, for now, is to go back to last year’s “Resident Evil 2,” 2017’s “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” or any of the other games that have been released for current-gen consoles. This is a solid experience, but until it goes down in price, there are better options.

Yet, if this goes on sale for $30-40, pick it up. It’s still a good retelling of Jill Valentine’s last escape.

Final rating: 3.25/5

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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