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Unlike the vocal "old-school is best!" reviewers who lathered praise on 2019's Resident Evil 2 (Remake), I found it a disappointment that in no way measured up to the 2000s Gamecube remake of the original Resident Evil. So, I went into the 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with high hopes, but low expectations. To my delighted surprise, whilst still a flawed game, I found myself enjoying it much more than I did its 2019 counterpart.
This game has fixed four of my biggest complaints about RE2make; enemies are a lot more fun to take down, the internal story consistency is far stronger, enemy diversity is improved (or at least feels that way), and our different protagonists actually interact a lot more. It's generally a lot more fun to play than RE2make.
But it's not a perfect game, by a long shot. Don't get me wrong; the complaints about the length and Nemesis being more of a scripted encounter, whilst true, are also Older Than They Think—these are both elements from the original RE3. Frankly, given the Nemesis' aggression, speed, range and mobility, I consider it a plus that the active stalking is part of only a single brief portion of the early game, since it keeps Nemesis scary instead of devolving into feck-off annoying like the Xenomorph in Alien: Isolation. But even with this out of the way, there's also legit problems. Not surprisingly, these almost entirely revolve around combat. Combat is improved from RE2make, but still kind of clunky, maintaining some of the feel of Fake Difficulty that was the worst part of its 2019 predecessor. Zombies are much less Bullet Spongey, but can still feel a bit too tanky—the lack of the traditional head-crush for crawling zombies is both disappointing and irritating. The dodge mechanic, whilst superior to its original counterpart, can still prove unreliable. The worst part is the Carlos sections, since he gets saddled with an inferior punch attack instead of a dodge and a reliance on the assault rifle, which is hands-down the worst gun in the entire game. I was shocked at how much less fun Carlos is to play than Jill, exemplified by how the Hunters Beta went from keyboard-cracking frustrations as Carlos to being almost easy as Jill, whose semi-auto shotgun can take them down in as little as two hits if you're quick and accurate.
Outside of the combat issues, RE3make's biggest mechanical flaw is one it inherits from both RE2make and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: the sluggish speed with which characters supposedly "sprint". I've played every single tank-controls game in the franchise, and whilst they couldn't make pinpoint turns, none of them were so slow in a straight line as our protagonists here. It's a design element that's been in three games now, and I wish it would go the hell away.
As with RE2make, RE3make cuts a lot of content, and whilst less noticeable than its predecessor, it still feels like a disappointment, especially the loss of the Gravedigger boss, which designers even explicitly promised would be retained.
The changed content, on the other hand? Well... I honestly find myself torn as to which version of the story I prefer. Both versions have a strong internal narrative, although I can't say one is better than the other. I think I ultimately prefer the oldschool, but that's more nostalgic bias than anything else. The RE3make's story doesn't mesh up perfectly with that of the RE2make, but that's hardly an original sin, and considering how badly Capcom did with the story in 2019, it's a major step up. The changed enemies, on the other hand, are awesome! I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of the vestigial arms on the Hunters Gamma, and I wish the Hunters Beta were a little closer to their older look because, right now, they're a bit too easy to confuse with their Alpha counterparts from RE1, but otherwise, they're major improvements. Nemesis' new forms, in particular, are awesome, even if I still wish we could have gotten an RE1make style graphical revamp of the classics.
All in all, RE3make is a solid but not brilliant game that's legitimately fun to play, and more so than its 2019 counterpart. But is it worth the full asking price as of the time this review is asked? Honestly... no; I think the price is a combination of Capcom being greedy and using the presence of Resistance, a game that nobody actually wanted, to boost the price up. Definitely check this game out, but unless you're a massive fan of the franchise or genuinely like asymmetric multiplayer and so will get a lot out of Resistance, probably best to wait until the price goes down.
I made a review of the original RE 3 a while ago, and also revisited the game in anticipation for the remake, this time actively avoiding all the optional Nemesis fights. The game holds up better with that in mind, but I still feel the original's attempt to blend horror and action got fumbled for various factors.
Not this time though. This game is fucking great.
With plentiful ammo and a more reliable, though still precision-demanding, dodge mechanic, the core gameplay in RE 3 does a much better job encouraging aggression and seriously considering standing and fighting, or at least fighting from tactical positions. Ammo and healing conservation should still be practiced, but where RE 2 would throw three zombies at you and you'd only fight them as much as necessary to open up an escape route, RE 3 has no problem throwing upwards of half a dozen (or sometimes even more!) zombies at you which you're probably going to want to gun down if you're not 100% confident in your dodging skills. Ammo-mixing now separates Grenade launcher rounds from all the others too, so you can more comfortably use all your guns.
Zombies have gotten an overhaul too. The tried-and-true strategy in RE 2 of shooting out a zombie's leg and knifing them doesn't really work here because of higher stagger thresholds on limbs and dismemberment being much, much harder to get. Headshots rule the day once more, hence the aforementioned emphasis on killing them outright. All the revamped enemies are great too. Hunter Gammas are now distinct from the Betas, each posing a unique challenge. Spiders and the Drain Deimos essentially got combined together for all of one segment, but it's still a very memorable and tense bit that's a microcosm of how the remake marries survival horror with action. Even the dread-inducing Paleheads from Ghost Survivors came back, just to make sure you didn't squander your Magnum ammo.
Progression- and narrative-wise, this remake changes a hell of a lot more than 2's remake did, not that I'm complaining. The narrative comes into focus much sooner, ultimately translating the most important story beats prior to finding the UBSC in the original to the opening sequence. Brad still got the justice he deserved, getting an atoning hero's death even if we barely got to know the guy, in contrast to his neurotic and fearful state in the original. I also appreciate how roughly 75% of the story revolves around the cure for the T-Virus; as opposed to it being essentially a Deus Ex Machina of sorts in the original for Carlos to save Jill and then never be brought up again.
Now for the elephant in the room: yes, quite a lot of things got cut. No Gravedigger. No Clock Tower or Zoo. Fuck, not even ice rounds. I don't think the absence of these things ruin the game though. The most important thing about the clock tower was Nemesis infecting Jill, which is still preserved in a fantastic boss fight that capstones the first half of the game. The zoo was even more uneventful and had a terrible design of just go to one side of the area, get a key for one room on the other side of the area, deal with Gravedigger, and then return to the first area and exit. And then Jill wound up at the Dead Factory because plot. At least now in the remake, there's a solid reason why Jill goes to Nest 2, which is partly also to back up Carlos, who also shows more agency than in the original where he just constantly runs off.
I don't see the length as a problem either. With numerous rewards for completing challenges, in addition to the Nightmare difficult which is even tougher than Hardcore, I think there is tremendous replayability in this game to.
To repeat my previous point,I think this game is fantastic. The team took risks in changing so much, but I can see a perfectly valid reason behind each change. And this is while still holding true to the spirit of the original. Totally worth getting, and an excellent companion piece to last year's RE 2.
Now to see if they'll remake Code Veronica...
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