My first exposure to the Resident Evil franchise was in the seventh game, Biohazard, which I played to completion in VR. A completely captivating and horrifying experience, that really hooked me to the franchise. I had heard rumblings of the classics, where the franchise went wrong and so on, yet as Capcom seemed set on remastering the series, I felt incredibly excited to experience a bunch of games I had heard about, but had ultimately missed out on due to age.
Switching first-person VR to third person, I found the transition between the seventh and remastered second game natural, and that lay primarily in the similarities in gameplay style and tone. Every bullet counted, each zombie was a completely viable threat, and the game really concretely established its sense of setting. With Resident Evil 2 easily sitting atop my favourite games of 2019, knowing very little about the third game, I purchased it on launch with my fingers crossed for an equally terrifying, yet exhilarating video game experience. Suffice to say, considering it has been over six months since the release of the game, I did not find that to be the case.
Resident Evil 3 immediately proves itself to be nothing like the kind of horror I found in 2 and 7. In fact, horror lays as such a surface level descriptor, as it is clear that this is a more action oriented affair. Boss fights are more plentiful, ammo easily fills up the inventory, and with the inclusion of a handy dodge, a zombie in a hallway can be about as scary as a hurdle.
Gone were the days that I would cherish a shotgun shell, promising to save it for a worthy foe. And where in some segments of Resi 2 I would deliberately keep things slow, and painstakingly edge my way around every corner with my weapons at the ready, in Resi 3, I was consistently running through levels and would often dispatch of an enemy just because I had the ammo to do so.
Resi 3 even meanders its way into the Racoon City Police Department of the previous game, yet manages to seep the horror out of its setting as you laughably blast your way throughs the previously-difficult “Lickers” with a fully loaded automatic rifle. It does try to mix things up with a wider variety of enemies, from near-unkillable zombies to large slashing Hunter Betas, but each encounters is near-instantly solvable if you are stocked up on ammunition.
On the flip side of this, after being overzealous with my ammunition usage in a boss fight, I found myself dry on supplies, yet through both the level design and the encounters themselves, combat is typically the only way forward. So with limited ammunition and a room full of different types of zombies, some encounters became infuriatingly difficult, simply because I didnt have the firepower, and annoyingly zombies couldnt be lured away from their position to pick off.
Resi 3′s issues go beyond that of its treatment of atmosphere, however. Donning a more linear style of level design, and upping the action aspects, gameplay feels completely restrictive. Movement is stiff, aiming is awkward, and levels lacked the engagement found in the labyrinthine style of Resi 2. Part of this of course can lay with the remake aspects of a game like this, as there is only so much they can redesign and rework. Yet, so many times I became bored of the repetitive nature of boss fights, and sighed at the site of a long hallway that had to be run down. Even through its linear design, the unknowable presence of Mr. X was unachievable with the Nemesis, who was subjected to on-rail scripted scenes.
I struggled with Resident Evil 3, and most of my issued stemmed from its departure of atmosphere and design. Through lacking combat, annoying enemies, a boring story, and a failure in setting, Resi 3 felt like a tediously long experience – despite playtime failing to even hit the five hour mark. Without so many of the elements that made my other two exposures to the franchise special, Resi 3 was noting more than a pretty looking zombie shooter, that took me six month to do, what could have been done in a single night.