Like last year’s impressive Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 is a phenomenal remake of a classic game. Despite its modernized graphics and gameplay, Resident Evil 3 contains the elements that made the original a classic: nightmarish environments, horrifying enemies, tense boss battles, and an overall emphasis on action. Even divorced from its first incarnation, Resident Evil 3 stands as a stellar PC game that has mass appeal to action and horror gaming fans alike.
Night of the Living Dead
Taking place during Resident Evil 2’s events, Resident Evil 3 sees series heroine Jill Valentine attempting to escape the zombie-infested Raccoon City, while a hulking monster—Nemesis—hunts her at every step. In addition to staying alive, Jill must prevent the United States government from obliterating Raccoon City with a nuclear weapon. The former S.T.A.R.S. special forces operative must use all of her training to overcome the insurmountable odds.
True to the franchise, Resident Evil 3 focuses on item management. Though you obtain numerous weapons throughout the adventure, you must make every bullet count as ammo is in rare supply. There are many instances where it is best to avoid zombies and conserve the little ammunition you possess. Although it’s tempting to carry all the ammo and weapons you find, limited inventory space forces you to consider what to tote into combat. Even when you find hip pouches that expand the available inventory space, you must always be mindful of your stocks. In a way, item management becomes its own game within a game.
Because of item scarcity, it pays to scour every inch of the expertly designed levels. Not only will you find ammo, healing items, and weapons, but you’ll often end up connecting different stage sections by unlocking doors or lowering ladders. Doing so gives you easier access to previously visited locations, faster travel to any nearby save rooms, and an effective means of avoiding unnecessary or unwanted encounters. Careful exploration also yields safe combinations or access codes for locked doors. It is immensely satisfying entering once inaccessible rooms and finding them loaded with the aforementioned items.
Light Puzzles, Big Guns
Resident Evil 3 doesn’t have as many complex puzzles as Resident Evil 2. Outside of the rare puzzle where you’re tasked with aligning railroad tracks or mixing chemical agents, most puzzles simply require you to pull levers or flip switches to open doors or raise elevators. The challenge comes from finding a way to reach said levers and switches. While some players may find the lack of puzzles disappointing, it helps the game maintain a fast pace. Considering how much time you spend running away from Nemesis, it makes sense to cut back on puzzles and focus more on the action.
You’ll find Resident Evil 3’s gunplay sluggish if you’re used to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Doom Eternal‘s lightning-quick shooting mechanics. However, the shooting speed is perfect for this slower, more methodical experience. Handguns, shotguns, grenade launchers, and other weapons deliver a satisfying, crunchy impact whether you’re playing with a controller or mouse and keyboard. You can enhance the weapons by finding attachments that are scattered throughout the levels. This includes a dot-sight scope for the handgun, a larger barrel for the magnum, and a grip for the shotgun. There aren’t many mods available, but the ones you find make you a more effective zombie slayer.
Evasion and Characters
Dodging is an extremely useful new mechanic. Performing a Perfect Dodge just as an enemy attacks not only prevents you from sustaining an injury, it also slows time. This gives you a small window to either attack or flee. Each enemy’s attack speed differs, so you must alter your Perfect Dodge timing to match a monster’s offense. This gives you the incentive to learn attack patterns, which in turn will help you survive encounters.
Jill isn’t the only controllable character. During certain parts of the narrative, you’ll play as Carlos Oliveira, a soldier trying to fix the mess his company, Umbrella, made of Raccoon City. Aside from carrying an assault rifle, the main difference between the characters is their respective dodges. Where Jill performs a true evasion move, Carlos punches forward, knocking zombies back with his fists. You only briefly control Carlos, but his segments add a small and welcome dose of variety.
Nemesis presents a far bigger threat here than he did in the original Resident Evil 3. Whereas Resident Evil 2’s stalker, Mister X, was a slow, lumbering brute, Nemesis is an agile opponent that drops in on you (sometimes literally) when you least expect it. The game doesn’t warn you of Nemesis’ approach, either; he now lacks footsteps or his infamous “S.T.A.R.S.” growl heard in the original Resident Evil 3. This makes exploring the already dangerous world that much more intense.
While the other zombies aren’t anywhere near as dangerous as Nemesis, they’re still quite deadly. Even the standard undead will overwhelm if you’re not careful. Well-placed headshots can bring down most zombie types, but others, such as Lickers and Hunters, require heavy ordinance to kill. Like Nemesis, a lot of zombies tend to surprise you when you least expect them. But as long as you maintain spatial awareness and attack foes with the proper weaponry, you’ll keep your head on your shoulders.
Where Resident Evil 2 featured two distinct campaigns, Resident Evil 3 only has one. That said, if you take your time and search every stage area, you’ll get around 10 hours’ worth of gameplay. You can extend your playtime by completing in-game challenges, which include killing enemies with specific weapons, completing the game on higher difficulties, and upgrading weapons.
Completing these challenges rewards you with points you can use in the shop (found in the Bonuses section of the main menu). You’ll also unlock concept art and 3D character models. Despite the (relative) brevity of the campaign, unlocking bonuses amplifies one’s overall playtime.
Grotesque Graphics and Sound
Thanks to Capcom’s RE Engine powering it, Resident Evil 3 is a graphical powerhouse. Characters and environments come to life in exquisite detail. You can almost see every pore in Jill’s blood-stained skin; along with each rip and tear on her tattered clothing. Blood, guts, brains, and all manner of unmentionables cover every shambling zombie, giving them a truly grotesque appearance. Resident Evil 3 is by far one of the best-looking games on the market.
Sound plays a crucial role in setting the game’s unnerving, terrifying atmosphere. The subdued soundtrack maintains an ever-present level of tension. Things become more terrifying when the music cuts off entirely, leaving you with only the sound of your footsteps and those of distant, disturbing moans. In addition, you can often hear zombies dragging their feet or clawing at objects from behind doors and walls. Keeping one’s ears open is also a great way to prevent the undead from sneaking up on you.
To run Resident Evil 3 on your gaming PC, you need (at a minimum) an Intel Core i5-4460 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 GPU, 8GB of RAM, 45GB of storage space, DirectX 11, and the 64-bit Windows 7 operating system. The game’s Steam page says that Resident Evil 3 should run at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second (fps) at these specifications. Any half-way decent gaming rig should meet the game’s minimum system requirements.
My gaming desktop, with its Intel i7 4790 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, runs Resident Evil 3 wonderfully, even at max settings. Selecting variable framerate from the graphics section in options has the game running between 130-145fps during gameplay and between 90 and 120fps during cutscenes. These fluctuations do not negatively affect the experience and I wouldn’t have even noticed this difference without the Nvidia GeForce Experience’s FPS counter. In terms of performance, Resident Evil 3 impresses.
The game includes plenty of graphical options, including Resolution, Refresh Rate, V-Sync, Shadow Quality, Motion Blur, and Depth of Field. Those who don’t wish to tinker with these options can choose one of five available presets. The Recommended option adjusts performance based on available GPU memory, Max bumps up all values (regardless of available GPU memory), while Low uses as little GPU power as possible. You can also set the game to prioritize graphics over performance (and vice versa) or strike a balance between the two. On Steam, the game features achievements, cloud saves (via Steam Cloud), and 12 supported languages.
Capcom has implemented anti-piracy restrictions with Resident Evil 3. The game incorporates third-party Denuvo Anti-tamper DRM, software that has proved troublesome in the past. In addition, there’s a five-different-PC-per-day activation limit.
Please note that Resident Evil: Resistance, Resident Evil’s 3 multiplayer mode, wasn’t available in the pre-release review build.
A Classic Reborn
Resident Evil 3, like Resident Evil 2 before it, is a masterclass of a remake. It succeeds in feeling both nostalgic and new. Though more action-focused than its predecessor, Resident Evil 3’s oppressive atmosphere and dark subject matter keep it entrenched within the survival-horror genre. The game isn’t overly long (by modern standards) but provides plenty of replay value thanks to the multitude of unlockables. If you enjoyed the Resident Evil 2 remake or simply want to check out a first-class survival-horror experience, you’ll have a (scary) good time with Resident Evil 3.
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