I don’t even know why I’m shocked or surprised anymore.
After the fantastic Resident Evil 2 Remake, most of us had clung onto the vain hope that maybe – just maybe – Capcom had seen the light, that they were ready to bring Survival Horror kicking and screaming back into the mainstream and that they had realised that abusing arguably one of their most profitable brands (this counts the movies too I know don’t @ me over this) wasn’t a good idea.
Then I played Resident Evil 3 Remake and realised – nope, this is bad ol’ Capcom back to its bad ol’ self.
Resident Evil 3 Remake is the exact opposite of Resident Evil 2 Remake; where the latter refined the original with new and interesting content, breathtaking new scenery and an eye on experimentation – see the Sherry Stealth segment and wonder how they pulled that off – the former, Resident Evil 3 Remake (hereby abbreviated to R3Make), cuts and hacks away at the original and what is left is a shell of its former glory.
That’s not to say there wasn’t SOME controversy to the original Resident Evil 3: there are many who dismiss it as a mere companion piece. Personally, I love Resident Evil 3 more than Resident Evil 2 because it was more responsive, better paced and with the titular eight-foot tentacle mutant Nemesis on the prowl, it delivered some pretty good shocks and thrills to boot. At the time, I thought this was the height of games aping the movies – that same year we’d also be introduced to a little thing called Silent Hill as well, so it was a great year for Survival Horror all round. Plus in and out of context, Resident Evil 3 is funny and silly and just enjoyable in the cheesy one-liners sort of way.
But the Remake fails on numerous levels.
Firstly, by cutting out a third of the game – it feels smaller. Much smaller. And as a result, the game feels much less epic as a result. The result of this cutting is twofold; critical plot stuff gets excised from the tale (such as the graveyard section, which is there to remind you and Jill that Raccoon City is doomed and life wouldn’t be able to exist there for generations), and critical plot pacing gets shunted around. The Helicopter Crash is meant to be after Nemesis has toyed with Jill, given her hope of escape only to emotionally crush her and then infect her – the point is to break her so she doesn’t WANT to survive. In the remake – that happens within the first five or ten minutes. Jill’s barely had time to get a scratch on her, and the game has barely had enough time to build up to that kind of satisfying payoff.
Secondly – Nemesis. Whatever your opinion on the redesign – I don’t hate it – can we just admit that now Nemesis is built from spit, twigs and bin bags and has the durability of a wet paper bag in a shredder, he’s far less imposing? This is for me the critical failing of R3Make; Nemesis was there to either rob you of your health or your ammo, or both in some cases. You had to work out if fighting him was worth the payoff, knowing there WAS a payoff with weapon parts and first aid sprays. Now Nemesis just has two handgun upgrades, and you can knock him down with an environmental hazard or a simple hand grenade.
Likewise, by making his appearances MORE scripted than the original, you get weird moments where Nemesis can be downed on one side of a gate and leap out of thin air on the other because the game INSISTS that this is the moment it had to have Nemesis on your tail. In the original, for all its faults and foibles, Nemesis felt organic in how he appeared.
The difficulty scaling often feels arbitrary; and again, speed runners have found a way to hopelessly abuse it for their own ends. Then you’ve got the same problem I felt back with the Tomb Raider reboot back in 2013; the developers have gone about a strong empowered woman narrative by just making Jill suffer some truly horrible abuse – from driving a car off a parking lot roof to explosions to getting deep-throated by a mutant… it’s done in such terrific detail that you’d honestly be fooled into thinking someone at Capcom doesn’t like Jill Valentine that much.
I could go on. It’s too easy, and the rewards/shop section doesn’t have as much punch when you have to keep replaying the same game in the same way each time. The lack of split-decisions from the original and a much more linear gameplay loop gets stale after a couple of runs, and the lack of unlockable costume options compounds that somewhat. PC Modders are of course adding in new outfits, but that won’t help the PlayStation 4 or XBox One players who’ll be stuck with a grand total of TWO outfits (three if you pre-ordered).
You could argue this is because Capcom wanted the multiplayer, Project RE:Sistence, to be more of the star of the show. But even that feels half-baked, and after a while with good builds masterminds can become far too powerful for their own good. It’s not a bad concept – but it’s not an original one, and I don’t know if it will hold the interest long-term for most people.
The sad truth is, Capcom blew this one. A half-arsed single player and a multiplayer screaming for some balance tweaks doesn’t really add up to a £50 purchase for me. I don’t like that Brad gets a terrible send-off here. And I especially hate that most of the supporting/cameo cast feels somewhat arbitrary in their inclusion. And that whole anti-Capitalist sentiment towards the end just makes you realise how insincere this whole thing is, and how lazy and undercooked the whole experience is.
It’s not the WORST game I’ve played this year – and it’s not the worst Resident Evil I’ve played. But there’s a real sense that this was rushed. Say what you will, the original Resident Evil 3 at least added SOMETHING to the series and its canon. The remake feels superfluous by its very design, and I just can’t think it was a waste of effort.
A shame, really. Because I still remain in the camp that OG Resident Evil 3 is better than OG Resident Evil 2.
But the remakes? No contest. Resident Evil 2 Remake wins, flawless victory, fatality.
Simply because in a fight, Remake Mr. X would give Remake Nemesis the wedgie to end all wedgies.