2019 started with a bang, with Capcom’s long-awaited Resident Evil 2 remake screaming into the gaming scene with universal acclaim. Perfect score, near-perfect scores, award nominations, you name it. The people loved Resident Evil 2. Naturally, a remake of Resident Evil 3 followed. But while many fans were riding the wave of Resident Evil 2 hype to 2020’s follow-up, there’s a bit more to consider. It’s too early to say if the remake is any good or not, but it isn’t as much of a guarantee as its predecessor. Here’s why.
Resident Evil 3, the original one, historically has a strange reputation. And it has a strange history, even for a Resident Evil game. The behind the scenes situation for each game in the series is a distinct nightmare, but Resident Evil 3’s history is truly messy. Capcom was following-up its massive hit Resident Evil 2 with multiple games, including a numbered sequel from Hideki Kamiya’s game set on a cruise ship, a spinoff set in Raccoon City, and what would eventually be Code Veronica. The ship game ended up being cancelled, and the spinoff project became the new Resident Evil 3. Suddenly, an inexperienced team (including a new writer not familiar with the main plot at all) was in charge of a marquee franchise installment.
It turned out fairly well, with lots of praise for Resident Evil 3’s visuals, the Nemesis character, and the story’s branching paths. Critics and fans were less thrilled about some of the more action-oriented mechanics, such as dodging and ammo crafting. RE 3 did well enough, but was obviously treated as the beginning of Resident Evil’s first decline, the one ultimately leading to Resident Evil 4. And even then, many classic fans would argue Resident Evil lost its identity from there, something that wouldn’t truly be considered “back” until Resident Evil 7, and especially the 2 remake. And as we approach the remake for Resident Evil 3, I have to wonder if history might repeat itself in some ways.
It’s already apparent that Resident Evil 3’s remake will be upholding the action-ish roots of the original. Jill is still out here dodging enemy attacks, and taking the fight a little more directly to the zombie hordes. Also, you know, Nemesis is kind of unavoidable. The talent behind this game is also a big change, including several industry vets who were most recently doing work at Platinum Games. I’m not suggesting Resident Evil 3 will suddenly become Metal Gear Rising, but I am suggesting there may be some whiplash between what got RE 7 and 2 so much praise, and what RE 3 is at its core.
It also makes me a little nervous that Resident Evil Resistance is a part of the package. On its own, Resistance looks pretty cool, a contemporary return to concepts introduced in the Outbreak games. But while it was being teased out before Resident Evil 3 was even announced, it seemed like it would be its own thing. Resident Evil 3 was criticized in part due to how short its story was (albeit a story with multiple endings), as its single-disc, Jill-centric adventure directly followed the two-disc adventures of Claire and Leon. Not complaining about extra stuff to do, but it almost seems like a preemptive strike against that same talking point coming back up.
I’m not a Resident Evil 3 naysayer by any means. I actually never played the original game despite my Resident Evil fandom, but that’s kind of the point. Capcom has long brushed Resident Evil 3 aside, spending years revisiting the other games but barely nodding to 3 except for some real specific aspects (Jill’s outfit, Nemesis). It was well-received at the moment it came out, but to many fans it hasn’t held up as well as the others. This remake is a huge opportunity to repair RE 3’s reputation a bit, and I’m sure that’s been on the team’s mind. I just see how quickly Capcom seemed to jump on it after taking so long to greenlight Resident Evil 2, and I see signs of old, hasty Capcom. I want to be wrong though, and have the gaming world singing praises of the true Resident Evil O.G., Jill Valentine.