Resident Evil 3 is a solid game that, unfortunately, has to live up to the hype of Resident Evil 2. It doesn’t come close to the excellence of its predecessor due to many underwhelming moments, bland puzzles, and a campaign that is shorter than it should be (which is probably why it’s bundled with Resident Evil Resistance).
While it may not be one of the best PC games around, Resident Evil 3 still has a solid foundation with thrilling boss fights, gripping environments and a refined combat system.
Resident Evil 3 opens with Jill Valentine receiving a phone call from a friend who warns her that she needs to run. In the midst of this call, Nemesis, a monsterous lab-experiment, charges through the apartment wall, tosses her across the room and begins chasing her through an apartment complex.
Nemesis continues to destroy doors, windows and floors as the building bursts into flames. With some bombastic explosions, beautifully crafted set pieces, and fluid animations of Jill and Nemesis descending down this complex, the opening scene leaves a powerful impression on the player.
Jill is then saved by Carlos Oliveira, who temporarily halts Nemesis with a rocket launcher. Afterwards, both try to evacuate citizens from Racoon City as the T-virus spreads rampant throughout the city, turning people into zombies. Jill is acutely aware that the Umbrella Corporation is responsible for this outbreak, while Carlos, who happens to be a part of their Biohazard Countermeasure Service, is ignorant of the details. As a result, the two go on a journey uncovering the truth behind the conspiracy.
With its b-movie subplots and action-packed cutscenes, the opening is merely the start to a narrative that is overwhelmingly goofy. While Resident Evil 3 barely qualifies as a horror game, its silliness is undeniably charming.
Horror to action
Improved combat fluidity makes enemy encounters more engaging in Resident Evil 3 compared to its predecessor. Rather than stumbling around aimlessly, players can now execute a dodge to swiftly maneuver around lethal blows. When performed shortly before an enemy attack, players will activate the Perfect Roll, causing time to slow down, fire rate to increase and the cursor to automatically lock onto the enemy’s head for a short period of time.
This makes boss fights and other combat scenarios more skill-based, as players are expected to quickly evade incoming attacks and carefully consider when to reload, fire and dodge. Unlike in Resident Evil 2, players have an indestructible knife they can fall back on when they run out of ammo. That said, I always had spare weapon rounds as the game is incredibly generous when dropping ammo.
This is in stark contrast with Resident Evil 2, where boss fights were more focused on having enough healing items to survive unavoidable attacks. Changes like these contribute significantly to the game’s shift from horror to action, with areas now more open and enemies harder to kill.
Rather than patrolling narrow hallways and stingily saving ammo, Resident Evil 3 encourages players to spray and pray. Even after beating the game, I had a ridiculous amount of extra ammunition in my storage.
Resident Evil 2’s Tyrant (otherwise known as Mr. X) was a tough obstacle, but Nemesis is on another level. While Tyrant has discernible movement patterns, Nemesis will fall from the sky, sprint towards the player and punch them in the face at any time. He’ll also prevent you from running away by grabbing your leg with his tentacle, and even when you’ve managed to escape him, he’ll jump right in front of you.
However, Nemesis isn't as scary as the Tyrant because his encounters are scripted. The Tyrant reacts to sound, has actual roaming patterns, and makes players panic due to the loud thumping of his boots. He’s more akin to a spectre that roams the tight corridors of the police station rather than a monster with an arsenal of devastating weaponry.
Nemesis is still a thrilling opponent who provides you with an intense obstacle to overcome, but he has a less interesting presence than the Tyrant. However, I can’t deny that the first time I saw Nemesis sprint up some stairs, I had a panic attack.
Unlike its predecessor, Resident Evil 3 has a single campaign. Rather than choosing between Jill and Carlos, you jump between both characters throughout the narrative. Resident Evil 2 excused its short playtime with its A/B structure, which meant players unlocked a second campaign after finishing their first one. Since Resident Evil 3 doesn’t have this, you'd expect its campaign to be longer.
However, Resident Evil 3 is even shorter than its predecessor, as it took me only six hours to clear. Not only that, but you can get an A rank if you beat the game in less than two hours. In comparison, Resident Evil 2’s A rank cleartime is less than 4 or 5 hours, depending on which campaign you’re playing. Resident Evil 3 is unacceptably short, which is probably why the game is bundled with Resident Evil Resistance.
Carlos isn’t as fun
Carlos’ portions throughout Resident Evil 3 are pretty underwhelming, primarily because of his limited arsenal. While Jill has access to a shotgun, grenade launcher, pistol and magnum, Carlos can only use an assault rifle and pistol. Furthermore, whenever you shoot the assault rifle, its bullets sound muffled. Audio design contributes heavily to making guns feel satisfying, and that’s a considerable reason why playing as Carlos isn’t as fun.
Furthermore, there’s a thirty minute section where all you do is explore the same police station from Resident Evil 2. Reusing a major set piece is a jarring choice, especially since returning players have already experienced this area more than once. Carlos has a unique section, but it’s less fun when you don’t have many weapons to play around with.
In comparison, not only is Jill’s arsenal way larger, but all of her areas are unique. There’s a moment when the player will revisit the sewers, but it’s short and different enough to not be frustrating.
Resident Evil 3’s secrets are unimaginative, as most of them rely on a simple item that Jill carries around throughout most of the game. Furthermore, there are barely any puzzles, and those that do exist aren't particularly interesting or challenging.
Where Resident Evil 2 had you searching for safe combinations, locker codes, and special items to combine together in order to find ways to access new rooms, Resident Evil 3 streamlines its campaign so much that the compelling nature of its secrets is lost. There are numerous boxes and lockers that can be found throughout the game, but a large majority of them can be opened with a basic lockpick, which detracts from the exciting nature of finding something mysterious and figuring out how to open it.
Worst of all, Resident Evil 3’s puzzles are so bogged down by fetch-quests, which ask players to do things like turn on four generators, acquire three fuses or search for two vials. While a few fun puzzles are present, like determining how to path a train to get to its destination, most of them are pretty unremarkable.
The points store
Within Resident Evil 3’s main menu is a store where the player can purchase weapons, items and pouches using the in-game currency. This is gained by completing challenges throughout the story, but you won’t earn much for them. After beating the game in its entirety, I only managed to rack up 8,060 points.
For context, the most expensive weapon is the Infinite Rocket Launcher, which will cost you 62,400 points. This mechanic likely exists as a way to incentivize multiple playthroughs, but it feels forced. In fact, I wasn’t even aware this store existed until after I beat the campaign as it's inaccessible from within the game itself. You have to go through “Bonuses” in the main menu to get to it.
The primary issue with this system is that Resident Evil 3 offers few new weapon types to begin with. The only novel addition that’s unlockable within the campaign is the Assault Rifle, so it's frustrating that the remaining arsenal is locked behind this mechanic. I would’ve loved to play around with the RAI-DEN (whatever that is) and Rocket Launcher, but unfortunately, I can't access them unless I farm quite heavily.
Resident Evil 3 expects the player to farm for dozens of hours just to play around with some of its new content, which cheapens the experience. In comparison, every item, weapon and collectible was unlockable throughout Resident Evil 2’s campaigns.
Resident Evil 3 PC performance
Resident Evil 3 runs very well on PC with very few performance issues and no noticeable bugs. However, there was a moment during my playthrough where a zombie grabbed me just when I had beaten a boss, and when the preceding cutscene began to play, Jill’s model vanished. After a few seconds, she reappeared, and continued moving along with the cutscene as if everything was normal.
Within Resident Evil 3, you can tinker with the settings for Graphics API, Display Mode, Resolution, Rendering Mode, Image Quality, Refresh Rate, Frame Rate, V-Sync, Anti-aliasing, Texture Quality, Texture Filter Quality, Mesh Quality, Shadow Quality, Shadow Cache, Screen Space Reflections, Subsurface Scattering, Volumetric Lighting Quality, Particle Lighting Quality, Ambient Occlusion, Bloom, Lens Flare, Motion Blur, Depth of Field, Lens Distortion and FidelityFX CAS + Upscaling.
The bottom of the settings menu also shows how much graphics memory you’re using and the levels of the Processing Load, Image Quality, Model Quality, Lighting Quality and Graphical Effects Quality.
Resident Evil 3 PC requirements
I ran Resident Evil 3 on my desktop, which is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Throughout most of the game, I got a consistent 60 frames per second at 1080p with graphic settings on High (1GB). However, on High (2GB), the game would sometimes freeze for a second or two when too many things were happening at once. Additionally, on this setting, it would occasionally dip to 45 fps.
I also ran Resident Evil 3 on my Dell XPS 15 with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU. With texture quality and other settings set to Low (0GB), it hit around 90 fps at 1080p. With texture quality and other settings set to Medium (0.5GB) it jumped between 30 to 40 fps. With texture quality and other settings set to High (1GB), it consistently hit 30 fps.
You can purchase Resident Evil 3 through Steam or on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 4.
The minimum requirements for a system to run Resident Evil 3 include Windows 7, an Intel Core i5-4460 or AMD FX-6300 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x GPU and 45GB of available space.
Meanwhile, the recommended requirements are Windows 10, an Intel Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-9590 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 GPU and 45GB of available space.
Resident Evil 3 discards the things that made our journey with Claire and Leon in Resident Evil 2 feel like a return to form for the franchise. The game reuses major elements from its predecessor, provides few engaging puzzles and is shorter than expected. And while it shies away from its horror roots, the shift in tone is successful thanks to increased combat fluidity, great boss fights, gorgeous scenery and striking enemy encounters.
Best of all, Nemesis chasing the player at every turn is genuinely thrilling, as his abilities reflect his status as a super-weapon. While Resident Evil 3 is missing some of the striking elements that made its predecessor excellent, it is still a worthy sequel.