No matter how many times I beat Resident Evil 3, it just doesn't get old


And I’ll never skip the rooftop cutscene

The Resident Evil 3 remake has drawn criticism for being too short – for not making full use of its 1999 source material – and I get it. Especially through the lens of last year’s brilliant Resident Evil 2 revival, the game isn’t quite what some of us had built up in our minds over the past several months.

It’s not a beat-for-beat remake. The scope isn’t as ambitious. The pack-in – a lackluster asymmetrical multiplayer game – isn’t what many fans asked for. Even knowing those caveats in advance, I was left feeling a little disappointed after the credits rolled on my first slow, steady, “savor it” playthrough.

I’ve since come around in a big way. The more I run through Resident Evil 3, the more I like it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it superior to Resident Evil 2 – that’ll always be the better, more robust game of the two remakes, especially if you prefer survival to action – but as a companion piece, it’s excellent. As something you can revisit again and again, it’s worth celebrating. The 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3 is the video game equivalent of [that one VHS you rented an ungodly number of times].

If you’ve stuck with RE3 beyond an introductory playthrough, I think you’ll tend to agree. If you’re holding off or just haven’t been able to play yet, let me put my experience into perspective.

Resident Evil 3's lighting and set design are next-level.

I’ve completed Resident Evil 3 seven or eight times now – I can’t even keep track anymore – and I’ve gotten all of the trophies. With know-how and a handful of cheeky unlockable items and weapons, I can finish a run in well under an hour-and-a-half. Here’s the wild part: I’ve spent 24 hours in this game.

It doesn’t feel like it! And even after earning the platinum, I find myself thinking of excuses to play again. Can I pull off an Inferno run without relying on the infinite-ammo weapons? I kinda want to find out.

The magic of RE3 is that there’s almost no filler or downtime. Its pacing is its best asset.

Once you leave Jill’s apartment, it’s relentless. And the boss fights – a hit-or-miss aspect for many Resident Evil games – are a joy to play. Before you know it, you’re trudging through sewer muck. Then you’re keeping your distance from Hunters in the hospital. You’ve got the fuse-grabbing warehouse maze memorized. NEST 2 just flies by, and it’s over. You know how to fuck up Nemesis. Let’s go again.

I appreciate how Capcom structured the five difficulty options and challenge-based shop rewards such that players will naturally gravitate toward multiple playthroughs – even folks who wouldn’t typically want to deal with S-rank constraints like limited saves, or go out of their way for overpowered unlocks.

I got enough of a feel for RE3 on my initial Standard difficulty run-through that I was immediately ready to jump back in for a Hardcore run. Then I took an extended breather on Assisted mode to grind out the rest of the weapon challenges, beat the game without touching the item box (I was terrified of botching the goal every time I stepped into a safe room), and play it all again without unnecessary healing items.

At that point, I felt sufficiently stocked and ready to face Nightmare. The enemy placements are different, there’s more of ’em, and some of them are nasty gotchas that’ll make you yell. It’s great!

That one-hit-kill Hunter slash is something else.

Inferno mode is much the same, except way higher-stakes – even with a stupidly powerful rocket launcher backing you up. Basic zombies waste no time getting up in your face. (I died to the first enemy in the game!) Nemesis books it. The stab-happy infected undead can combo you. Everything – and I mean everything – feels faster and less forgiving. I won’t lie: even the rolling statue head got me twice.

(If you’re struggling to outrun the statue, don’t skip the preceding cutscene – that did the trick for me.)

Inferno will be too much for some players – the final fight, in particular, is a wonky, unfun slog – but everything up to and including Nightmare? Absolutely. It’s all worthwhile. I say that as someone who only expected to play a few times at most and, again, was a bit bummed after my first playthrough.

I know the amped-up Mr. X and RE2, in general, took the wind out of RE3‘s sails. We miss the puzzles, and we miss the Clock Tower. But I also think people will really warm up to Resident Evil 3 over time, and it will be fondly remembered. I like RE2 better, but RE3 is more fun. It’s the one I’ll revisit year after year.

If there’s one thing Resident Evil 3 has going for it above all else, it’s replayability. That’ll be its legacy.