According to Resident Evil 3’s in-game clock, I have spent thirty hours, twenty minutes, and thirty-three seconds in Raccoon City. That, as any self-respecting RPD officer knows, is suicide.
Yet there is something reassuring about these ransacked streets and underground laboratories. At a time when questions outweigh answers, it’s good to know where I can find a dash of gunpowder, some first aid, or an experimental railgun without fail. That is the joy of replaying Resident Evil 3 during lockdown.
Granted there is something counterintuitive about playing a game centred around a deadly, uncontrollable virus right now, but at least Capcom’s big-budget remake of the 1999 threequel lets you do something about it. And do it with greater efficiency and flair each and every time. Forget flesh-eating monsters— what’s truly scary about Resident Evil 3 is how satisfying this process is.
Once you have the lay of the land, protagonists Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira almost skate through Raccoon City, treating zombies like charity muggers, opening doors with a superhuman shoulder barge, and, erm, only picking up essential items and supplies as the crisis (described in-game as spreading “faster than any disease in modern history”) worsens. Sometimes, life really does imitate art.
The fear factor may be gone, but the ritual - soothing, gory repetition - prevails.
The result is a distinctly odd form of escapism. After all, Jill and Carlos’s main objective is to stop the spread of the t-Virus and find a vaccine… all the while pursued by Nemesis: a seven-foot-tall, tentacle-sprouting bioweapon wrapped up in bin liner. Suffice to say, Resident Evil 3’s big bad struggles with the concept of social distancing.
The stress is mitigated by ‘save rooms’ - safe spaces where players record their progress on a typewriter and, most crucially, manage their limited inventory space. This creates all sorts of logistical dilemmas: should I bring more than one first aid spray? Do I need the grenade launcher anytime soon? Will I organise my item box alphabetically or by category? It’s an OCD gamer’s dream.
What’s more, this tidy game mechanic - think military-grade Marie Kondo - provides a semblance of control that many are craving right now. Tactile, oddly satisfying sound effects greet every deposit and retrieval, giving players the confidence to resume battle knowing everything’s in its right place.
Enemies, amusingly, are no different. Each playthrough sees zombies, oversized frogs, and even Nemesis strike at predetermined points, allowing ample time to prepare a clinical headshot or sidestep. The fear factor may be gone, but the ritual - soothing, gory repetition - prevails.
As the prospect of returning to life pre-Covid 19 fades, perhaps Resident Evil 3’s biggest draw, however, is the chance to command a space.
But why traipse through Raccoon City’s forsaken streets over and over again like this? The same reason anyone plays through any Resident Evil game multiple times: to unlock the legendary rocket launcher with unlimited ammo. There are other incentives, of course, but going ‘Commando’-era Arnold Schwarzenegger on the undead outstrips them all.
As the prospect of returning to a 'pre-Covid 19 life' diminishes, perhaps Resident Evil 3’s biggest draw is the chance to command a space. To know exactly where you’re going and what to do. To enjoy a system working smoothly when those in the real world have ground to a halt. Andto use a rocket launcher with unlimited ammo... that one’s very important.