There’s a breathlessness to Resident Evil 3, a genuine urgency to cure Raccoon City of its corporately-induced infection (released by the ludicrously unethical Umbrella Corp.). Everything about Resident Evil 3 surges, desperately pushing toward the solution – a vaccine. It’s nigh impossible to imagine a game more “in the moment” than this, right now.
In the rush, protagonist Jill Valentine isn’t given a persona beyond stock action heroine. She’s introduced in a dream sequence, harboring anxieties over her changing life, if never exhibiting any further symptoms or fear; Valentine’s relentless. So fierce is she, in fact, one of Umbrella’s clean-up crew bemoans, “We don’t need another bleeding heart like you getting in the way.” The set-up then is a routine profit-over-people, liberalism-conquering-conservatism parable so frequent in current media. Umbrella’s freakish creation Nemesis hunts Jill specifically, akin to high dollar defense lawyers honing in on whistleblowers.
Resident Evil 3 does nothing new with the theme though. It’s complacent and stilted, even when carrying its fetish for low-brow cinema. Only now, Resident Evil 3 is ridiculously realized, glossy and expensive, at odds with the stiff, crude polygons that once defined this story – the latter better fit to the garish dialog.
The benefit comes entirely from pace, because when alarms blare and cliche LED timers tick to zero, the stakes feel authentic, not bloated by reams of content. There’s a sense that acting fast is required, rather than serving as artificial cover to open exploration. Like z-grade film expectations, Resident Evil 3 partly works because it’s eschewing certain norms, choosing consistent, schlocky gusto over bloat.