I’m not sure I like the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3 (opens in new tab) Remake. Obviously that’s the point, but he seems to have learned a whole bunch of new tricks that makes Mr. X's relentless stalking feel like a walk in the park. If Resident Evil 2 Remake (opens in new tab)’s trench coat terminator gave you low grade anxiety as the deafening stomp of his footsteps echoed through the halls of Racoon Police Department, then you’re going to hate his successor.
The Nemesis’ tentacle hand, more of a late-game threat in the original, now functions as a lasso from the get go, pulling Resi 3 hero Jill Valentine in as you try to escape. You don’t really get any warning, either, as you’re usually trying to run away - the camera just has a little flail and then you’re on the ground looking up at the monster himself. He can also jump now, leaping ahead of you and onto walls like a heavyweight Spider-Man to block your path. I get that ‘relentless pursuit’ is kind of the Nemesis' thing, but give me a break here.
Get a grip
Dropped part way into the game for my hands on, it’s admittedly unclear if I’m missing out on some sort of training on how to better deal with all this but, so far, Resi 3’s cover star is pretty frustrating. The rest of the game? Great, I’ll get to that. But the Nemesis? Huge pain. Massive. Obviously, with a single encounter, there’s no way of telling what his presence means for the rest of the game, but having an enemy you’re meant escape able to jump in front of you or grab you at range feels like a bad idea.
At one point I found myself more or less trapped in a small street area of Raccoon City, unsure of what to do since, whatever direction I ran in, the Nemesis leapt ahead of. Even with a new dodge move, the slow controls that feel so tense and vulnerable against zombies, become desperately unwieldy against a 300lb weaponised gimp that is somehow always in front of you.
Hopefully, other encounters will be smoother. This introduction wasn’t terrible, just frustrating. At one point I got stuck in an upstairs safe room, with a narrow stairway past Nemesis the only way out. It’s possible to down him, but it’ll take a grenade or just about all your ammo, not to mention a lot of effort, and until you reach specific points in the story, he’ll just keep getting up, with only a small reward like an upgrade or more bullets to show for it. Mr X was also a relentless pressure constantly bearing down on you, but at least you could always stay ahead. My experience with Nemesis' enhanced abilities basically left me trying to bruteforce or chance my way past.
Everything else plays exactly as you’d hope, lifting Resident Evil 2’s excellent horror gunplay and placing it on the streets of Raccoon City. Where the last outing fostered a sense of claustrophobic dread, shutting you in rooms with things moving in the dark, Resident Evil 3 places you outside, in the city, during late stage outbreak - all blocked roads and burning car wreckage, circled by the shuffling corpses of those that didn’t get away (canonically this sequel takes place before and after 2). Mechanically, it’s almost identical, but fighting through streets, out in the open, creates an illusion of grander scale. Zombies flock together in larger numbers, handily near new explosive barrels you can pop to take them out in satisfying blasts.
Being out on the streets feels exciting: the undead paw ineffectually at fences, while the view beyond is cast wide over a ruined, burning city. Where Resi 2 made smalls area threatening by giving you little room to manoeuver, Resi 3 goes the other way with wider spaces that are harder to police. Do you use up precious ammo to clear out the hordes, or keep the corpses at a distance - kiting them around to make space while trying to keep track of the ones you can’t see. The new dodge move adds a great sense of superiority here, at least when Nemesis isn’t around, letting you quickstep in a direction of your choice to run circles around slow moving enemies.
The claustrophobic areas haven’t gone away though. During my hands on I was forced into a cordoned zone, hemmed by bio-organic matter, while fighting updated Drain Deimos. These giant insect-like creatures scuttle across the walls and ceilings, not to mention in and out of the walls themselves, making them a constant threat from unexpected directions. Especially as they can impregnate Jill, facehugger style - forcing you to find a herb to flush the eggs out or eventually rupture in a swarm of baby bugs. It demonstrates a nice flexibility of pace and tension compared to the more open areas of Racoon City.
Equally unpleasant are the sewer dwelling Hunters. A discoverable note suggests these giant, bipedal chicken-toad monsters are Hunter Gammas, in which case they’ve changed from the traditional design. Gone is the toady goblin design, and in its place is a cow sized mouth on legs which can only be hurt when it exposes its fleshy internal mandibles. It can also grab Jill and swallow her whole for an instakill. Like that of the impossibly mobile Nemesis, their appearance generates mixed feelings. On the one hand, they are terrifying - the first time the pale bulk protruded from the shadows, it left me shaken. But the practicality, in the sewers at least, is that they’re so big they block the tunnels, leaving no alternative but to face them.
On the whole, at least, the urban action of Resident Evil 3 feels good, with a grander, more immediate scale to complement Resi 2’s slow burn. The Nemesis and Hunter might have been irritating, but then again, I was playing a vertical slice experience out of context, which likely accentuated their more annoying traits. The city, and the more action focused elements of Jill's adventure, though, are the real draw here.
Then there’s Resident Evil Resistance, the multiplayer spin-off packaged alongside Resident Evil 5, which is good fun... so long as you're playing it with people you know. At a preview event with friends I could shout at, insult, and generally harang, its asymmetrical battles make for great entertainment.
Four players take the role of survivors who have to escape various maps by fighting zombies while finding improbable keys like ornaments and car parts, while the fifth player takes on the role of ‘mastermind’, watching through cameras and choosing from a range of monsters, traps, and buffs, placing them one the map to impede and attack the rival team. It says a lot about how fun this is that simply the ability to lock doors and turn lights off can cause endless havoc as you try to hamper your rivals’ progress. Although, as I said, while it’s brilliant fun with friends, much like the similarly asymmetrical Friday the 13th: The Game, I suspect it’s going to be an unplayable mess with online randoms.
The online elements feel like an enjoyable diversion, but I don’t think there’s any doubt the campaign is still the main attraction. So far, it feels like another strong showing for Capcom’s patented modernisation process. The Nemesis is yet to win me over, but exploring an apocalyptically undead Raccoon City is turning out to be a great zombie theme park ride so far.