Resident Evil 2
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Which of these relentless bioweapons is the better pursuer? Find out here.
Since time immemorial – or at least 1999 when Resident Evil 3 first launched for the PS One – the question has been asked. Nemesis or Tyrant – which is better? Which is more capable at hunting down plucky heroes that could a throw a wrench into Umbrella’s plans? With the recent Resident Evil 3 remake, offering a revamp of the age-old Pursuer, and last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake turning Mr. X into a horror game icon, it’s time to revisit the age-old debate.
The overall answer is somewhat more complicated that it was nearly two decades ago. Not just because the move sets of both of these titans were much simpler back in the day but because the design of the original classics was more straightforward.
Let’s start with Nemesis. Upon first debuting in 1999, he offered something that Resident Evil fans had never really experienced before – a bio-organic weapon that could handle weapons, moved fast and could seemingly appear anywhere. More importantly, he just never died, re-emerging in different forms throughout the game and requiring an experimental rail-gun to finally put down.
In the new Resident Evil 3, he’s even more agile. The signature charge and punches are still present but he can now jump and come to a sliding halt in front of the player, blocking the way forward. He can also use his tentacles to grab Jill Valentine from a distance and drag her closer. In terms of weaponry, along with the classic rocket launcher, the Nemesis can also use a flamethrower which comes into play for a boss battle. Turning zombies into tentacle-headed monstrosities is also a suitably creepy and effective new addition.
The Tyrant in Resident Evil 2 was a pursuer as well but in the original release, he had just a few scripted encounters throughout the B Story campaigns for Leon and Claire. He moves slow, his footsteps ominously echoing in hallways. He did have some cool moments as he busted through walls with little care, but was fairly slow and easy to take down.
Mr. X is a different kind of stalker though, striding towards the player, feet stomping, to pummel or grab them. His overall look has been revamped to look more ominous with the dapper fedora providing more personality to his lumbering antics. In terms of mechanics, Mr. X makes up for his lack of agility with brute strength, pushing aside zombies and knocking the player down with ease.
He also has arguably the coolest revamped intro ever – instead of simply appearing around the corner, he lifts up the helicopter crashed into the RCPD, announcing his arrival. And unlike the original, you’ll encounter him significantly more often and in more dynamic ways.
Looking at them side by side, the answer should obviously be Nemesis, right? He has more weapons, more moves, and an arguably more interesting AI. If you duck into a building, then Nemesis could ambush you, hanging off of an adjacent building’s wall and counting on you not to look up as he pounces. Clearly he’s the better threat, right?
Not quite. In the remake of Resident Evil 3, Nemesis appears dynamically in the Raccoon City portion of the game. Scripted sequences still abound, like in the original, but his random appearances are mostly limited past the opening hour or two. Contrast this with the original which turned Nemesis into a constant threat, forcing you to stay ready at any moment for an attack (and that was in addition to scripted sequences).
It helped accentuate the more action-oriented approach of the original. By downplaying the randomness of his occurrences, the remake straddles a strange line between third person shooter/thriller and survival horror.
By comparison, Mr. X’s role has been expanded in the Resident Evil 2 remake while working hand in hand with the game’s core gameplay. He appears when you least expect it but is still reasonably overwhelming. You can run from him and eventually hide in the hopes that he’ll go away. But Mr. X mixed up encounters while still being a wholly encompassing force that you couldn’t ignore. He’s like the original Terminator – not super-agile or fast but never ceasing always after you.
It fit the original game’s pacing very well and works even better in the remake. You conserve your ammunition and evade threats, much like the original, but also consider what to kill in case Mr. X appears, causing you to backtrack to areas with enemies still in them. And this is keeping in mind that some players didn’t exactly like the Tyrant constantly pursuing them.
In terms of boss fights though, Nemesis has the advantage here. While Mr. X has only one real boss fight, utilizing its signature giant claw to try and kill you on the elevator, Nemesis has a number of different of forms. Starting with the battle against him wielding a flamethrower, it transitions into a fight with a monstrous new four-legged form. It even runs all the way up to the classic clock tower (sadly omitted from the remake) and leaps all the way down in an attempt to crush you.
Later on, you have a rematch against the four-legged version with several zombies getting involved and having to electrocute the beast to defeat it. Then there’s the last major fight where the Nemesis has mutated into a horrible, grotesque thing, spewing acid and slamming its tendrils down. It’s a big step up from the original since you’re powering up the rail-gun and actively attacking, whittling it down bit by bit, before finally ending it in a blaze of gore.
The revamps for these two monsters are interesting because while Mr. X seems part of a wholly consistent vision, Nemesis feels like he’s caught between genres. Given his expanded movement and abilities, he should usher in a range of new, unique moments like Mr. X did. Instead, after some random encounters, he’s relegated to scripted set pieces and boss fights (the latter are still good but I digress). It’s not so much that he’s inferior to Mr. X but his usage throughout the Resident Evil 3 remake feels inferior by comparison.
So if we had to decide, Mr. X emerges as the winner. He’s no slouch, taking as much punishment as the player is willing to dish out and getting back up for more (provided you didn’t cheat and enable all the super weapons). His design is faithful to the original while being wholly unique and while not boasting tons of new abilities or moves, he fits perfectly within the pacing and approach of the remake.
Props to Capcom for their revamp of the Nemesis though – you really don’t know what terror is until you duck into a building to evade him…only to see him outside, just staring and waiting for you to emerge. If he was made more dynamic and provided those kinds of spontaneous moments to go with the awesome boss fights and new mechanics, then he could have easily eclipsed Mr. X as being the better stalker. As it stands, based on moves and abilities alone, he comes in at a very respectable second place.