But what fans were most excited about is how the developers would handle redesigning the Nemesis, an unforgettable enemy who already ratcheted tension levels up to 11 in the original. Well, we’re happy to reveal that Resident Evil 3 not only delivers on those sky-high expectations, but actually makes the game even more terrifying by replacing the Nemesis with brutal Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.
Let’s just say you might want to avoid the latest from Capcom if you scare easily and have even a passing knowledge of the Romanian Communist Party leader’s totalitarian regime between 1969 and 1989.
What’s so genius about this shake-up is that Capcom could have just ported the game to modern consoles, made a few graphical tweaks, and walked away with a successful update on the survival-horror classic. But swapping out the Umbrella Corporation’s Nemesis bioweapon for every tense encounter as Ceaușescu chases you down—whether along the streets of Racoon City or through the unforgettable Clock Tower set piece—brings to mind his horrifying crackdown on press freedoms, his totalitarian grip on power, and the use of secret police known as the Securitate to crush any and all dissent.
Graphically, this remake features some of the most impressive lighting and character models in series history, which really comes across when you get up close and personal with Romania’s ruthless Conducăto himself in boss encounters. The cold, humorless look on Ceaușescu’s realistically rendered face just makes it all the more frightening as you fire off round after round at him from your grenade launcher or shotgun, just as helpless to stop him as the Romanian people were to fend off the July Theses and their devastating effect on personal and political freedoms.
Sure, there are trade-offs in dropping the biological weapon known as Nemesis from the title and replacing him with a Romanian dictator. For one, Ceaușescu was only 5 foot 6 inches, which certainly makes hiding in chase sequences much easier than against an unstoppable mutated bioweapon. But that’s more than made up for in the scares department from the bone-chilling knowledge that this same diminutive dictator’s likeness was seen from propaganda posters and state sponsored TV channels across Bucharest furthering his oppressive cult of personality.
We shouldn’t need to remind you, but definitely don’t play this one with the lights off.
If Resident Evil 3 teaches us one thing, it’s that a virus outbreak and zombie infestation might be scary, but the consequences of unfettered state control of resources in an Eastern Bloc country is something that will haunt your dreams for weeks to come. Only when you use a railgun to defeat Ceaușescu in his final iteration as a tentacle monster—echoing the dictator’s execution by death squad in 1989—can you truly say that you have gone through hell and back. Gamers, welcome to your new nightmare. You’ve got to check this one out.