The Resident Evil 2 remake came out yesterday, and if you're playing it you'll know it's wonderful indeed. If you're not, check out Aoife's review to find out why it's worth giving a shot.
I, too am getting stuck in to Capcom's brilliant reimaging of the 90s PlayStation classic. And so far, one thing - person (thing?) - has stood as superb: the Tyrant.
THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Tyrant, or Mr. X as he's also known, pops up not too far into the game to stalk the player. And when I say stalk, I really mean it. He slowly, inevitably hunts you down - wherever you go.
The hulking, trenchcoat and hat-wearing Tyrant announces his presence in the game by punching through a wall and, well, squeezing someone's face until it pops. From that moment on, he's on your back. As you fumble about the darkened corridors of the Raccoon Police station, you turn a corner and blam! There he is, walking towards you, face placid, fists clenched. I've leapt out of my chair and thrown my controller into the air on more than one occasion as a result of the giant unit's penchant for surprise.
I only realised this yesterday, but you can hear the Tyrant's footsteps as he stomps around the station. I only realised this yesterday because I can only play the Resident Evil 2 remake after my kids have gone to bed, so I have to have the telly audio low so as not to wake them up. And I can't put headphones on because then I might not hear the baby monitor. So, I'm playing the Resident Evil 2 remake not just in the dark (it's a dark game), but in the quiet.
We here at Eurogamer reckon the Tyrant's footsteps audio is directional, so if you've got a decent setup or headphones you can use the noise they make to work out where he's coming from. Even so, he'll surprise you. And when he does, it's best to run away. Sure, you can pump him full of bullets (he enjoys being tickled), or chuck a grenade at him (this makes him fall to his knees and just... shut down for a bit?), but you're better off saving your ammo and legging it. Don't be a hero.
Of course, this isn't always possible. If you end up cornered, there's not much you can do except take a Tyrant punch to the face. He hits pretty hard, and he's got super long reach, so make sure you're always checking the map and you've got an escape route planned. And don't go down dead ends unless you really have to. That's just good life advice, to be honest.
Capcom's really nailed the Tyrant in Resident Evil 2. He's terrifying, tough and just won't let it go. One of the cool things about the game is how the Tyrant follows you through doors and into rooms you thought were safe, subverting the rules of engagement established up to that point. The main hall in the police station, for example, includes an item box and a typewriter for saving - both indicators of a "safe" area. When I spotted the Tyrant walking down the staircase after me here, I might have soiled myself.
The part of Resident Evil 2 that features the Tyrant is uncomfortably hard and relentlessly stressful, even on standard difficulty. Resident Evil 2 can be brutal and sometimes frustrating, especially when you find yourself without ammo or healing items and seemingly no hope of progression. But this is a survival horror game. The idea is you feel like you're getting through the nightmare by the skin of your teeth. And with this game, you certainly do feel that way.
Interestingly, Capcom decided to make the Tyrant a major part of the Resident Evil 2 remake. In the original, he only turned up in scenario B as he was on the hunt for Sherry's pendant. In the remake, the Tyrant has been sent in by Umbrella to destroy any evidence linking the evil megacorp to the outbreak. That means punching your face off, unfortunately.
In a post on the PlayStation blog, Resident Evil 2 director Yasuhiro Anpo answered some questions about the loveable Mr. X. I love this exchange in particular:
"If Tyrant's function is to be able to blend into society to complete missions for Umbrella, do you think this would be effective in the real world?"
"It might be effective from far away... maybe. You can't hide the fact that the Tyrant is still a large, hulking figure. There's probably no chance that its camouflage would work up close. If any children were in the vicinity, I'm sure they would be horribly intimidated and immediately burst into tears."
Yep, I'm pretty sure they would, Mr Anpo.