- Format: 3DS (version reviewed)
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Players: 1-2
- Site: http://www.residentevil.com/mercs/
Saved. That’s the single word statement you will see when you load up this game for the first time. Though the controversy over Capcom’s conscious decision to allow only a single save file which can never be reset or overwritten is the talking point for most people, what really matters is whether Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D warrants a purchase to begin with.
There is no plot here to lay out before you. The Mercenaries began as an extra mode unlocked in Resident Evil 4, placing a character of your choice from the main game in a confined area taken from it with unlimited spawning enemies and a pre-set selection of weapons. Tasked with racking up as high a score as possible within an extendable time limit, the player was left to make use of their surroundings and keep themselves going with supplies dropped from fallen enemies.
When the mode returned in Resident Evil 5, co-operative functionality was added to fit with the game’s theme of having a partner; and through DLC it was also expanded into adversarial game types competing for kills or scores against one another while also fighting off the spawning enemies. It was addictive – to a point.
We feel it’s important to make a point of being specific about the many changes made to (essentially) the mini-game in Resident Evil 5, because this 3DS outing falls somewhere behind it and Resident Evil 4 in terms of both execution and features.
Taking areas and enemies from both games, The Mercenaries 3D provides the player with half a dozen or so condensed levels. Just how small some areas were surprised us – with the perfect example being the ‘Public Assembly’ taken from RE5. The version of it presented here is more comparable to the moment from the main campaign where fences blocked off most sections leaving you a very small area to survive in.
Just why that is is debatable. Is it space on the cart or the results of a rushed job? Another area that created those kinds of questions for us was in the character selection. There are eight characters in total with only two being new to the game (Rebecca and Claire) and only one alternate costume for each of them. Noticeable absences include numerous characters who were in the other versions of The Mercenaries such as Ada, Sheva or Leon. Whether this is because characters were held back to become DLC remains to be seen.
The music is also sparse and largely lifted from the previous titles, and the only real voice work you’ll hear is the pre-mission banter about killing enemies and building up points.
Gameplay has transitioned well onto the 3DS which is an area to credit. The game is easy to control and even builds on the traditional enclosed movement present in Resident Evil games by allowing the player to move while reloading or aiming. The latter is a little hard to work though since if you do want to move while aiming, you lose the ability to change the direction you are aiming in – as it locks shifting the cross-hair around to allow strafing.
To try and add longevity to the game there is an in-built award system for achieving certain things like finishing a stage with 100% accuracy (or killing… a chicken) and also a progressive skill system which really makes no noticeable difference for the most part.
The graphics are to a high standard – at least close up. At distance enemy textures turn to horrible flickering 8-bit messes. While the 3D effect in other games had noticeable adverse reactions on us during longer play sessions, nothing like that happened here. The 3D is not particularly ‘deep’ and this may be the reason, though either way it makes no difference to the actual gameplay.
Getting to the end credits of The Mercenaries 3D can be done in a single night. Stages are separated across five ranks of three to five stages each (though 8 EX stages also unlock when you finish the game), but ridiculously the game spends the first two and a half ranks worth of stages holding your hand and slowly unlocking things like an overzealous tutorial. During these ranks enemies can literally stand in front of you for ten seconds without trying to attack. The ability to combo enemies (killing them in quick succession to build up a high final score) doesn’t appear nearly soon enough either.
The final large flaw lies within the game’s greatest strength – online play. Playing with one other player you can tackle any stage you have unlocked as a duo. Playing together with a friend (or a stranger – assuming they don’t steal all your melee kills) is probably where you will have the most fun and any longevity will come from this. The big negative is not being able to just pick a stage to go at it against enemies of your choice – you have to pick a mission out of the ranked selection. This also means there are no alternate game types either.
The Mercenaries 3D feels like exactly what it is: a mini-game. Though to put it more negatively ‘rushed’ or ‘unfinished’ could also be used here. This would be reasonable to a point, from a bit of mindless fun once in a while point of view, but for a full retail release that you’ll have forever there just isn’t enough substance here.