Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D – Review

Title: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

Genre: Third-person shooter

System: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Capcom & Tose Co. Ltd

Publisher: Capcom

The Mercenaries is a mini-game that has appeared in main-series Resident Evil games since Resident Evil 3. Now it has its own game, on the Nintendo 3DS.

Those who have played Mercenaries in either Resi4 or Resi5 will be familiar with the concept. Shoot your way through waves of enemies over a series of levels, racking up kills to get combos and increase your score. Different characters have different weapons and hand-to-hand attacks, and different levels feature different kinds of mutated enemy. So how does it work as a stand-alone title?

The game is divided into missions, which are arranged by difficulty level. Complete all the missions at one level to progress to the next. Early missions introduce basic controls, while subsequent missions introduce the familiar Mercenaries gameplay of running around an area, killing mutated enemies and collecting time bonuses. Some missions offer new challenges, such as fighting boss creatures familiar from main-series Resident Evil games, or fighting teams of enemies that grow progressively harder.

Skills have also been added to the experience – unlockable attributes that augment your character through health bonuses or better weapon handling. These skills level up as you use them, becoming more useful and helping you get those high scores.

The Mercenaries experience has been streamlined somewhat to make everything work better. You can now run while shooting (though you can’t aim and move at the same time), and aiming now switches to a first-person perspective instead of an over-the-shoulder deal. You can also reload and heal while in motion, which is good news to anyone who ever got slashed in the back with an axe while they were trying to reload a shotgun. Healing items have been reduced to single herbs, and specific types of explosives are now limited to particular characters, so you will only find pick-ups that you have inventory space for. Thanks to the touch screen you can switch quickly between weapons, and healing is shortcutted to the A button.

Duo mode allows for co-op play on any of the missions over local wireless or internet. I think multiplayer in Mercenaries is one of its strongest areas – the shared triumph and relief of taking down a boss-type enemy is great, and local multiplayer without split-screen is an added bonus of having the game on a handheld.

These are the good things.

It's Barry Burton! Barry freaking Burton, guys, c'mon!

Now for the bad. While the game is divided into missions, this feels like a rather abitrary decision – an attempt to make it seem like there’s more to the game than there actually is. There are no descriptions for the missions, either, which leaves you wondering what the difference between two missions that take place on the same stage really is. The game never tells you what you need to do in order to progress, and while you are giving a ranking for every mission you do, it doesn’t seem to matter what ranking you get when it comes to unlocking more missions. Sure, this gives you easy access to a wider variety of stages (and characters, which are unlocked along the way) but the sense of achievement is largely missing. If you’re not naturally inclined to try to get the highest score possible, there’s little here to motivate you.

Visually, the game is a mixed bag. In many places the graphics are the best we’ve seen as yet on the 3DS. I’m also impressed with how many enemies they’ve managed to get on screen at one time – in some cases more than I remember on the PlayStation 3. However, at a distance enemy animations often become jerky and their models turn rather low-res. Some of the textures, too, look a little nasty, and the whole thing feels a little, dare I say, rushed. At the start of each mission, for example, a boorish military-commander-from-Avatar style guy barks instructions on what to do. There are subtitles, but the subtitles don’t match what the guy is saying. Clearly, (I’m assuming, since the Japanese Resi games usually use American voice actors) the text was translated from the Japanese script, rather than being taken from what they told the voice actor to say, and no one bothered to check afterwards.

Also, as you may know, game data cannot be erased, and there is no option to start a New Game. This means that once something’s unlocked, it’s there for good, reducing the appeal for second-hand buyers, which is no-doubt Capcom’s intention.

Axe me no questions and I'll tell you no lies

In conclusion: If you’re a fan of previous versions of Mercenaries but didn’t play them to death, there’s probably still a lot to enjoy here, especially with the overall improvements to gameplay. There’s not enough here that’s new for anyone who’s already had enough, however. If the game works it’s only because the original concept was fun, not because of anything they’ve added here. I think the missions could really have benefited from more of a context, if not a story as such.

Jimjamz’s Score – 6/10

Quick-Fire Review:  It’s the Mercenaries we know and love, but have I loved it enough already? Multiplayer offers greater longevity. Also, there’s Barry Burton.

Second Opinion:
StealthBuda – Enjoyable while it lasts, there’s just simply not enough in it. It will be quickly traded in or relegated to ‘only played at Streetpass events’. 6/10
2 Responses to “Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D – Review”
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