Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D from Capcom brings the "Mercenaries" modes from Resident Evil 4 and 5 to the Nintendo 3DS. I played a demo of this third-person shooter at South by Southwest a few months ago, and back then, I thought it was an okay game that suffered from some very clunky controls.
Mercenaries 3D is very similar to the 'survival mode' found in many console shooters. The player is placed inside an enclosed area and must survive for as long as possible. The twist in here is that you have limited time. The game is over once the clock hits zero or your life meter runs out. Time is extended by performing a melee attack on special objects scattered throughout the level or by performing melee kills on enemies.
Mention must be made of the controversy surrounding the inability to erase the game's memory and start over. This move has been interpreted by many in the videogame community as an attempt to thwart used game sales. While Capcom initially refuted this claim by saying "Secondhand game sales were not a factor in this development decision..." they have since promised not to do it again, but we shall see.
Looks Bloody Good – I have been impressed by the graphical fidelity of the 3DS games I have played so far, and Mercenaries 3D continues that trend. Everything looks nice and detailed and while the animations chug a little at times, the game looks great with or without 3D.
Head-Popping Fun – If blasting hordes of shambling horrors away is wrong, then I don’t want to be right, because I enjoyed playing Mercenaries 3D. Fighting to survive, running for my life and putting loads of bullets into the infected horde made for a fun time.
Master of Unlockables – There are plenty of things to unlock in this game: eight characters in total, lots of buffs (three of which can be assigned to each character), and thirty levels. There are also achievements to be completed, known as “Awards” in the game
Pick Your Poison - There are a total of eight characters to unlock in the game each with their own specific loadouts and melee attacks which gives the game some variety.
Story is DOA - Considering that this is Resident Evil, the lack of a story is not necessarily a bad thing, but Mercenaries has no story AT ALL. Players looking for a method to the madness will be disappointed, and yet others, won’t mind.
One-Trick Zombie - If you've played Mercenaries once, you've pretty much played the entire game. While there are boss battles and the enemies get pretty tough in the later EX levels, the only reason to replay the levels are for high scores and rankings and to work towards unlocking all of the medals and extras. For an old-timer like myself, trying to beat my personal best is still reason enough to come back, but more contemporary players looking for hidden items or different endings or other reasons to replay won't find them here.
Online? - I have been unable to test Mercenaries online co-op mode because I have not been able to get my 3DS to join any games, so I can’t say anything other than its there.
Killing Timer - In addition to the shambling hordes, you are also fighting the clock which is a royal pain in the training missions. If you take time to explore during the training missions, you are going to be seeing a lot of the Game Over screen because the clock has a small margin of error early on. This makes the game much more frustrating then it needs to be at the start, but it becomes less of a problem as you go on.
Voice in My Head - Adding to the frustration of the training missions is the constant berating you will be getting from the commander, who does not say very many phrases. Once you get beyond a certain point, he says the same phrase at the beginning of each level. I cannot hit Start fast enough to shut him up and get the game started.
Looks Like a Man, Walks Like a Tank - I only really started enjoying Mercenaries once I got the hang of the controls, which took a few levels. Even then, I found myself arguing with them on occasion. Pressing the X button makes your character "perform an emotionally expressive action," (or taunt, in plain English) which took way too long and resulted in a few unnecessary deaths. The three available control schemes all use the Resident Evil "hold a button to aim" mechanic, which does not work too well when you don’t have two sticks to aim and move with at the same time. I think a Goldeneye-type setup where you can shoot on the run would have worked so much better.
For Four Rolls of Quarters – The price of admission is pretty steep for what is essentially an arcade game. There are no extra modes except for co-op and about a quarter of the thirty missions are tutorials. That isn’t a lot for forty bucks.
I think it is unfortunate that Capcom picked Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D to do their permanent save file experiment, because it is not a bad game. It is a fun arcade experience despite a less-than-ideal control scheme that offers a variety of ways to dispatch the latest victims of the Umbrella Corporation. It is an arcade game, so players looking for other reasons to play besides higher scores or 100% completion probably shouldn’t bother because they will get bored quickly. Those of us who celebrate new high scores and “S” rankings will have a fun time, though.