I first had a go on Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on board a parked bus at the launch event of the Nintendo 3DS in Amsterdam. There we got to play on a whole bunch of games and inside the bus they were showing off Mercenaries. I had a little play on it and was immediately impressed at how good it looked. The controls on the other hand I found a little bit tricky but I did only get a couple of minutes on it, plunged straight into a battle against lots of infected zombie people.
This time around I’ve got the full game and it’s basically a neatly packaged version of the Mercenaries mode you’ll have played most recently in Resident Evil 4 and 5. The premise is simple – just survive each location, shoot as many enemies as you can and rack up as many points as possible by performing combo kills. You can also add more time to the clock and increase your score further by either downing enemies with a physical attack (punch in the face anyone?) or by kicking red see-through statues that will add at least a minute to your clock.
The one problem I could foresee with this game wasn’t whether it was any fun to play, which it is, but can a game that is basically a bonus game in the previous Resident Evil titles be justified as a full price title on the 3DS? Well, the short answer is no but it is still a lot of fun and very addictive to play. So ‘why is that?’ I hear you ask. Well let me tell you. At the beginning of the game you can play as Chris, Jill or a soldier called Hunk and you begin by going through some training missions that introduce you to the controls and the way to play. Although there is only one analogue stick in play here, the game actually controls very well. It has that usual slightly clunky tank-like feel to it but that’s Resident Evil for you. When you aim by pressing R you stand still and can then aim and shoot using the Y button. They’ve even added a limited bit of movement when aiming if you hold down L as well but it really only lets you strafe which is actually a bit pointless. You’re better off just picking your shots carefully and running away to get some more distance and repeating. On the touch screen you can select and reload weapons and view your map. You can also touch the map to look around. Each character has a different arsenal ranging from handguns, machine guns and rifles to larger weapons such as electric round launchers, hand grenades and stun grenades. You’ll need to use combinations of these to take down enemies effectively and earn more points.
There are only 30 missions in the game, however, and it won’t take you long to race through them. Of course the idea is to play them again and again to get a better score and achieve the best rank you can but there are no leader boards to speak of so you’re really just playing against yourself. As you play and complete certain objectives you can also unlock one alternative outfit for your hero or unlock new characters. Wesker, Krauser, Claire Redfield and even the comedy Barry Burton are all unlockable but strangely there’s no Leon S. Kennedy to be seen anywhere, despite stages from Resident Evil 4 being in the game.
To mix things up further there’s also the equivalent of a perks system. You unlock these by performing certain tasks in the game and can assign three of them to each character. They range from making you less susceptible to instant kills to better machine gun handling, and level up as you do. You can also play the game with a friend online or in the same room (although you’ll need two copies of the game). This adds a slightly different dimension to the game and means you can get some new medals and unlocks but doesn’t offer anything really new apart from the ability to heal each other or taunt and distract enemies away from your teammate. I also found connections rather flaky with errors appearing before I could connect (despite checking I was online and had a strong signal) and dropping out in the middle of a round. I am writing this before its UK release so maybe these things will be fixed when it comes out officially in the UK.
Mercenaries also comes with a demo for Resident Evil: Revelations and boy is it disappointing. Not the game itself, I’m actually really looking forward to it. The demo is literally less than a minute long. You kill three walking enemies and then it ends so if you’re thinking of getting the game to get to grips with the gameplay of Revelations before it comes out, really don’t bother.
I’m in a quandary about what score to give this game. Although it’s really fun to play, looks great and provides a really good action fix, there’s just not enough there to warrant it being a full price game. Some kind of story, however convoluted would have helped to mix things up a bit but this is literally just a collection of levels and unlocks for you to play through which you will do so pretty quickly. If you’re not obsessed about getting the best rank possible in every level you’ll be done with it in a matter of hours. If, however, you strive for perfection and are a bit of an obsessive this will keep you amused for hours on end.
Believe me when I say the gameplay is solid and it’s probably the best action fix on the handheld so far. If you want story and action it’s probably best to wait until Revelations comes out. If you enjoy point scoring then you’ll love this. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D gets a good 6 out of 10.
Get Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D now
New: Buy Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D from Amazon.com