One of the “core” gaming community’s favorite mini-games has been separated from its parent game to strike out on its own. Much like Call of Duty Zombies for the iPhone, Mercenaries 3D tries convince gamers that a single mode that is usually included with another, main installment can stand on its own.
Should Mercenaries 3D have been left to be included with Revelations? Is it enough to justify a purchase without getting an actual campaign mode?
Those questions aren’t as easy to answer as I thought they would be. There are things about Mercenaries 3D that I dislike, but a lot of those issues aren’t fair in that the game isn’t trying to do the things I could fault it for.
Mercenaries 3D is based around the praised Mercenaries mode from past Resident Evil games. Players have a limited amount of time to kill as many enemies as possible in order to score points. The good news is that it is just as fun on the Nintendo 3DS as it ever has been on home consoles.
You could argue that the game is meant to be played on a handheld instead of a home console. You can easily pick up and play it, a full game of zombie/villager slaying can take between 5-10 minutes even on the more difficult stages later in the game.
Controls translate well to the handheld. Yes, you still can’t move and shoot. Well, you can but moving while shooting is basically strafing at a very slow pace and isn’t very useful overall. I don’t mind the lack of true shooting while moving because the “tank” like controls of your character add to the tension in each round as you struggle to survive increasingly blood thirsty waves of enemies.
At the same time, I’m disappointed Capcom didn’t include some sort of stylus-based aiming. I know it wouldn’t have been the most popular option, but it could have been more accurate and more in depth than aiming with the Circle Pad.
Other than Resident Evil: Revelations, Mercenaries 3D has by far the best “realistic” graphics on the Nintendo 3DS. It is clear that the team who made this are good at squeezing every drop of horsepower out of the Nintendo 3DS, though the visual presentation has some issues.
Enemies often have jerky, ugly animations from far away. They occasionally pop in randomly, but never in close quarters scenarios. This doesn’t deter from the actual game play, but it is a little jarring when trying to be immersed in an intense round of combat.
There isn’t much of the renowned Resident Evil music here. You’ll only hear about half a dozen tracks throughout all the stages and menu’s. The characters you play as never speak, except for the odd grunt here and there. Enemies make the same sounds over and over again, but they do alert you to their presence as they get closer.
You can blast your way through a decent amount of stages. The best, most expansive stages don’t appear until later in the single player portion of the game. I was thrilled to see famous locations from Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 recreated on the 3DS, but I was disappointed to see no real original stages or areas from older installments in the series. A stage in the legendary mansion from the original Resident Evil would have been awesome, but alas.
There are a handful of characters to play as, each with their own weapons and unique traits. I favored Krauser due to his bow bringing one hit kills on most zombies on almost all the stages. Each character has an alternative costume, so you can look forward to Jill Valentine’s always popular tube top in 3D.
Like I said earlier, the game translates well to a handheld device. It’s just as much fun, if not more so due to the added portability. You can play co-op locally or online. Online play is a blast and kept my attention for weeks on end. Getting into a game is pretty quick, with no lag at all.
One head scratcher is the lack of voice chat. The game is meant for social play, especially online. Even though the Nintendo 3DS has a microphone built into it, Capcom has neglected to this for player communication. Voice chat is sorely missed you realize your corned by an onslaught of enemies with your partner aimlessly searching for you across the map.
The absence of any real “story” mode should be expected, this is just an expanded version of a mini-game. I would’ve liked more stages, as well as more varied to them. If you don’t plan to play it with friends than that will make this a harder purchase to justify. That said, the content that is here is incredibly fun, especially multi-player. There is a good variety of weapons and perks.
Perks can be unlocked and used to customize your character to have special attributes, like taking less damage from attacks from boss characters. The game never lets you know when you’ve unlocked anything at all. So you’ll have to keep checking back in the menu to see what is new, and there is guideline on how to unlock various in game abilities and items.
Overall, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a terrific tech demo that has the feeling of a full console game in the later, more challenging stages. It doesn’t have trouble providing you with enough entertainment and replay value to justify the purchase, but it does leave a lot to be desired. It would be best to pick up the title as cheap as you possibly can, but no matter what you’ll enjoy everything you get, even if you’re used to getting a full Resident Evil story mode with your Mercenaries.