Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
The zombie slaying, score attacking game that started life as an unlockable mode in Resident Evil 4 makes its début as a standalone title, but is it anything more than a mini-game?
For those of you who haven’t already played The Mercenaries in its mini-game form in both Resident Evil 4 and 5, it is a score attack game that pits the player against a never ending stream of slow moving, relentless enemies. The goal is to survive for the allotted time period and tallying up the highest possible score, whilst trying to conserve your small amount of ammunition and avoiding the score of zero that is awarded for death. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D remains faithful to this established gameplay model and provides a few extra elements that entitle it to exist as a full title rather than the mini-game that it was spawned from.
There is nothing in the way of story when it comes to Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, but that isn’t the point; This is an all action arcade/survival title that is all about lasting as long as possible and getting the highest score. A little bit of story would have been nice (it could have even been super-cheesy), but the fact that it isn’t there doesn’t detract from the quality of the game and the inclusion of one probably wouldn’t have enhanced the gameplay experience.
It’s in the gameplay where Mercenaries really shines. Making excellent use of the 3DS’s joystick, movement is fluid and has a familiar feel to it, especially for those among us who have played the recent entries in the Resident Evil series. The control scheme is lifted directly from Resident Evil 4 and 5, with the same over-the-shoulder camera and the stop and shoot mechanic. This can sometimes be cumbersome, particularly when it prevents you from knowing that enemies are behind you until they attack. You have to take this into account for your strategy as you’re standing still while trying to take care of the blood thirsty horde that wants nothing more to pull you pieces!
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is an accomplished, albeit short, single player experience. Where it really shines, though, is in multiplayer. An organised pair can greatly extend the allotted time limit, rack up a huge score and even get the chance to battle it out with the stages’ sub-bosses that show up when the players are doing well. It works very well over both local wireless and the internet, with no lag issues and very little slowdown. The multiplayer experience is extremely fun and extends the life of the game massively.
As a standalone game rather than the bonus mode it once was, Mercenaries has been beefed up with extra characters, stages, and perks. There are eight playable characters to choose from, with Chris, Claire and HUNK as your starters and five others to unlock (I’m not going to spoil it and say who they are). The character line-up is impressive and provides a good variety not only in which you play as, but also in the different style of play each of these characters presents. There are also eight stages that have been taken from previous Resident Evil games and are repeated over the five different sets of missions. Whilst you will soon see the stages repeating themselves, you have to give Capcom credit; the quality and scale of these stages is a technical triumph. Each is of a good size allowing the player to explore and find the best spots to rack up the highest possible scores. With the new system of Perks, players can equip any 3 of the 30 unlockable perks that range from enhancing weapon skills to giving a greater critical hit chance or boosting their health level. Perks can be levelled up, to maximum of three times. Each level will make them more potent and effective.
Graphically, Mercenaries is very impressive. It seems that Capcom has already gotten a real grip on the 3DS and is already demonstrating the high standard of graphics that can be achieved with the system. The models for the playable characters are sublime, with exquisite detailing on clothing and weapons. As a result of this, each of the playable characters retains their uniqueness and you really feel like you are getting a home console standard level of experience. Normal enemies are unfortunately of a lesser standard. More often than not, they appear grainy and loosely defined with jagged edges and clothes that look more like smudges of colour than individual articles of clothing. The burden of saving enemy design falls to the sub-bosses. These larger enemies, such as the Garrador and the chainsaw wielding Sackhead, are designed in vivid detail, giving the appearance of being imported directly from the home console iterations. Each stage is beautifully rendered; fans of the earlier games will instantly recognize them.
Whilst the graphics and gameplay of Mercenaries are great, there are some shortcomings in regards to audio. The in-stage music is lifted directly from the console versions of the game and fits the atmosphere and overall feel of the game very well. Along with this, it makes great use of the 3DS’s surround sound capabilities. The same cannot be said for the sound effects. Pistols sound like pea shooters and the larger guns don’t give off the satisfying sound of destruction that should accompany them. Explosions fare slightly better but they too sound much weaker than expected. The most glaring omission however, is lack of surround sound for enemies. Capcom could have used this feature to remedy the negative elements of the over-the-shoulder camera, allowing the player to at least have an idea of when they have enemies behind them. Overall though, the audio is of a good standard and helps to provide an extra element of immersion and allows Mercenaries to produce an authentic atmosphere for the gameplay.
Overall I would rate Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D at 3.5/5. With its enjoyable gameplay, great graphics and an excellent co-op mode, Capcom makes an excellent example of what can be achieved on the 3DS. Although it does have its shortcomings, the chief of which is the very short length, it’s a hugely enjoyable title that is without question, a grisly pleasure!
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