There was plenty of hype surrounding the fact that Nintendo 3DS was getting not one, but two Resident Evil games within its first year on the market. However, some of that enthusiasm waned slightly when it was revealed that the first release was Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, a moderately fleshed out version of the extra mode included in Resident Evil 4 / 5. Considering Capcom launched it at full price, the main question had to be whether or not it would be worth the investment. The final product is somewhat of a mixed bag.
Anyone that was sucked in by the initial advertising campaign, thinking that Nintendo 3DS was about to get a full-on Resident Evil action experience, will come away from this Capcom release more than mildly disappointed. Whilst in some regards Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a downright fantastic title, it is not a mainline entry with a gripping storyline driving along the adventure. Instead it is a fleshed out version of the eponymous mini-game that was fun as an aside, where players are tasked with killing as many enemies as they possibly can before either their health or the timer runs out completely. It is pretty much a simple case of choosing a preferred character to play with and then delving right into the thick of it in order to gain the highest score possible to climb the leaderboard, either going it alone or working with a friend wirelessly or online. Sadly there is no global ranking system, so the option to compete against people the world over is not present.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D features eight stages to play in, all remastered from the past two entries, taking on a range of foes from both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. Points are racked up by despatching oncoming zombie villagers, crazed monks and maniacal soldiers in quick succession or by using special moves from the likes of Chris and Claire Redfield, HUNK, Rebecca Chambers and Jill Valentine. There is also the chance to grab time-bonus crystals when in the heat of battle, which can be vital when attempting to out-do a previous performance in this fast and frenetic game full of relentless waves of enemies.
The Circle Pad works well enough for the series’ clunky character movement, with the action seemingly as smooth as in the fourth and fifth main games, and the right shoulder button works perfectly enough when being tapped to bring up the laser-sight for shooting. The touch-screen is home to the small map of the current area, as well as providing easy access to weapon changes, use of health items, as well as grabbing grenades. It cannot be stressed enough that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is nothing more than a glorified side-quest that acted as a perfect change of pace when thrown in as an extra during a large-scale action adventure, but does not quite sit as right as a full retail package. Although the race to get the highest score will indeed build up the old adrenaline levels, it only does so to a certain degree, and with the sheer lack of variety and overall content included, it can grow repetitive after a short while. This comes especially from the fact that there is limited scope in levels, play modes and even characters / enemies included, with many re-used from past games and making regular reappearances throughout.
For those that stick with the ‘run, shoot, reload, quick turn, shoot some more, run a bit further, reload again’ sort of formula on constant repeat, then there will indeed be great fun had trying to unlock all of the characters, their alternate costumes and even the chance to let characters use each others’ weapons. The whole feel of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is impressive and shows the potential of the upcoming full title, Resident Evil Revelations. 3DS Play Coins can be used to unlock new features, while the touch-screen allows players to flick between weapons without slowing down the action. Two game modes are present (Scene Attack and Survival), and characters’ skills and abilities can be built up, increasing health, weapon damage and so on. Capcom’s latest is by no means a disaster; if anything it is a triumph in that it highlights exactly how addictive The Mercenaries was. Unfortunately, though, there are too many limitations to warrant a full retail purchase. Should this fall in price to a more wallet-happy price, then it should be added to the list along with other great-but-short experiences, Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver.
Varied missions, great inclusion of two-player support and the choice of different characters. However, movement of the main character can be somewhat clunky, to say the least.
By far the best graphics on Nintendo 3DS so far, with Capcom once again showing it has a good understanding of how the platform works.
Rousing tunes, over-the-top sound effects to add to the atmosphere and suspense, as well as some solid voice acting throughout.
Whilst 30 missions may sound impressive, their short timed nature limits the amount of fun that can be had and definitely leaves The Mercenaries 3D feeling like somewhat of a Resident Evil mini-game that ends far too quickly.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a fantastic experience...while it lasts. Sadly, as with other impressive titles such as Nintendo’s own Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver, Capcom has delivered a high quality product with plenty of thrills and spills, but lacking in the vital longevity stakes for anyone other than die-hard score chasers.