Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a third-person action/shooter published and developed by CAPCOM for the Nintendo 3DS. Based on the popular mini-game from Resident Evil 4 and 5, does this new entry warrant itself as a stand-alone game?
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D’s concept is simple for those who never played this special mode in RE4 or RE5. There are a total of 150 enemies that will appear on screen throughout the course of your play session. You have a two minute time limit which can be increased by executing melee moves and collecting orange crystal clocks laid out around each map. Pulling off melee moves gives you an additional five seconds to the timer while collecting clocks range from 30 to 120 second increases. Within your time limit, you need to take out as many enemies as you can. While taking out enemies, your characters will build up a combo. The more of a combo you have going, the more points you’ll earn in the long run. The combo runs out if you don’t kill an enemy within a short time. At the end of each run, you’ll earn a letter grade (D, C, B, A, S, SS) and you’ll need a B or better to advance to the next mission.
Now that we have the core gameplay concept down for RE: Mercs, it may sound quite simple. However, CAPCOM took a very simple concept and made it something very technical that many people don’t realize…and it’s here that truly makes the gameplay of RE: Mercs shine. You have eight characters to play as: Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, Rebecca Chambers, HUNK, Jack Krauser, Barry Burton and Albert Wesker. Each of the characters have an extra costume (although some characters could’ve had better ones, HUNK’s in particular is really cool) that you can unlock as you complete certain challenges. The new thing about RE: Mercs compared to the old style on the consoles is the fact that you can equip certain weapon sets for each character as well as incorporate three perks to aid you in your missions. The perks really add a whole new element to the Mercs formula, whether it increases how much health you can recover, increases your chances against instant death attacks, speeds up your reload speed and much more. Each perk can be upgraded three levels, each level giving them a significantly enhanced ability. Figuring out your loadout is key to achieving higher scores in certain missions and coinciding with your buddy about his perk selection for coop really enhances the gameplay further. One feature that was a bit odd to many was that you can’t erase the save data at all. Whether you see that as a pro or con is all personal preference. Personally, it doesn’t bother me in the least.
The controls have been tailored a bit more for the RE: Mercs experience as well. For starters, your character automatically runs instead of walks like in the previous RE titles (although you can switch it to the original RE controls if you want). Also, another nice enhancement is the fact that you can move while shooting and reloading, a first in the RE series. Once you start getting the feel of movement while shooting and reloading, it’ll be hard trying to re-transition back to RE4 and 5 when playing those. Another noteworthy mention is the fact that the maps have been condensed from their original sizes…and that’s a good thing. In RE4 and RE5, sometimes the maps were a bit too large to try and contain a high combo. Now, you’ll have a much better chance of nailing big combos whether it’s solo or with a friend.
The first thing you’ll notice about RE: Mercs is that visually, it looks very close to it’s console counter-part…which is extremely impressive. The character models are very detailed and the maps from RE4 and RE5 look identical to the way they did back in those games. The 3D effect is comfortable to view and never becomes an eye strain as well. However, the visuals are just a tad bit away from being perfect. CAPCOM was certainly ambitious with this title and tried to make it look as close to the console versions of RE4 and 5 as possible. However, to keep the game running smoothly, they had to cut some of the enemy animations down dramatically that are a certain distance away from you. The closer enemies were to you, the smoother their animations were. The farther away they were, the more jarring they appeared. They literally looked like clay-mation from a further distance. While you’ll adjust to seeing the animations transition drastically as you play, it’s not something that you should have to do in a game. Other than this issue, the game looks outstanding and ranks among some of the best seen on the 3DS to date.
RE: Mercs is packing some seriously sweet tunes to get that Los Illuminados/Majini killing combo going. The game has an original soundtrack for each of the 30+ missions but for die-hard fans of Mercenaries mode in RE4 and 5, upon completing the game you will unlock EX missions. These nine extra missions contain songs from the original Mercenaries mode, including Wesker’s theme from RE4 and the Versus mode music from RE5, just to name a few. However, the newly composed tracks are very good for the most part with a few tracks that are less memorable. Sound effects are exactly as you’d expect from an RE game since it’s the same from the console versions. The only downside to the audio was that the voices were really compressed. The music and sound effects all have a high quality sound to them, but the voices of your characters and enemies sound muffled.
Replay Value: 5/5
While the campaign can be beaten rather quickly (4-6 hours for the average gamer), going back and tackling missions with a buddy (local or online) can provide endless hours of entertainment. Upon completing the game, it was easy to clock in countless hours with a buddy trying to best our scores in certain levels. The game is perfect for both quick pickup and play sessions, as well as lengthier sessions. There’s no leaderboard tracking but that still doesn’t stop you from trying to improve on your score each run.
Overall Score: 18/20 = 9.0 out of 10
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a high-octane action romp whether you’re going it solo or coop. There are some slight hiccups in the game, but nothing major that should stop you from adding this to your 3DS collection. CAPCOM took the Mercenaries formula and made numerous enhancements that ultimately polished the gameplay to make the once known mini-game standout its own game. The concept may seem simple, but CAPCOM really has an in-depth, technical style game underneath the surface.
+ Gameplay is incredibly addictive and technical
+ Visuals are impressive
+ Great soundtrack
- Distant enemy animations look choppy
- Voices have low quality sound