Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D ReviewGareth Chadwick
Mercenaries is a very different beast to the usual Resident Evil affair. Beyond the existence of zombies, there's no horror here. The majini here are more of an assault course than the oppressors in a survival horror game, with the aim being to kill them all within the time limit. In short, it's the Mercenaries mode from Resident Evil 5 condensed into a full 3DS game.
It's not as easy as it sounds, either, as these enemies are not all just going to line up and let you shoot them you're going to have to hunt around the map. The minute-or-two time limit and the need to find all your enemies before it runs out brings a new Resi experience in which you're moving around quickly, taking enemies out as you look for more. It's quite a nice change from the gameplay found in the console games, in which the dynamic has changed towards you being the hunter, rather than the hunted. It's difficult to adjust to at first, with my instinct being to keep my distance and take my time, which quickly led to me running out of time.
I adjusted eventually, however, and quickly got the hang of what I was supposed to be doing. Time ticks away as you wander around the level, taking out zombies. You can get more time by breaking the time canisters that are hidden around the maps (which means run up to it and press Y) and artificially increase your combo by finding chests. Your combo normally builds up by killing things. Kill them quickly enough and your combo will continue to climb, if your next kill takes too long your combo will reset. As your combo increases so will the score you earn from kills and, as a result, the higher your rank at the end of the level. Ranks are given in grades, A-F, with an S above A if you do especially well.
There are 5 chapters, each split into levels. It can take up to five hours to finish the game with just one character so there's plenty of content. As you play through, you'll unlock various characters with which you can play. There are only 8, which is a bit of a shame, but they've all got different weapons and, as such, different play styles. You can also unlock alternate outfits for them, if that's what you're into. Additionally, you can unlock skills that you can assign to your character that level up as you use them. These skills consist of things like receiving more health from health items or an increased damage resistance, but you can only equip three at a time, so choose wisely.
If you fancy some cooperative multiplayer you can do so via both local wifi and online, which is a welcome addition. The majority of the levels are available for cooperative play and it is relatively lag-free, though it's lacking voice chat and, inexplicably, high scores. Considering the game is specifically built around achieving scores it's a bit of a mystery that they would miss something so integral out.
Mercenaries is a good game, provided you're fine with timed challenges and rushing around shooting things without any sort of story to drive you onwards. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, the lack of high scores and the scarcity of bosses are definitely drawbacks, but what is here is great fun. That familiar feeling of terror as a majini mutates right in front of you is still here just as much as in its bigger, console-based cousins. The experience is a good one backed up by some of the best graphics on the 3DS and a great way to show off the 3D capabilities of the system.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.