July 10, 2011
Mercenaries 3D started off as a mini-game in Resident Evil 4 and was brought back in Resident Evil 5 due to its popularity. There it was just called Mercenaries and didn't feature any flashy 3D technology. But it's for this exact reason that there's no story to be found - Mercenaries 3D is a game that's all about the gameplay experience. Core Resident Evil fans may well be disappointed by this, but at least the game isn't pretending to be something it's not.
When you first turn the game on, you will have a pretty decent selection of characters. Fan favourites such as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are joined by HUNK and each character offers their own take on things due to their different loadouts and melee moves. In this version of Mercenaries though, it's possible to swap loadouts around. So if you want to use HUNK, but hate his weapons, you can use another character's instead. It's a nice feature, but it does cost some 3DS play coins (obtained by walking around).
Once you've got your character selected, you're all set to start tackling some missions. There are six tiers of missions available (including EX), but in reality there are only five as the first tier just consists of glorified tutorials.
Almost every mission has the same objective: kill as many zombies as you can without being killed. It might sound simple, but it's nowhere near as easy as it sounds. As you progress through the tiers, the zombies get tougher and "boss" enemies are introduced. They will also throw more zombies at you at one time.
The skill of the game comes from not taking damage, while maintaining your kill streak. After every kill, you have a finite amount of time to kill something else before your streak is broken. And, as you'd expect, the larger your streak, the bigger your bonuses. The game likes to make things challenging though, so not only do levels get harder as you progress through the tier system, but they also get tougher the longer you stay alive in a particular level. You will need to rely on your hunting skills (for time boosts) and an adept use of melee combat (you get time boosts for killing with melee) to keep your combo going, while also extending the duration of the level.
Enemies that can instant-kill you are also thrown in for effect, which makes the experience much more tense. There's nothing worse than being in a level for a good five minutes and getting together a huge combo before being instant-killed by a guy wielding a chainsaw that sneaked up behind you.
Not much has been done to progress the core gameplay experience. The major change is that you now have the ability to move and shoot, but only while you're aiming, and even then it's rather redundant. There are other annoyances too, such as not being able to quick-turn when you're reloading and well, not being able to do anything when you're reloading.
Mapping all actions to the Y button is also an odd move, especially when the X button is only there to perform stupid emotes. You may find yourself in a situation where your character decides to pick up an item instead of jumping down from a ledge. And when you die as a result of your character performing the wrong action, it can be a bit annoying.
Overall, the gameplay just feels stodgy. Capcom has made very little attempt to try and improve the experience over that which has been found in Resident Evil 5. And with it all appearing on a small screen it just feels a bit claustrophobic, especially when you have to take part in very elongated quick-time events upon being grabbed by a zombie. What's worse, is that as soon as you break free, you can be grabbed again by another one - there's no built-in functionality that allows for a quick escape. It's baffling why they couldn't have included a dodge move.
Minor gameplay annoyances aside, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D's biggest problem comes with its content, or lack of it. You can complete the game in a few hours and once you do, there isn't much incentive to pick it up again.
EX missions do unlock once the game is complete, but it's just more of the same, with tougher enemies. You can have an almost identical experience of earlier maps. The addition of multiplayer is nice, but when you're playing online there is no way to communicate with your partner.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a game that has some appeal, but it's appeal that diminishes quite quickly. When it appeared, it was as an appendix to a much larger experience and in its separated form, it still feels like that - there's just not enough content here to keep you occupied for more than a few hours. The graphics are nice and there are some gameplay changes, but Mercenaries 3D is a bit of a disappointment.