When two paragraphs of your review are dedicated to a controversy and a demo, you know your game lacks content. Case in point: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. Once included as a bonus mini-game in its big brother version, Mercenaries has you shooting wave after wave of enemies while earning bonuses and attempting to up your score on that particular level. While great in small doses, gamers may wonder what will keep them coming back for more in this bare-bones version of Capcom’s fabled horror franchise.
Being one of the flagship titles for the 3DS, as well as the first of two exclusive Resident Evil titles for the system, Mercenaries had a lot riding on it. Anyone who has played the mode in RE5 will know what to expect here. The game is broken up into 30 stages over several missions, with the first being a tutorial. So right off the bat, we don’t have much to work with. Still, games like this are built on earning continually higher scores. With that, Mercenaries does a nice job. The game is built around unlockables, including characters, an integrated achievement system and even some perks.
These unlockables become the core mechanic of progression in the game. You start off with only a few characters, but can unlock some fan favorites such as Rebecca, Barry Burton and even Hunk, but surprisingly no Leon or Sheva. What gives there? Makes you wonder if Capcom intends to release a bulked up sequel as they are prone to do later down the road. You can also unlock Skills, which increase your abilities. These serve little purpose in actual gameplay and do more to bolster your score than anything.
With all the controversy surrounding the topic, including an article right here on ZTGD by our resident Michael Futter, Mercenaries comes with one not-so-highlighted feature. The game only offers up one save slot, and it cannot be overwritten or deleted. What this means is that if you buy the game used, you are literally at the mercy of how much the previous owner unlocked. Also, if you wanted to start over from scratch (though, there is no reason to do that in this game) you simply cannot do it. For a game that focuses on unlockables, this is a huge blow to the used game market. I leave that debate for another forum, but felt it was worth mentioning in the review.
Unless you are a die-hard RE fan, much of the content will not appeal to you. Yes, it is cool to play as Wesker or Jill in alternate outfits, but seeing as each character plays identically, it is only a cosmetic change. The game just feels barren and more like it should have been included as a bonus mode in another title, like it was originally. It becomes hard to justify this as a full-priced purchase.
Controls are what you would expect from an RE game. You move and turn with the analog stick. You can hold down the right trigger to go into aiming mode, which I found a bit cumbersome until I got used to it. After playing so many games that use the left trigger to initiate aiming, I found myself constantly tapping it during gameplay. I also preferred switching the camera to third person for the aiming. First person felt too claustrophobic by comparison, and I had a better view of the field from behind my character.
One thing that is highly enjoyable, though, is the co-op. You can link up either locally or online to play with friends in some of the missions. This makes it infinitely more enjoyable, but everyone has to have a cartridge to play; game sharing is not an option here. The online experience is decent with lag not much of an issue, but there were frequent loads that broke up the gameplay. I was also disappointed in the lack of online features. It feels as barebones as you can get. Even leaderboards are missing, which is a crime considering this is a points-based game.
Visually, the game looks great and I can see why Nintendo chose to feature it as a flagship title for the system. The character models are some of the best on the system, and even the 3D isn’t dragged down and works surprisingly well. The issue is the frame rate. The game can stutter at times, even when the 3D is turned off. Outside of that, though, the game is a visual set piece in the system’s library. I especially enjoyed the range of levels from previous games. Like I said, there is certainly appeal here for fans of the series.
Of course, one of the touted features is the inclusion of the “pilot” episode of Resident Evil: Revelations. This demo is the first taste we get of Capcom’s next entry in the series. Unfortunately, the demo is shorter than almost any other demo I have played. It lasts only minutes and basically just gives you a taste of the controls and atmosphere of the next game. Once it ended, I felt they might have been better to just not include such a short demo to showcase their next title.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a case of trying to flesh a mini-game into a full experience. It simply fails to offer enough content to warrant the hefty price tag, and I found myself coming back to it less and less as time wore on. The concept is fantastic for a portable game, but the amount of content and execution kills it dead in its tracks. I hope the next game in the series steps it up a notch. As for now, I recommend passing on this one, as even renting it might not do you any good considering the save system.
Review copy provided by publisher.