Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom / ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Violence) / Played On: Nintendo 3DS / MSRP: $39.99
With Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Capcom has taken the popular mini-game extra from Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 and expanded it into a full retail release. You control any of series stars Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, HUNK, Jack Krauser, Barry Burton, or Albert Wesker and embark on the ultimate offensive against the zombie horde.
At first glance, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is one of the better-looking 3DS games of late courtesy of its detailed character models and 3D effects. Thankfully, when the 3D effect is turned on, the frame rate and on-screen action don’t suffer. However the 3D causes the anti-aliasing to take a hit, making objects and characters look jagged.
The 3D effect isn’t necessary to play this game. However, if it is used, judging distance between your character and enemies becomes easier. All of your character animations–like jumping–are canned, so you don’t need to gauge distance with 3D turned on.
Besides the detailed characters, there isn’t much that graphically impresses in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Environments are static and recycled; there are no moving components. The only interactive objects in the levels are oil drums, treasure chests, boxes and ladders. Also, enemy animations and explosions are choppy from a distance.
You control your character in this RE title with the same clunky controls that were used in RE4 and RE5. Thankfully, you run by default and have to hold a button in order to walk. The frantic pace of the game will prevent you from ever idly strolling when zombies are on your tail, though.
One major improvement on the controls is that aiming is now in first-person. This makes aiming a breeze. Pulling off limb and headshots are completely natural. Plus, you can now move in only four directions (forwards, backwards, left, right) while aiming. The change to this perspective was a wise decision on Capcom’s part, because a third-person view would cause your character to take up too much space on screen. However, make sure you watch your back, because when you aim down the sights, it’s vulnerable.
The touch screen on the 3DS is useful, with six slots (three for items and three for weapons) and a mini-map. Another saving grace is you can now reload while moving by simply tapping the icon of your equipped weapon. The A-button on the 3DS is a hot key for health herbs, but I wish that another button was used to reload instead of the system’s second screen.
The major issue with the controls is that they don’t belong in an arcade shooter built around combos and a high score. These controls were meant for survival horror. Mapping this type of control to this genre was like putting 18-wheeler handling in a kart racer.
Stopping to shoot is cumbersome and can cause frequent deaths, which I found frustrating. Most of my deaths felt like a fault of the controls and not my lack of skill. The controls always keep you on edge and can impede you from enjoying your experience.
The game fundamentals are simple in RE and that’s a not a great thing. You kill enemies in quick succession to build combos, which yield points. There is a time limit within each level, but there are time extensions placed around the environment to lengthen your available potential for kills. In order to progress through the game you have to make a final grade of B or higher on each level.
You do this for the entire game. There are no other modes or varying objectives. You simply kill the same enemies over and over. Needless to say, this is generic. The only hook that kept me coming back were the unlockables: new characters, costumes, abilities, and achievements. However they didn’t keep me engrossed for long.
Abilities play a minor roll in the gameplay and do little to diversify the tired game mechanics. There are only four characters to unlock and most can be attained before the end of the game. Achievements aren’t clearly defined, so acquiring them is always a surprise occurrence.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is stunning because of its lack of content. The game would work better as a downloadable from the Nintendo eShop for a quarter of its retail amount. Put simply, there is not enough game for the hardcore gamer.