Evil Takes Up Residence On Nintendo 3DS In Arcade Form.
Ever since Resident Evil 4, there has been an arcade mode known as The Mercenaries where an endless array of enemies flocked to the player's position. The goal was to slay as many of these foes as possible before being overwhelmed and ultimately being killed yourself. The mode was so popular that it popped up once again in the fairly recent Resident Evil 5 with new maps and baddies to blast. Now on the Nintendo 3DS, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D takes The Mercenaries mode in portable form and as its own game. Is there enough content to justify a stand-alone version?
The main aim of The Mercenaries 3D is to garner a high score. There's many means to do this, but the regular course of action to accomplish this is to keep your combo going. Every time an enemy is defeated a combo begins. After ten seconds the combo ends, so the player must continuously kill Ganados and Majini (from Resident Evil 4 and 5 respectively) to keep their combo. The more enemies that are defeated during the combo means the more points the player or players earn. Skilled players can stretch their combo into the 100 kill range for an exceptional bonus.
Starting out, players begin with a row of tutorial missions to select from. These range from going to and picking up markers in a certain order to destroying a set number of enemies in the time limit. Once a row of missions have been completed with a B rank or better (upon finishing a given mission a rank is assigned based on the player's performance. This is anywhere from the lowest [a D rank] to the highest [which I believe is a triple-S rank].) the next tier of missions is unlocked. There's six tiers of missions, and each tier gets progressively more difficult and challenging to complete. The early missions have but ten or twenty enemies to defeat while other missions have the objective of staying alive while trying to defeat an onslaught of enemies (usually 150 in total). Two specific missions have the goal of surviving fifteen waves of foes. Each wave that the player survives adds valuable time to the clock as whatever time is left in a given mission is turned into points towards the player's final score.
Earning high scores is important in The Mercenaries 3D as they unlock in-game content such as new characters (players only start out with three unlocked), new costumes, and new skills. There's eight characters in total to be awarded to the player including Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield, HUNK, Barry Burton, Jack Krauser, Rebecca Chambers, and Albert Wesker. Each character has their own weapon loadout. For instance, Chris Redfield starts each battle with a handgun, shotgun, and rifle whereas Jill Valentine begins each battle with a machine gun, knife, and shotgun. Through completing each mission with at least an A ranking as one character, the player earns the right to use that character's loadout for any other character in the game. This means HUNK can utilize Krauser's loadout if Krauser finishes all missions with at least an A ranking or pays ten play coins for the helpful ability. Each character also comes with an unlockable costume which is purely for aesthetic purposes and nothing gameplay-wise. Hunk can look like the grim reaper, Wesker can summon the power of the Uroboros, and Ms. Chambers can dress up like a nurse to name a few.
A wide variety of skills can be learned and equipped to a player's persona. Three can be attached to a character at a time, and after successfully completing a given mission, they grow in strength, gain experience, and can level up twice. Leveling up usually gives a bonus benefit to a skill. There's a plethora of skills to unlock from increased handgun handling, the ability to take down bosses more easily, invincibility for a limited amount of time after picking up an item, enhanced melee power, and much more. Some skills even rub off on your cooperative partner.
Yes, you heard right. Players can hop online or play locally with a co-op partner. This exponentially makes the game much more fun and makes earning higher scores a lesser challenge. However, if one partner dies, it's game over. Players should stick together as when one partner gets injured severely, the other can run to their rescue, pat them on the back, and restore them to the land of the living. Nonetheless, they only have a set amount of seconds to save them before they succumb to death. Online play is smooth, and it is relatively free of lag. There's no voice chat which may ruin strategy, but players can press a button and a direction on the d-pad to call out generic orders such as "follow me" and "wait here."
There's a mega amount of content to play through in The Mercenaries 3D. Completing the game's missions as every character will last people days while leveling up every skill will take a long time to accomplish. Then there's the multitude of medals that can be awarded to skilled players. Think of these as Xbox 360 achievements or PlayStation 3 trophies. They're given to players for completing specific tasks such as getting 100 headshots, playing fifty games with another player, saving your partner from death for the first time, defeating a parasite with a flash grenade, continuing a set amount of times, among more. In all, there's fifty medals to acquire.
The assets of The Mercenaries 3D are made up of content from both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The maps are all from those games such as RE4's village and castle and RE5's mine and African town. The enemies are also borrowed from the pair of excellent games. There's cult members who throw their scythes at players, dynamite-carrying and throwing baddies, chainsaw-wielding Salvadors (in both normal and Super forms) that can kill a player in one fell swoop, Garradors that attack through hearing the player moving or firing their weapon, biohazards like the bat and wasp-like beast, the gatling gun-toting Majini, and the executioner in both black and red iterations. That's but a sampling of the army of darkness players will encounter on the various maps. There's nothing more intense than taking on a brigade of baddies who fearlessly and carelessly fling around their chainsaws as they inch closer and closer to desperate players.
This arcade version of Resident Evil controls pretty well. Players can turn a complete 180 degrees with the quick turn combination, heal with a press of a button (pending they have a green plant in their inventory), move and fire, zoom in and fire, and select weapons and view the map via the bottom touch screen. There's three differing control options, so players will be able to find the method that fits them best. Nonetheless, it can be jarring attempting to choose between weapons and grenades while trying to keep your character alive in the heat of battle.
One of the grandest problems with the game is the absence of being able to delete game progress. For some reason (the used game market) Capcom opted to disallow this ability, so players who wish to start from scratch and overwrite game data are out of luck unfortunately. In this day and age, that's inexcusable.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D runs on Capcom's MT Framework Mobile graphical interface, and boy, do they know how to get the most out of the the hardware they're using! This game looks drop-dead gorgeous and eye-popping. The textures are well-defined, the characters look glorious, and everything runs smoothly and without any hiccups or bugs. The sound borrows heavily from past Resident Evils (mostly four and five) with music and sound effects from those games. A voice over the player's communicator explains the goal of each mission before a round begins. Otherwise what players are left with is a bunch of grunts and yells from the playable characters.
With dozens of hours of content through unlockable characters, costumes, leveling up skills, and collecting the fifty medals the game has as well as earning high scores with each character, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D will have players fending off Ganados and Majini long into the holidays. With the addition of local and online play either with friends or total strangers, the longevity of the game increases sevenfold. (Solo and Duo mode scores are separate from one another.) Perhaps forty dollars is too much for the game, but if you can find The Mercenaries 3D for thirty clams for less, jump on in. There's enough replay value to last months for anyone who is a fan of achieving high scores, mowing down waves of infected enemies, and lovers of fervent fighting.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]