Game Review

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Score-based survival horror

Resident Evil 4 was a real turning point for Capcom’s survival horror series. Prior to its launch, the franchise was in serious danger of losing its relevance, but the changes introduced in the fourth instalment did much to reassert its dominance of the genre. It's also notable as the birthplace of the popular Mercenaries mode, a sub-game that tasks players with score-chasing as well as raw survival. It proved so well-liked that it made a re-appearance in the sequel, and now it's getting its very own outing in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D.

Cynical observers have been quick to label this a quick-and-easy cash-in on Capcom’s part, and they have a point – there’s little here that is wholly new. Locations, characters and enemies are all taken from previous instalments, and most of the developer’s effort seems to have been spent trying to cram the powerful MT Framework graphics engine into the 3DS’s somewhat humble hardware. The fact that it's also used as a vehicle to push Revelations (a short and rather unsatisfying demo is included on the cart) lends credence to this assumption.

However, such negativity misses one crucial point – for the most part, this expanded mini-game offers challenging and addictive gameplay with engaging multiplayer modes and a raft of items, characters, medals and costumes to unlock. In a way it’s one of the most pure Resident Evil experiences yet seen; it cuts away all the peripheral material and distils the action, tension and atmosphere of the beloved franchise.

The game offers tiered progression, with five skills levels each sub-divided into missions. The objectives are simple – some require you to dispatch all of the enemies within a set time limit, while others throw an inexhaustible supply of foes at you to see how many you can slay before the counter ticks down to zero. You’re then graded on your performance, offering the tantalising prospect of bettering your own personal best, perhaps improving your tally by keeping a kill-streak going to boost your all-important combo score.

As you move through the tiers you'll gain access to new skills, characters, and more. Skills allow you to bolster your power, adding vitality, strength and resilience. However, the most appealing element is exploring how the various protagonists perform in the arena of battle. Each one has a different load-up of weapons, some boasting powerful melee attacks and others favouring a selection of projectile-based arms that can keep hostiles at a safe distance.

The game adopts the same perspective and basic controls as Resident Evil 4 and 5; the standard third-person over-the-shoulder view returns, although pressing the R trigger drops you into a first-person view, making aiming much easier as half your screen isn't obscured by your character’s head. Holding the L and R triggers together allows you to move your character around whilst drawing your weapon, deftly side-stepping incoming threats while returning fire on your assailant.

Most actions are mapped to the Y button, which not only controls picking up items and interacting with your environment but handles the discharge of your weapon when in aiming mode too. You’ll also use Y to stomp on the heads of fallen enemies (which grants a handy time bonus) and engage in contextual close-quarters combat. Other buttons come into play when you’re attempting to shake off the unwanted grip of nearby enemies or dodge incoming attacks. Some of these require you to press two buttons simultaneously, and the combinations are randomised so you’re always on your toes.

But this configuration is just one of several; if it’s not to your personal taste then you can tinker with various options until you find one that suits. It’s even possible to revert back to the old-fashioned third-person aiming method, should you find the first-person system just isn’t ‘Resi’ enough for you.

The touch screen is also put to good use and serves as both a mini-map and weapon/item selection tool. You can quickly switch between armaments by tapping the relevant icon, and pressing anywhere on the map will spin the camera around so you can see in that general direction. It works well, but whoever thought it would be a good idea to have your weapons on the left-hand side of the display needs their head examined. Because you’re constantly moving with the Circle Pad, you have to use your right-hand thumb to switch weapons, and this requires you to reach quite a distance over the touch screen. It goes without saying that during an intense fire-fight this is quite awkward.

Despite these minor niggles, the controls hold up very well. The need to constantly feather the L and R triggers can result in some occasional cramp, but nothing too serious. We had to switch off the 3D effect pretty early on, however – when you’re in a particularly hectic situation and you’re stabbing at the shoulder triggers incessantly, it’s far too easy to inadvertently shift the position of the console and lose the 3D sweet spot. This issue is by no means exclusive to this game, and the auto-stereoscopic effect is quite subtle here anyway – once it’s off, you’re unlikely to miss it.

Low-key 3D aside, the visuals are reasonably impressive. The characters and locations from Resident Evil 5 have naturally taken quite a hit in terms of complexity, but they remain a close match despite jagged models and low-resolution textures. One disappointing element of the presentation is the way enemies in the distance are saddled with reduced levels of animation to keep the game running smoothly. It's especially noticeable when using the sniper rifle; opponents jerk and stumble skittishly, completely ruining the sense of immersion and tension. The framerate is also less than perfect when there’s a lot of on-screen activity.

Out of the 30-odd missions, a large percentage are playable with another person. You can do this via a local connection or the Internet, and the latter offers a surprisingly solid experience. Tackling tougher levels with another player is a rewarding task, and the ability to play co-op extends the game’s longevity considerably. Some may also find that it’s the best way to overcome some difficult boss encounters.

It would be remiss of us to conclude this critique without mentioning the topic of save games. Capcom has decided that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D’s save data should be permanent. Once you’ve started playing and saved, your progress cannot be scrubbed from the cartridge. That means all levels, characters, costumes and medals will be available forever once they are unlocked. Because the game is based largely around achieving high scores it’s not an entirely fatal problem, but it removes the appeal of unlocking content if you acquire a previously-played copy.

Conclusion

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D entertains with its brand of fast-flowing action, constant stream of unlockables and captivating co-op gameplay. It’s far from a perfect package though, with occasionally rough visuals and a save system that is destined to ensure that second-hand copies are, to some, practically worthless. It’s also worth noting that unless you’re keen on repeatedly playing levels to boost your overall rating, you may tire of the game quite swiftly.

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Game Trailer

If you don't know by now, here's a trailer that shows how good the cast members of The Mercenaries 3D look in freeze frame

User Comments (73)

Aviator

#1

Aviator said:

Nice review Damo. Before the numerous save state issues, this is a score game. The point of not being able to delete a save is due to the fact that each time you play, you are encouraged to improve on previous scores. A person who would buy this used, would find all these scores that would be their objective to beat.

Could someone elaborate more on the demo?

Zach

#2

Zach said:

Nice review Damo. I was really looking forward to this, but I've never bought a non-story Resident Evil (on the other hand, I've bought every story-based one, sans a few that got updated later) so I might pass. It sounds great for on-the-go though.

TikiTong

#3

TikiTong said:

I'll pass.As much as I think Resident Evil is cool,i'm not that courageous when it comes to horror media.

SwerdMurd

#4

SwerdMurd said:

sounds like exactly what I expected. The framerate issues are kind of troubling to hear about, but everything else sounds golden.

Aviator

#6

Aviator said:

@LosAngeloTip Hopefully they're able to do something about it for Revelations, using Mercenaries to see what was done right and what wasn't.

Punky

#8

Punky said:

reviews have been disappointing for this. Think I will wait a few weeks for a price drop.....

The_Fox

#9

The_Fox said:

I imagine this would have been better as a budget release or a downloadable title.

Raptor78

#10

Raptor78 said:

At least you get a chance to unlock stuff on RE:Mercs. I would have had a lot more fun and spent more time on Street Fighter had we had to unlock some of the characters rather than having all the characters and outfits unlocked from the start.

Natie31

#11

Natie31 said:

Great review still pickin this one it will be my first time playin this game.

WaveWarlock

#13

WaveWarlock said:

Ya, I'm going to have to pass as well. Those lame 'enemy in the distance' graphical animation glitches and frame rate drops, plus the $40 price tag and NO Vs Mode is leading to a big fat NO.

Besides, i don't want a lazy glorified cash-in Mercanaries mode as my first 3DS Resident Evil.

First SSFIV 3D with it's lifeless static paper cut out people/animals for the environments, and now RE: Mercanaries jerkish twitchy animated enemies that are noticable in the distance makes these 2 lack polish.

daznsaz

#14

daznsaz said:

id give it 10/10 and havent played it yet think its great that i can get to play a game like this on my 3ds keep em coming think the 3ds is more powerful than some might think roll on friday morning★

Supremeist

#16

Supremeist said:

This is the rating I expected. It is a really awesome game and I am really happy with it, but it could use a lot more content packed in with it. I don't think anyone should pass this game up, honestly. I'm happy with my Mercenaries 3D, and I'll be happy with REVELATIONS when it releases :)

Just because of the flaws, don't pass this game! It's really fun.

Samholy

#17

Samholy said:

well. when you played left 4 dead or counter strike zombie, this title seems....worthless.
i would rather jump on left 4 dead if it ever happens.

ill pass this title for now. ill keep my cash for the grade A titles coming in the end of 2011. (mario? mariokart?starfox?kid icarus?)

SilverBaretta

#18

SilverBaretta said:

Great review Damo. It's a little dissapointing to hear about the graphical glitches and such, but they don't seem to distract from the overall point of the game: mercilessly beating the tar out of waves of enemies. I don't think I'll get it now, but down the line for sure.

cheapogamer4life

#19

cheapogamer4life said:

Haven't played a Resident Evil game since 4 on the PS2. This has been a blast to play so far. No majar problems and that 3d looks great even when things get heated in battle.

Ryno

#20

Ryno said:

If I had a 3DS I think it would would avoid this like Shaq Fu. Between RE4 and RE5 I think I have played maybe a total of a 1 whole hour (give or take a couple minutes) of mercenaries. Now $40 for a game of just mercenary mode, ouch!

capitalism

#21

capitalism said:

Comments like the ones I see here are the reasons why Nintendo gamers dont get good games. You guys whine too much. The game is awesome and I'm having a blast playing it. The review was alright but it deserved a better score.

Gustoff

#22

Gustoff said:

I've been playing the game since last night when i got it. Just played it a few minutes ago during my lunch break. I saw no glitches, hiccups, slow framerate or anything that some reviewers have been complaining about. The game is absolutely awesome and addicting. Graphics are just beautiful.

default12345

#24

default12345 said:

I've not decided if I'm going to get this - it looks a bit rushed. I will probably wait until Revelations.

Supremeist

#25

Supremeist said:

@warnerdan: Don't judge a game from other peoples opinions. Okay, maybe the game could use a little bit more content, but It's not gonna be perfect. It's a beautiful game and deserves a bit more than a 7. Pick this one up. I don't really know why so many people are complaining and having mixed feelings.

Supremeist

#26

Supremeist said:

I'm honestly going for having Mercenaries AND Revelations. I'm a good RESIDENT EVIL fan :)

Gustoff

#27

Gustoff said:

@ryanthehedgehog

I completely agree. If you're a RE fan, pick this one up. I have the original RE:DeadlySilence for the DS and this one knocks it out by a long shot. No comparison to any other portable game. Actually it compares to the RE games of the gamecube remakes, remember those?

Supremeist

#28

Supremeist said:

Yes! And the graphics are phenomenal for a handheld. All the people here are just pointing out the flaws and making them sound like the whole game is ruined by them. Every game has flaws, deal with it.

Ryno

#29

Ryno said:

22. capitalism 29 Jun 2011, 17:57 BST
Comments like the ones I see here are the reasons why Nintendo gamers dont get good games. You guys whine too much. The game is awesome and I'm having a blast playing it. The review was alright but it deserved a better score.

No, the reason Nintendo gamers don't get good games is because Nintendo gamers buy and accept inferior versions of games from third parties.

Tate24

#30

Tate24 said:

Ive red review which gave game 82% saying it was additive and engaging and he didnt mention about any slowdown or anything remotely bad about game. He even enjoyed demo of RER

Like most reviewers we cant all agreed on what we think is good or bad. I had hard time looking at pilotwings 3DS review in my eyes game should got 4 possibly worst game ive ever played or payed for lol.

But of course thats my opinion while other gamers will praise it.

So i say try it before you slag it off as mindless cash-in.

Just because one person say's apple doesn't taste good!! doesn't mean your gonna feel same way!! xp

↑ love this quote it sum's up alot of things:)

Ristar42

#31

Ristar42 said:

I prefer the 'classic' Resident Evil style of gameplay, enjoyed 4 up to a point, but never really cared for the Mercs mode. I suppose if you enjoyed that, you would enjoy this.

TheGreenSpiny

#32

TheGreenSpiny said:

@1: My problem with the save state issue, is that I could care less about chasing scores. I played the hell out of the first Mercs mode in RE4 just to unlock the characters and get the bonus gun. Having ulockables gives me more incentive to play. The fact that they added missions with extra objectives sounds cool too, but it might be a while before I get enough money for a 3ds, so I may have no other choice than to get a used copy.

default12345

#33

default12345 said:

@ryanthehedgehog

I'm not judging this game based on other peoples opinions - I haven't even read NintendoLife's review. It just seems as if Capcom needed to get something out to quell fans while they work on Revelations.

J-Forest-Esq

#35

J-Forest-Esq said:

Not much of a high-score chaser myself, maybe I need better shoes...
Either way, it's a no from me.

quino711

#36

quino711 said:

i dont know if i want this game anymore... there are so many other games coming soon and 3ds games around here are about $50 or $60 dls....

bonesy91

#37

bonesy91 said:

Eh, I'll probably stick with Resident Evil 4 Wii's Mercenary mode for awhile... at least until this game Lowers in price...

Skogur

#38

Skogur said:

I already pre-ordered this game, it doesn't come out until Friday here. It's a shame that it got framerate issues. But otherwise, im really exited.

Gustoff

#39

Gustoff said:

@Skogur
I wouldn't worry too much about the framerate, i haven't really noticed any, even with a bunch of enemies on screen and stuff exploding in the background.

Kingrager

#40

Kingrager said:

Nice review, and having a blast with the game. As previous people have commented, the demo is very short. If that is a reason for buying the title i would pass, It is fun, but will last you the most of 5 minutes, but it does show that it will bring the horror back to survival horror, it was pretty freakin scary.

quino711

#41

quino711 said:

We need to thank this mercenaries game in some way though,,, the real RE will be back = )

Doobah

#42

Doobah said:

How come no one complained that you can't reset your save data in Monkey Ball 3D but it's a big issue with RE Mercs ?

good review. It's a very addicting game. I love it.

Chris720

#43

Chris720 said:

I was thinking of picking this up just for the co-op gameplay with some of the guys on here. I might still pick it up... just dunno when...

emiru69

#44

emiru69 said:

After the data issue I canceled my pre-order, I just don't buy games that can't reset my save data.

OverlordMao

#45

OverlordMao said:

Very nice review. You brought up your gripes as well as explained what the game did that works.

In my opinion, I absolutely LOATHE, not being able to unlock anything in a game. As much as I love playing MVC2's downloable version on my best friend's PS3, we both agree having everything unlocked by the get-go lessened the experience for us.

shonenjump86

#47

shonenjump86 said:

Its a fun game, and the demo was short but I liked what I played :) Mercenaries will be a game I can keep coming back to just to kill time or beat my best score. Can't wait for Revelations. :)

Henmii

#48

Henmii said:

Not a very good score. But then it's just a beefed up Mercenaries mode, with a customer unfriendly save issue!

WesCash

#49

WesCash said:

Fair review... I personally like the game quite a bit. It's simply a portable mercenaries mode with more content.

daznsaz

#50

daznsaz said:

♪im killing zombies in the morning♪ well las plaga dudes will have to wait for revelations for prime meat zombies

47drift

#51

47drift said:

A very, very good game. It's a lot like Yoshi Touch & Go with its stressful arcadeyness. I've been playing it nonstop and loving every second of it. Definitely not for everyone, but if you like arcade games, then go for it, I say! Great review yet again, guys.

potomas

#52

potomas said:

Can someone tell me if the levels have a time limit ,or can you pick up time as you go like res 4

daznsaz

#53

daznsaz said:

^ive only seen vids so far but im pretty sure you can pick up time extensions

Bassman_Q

#54

Bassman_Q said:

Is it just me, or does 3DS seem to have a large amount of low-content games? I mean, for $40, it seems like over half of the games barely (or don't!) have enough meat to justify the price. The only games I know of that seem to have a good amount of content on 3DS are Ocarina of Time, DoA, Street Fighter, and that Tom Clancy Shadow Wars game. What's up with that?

Supremeist

#55

Supremeist said:

@Qwikman_Bass: I never expect a high amount of content in games for a handheld, no matter how powerful it is. I agree, some games just need a little more to them. I don't think Ocarina of Time is really "content-packed" but the story is just enough.

a_binfahad

#56

a_binfahad said:

To me this game is the 2nd most anticipated game (the first was Oot xD)
i really want it but there's 1 problem , i got little sisters who always sneak up in my room and keep stealing ds / 3ds games from me , and if they stole this game they'll get nightmares , and wont stop crying at night

raedjhn

#57

raedjhn said:

this game from the best action games i ever played
if you into action or pick and play games tack this without thinking XD
it have alot of levels and skills and wep it nice game everybody need to
try it :)

Traxx

#58

Traxx said:

I'm having a blast with this game. You all out there missing a good action game on the go. Why would I want to delete my hard earned highscores and achievements? This game has the potential to last forever; by the time I might consider selling it, it wont be worth lot of money anyway. This thing is a keeper, even more than many story based games (quite the contrary: most story-playthrough games aren't worth a second look).

Dr-Rockzo

#61

Dr-Rockzo said:

this is a good game it will hold me over till MGS 3d. unlocked all most everything. co-op the best part. look for pink floyd thats me.

sam322

#62

sam322 said:

i got this game, and it is great. I don't know why it got low scores maybe because of the price :p

Matillion

#63

Matillion said:

I'm not a fan of the series, I haven't even played a game from it.
I'll wait for Revelations to come out, it looks more like a game for me.

Dyl_73

#64

Dyl_73 said:

This game is brilliant fun. It looks fantastic, plays well and there's loads to unlock. It is currently my most played game.
Anyone not interested in high score chasing may want to look elsewhere though.

HawkeyeWii

#66

HawkeyeWii said:

I held back on getting this for the longest time, because of the many mediocre reviews from many different sources, but I wish I hadn't because this game derserves a higher score becaues it is good! Probably the best graphics on the handheld to date.

Shadomega7569

#67

Shadomega7569 said:

i thought this was great to play. buts more of the lines of a multi-player game instead of single player. not to mention seeing if other people can be trusted

Hokori

#68

Hokori said:

Im getting the NEW for $5 this weekend when I get Prof Layton and Mass Attack

flatspikes

#69

flatspikes said:

Grabbed this for £9.97 in the recent Curry's sale... for that price it's proving to be well worth it:-)

readyletsgo

#70

readyletsgo said:

Can anyone tell me if there is still just one save slot or if they have updated it to have more than one save slot?

Thanks

ToxieDogg

#71

ToxieDogg said:

@readyletsgo It's still just one save slot, but it's dirt cheap on the E-Shop at the moment until 2nd January....50% off, cost me less than £5 to download it.

I don't normally download full retail games I can get physical copies of, but I made an exception for this because of the save slot issue (as well as the extremely low current price).

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