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Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D Review

2
  • 3DS

Even the most devoted fans of the Mercenaries mode from the modern Resident Evil games will be ill-served by this insubstantial and expensive cash-in.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D--the first handheld RE game since Deadly Silence--faithfully captures the gameplay nuances and visual aesthetic of the most recent console releases in the franchise. Having achieved this respectable feat, Capcom has opted to utilize this technology in a supremely disappointing way: by recycling the content of an unlockable mode from those games into an entire retail-priced game. Less of a port and more of a compilation, The Mercenaries 3D dutifully recreates the Mercenaries modes from Resident Evils 4 and 5, and that's just about it. Even if you previously enjoyed the Mercenaries mode, you'll find little to be excited about here; there are no new maps to explore, no new enemies to fight, and you'll have exhausted the game's meager offerings before you know it. With virtually nothing new to offer and not enough content to justify the price, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a straight-up bad deal at $40.

Wesker is cold-blooded.

This modern version of The Mercenaries was introduced back in 2005 as a feature unlocked upon completion of Resident Evil 4. The Mercenaries strips out the traditional Resident Evil story structure in favor of an arena-based, score-focused survival mode. Players will come to blows with hordes of Resident Evil 4 and 5’s not-zombies, trying to rack up as many kills as possible within the time limit. To maximize one’s score potential, players must quickly kill enemies in succession to build and extend a kill combo throughout the match. Completing certain score milestones will unlock the usage of additional playable characters, complete with unique weapon sets, which can impact the ways in which you can take down enemies. In contrast to the typical Resident Evil experience, The Mercenaries is more akin to an arcade game, focusing on playing and replaying short levels to obtain high scores.

Console-to-handheld ports can be tricky, and rife with control compromises, but The Mercs 3D makes the jump to the 3DS with relative ease, thanks to the fact that the modern Resident Evil games are built around single analog stick controls. Movement and turning is mapped to the circle pad, holding the R button brings up your weapon sights for aiming (and, in RE tradition, locks you in place) and the face buttons are used for shooting and utilizing context sensitive prompts. While the top 3DS screen displays the core action, the bottom screen serves as a quick-select inventory screen, allowing players to quickly switch between weapons, reload guns and use healing items.

In perhaps its most notable advance, The Mercenaries 3D finally brings the RE games in line with more modern third-person shooters with an alternate control scheme that allows players to move and shoot at the same time. In this mode, the circle disc will handle movement and strafing while the four face buttons are used for aiming (similar to the way shooters have been adapted on the PSP). It's not a perfect substitute for a second analog stick, but that’s the price you have to pay in order to bring a little modernity to RE. The Mercenaries 3D plays about as well as the series’ console counterparts, with very little of the gameplay nuances sacrificed in the translation.

Even on the 3DS, Chris Redfield has monstrous guns.

The problem with The Mercenaries 3D, however, has to do with the content. Specifically, there isn’t enough of it. All eight of the game's maps come directly from Resident Evil 4 or 5, and these aren’t full Resident Evil campaign levels, complete with the some of the best interactive cutscenes, set pieces, and boss fights found in modern action games. These are small, corridor-heavy maps that don’t last more than three to six minutes. The only noteworthy addition to The Mercenaries 3D is the skill system, a Modern Warfare-style perk structure where players can take up to three passive enhancements into each match. The skills level up as you accrue skill points from completing rounds, but the bonuses aren't so impactful as to dramatically affect your chances of success in-game. It's not long before you’ve exhausted the few available maps on the cart, and if you've ever played those Mercenaries modes before, you'll be familiar with virtually all of the content in this game.

As if to add insult to injury, you won’t actually get full access to the eight maps and eight playable characters when you start the game for the first time. Instead, players will be forced to complete a series of missions so disjointed that it does injustice to the word “campaign.” There is zero context for these missions, so if you’re playing through the campaign, you’d better really love Resident Evil’s combat.

The missions are almost all identical, and they don’t necessarily do the best job in instructing you how to deal with enemies or move effectively through the map. The only significant departures from the core Mercenaries gameplay are a penultimate boss fight against the Popokarimu bat monster from Resident Evil 5 and a final boss fight against... that bat monster again. That the game actually runs a full, unskippable credit sequence after the second bat boss fight feels like some kind of cruel, miserable joke. The whole campaign can be completed in less than two hours and and amounts to little more than a slog through soulless, boring content. The campaign problems are further emphasized by an awkward menu structure that makes progressing through missions more of a hassle than it should be.

Rebecca Chambers, as you might imagine, starts each match with extra herbs.

The series’ high quality visuals haven't had the smoothest translation to the 3DS. Capcom’s MT Framework engine recreates the environments, character models, and effects of the past two console RE games onto the platform, and some assets have made that transition better than others. Character models for the playable Mercenaries, the Ganados cultists, and Majini infected look sharp with striking animation and detailed texture work. Mercs 3D also utilizes the 3DS' stereoscopic visuals to good use with a pronounced-but-not-overwhelming depth enhancement that I was happy to leave on as I played the game. Textures in the actual environments, however, can appear blurry and muddled (not unlike the RE4 port to the PS2). The game's weirdest visual quirk, however is its habit of cutting out frames of animation on enemies in the distance. Enemies move stiffly until they cross some determined point in the environment relative to the player, upon which their animation fills out the missing frames.

The sound design fares even worse than the visuals. The Mercenaries 3D features plenty of music tracks and effects from the other Resident Evil games and those sound fine, but the vocals--from both Mercs and not-zombies-- feature some of the lowest quality sound recording I've heard in any modern video game. Though the low-bit rate recordings of the vocals may have been a result of low storage space, the vocals in Mercs 3D sounds like bad digitized voice circa the early 90's. It's awful stuff.

Not even Barry Burton's rugged beard can salvage this game.

The Mercenaries 3D also ships with local and online co-op, allowing you to team up and work together on maximizing your scores. Like much of Mercs 3D, the online functionality is identical to that found in RE5, though, like the visuals, it hasn't arrived without problems. In testing the game, lag issues popped up sporadically, resulting in enemies teleporting to new positions in order to catch up, as well as enemies taking too long to register bullet collision and death. In a game mode entirely based around skillful weapon and ammo management, watching ammo wasted on enemies that have already died can seriously mangle your strategy and timing. On stable connections, the feature is functional, but if you’re looking for online co-op versions of The Mercenaries, you should go back to play Resident Evil 5.

And that’s the reaction I come back to over and over again as I played through Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. If I wanted to play the Mercenaries game mode, why would I pay $40 for this handheld version when I could ostensibly get both Resident Evil 4 and 5 for way less? The gameplay in Mercs 3D has been competently recreated on the handheld, but it’s all to recreate an experience that is done (mostly) better and way cheaper on other platforms. Not to mention the fact that both of those games come with supreme single-player campaigns. If you’ve never played the modern Resident Evil games, you could pick up both Resident Evil 4 and 5 for less than the price of this cart. And if you have already played Resident Evil, the only worthwhile additions in Mercs 3D are portability, a present-yet-inessential skill system and the opportunity to play as several characters who have never been in a modern RE game--hardly $40 worth of additions. Even on a platform suffering a from a drought of software, The Mercenaries 3D still feels like a bad deal. It’s simply too much money for too little original content.

115 Comments
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Edited by Damian

Ouch! 
 
Almost reads like a 1 star, when you take in how overpriced it is. 
 
Man, the 3DS needs... things.

Posted by EdsXwing

The quicklook really had me thinking about not getting this game, maybe I can borrow from a friend if they get it.

Posted by MisterMouse

haha oh man the image for kessler is awesome.

Posted by Rorie

in before WHO LET THIS GUY WRITE A REVIEW

Staff
Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

kessler Icon IS GO

Posted by Daniel_Newton

Kessler your reviewer image is perfect.

Posted by CoruptAI125

nice pic

Posted by afrokola

Oh god, Kessler did a review!!! Awesome job, Matt. I hate to post before reading it, but I'll post again after I've read it, ha ha.

Posted by TheKing

Not surprising.

Posted by DeeGee

Interns writing reviews, babies having babies.

Posted by dungbootle

Oh Kessler.

Posted by OllyOxenFree

I actually bought this game. I feel so dirty!

Posted by Sjupp

@Rorie said:

in before WHO LET THIS GUY WRITE A REVIEW

WHO LET THIS GUY WRITE A REVIEW

I haven't read it myself but my guess is that it's probably quite well written.

Posted by Mr_Spinnington

this is the best worst review ever

Posted by tyxja

Great work Kess!

Posted by Winternet

Shocked. I am shocked. The world didn't prepare me for this. War they said. War! They never told me about Kessler writing reviews.

Posted by Cheesebob

So who ghost wrote this review anc called it Kessler's?

Posted by Freezer_Burn

That picture is haunting, and amazing at the same time. I kinda expected this, stretching out an extra mode into a whole game. I'll probably wait for Revelations if I want some Resident Evil.

Posted by RVonE

Congrats on your first GB review.

Online
Posted by ReyGitano

I want to read this review, but I can't get past Kessler's picture.

Posted by HadesTimes

Couple this with the no restart feature and this is a must buy! Not!

Posted by Daniel

Even for a 2/5 little Cupid Kessler gives a thumbs up. Silly little guy doesn't know what a thumbs up means!

Posted by myghart

This crossed my mind while watching the Quick Look also. Wasn't a mode like this included in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis? Or was it called something else there...

Edited by Vorbis

Grats on the first review, does this mean GB might review some JRPGs now?

Posted by Afroman269

Great review. I expected as much after watching the quick look. No idea as to why someone would buy this. Even if you love the mercenaries mode a lot, this is ridiculous.

Posted by zameer

Grats on your first review Kessler! You've come a long way 

Posted by JohnDudebro

Kessler gives this game TWO SANDWICHES

Posted by Lobst

I'm just as amazed at this review as the precedent this sets for Lemon to write reviews for the site!

Go for it, bro! We all believe in you! :D

Posted by FrederickOggVorbis

Good job Kessler!

Posted by Stupot

Man that picture of Kessler is something else. Awesome review Kessler, lets hope to see many more.

Posted by DrRandle

So. I bought this game. And I can't really disagree with anything in here. That being said, I really do like me some 3rd person shootin' zambies, and on that merit I am actually enjoying the game. It's nice for breaks at work and the like. But honestly, I'd recommend anybody even remotely interested in this wait until it inevitably drops to like 10 bucks. Kinda regret buying full price for it.

But I'm excited for Resident Evil: Revelations! Thanks minute and a half long demo!

Edited by Hot_Karl

CAPCOM OVERCHARGING FOR SOMETHING YET AGAIN? 
 
TYPICAL SCAMCOM AMIRITE? 
 
BTW, that Kessler picture is stellar. Amazing.

Posted by countinhallways

Well written review. Also, I haven't played this game but from the minute I heard about it thought it sounded like a bad deal. And well... yeah, so it is.

Posted by rmanthorp

Kessler review, in MY Giant Bomb?! It's more common than you think!

Moderator
Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

@pyromaster222 said:

haha oh man the image for kessler is awesome.
Posted by rjayb89

Only two cans of Surströmming out of five?

Posted by Jeffk38uk

I for one welcome our new reviews from interns when they are written well like this. 
 
As for the game itself, its shocking a game like this is sold at full price when at best, it's more a downloadable title given the size and length.

Posted by Slaker117

Matt Kessler reviewing games?
I AM NOT OK WITH THIS!!
 
Naw, I'm pretty ok with this.

Posted by AndyPhifer

This is the very definition of Nintendo, right here. Any time they get a 'real' game on their system it is a shitty, stripped down and overall bad experience.

Posted by natetodamax

Why is Kessler's picture giving a thumbs up and smiling for a two star review?

Regardless, that was well written Matt! Nice work.

Posted by PhatSeeJay

Good review, Matt. But the angel need a pair of glasses and some more bulk. :D

Posted by Crushed

You are now imagining Kessler wearing nothing but a toga.

Posted by Rudeboy217

Good job, Kessler!

Posted by Napalm

I saw the picture, then saw the reviewer name and said, "whaaaaaaat?"

Posted by Gaff

@Crushed said:

You are now imagining Kessler wearing nothing but a toga.

... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Posted by djames216
@natetodamax said:
Why is Kessler's picture giving a thumbs up and smiling for a two star review? Regardless, that was well written Matt! Nice work.
I was thinking along similar lines.  The picture looks a bit too happy for a 2-star game.  It's as if the picture is saying - "This 2-star game is awesome". And grats on the official review Matt.
Posted by chilibean_3

That cartoon! Nice review, Matt.

@BananaKid said:

Kessler gives this game TWO SANDWICHES

The perfect scoring system?

Posted by mrangryface

I ended up buying this- they trapped me at the counter:

Them: "oh hey you have this pre-ordered"

Me: DURRR OK

*5 minutes later in parking lot*

Me: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Posted by Eribuster

Sounds like the game might be worth it if you're into getting high scores, perfection, and repetition.

Posted by Jackhole

Good job on the first review Kessler. I'm impressed. 

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