10 Thoughts On…Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (Nintendo 3DS)

I’m not a big Resident Evil fan. Let’s get that out of the way right now. I really didn’t like 1-3’s gameplay and I felt the voice acting and overall stories were a bit weak, but that the series showed promise. What can I say? I was more a Clock Tower and Shadow of the Comet/Prisoner of Ice horror fan back in the day. I found Code Veronica was a step up, Gun Survivor was fun for what it was, with a few issues, and that the series drastically improved with RE4 and Umbrella Chronicles, the latter of which is my favorite game in the series. RE5 was something people either loved or hated. I didn’t care for the story (especially the Jill Valentine bits or the death of Wesker), but I liked the gameplay compared to the early PSN/Saturn versions. Darkside Chronicles was fun, but the camera was too damn shakey and it paled in comparison to UC, Dead Space: Extraction and the House of the Dead titles that all came out around the same time.

That being said, I had the opportunity to fiddle with a retail version of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D before its actual release (one of the benefits to reviewing I suppose), I decided to write down ten quick thoughts on the game. So did the first Resident Evil for the Nintendo 3DS leave me with a favorable impression, or was it akin to my original playthrough of RE1 on the Sega Saturn where I was like, “This is kind of a letdown?”

1. I was very impressed by the visuals in Mercenaries. The game is the best looking title I’ve played on the 3DS so far and the 3D visuals are up there with Excitebike in terms of a noticeable change between 2D and 3D playing. Physical attacks are the most obvious difference as in 3D you get a real sense of the distance between you and your opponents. In 2D however you will often being using a knife swing and swear that you are close enough to hit but nothing happens.

2. I love the control scheme options. I’m really not a fan of the original RE layout as it was patterned after the bad console ports of Alone in the Dark. As the series as gotten older the controls have noticeably improved. The default controls are quite good, although I hate holding R down to reload and shoot. I’d have preferred R as just a lock on and the buttons to just do their functions. Type B isn’t too bad either, although it makes rotating even more of a pain than it usually in a RE game. Type C appeared to be awesome in theory as each button corresponded to a direction. I was hoping it would be quick 90 degree turns ala the quick 180 degree turn option, but instead it was very slow rotating. Worse X and B just rotated the camera horrible and there wasn’t a way to quick snap back to the centered setting. Type D was the same as the default button you had to hold the B button to run instead of the character doing it naturally. When in doubt A and B are your best bets.

3. When aiming, the options let you choose between a first and third person viewpoint. Always go for FPS. You get a clearer picture and a more precise shot. You can also adjust the aiming speed to boot.

4. You start off with Hunk, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. I tried Hunk, but he was pretty slow so I eventually shifted to Jill Valentine, who was faster and had an extra physical attack. Physical attacks are the key to high scores in this game as they give you bonus time.

5. As the game progresses, you’ll unlock other characters. The first one I unlocked was Clare Redfield and after that it was Rebecca Chambers. Each character has a different weapon selection and also an alternate costume to boot. The game also tracks your score with each individual character, which is also nice.

6. As you progress you’ll also unlock skills. The first skill I unlocked was “Medic,” which increases the amount a character heals. The second was Luck, which gives you some resistance to instant kill attacks. Each skill earns XP as you run through the game and can change through experience as well. A character can equip three skills at a time and with thirty different skills, that’s a lot of combinations to try out.

7. Scoring in the game feels really arbitrary. In one level I never got hit and finished the level quickly…and I got a B. The next I just decided to use my knife. It took a long time, I got my ass kicked…and I got a SS rating, which is the highest in the game. What the hell?

8. This game is REALLY short. I finished half of it in roughly an hour. Now the content is fun but I can’t in good conscience say it is $40 worth. I could recommend the game flatout if it was only $19.99, but what’s here is just too short and too repetitive for the price tag unless you have a lot of friends also buying the game. Even then, it might be a smarter choice to wait for the price drop as it’s up there with Super Monkey Ball as too short for the MSRP.

9. Aside from my quibbles about the depth, length and repetition, this is one of the better Resident Evil titles I’ve played through. It’s just a series of short little missions that is great for on the go play. Because there’s no plot you don’t have to worry about the odd plot guffaws that sometimes occur with the franchise and there are enough controls options to keep one happy, even if like me, you absolutely hated control layout of the old school RE games back in the day. Plus you can move and shoot in Mercenaries, although I have to admit I was so used to NOT being able to that sometimes I forgot I could now.

10. The game comes with a demo for Resident Evil: Revelations, but it’s a pretty odd one. The demo is timed, which I found to be odd. It didn’t say anything about it being timed in the manual or in the demo itself. At first I was confused why the demo ended after I opened a locker of all things and I said to myself, “That is the worst demo ending EVER.” Then I played a second time, ignoring all the nooks and crannies I explored originally…and then the demo ended while I was in a battle against two fiendish thingies. YES, during the battle. This is when I realized it was timed. That being said, I played through a demo a few more times and found it to be a fun game. It’s probably just me because I’m not as into the series as a lot of my friends, but I liked the controls for RE on the 3DS far more than I did with a console controller. The game looks like it has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to playing the full thing when it comes out.

Overall, based on the first half of the game, I’d be inclined to rate Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D as an “Above Average” or “Enjoyable” game. Mark B., our expert on all things Resident Evil will be handling the full review of the game, so keep your eyes peeled for that down the road.