Resident Evil Goes Portable…Sort of
You know you’re going to have an interesting video game experience when the biggest feature displayed prominently on the box of the game is a demo for another game. I had high hopes for Resident Evil: the Mercenaries 3D, but at the end of the day, I was left with an experience that felt half-finished and not even close to worth my $40.
When I started the game, I was actually a bit optimistic. The game features an extremely long “mission” mode that takes you through the control scheme and teaches you about the basic strategy you’ll need to employ to take down the various baddies in the game. The game is set after the events of Resident Evil 5, so you’ll see plenty of Las Plagas zombies, complete with creepy head centipedes.
However, one thing that immediately disappointed me was the lack of variation between the different zombies. Sure, I love generic African zombie lady A as much as the next girl, but when three or four of her identical siblings show up beside her, I can’t help but suspect a lack of effort on the design team’s part.
The way that the game’s mission mode is structured is like an over-long tutorial, and is separated into five different sections. Each section features two to four “basics” sections and then a final “test” level that you have to pass with a high rank in order to proceed. You can get past this mission mode by going at it alone, or taking your game online and teaming up with a friend.
The mission mode is the closest the game ever gets to a story mode, and the fact that it is basically an hour-long tutorial is just disappointing. Once you finish the mission mode, you can jump online and shoot zombies to your heart’s content. There are some memorable set pieces from past games as well as some familiar playable and upgradeable characters, and the format is nearly identical to versus mode from Resident Evil 5.
The only real difference between versus mode in Resident Evil 5 and Mercenaries 3D is the latter has an unlock system similar to that of Call of Duty. The unlockable loadouts and content certainly keep you in the game, which is nice since there is no story mode to speak of. If you want an online experience that mimics something you might find in a bigger console-based title, and you want to keep it with you on the go, you’ll find it in Mercenaries 3D. Of course, you’ll always need to be within range of wi-fi, so if you are planning to purchase this game and play it on the bus or on an airplane, you’ll probably be disappointed. Battling the A.I. gets old very quickly.
And while it’s tempting to look at this game as a sort of online “greatest hits” compilation of Resident Evil’s best locations and characters, there just isn’t enough here to warrant a $40 purchase. I won’t argue that going online and shooting zombies is fun, but I’ve come to expect a lot more for my money. And when all you are giving me is content recycled from other games and a tutorial disguised as a mission mode, the experience just feels cheapened overall.
The technical side of things really doesn’t help matters here either. I’ve already mentioned the repetitive character models, but there are plenty of other technical issues that plague Mercenaries 3D. One of the most pervasive issues involves persistent stuttering and framerate drops when you are trying to shoot zombies from afar. This was particularly detrimental for me, as my strategy frequently involved getting as high up as possible and shooting the zombies below. However, when zombies start shaking and then randomly respawning several yards away, it got a little frustrating.
The only technical area where Mercenaries 3D excels is its online matchmaking. This is the most important feature in the game, so I have to give it points for at least nailing the basics. Getting into online lobbies is quick, and finding matches took only seconds. I never really imagined the 3DS as an ideal platform for what is essentially an online-only game, but Mercenaries 3D works extremely well on the platform, and I never had to wait very long to get into matches with online opponents.
3D in the game is not really much of a feature. Your character does “pop” out from the background, but the zombies don’t really stand out and environments are completely flat. What is interesting is that the included demo for Resident Evil: Revelations uses 3D to grand effect and features some truly impressive and scary moments. Though you won’t be pestered by “gimmicky” 3D effects in Mercenaries 3D, you certainly won’t be wowed by the visuals either.
I won’t lie; I didn’t have a horrible time with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Playing online, unlocking content, and shooting zombies with reckless abandon in some of Resident Evil’s most famous locations is undeniably fun. However, for $40, this game needs more than just a stellar online mode. Even though the Resident Evil series isn’t exactly known for its stellar story, I would have still liked to have seen some kind of story or single player mode on the cartridge, especially considering I don’t often play handheld games in areas where there is wi-fi readily available. If you really like playing Resident Evil online, you’ll enjoy Mercenaries 3D, but I doubt you’ll find this to be a package worth the full retail price.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Environments are expansive and animations are smooth, but 3D isn’t implemented all that well. Additionally, frequent framerate drops when there are multiple enemies mar the visual experience. 3.7 Control
Controls feature a decent amount of customization and work well on the 3DS. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Soundtrack is repetitive and tutorial voiceover is grating. 2.1 Play Value
An expanded multiplayer mode cobbled together from the console experience doesn’t make for an engaging handheld title. Mercenaries 3D is simply not worth your $40. 3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|