By Spencer . June 28, 2011 . 10:01am
Los Illuminados and Majini in the same game? What’s the story here? Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D doesn’t have one. The first Resident Evil game for 3DS brings the Mercenaries mini-game from the Resident Evil series to a Nintendo handheld.
There are eight characters to play as, but only three — Chris, Jill, and Hunk — are available in the beginning. By moving up the mission ranks, you unlock Claire, Rebecca, Krauser, Barry, and Wesker plus additional costumes. Chris and Jill are "average" characters with Jill tilting towards speed with her machine gun and Chris towards range since he has sniper rifle. Claire may be the most versatile mercenary with her handgun, grenade launcher with electric rounds, and a rifle. Krauser tends to get more grenades than any other character. He brings a bow with unlimited arrows, a knife, and a two use rocket launcher to the battle. Since ammunition never spawns, enemies herbs and explosives instead. Out of the group, I used Hunk most often and I’ll explain why in a little bit.
Capcom touts the Nintendo 3DS game 30 missions, but the first rank and much of the second are tutorials. The very first mission teaches players how to walk. You finally get to draw a weapon in mission 1-3 where every shot is a one hit kill. Rank three still has some tutorials, like explaining how explosive barrels work, but the game begins to pick up here with waves of enemies to shoot.
Just in case you never played The Mercenaries, this is a score attack game. The goal in all of the levels is to defeat as many enemies as possible before time runs out. Sure, you can gun down Majini with Rebecca’s machine gun, but that isn’t the strategy Capcom has in mind. (Even though it’s probably timesaving!) You want to shoot enemies in the knees and and finish off with a melee attack. This nets players a five second time bonus, which is about the same amount of time it takes to complete a melee combo… well, with Hunk. Claire and Rebecca need two melee attacks to finish off one enemy, which drains precious seconds from the clock. Hunk draws his knife and lodges it in an enemy for a lethal blow. He also shoots flash grenade rounds which stun multiple enemies and set up melee combos.
Once you get into Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, the rhythm is: aim for kneecaps, shoot, run, towards enemy, melee, find bonuses like chickens or combo time meters, and repeat until time runs out. Don’t worry if you have to rush through a group of Majini; you’re invincible as soon as the melee animation starts. In addition to passing through a scythe, you also interrupt attack patterns and essentially reset attackers to lurking mode. Spraying magical herb mist and smashing time bonus pillars also grant frames of invulnerability.
Combining enemies from two different Resident Evil games, you’ll see missions where Dr. Salvador (the chainsaw maniac with a potato sack on his head) and majini together and Executioners from Resident Evil 5 accompanied by zealots. What you won’t see are new monsters or maps. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is more like a remix of the Mercenaries mini-game from Resident Evil 4 and 5.
Tweaks were made like adding an optional FPS mode. You can toggle this option from the menu or pick TPS if you want over the shoulder Resident Evil style shooting. It’s possible to move and shoot too. Useful, but since you can’t aim for the shins it’s not as handy as it sounds. Oh, and there are 3D graphics. I didn’t mention this earlier since Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D uses a subtle amount of 3D. You can look into the world, but there aren’t layers of 3D leaping out of the screen. Animation, in particular for Popokarimu, is a tad jerky when 3D is turned on. The bug-like monster runs around like a stop motion creature when you look at it from a distance.
The biggest addition is a skill system. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D has 30 skills, and you start with zero when you unwrap the game. Once you unlock a skill, everyone gets access to it so you don’t have grind with each character. Skills allow players to customize characters by boosting their handgun technique, altering the amount of life herbs restore or deadly melee attacks when your life is low. Each character can equip three skills and there are no tiers. So, once you get Thunderball — an ability that adds lightning to all weapons — or Infinity 7, which is unlimited rocket launcher shots, you probably don’t need Luck, a skill that decreases the chance of instant death. Skills gain shared experience points and bonuses if you get them to level three.
After settling into Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, I started playing online. In duo mode, you share a combo meter so you can rack up scores that just aren’t possible in single player mode. You can join games worldwide or select games created by people on your friends list. Even though most (maybe all?) of the people I played with were in Japan, there was hardly any lag during missions.
Most of the time, I played Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on the road and away from a router. Missions take about five to ten minutes to complete, which makes a train ride the optimal setting for The Mercenaries 3D. You can finish a mission or two on a commute and clamshell your 3DS until the ride home. The game is designed for short bursts like a girlfriend shoe shopping trip, commercial breaks between TV shows, or waiting in E3 lines.