Tuesday 23 August 2011

Game Review – Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

Format: (Nintendo 3DS)

No video game franchise does zombie killing quite as well as Resident Evil. The recent evolution of the series has seen old-school horror transformed into an action experience where the sense of helplessness we all relate to Capcom’s horror games, has unfortunately been lost somewhere in transition. However, the evolution has taken a turn for a more fast-paced zombie slaying adventure, one that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D exemplifies perfectly.

The Mercenaries 3D is at it’s core, the survival bonus mode you played and enjoyed in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. This game mode is undoubtedly a whole load of frantic fun, but a lack of content makes it look like a glass that is half empty. The sense of sheer terror has evaporated from Resident Evil, but is replaced well with dramatic urgency as you attempt to rack up points in this zombie bashing frenzy. Fluid combat, a variety of characters and environments coupled with different weapons and an interesting upgrade perk system, makes The Mercenaries 3D an engrossing experience, yet too short to be considered a full game.

You take on the hordes of enemies using some of the series’ iconic characters including Chris and Claire Redfield, Jill Valentines and even some of the most memorable bad guys such as Albert Wesker and Jack Krauser. With a few more to unlock there is a good sense of variety in the character roster here. Your goal is to kill as many enemies as possible in the set amount of time, with more points awarded when enemies are killed in quick succession. You can find time-enhancers across the maps that award you an extra few seconds and each character’s special melee move also boosts your timer.

Your zombie killing abilities are then ranked and skill points are awarded based on your performance. These skills points can then be allocated to upgrade your characters’ various special abilities and load-outs. This is the key difference between the survival mode you know on home consoles and this stand-alone survival experience. There are actually quite a large variety of skills including standard abilities like Medic, which increases the strength of First-Aid sprays, to more fun skills like Lucky-7, which increases your time if you kill an enemy when there is a 7 on the timer. Other skills include Friendship that increases your health automatically when your partner is near and Thunderbolt, which adds the thunder element to your melee attack, causing a wide damage radius. With plenty more abilities to unlock and play around with, this is certainly the highlight addition to the handheld version of Resident Evil’s survival mode.

You will certainly be familiar with the enemies you encounter throughout your trials in The Mercenaries 3D. The bad guys make their way from Resident Evil 4 and 5, including zombie villagers, hooded monks and the massive Majini with axes and chainsaws. You will also be very familiar with your surroundings, which certainly helps when the action starts getting out of hand – eight maps from the aforementioned games are available to play including the castle Leon so eloquently infiltrated and the mines Chris and his partner traversed through. Both character models and environments look impressive on Nintendo’s handheld, but you will notice from a distance things can look at a little blurry, but when action is up-close and personal, the action is pretty and the game handles well with minimal issues. The 3D effects once again serve to create depth and while enjoyable for a small period of time, really don’t do anything to enhance the overall gameplay experience. The audio here has to be experienced using headphones to ensure you have become engrossed in the moment and at that volume you can even detect off-screen enemies based off the noises you here around you.

The Mercenaries 3D has done a fantastic job porting over comfortable controlling mechanics to nicely mimic the over-the-shoulder shooting modern Resident Evil is known for. The circle pad feels nice as you guide your characters around and the right bumper raises your characters’ weapon. If you have time to look away from the action you will notice that your bottom screen serves as your inventory and map – here you will find your load-out and various items your character is carrying.

I mentioned before that The Mercenaries 3D is troubled by a lack of content. While these small, easy-to-access missions are a lot of fun and seem a perfect fit for a handheld console, you can’t help but feel that your experience begins to become monotonous once you have played each level a few times over. Having only five levels set across eight maps, with only a few missions in each level means an experienced Resident Evil player will breeze through everything there is on offer here. Considering you have to choose what abilities you can use and they don’t stack, once you have found your preferred ability of choice, there’s no particular reason to go and unlock the others unless you want to force change upon your own play-style. If you want to see the other available characters you do have to unlock them and the various costumes will also need you to put the hours in. The game’s 50 collectible medals are pretty much a waste of time and were put in as a blatant attempt to try and prolong the players’ experience.

The Mercenaries 3D is at it’s most fun when playing with a friend in Duo mode. Here the co-op action can be enjoyed either over the Internet or through a local connection. Teaming up with a friend to battle the enemies is a huge adrenaline rush as you attempt to keep each other alive while pushing for high scores and huge kill counts. For a game that concentrates so much on high scores, it is an absolute sin that there are no leaderboards present, so there’s no competitive global element involved here at all.

Ultimately Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a great game that gives gamers an opportunity to taste the frantic and fast-paced excitement that is Resident Evil, in small bite-size time trials, on the go. For a gamer looking for a more engrossing experience, this is perhaps not the game for you, but those of you willing to accept that you will have a short yet exciting amount of fun by yourself and with a friend, it’s well worth checking out Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, which delivers survival mode to the Nintendo 3DS in all it’s glory.

7.5 | Gameplay |
Fast-paced action ensures you are always on your toes striving for the next kill. Controls have been ported well and although somewhat limited, what is on offer, is great.

8.0 | Presentation |
For a handheld game Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D looks great. Looking into the distance things look a little blurry, but you’ll be way too busy avoiding getting your head ripped off by a chainsaw.

7.5 | Replay Value |
Well, this game is all about replay value really, it just depends how much survival action you can handle before you get bored. Playing with a friend is an absolute blast and definitely helps enhance the experience.

7.5 | Final Thoughts |
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D brings survival mode to the Nintendo 3DS as a slightly enhanced experience with a few unlockables and customization options, along with an engaging cooperative mode. However, minimal content makes this really feel like an add-on as opposed to a stand-alone title.

Igor, CeX UK Contributor.

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