Resident Evil is at it again – and this time, in 3D. Mercs 3D features eight characters across the Resident Evil universe, in an all out time attack brawl, entirely enclosed within the “Mercenaries” mini-game made popular by Resident Evil 4 and 5.
Considering the pedigree, many gamers are extremely skeptical of Merc’s value, priced at a pretty steep $40. So is Mercs 3D a cash grab, or a full fledged retail game? Well, it’s a little bit of both.
As soon as you boot up the game, you’re greeted with about an hours worth of training missions, setting you up for the meat of the game – the famous timed battlegrounds of Resident Evil 4 and 5. While the game will walk you through various actions such as moving, shooting, and melee attacks, Mercs 3D is very vague as to what you should be doing outside of the actual gameplay, but thankfully, the game is not really that complicated.
In a nutshell, you jump from mission to mission, completing each level, as you unlock new characters, costumes, weapon loadouts, and abilities. That’s really it.
There’s no story, no narrative, and no real surprises, provided you know what eight characters are on the cartridge. The skills you can earn don’t really pull any punches either, as they’re minor upgrades such as “more jump damage”, or “increased pistol damage”. You can equip three at a time per character, and switch them at will. While they’re not really a big deal, they do add a little extra fun to the game, and are a welcome addition.
Control-wise, outside of the usual cramping found on a handheld, the touch-screen item system is a god-send, as is the ability to aim in first person and strafe while aiming. To put it simply, your character can now slowly move while shooting, pick up items while running (thank you!), and use health sprays while running at the touch of a button (or the touchscreen). While most gamers are probably laughing at this long overdue functionality, Resident Evil fans are cheering in the stands at these enhancements – hopefully all future titles will utilize these mechanics.
At it’s heart, Mercs 3D is a blast to play. There’s nothing more exciting than blasting away at some zombies while getting chased by a chainsaw maniac for fifteen minutes, and conveniently flipping your 3DS closed while you ready for your next session. Mercs 3D controls great, feels right at home on a handheld in terms of gameplay, and the classic feel of the iconic Mercenaries game-type is there.
So what are the glaring problems? For one, there are no online leaderboards. Honestly I didn’t expect too much, considering Nintendo’s lack of online infrastructure, but at the very least friend code leaderboards should be visible. Additionally, in a controversial move by Capcom to combat used game sales, save files are permanently ingrained onto your game’s cartridge (no, the game does not save to your removable SD card).
While I personally have no problem with this (as I bought my game new), it sets a pretty scary precedent, and a lot of gamers out there are going to be sorely disappointed when they try to clear their file to start again fresh. When all’s said and done, the game is also around five hours long, provided you don’t replay any missions for fun, or to top your score. Because of this, a lot of gamers will easily be turned off by the fact that they can’t start again on a brand new save, and play the game for the first time, given the short length.
The biggest problem of all, however, are the wonky decreases in frame-rate when enemies are far away. In Resident Evil 4 and 5′s Mercenaries component, it was imperative to tag enemies from time to time at long distances to keep your combos. In Mercs 3D, however, enemies that are rendered at a distance seemingly move at a crawl (except they aren’t, really), and are extremely hard to hit. While it would be easy to excuse this as a handheld limitation, after seeing Ocarina of Time 3D for myself, I know they can do better.
As a side note, I’ve seen a lot of people saying they want to pick up Mercs 3D for the included Revelations demo – do not let that influence your purchasing decision, as the demo is around three minutes long, and includes zero of the anticipated puzzle elements. Instead, you’re greeted with three short encounters with the same enemy, and an abrupt ending – that’s it.
As someone who bought Zone of the Enders mainly for the superb, and deep Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, I felt pretty insulted that Capcom would include such a short demonstration for such a prolific title. Yes, Capcom didn’t have to have the Revelations demo on there at all, but considering it has been somewhat of a selling point for Mercs 3D, many people will feel like a bait and switch has occured.
All in all, Mercs 3D is a pretty fun title, and diehard Resident Evil fans will no doubt eat it up like candy while waiting for Racoon City and Revelations. However, if you’re not a Resident Evil junkie, you should stand clear.