Let's Ride Together in a Starship Made of Hate and Horrible Games

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3DS REVIEW - Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

     One of the early 3DS titles released by Capcom, "Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D," stands out to me as the first game I absolutely must review. This game is a huge deal for me, mostly because I had insisted ever since Resident Evil 4 was released that "The Mercenaries" could be extended into a full retail title. Now that it has actually happened, and on a console that I could have never have expected, I am genuinely excited to be writing this.

     For those who are unaware, this title is an extension of a mini-game that has been present in several Resident Evil titles over the years (starting more-or-less with RE3). Whereas the main games are typically survival horror games, "The Mercenaries" is all about fighting hordes of opponents in an arcade-like race against a time-limit. The goal is to rack up as many points as possible within the time limit via killing opponents in sequence to build a points multiplier. This whole mode echoes that old-school arcade spirit that few games seem to implement these days, and the mode always worked well when paired with the robust story modes of the Resident Evil franchise. However, for the release of the 3DS, Capcom has decided to release a large amount of the existing content from the previous versions of the mode in one package.

     So the immediate dilemma that seemed to arise was whether or not this content could actually stand well on its own. I've seen many trash the game already, some because it's not a new title in the franchise (though one is already scheduled and this game includes a demo for it), and others because it is quite short. Yes, the game is tragically short. The problem with this criticism is that it's proponents are missing the point of the game entirely. The 30-ish missions advertised on the box are nothing more than a glorified tutorial for what is the real meat of the game, diving into the game's stages in hopes of racking up a high score. There's plenty of skills to unlock and tinker with, alternate costumes to uncover, and 50 medals to earn (which can contribute to unlocking content). If all you're doing is playing the missions and calling it a wrap, you're just plain doing it wrong. The entire point is to challenge yourself to see how many points you can score in a variety of stages by slaughtering opponents with a variety of weapons and melee techniques, and if you can get into that feeling it's a total blast. Honestly, every stage feels like a shoot-out from a movie to me. Get into that cinematic-battle state of mind and the game feels absolutely great.

     The longevity of the game is extended a fair bit by it's multiplayer content, which I actually found quite impressive for a handheld title. I've had no problems with diving into co-op play, which was arguably the most fun aspect of the mode in it's Resident Evil 5 version. Even playing with complete strangers has been fairly simple for me thus far. If you're lucky enough to have a friend or two with a 3DS of their own, try doing a friend's only game and set up a skype call! I've always held the opinion that co-op can save a game, and this really shines through here. Nothing quite beats gunning down scores of enemies with a friend.

     As for the audio/visual aspects of the game, I must say that I just can't bring myself to care. The music is fitting but rarely memorable, not counting some of the music returning from RE4's version. The in-game voices come off as a bit tinny at times, which isn't necessarily terrible considering the complete lack of important dialogue in the game. The visuals can be a bit lacking at times as well, but only over distances. This is really an issue with the 3DS more than anything, as long-range enemies tend to look like cardboard cut-outs at times. Up close they look just fine, and the stages look quite nice for a handheld title. The playable characters themselves always look well-rendered, which is excellent considering you spend a considerable chunk of time watching them perform melee-kills and other such actions from a third-person perspective.

     I find it worth the full $40, in fact I have to insist that anybody who wants this should buy it new. I REPEAT, ONLY PAY FOR THIS GAME NEW, you cannot delete saved data in this game. If you're fine with playing somebody else's half-completed file, that's your call, but you will miss out on earning a chunk of the content on your own (which I feel would rob from the experience). That said, it's still fun as hell and 3DS games are relatively cheap. If this were a $60 title I'd be singing a different tune, but a new 3DS game just isn't that bad by comparison.

     If I were to take the game at face value, I have to admit that I'd be forced to rate it much lower. However, digging into the emphasis on the arcade-style score mechanics and the sheer fun of co-op play has me convinced that this is my current favorite title on the 3DS so far.  

     Buy this if: You want to go on some score-based killing sprees, you like the Resident Evil franchise, or you like third-person shooters.
     Avoid this if: You want a story-driven title, you dislike the Resident Evil franchise, or if you're not big on third-person shooters.

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