Any gamer has heard of one of Capcom's biggest franchises, Resident Evil. I'll admit right off that I'm typically horrible at the survival-horror genre of games, having never beaten any Resident Evil or Silent Hill game. So why then would I accept the chance to review Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D? Well for one, it gives me an excuse to build up my 3DS library. Second...I mean, it's zombies in 3D. How can that possibly go wrong? Well, as terrible as I am at Resident Evil games, even I can tell that this isn't Capcom's best outing in the series. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good game, but it does have a bit that's lacking. With that said, let's dive shotgun first into Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on the Nintendo 3DS.
When you first start off the game, you can choose from a couple different characters to play as, such as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, with the main differences being what kind of weapons they have available to them. You can also assign different skills to each character (up to three) that can improve their abilities, such as better vitality recovery. As you progress you can open up new skills and characters (from what I can tell, there are eight characters total and a few dozen skills to unlock). I'll get more into unlocking things later on. From there you can choose any level you've unlocked to play through, with the first few helping you to get used to what the game and controls are like. For instance, the first mission (noted as 1-1) gets you used to movement controls, while later stages get you used to firing. Once you hit the second set of missions (2-1 to 2-3), you should know what you're doing for the most part.
If you're familiar with Resident Evil games, the controls should feel somewhat familiar. Holding R puts you in attack stance (for lack of better term) and hitting Y fires the currently selected weapon, or reloads if the weapon is empty. R+B will allow you to reload early if need be (such as if you get a lull in the action). This is a mild annoyance, as you have to go into attack stance to start reloading. Once you're in the action of reloading though, you can release R and move around. Every other game I've played you can reload on the move by hitting one button. Here you have to hit two, and stop moving for a brief moment. This just about got me killed in one mission in fact. I had some fat zombie attacking me, so I switched to my shotgun and fired off a few rounds. The I had to reload. As I tried to, the zombie hit me, knocking me out of my reload. I had to stop, hold R, hit B, and by that time, the darn thing hit me again. Being cornered didn't help me any, but I stand by my complaint. Anyway, hitting Y will pick up any items dropped on the ground, which took me some time to figure out. I couldn't figure out why I never had any herbs left when I kept seeing them all around me. Then I noticed where it said to press Y to pick things up. On the topic of herbs...oh boy. While experimenting with what the buttons do, I accidentally used an herb while hitting A. Allow me to explain this a bit more in detail.
Your inventory is on the touch screen. This shows what weapons you have, as well as your herb supply. It will also show you how many rounds for each gun are in the current clip and how many shots total you have left. For example, on the touch screen for Chris you have the hand gun, shot gun, sniper rifle, herbs, hand grenades, and mines. To use any of these items, all you have to do is touch it and you'll use it. Need to go to the shot gun? Simply touch it and fire away. Want to place a mine? Tap it on the touch screen and press R to lay it down (yes, all you have to do for the mine is select it and just hit R). Anything you want to use, just tap the touch screen...except for herbs. I'm sure you can touch the screen to use an herb, but you can also just hit A. This is fine, until I accidentally hit A and use an herb while at full health. It's just a minor complaint really.
The game has 21 regular missions and 9 unlockable missions, which can be unlocked depending on your ranks in other stages. Once you complete a mission, you can go back through it to get a better score and rank with any character you have available. Yep, at the end of each mission you're given a rank based on your score. Completing a mission quickly can also help your score, as you get points for the time remaining. Aside from personal bragging rights, you can gain medals depending on your scores. These can be obtained through a lot of means, such as clearing one mission with a high enough rank, to completing all missions at a certain rank or better. The more medals you get, the more things you can unlock. For instance, each character has an alternate outfit they can wear that also helps their stats. For instance, they may be able to recover vitality better or take less damage. These outfits can be obtained either by gaining enough medals or having a good rank on certain missions. Each of the five unlockable characters can be obtained by obtaining a decent rank on a different mission. As for the skills I mentioned earlier, these are also unlocked in a variety of ways. The first one I unlocked was the Medic skill. This skill improves your vitality recovery by 50% and is unlocked by obtaining at least a B rank on mission 1-3. Other skills can improve your weapon handling, strengthen your weapons, and even increase your reload speed. The longer you use the skills, the more they'll level up (up to level 3) and can increase their benefits.
If it seems like this review is a bit short, that's because the game is a little short, but can also be fun. I mean, we are talking about slaying zombies here. At first glance, it seems like this game is just 21 or so missions, and judging from the first few, it seems like it's the same thing over and over. You shoot some zombies within the time limit, you're done. That's what I thought until I hit 3-5, which is a boss fight against some enemy named BOW from Resident Evil 5. To be honest, I'm still stuck on that thing. However, I will give the game credit where it's due. The missions can be challenging, and if you're a Resident Evil fan, you'll probably take a liking to the game. This is actually the first Resident Evil game I'm actually somewhat good at. If the low number of missions seems like a turn-off (as it was to me for a bit), there is quite a bit of replayability to the game. Each character you unlock has their own sets of weapons to use, so if getting through with one character is a problem, try switching to another character and see if their weapons work better. You might find that you can get a better rank in one stage with Jill than you could with Claire, while Claire might be better in another stage. You can freely change your character between missions, as well as swap out skills. On that note, you can also assign the same skill to multiple characters, so you can definitely experiment to see what works best on who, and who works best on what mission.
There is also a co-op mode, but unfortunately I was unable to find anyone to play with, so I had pretty much no exposure to co-op, but from what I've heard, it's basically going through the missions with a partner, who can revive you if you're on the brink of dying. What's interesting to note from what I've researched is that you can issue commands to your partner, such as Go and Wait. It's a decent concept, especially if you're playing online and can't physically talk to your partner. However, that all comes down to hoping your partner isn't a complete idiot and ignores you, or just wants to have all the fun himself and wants you to just stand back and watch. I was hoping to get a little time with co-op mode, because slaying zombies is even better with a friend...or a complete stranger if online. The game also comes with a demo of Resident Evil Revelations which, while not co-op, is an okay demo. While it looks nice, there's just too little action in too short an amount of time. You'll be done with the demo in about three to five minutes, and I can only recall two times I had to shoot at something that was coming at me.
In conclusion, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D kind of took me by surprise. When I noticed that there were around twenty or so missions, I was starting to wonder if the game was really worth it. I mean, it is just a bunch of timed missions, which is unlike the rest of the Resident Evil games (at least you don't need ink and a typewriter to save your game). However, seeing that you can unlock characters with their own sets of weapons and alternative costumes for each that alter their stats, knowing that you can unlock skills by getting better ranks on various stages, and having a multitude of ways to customize the characters and, in a sense, the game itself, RE:TM 3D has quite a bit of replayability to it. One of the main complaints I've heard though, is that Capcom didn't provide any way to erase saved data. I think their reasoning was to try and limit used game sales. It's really not that big of a deal here, as most of the gameplay is aimed at obtaining a high score. However, gamers who get the game used and want to unlock everything themselves would be at a loss. I tried the ABXYLR trick that works with Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, but to no avail, so unless you have some 3rd party device to remove saves, there's no erasing the save data off of this one. It's not that huge to me, but I'm hoping that this doesn't crop up in more games, as it can deter people from buying the game. While it seems like something that would be classified as a mini-game, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D actually isn't that bad of a game and worth checking out.