Resident Evil makes its first appearance on the 3DS. How did it do? Come find out...
All good games start out with a solid story; Resident Evil games doubly so. The story behind Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is simple -- there is no story. You are put right into the mix of things with a game born from a mini-game idea. You go through a various amount of missions unloading hell and a half on nasty creatures who use to be humans. Beyond knowing that much information there truly isn't a story attached to this RE. What's alarming is that it feels really empty without a story. Getting into previous Resident Evil games was easy because of the storyline. Even the Canadian acted first go around on the PSOne established some sort of story when the game began. Although seeing a Vanilla Ice look alike and a man with an unnaturally red beard was funny at the time, it at least set up some sort of story that got gamers into the mood to play. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D doesn't even bother to establish anything of the sort, which just starts the game off on the wrong foot.
With that said, I do understand the focus of the game was not to be an addition to the story from the other games, but rather an extension of a mini-game from previous RE titles. For people who understand and appreciate that then you're going to be in heaven with this game. For gamers looking for another RE game that continues the survival horror series you're going to be disappointed.
Now, what did translate well from the previous games are the controls. While not completely perfect, the controls of the 3DS did a great job with handling the non-stop action. The 3DS circle pad felt natural and moved around smoothly with the character. Aiming wasn't an issue, even when you zoom in to lock down your target. Be forewarned that once you do zoom in you lose about 40% of your viewing area, so you're opening yourself up for an attack. Moving around was essentially a cinch and didn't feel restrictive at all. I did have an issue with getting my fire button mixed up with my healing spray button, which sucked when I needed one or the other. It only took about two days to get over that, but for some reason making the Y button the firing button was jarring for me. I have no idea why, but it was probably me and less of Capcom. Anyway, I digress. The touch screen on the bottom worked really well when switching weapons and choosing the healing spray. The only part that felt rough was turning around; sometimes it felt like my character was in mud. I know that there is a quick turnaround button, but in the heat of the moment some of us slow-minded gamers tend to do the natural thing and just twist our characters around via the circle pad. If you find yourself doing that then you're going to find a slow movement executing. That leaves you open to attacks and can frazzle you in the heat of the action.
That is my biggest gripe with the controls, which isn't that big in hindsight.
Going back to the mini-game mention above, you get six missions in the entire game. Each mission is broken up into smaller segments (the first two give you three smaller missions, while the amount is increased starting with mission three), which gives some depth to the game. Each mission has a set of rules, though not terribly complicated, that the player must achieve to complete the mission. The point of the missions is really to score as much as possible by killing as many creatures as possible; not that difficult. You can go back to missions you played to increase your score and letter grade, and to potentially gain unlockables that help your characters along the way. All of it is pretty straightforward and by playing different characters in different missions it unlocks different things. This is potentially the only reason to use new characters in missions you have already played. I'm not trying to sound like a cynical bastard, but had there been individual stories attached to each character that connected somehow with the mission at hand then there would be a lot more incentive to replay the missions with different people.
Shifting gears just slightly, the time put on players to complete the missions really sucks the fun out of the game. I know that was the purpose of the game, but it takes away from the fun a little bit. This isn't like a Call of Duty or Halo online experience, so why is there a need for a time limit? Even worse, why am I required to search out these pink towers to gain more time? If that time task is applied some of the time that's fine, but having it in every mission in some way, shape or form is pretty annoying. Mix it all up a bit and have the player kill a certain amount of creatures or specific creatures, but don't create a game that is led by a time limit. I felt like this was one of the biggest downfalls of the game, as it's constantly in the back of your mind that you have to hurry up. Some people might like this rush, but some gamers tend to be more methodical with their gameplay.
Now, let's talk some characters. You only get eight characters to choose from (after it's all said and done) and the different techniques and skill slots that you can gain with each makes them interesting. While there isn't an abundance, their differences make it worth checking each out. Like I said a couple of paragraphs prior, there may not be enough here to warrant a replay of the game with multiple characters, but they are interesting enough to switch between now and then. Having unlocked them all, I was partial to using Jack Krauser. Krauser sported a bow and arrow, knife and an RPG. He provided a challenge, but he also made me feel like a badass. I really don't get to feel like a badass too often in life, so using him was nice.
So what about local and online play? I finally was able to experience online play today (that's why the review is so late), and I found it to be rather helpful. I was stuck on a particular level and was able to get help from another player to pass the obstacle in my way. While there is little interaction with the actual gamer on the other side, it was still nice to know that someone somewhere else was helping me pass a portion of the game I was having trouble with; that is true online teamwork in its purist form. The online play didn't lag, it was simple and I can see how much fun it could be. I didn't know anyone locally to try that portion of the game, but I do know that you need another cartridge to play it (no freebies here).
As for the presentation of the game I can safely say it was the prettiest game to date. RE really shows how much this little system can push through out. The character models are extremely detailed, down to the horror-filled facial expressions of the creatures. You get plenty of detail with less jaggies included; it can truly be compared to Playstation 2 graphics. The detailed, expansive environments were just as impressive and certainly puts the gamer into a horror show situation. The frame rate was an issue though, as far away creatures approaching seemingly stuttered their way towards my character. It was disappointing to see, as it looks very choppy, even when you're looking through a rifle scope. I'm not sure if it could have been improved, but it certainly looked bad. A plus of the game is the 3D that it sports, but there is little time to appreciate that as you run through the levels. It does look good when you can take in some of it.
Having said all of this, is the game fun? I think if you're expecting the pure action of a mini-game you may have already played before in the RE series then you're going to be happy. The action will be non-stop and not hindered by story elements or long periods of item finding (like what you would have to do in a regular Resident Evil title), which will probably be fun. For gamers looking for another RE game then you might want to wait until Resident Evil: Revelations releases, as that is a more traditional RE game. If you want a taste of what's to come then you might find the 'pilot' version of Revelations enough incentive to purchase this game (as it's on this cartridge). For me, I found the action too quick, a little pointless and a tiny bit empty. I wanted to have more fun with this title, but I just couldn't squeeze enough entertainment out of it to fill that need.