The 3DS didn’t have a lot of progress in the first few months following its launch, but the month of June brought two highly-anticipated games to the handheld – Ocarina of Time 3D, and Capcom’s Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. On one hand, the Zelda re-make ended up being one the top-selling, highest-rated 3DS games in 2011. On the other, this portable version of the popular Mercenaries Mode from RE4 & RE5…well, it didn’t.
As a fan of Resident Evil 5’s co-op gameplay, Mercenaries, and Versus modes, I was excited to see how the series would transition to the brand-new 3DS. With no other realistic options for game purchases on my new 3DS, I was already finished with Ocarina of Time 3D and ready for something new to play by the end of June, so I picked up a copy of The Mercenaries 3D on launch day. I didn’t think I could go wrong with a handheld version of the mode that I enjoyed quite a bit in RE4 and RE5 – I even went through RE5’s co-op campaign half a dozen times with a friend, and played quite a bit of its Versus multiplayer mode.
Unfortunately, it only took about ten minutes of playing The Mercenaries 3D to feel like Capcom had obviously released the game as a “test run” for both the capabilities of the 3DS and the interest from “core” gamers, probably related to the upcoming release of RE: Revelations. This spin-off looked like it could have been one of the better games released in the early months of the 3DS; instead, it took too many liberties with the hardware, and the result was hardly worth the $40 price.
In hindsight, Mercenaries 3D would have been absolutely fine…if it were never released for $40, and instead packaged alongside Raid Mode in RE: Revelations.
There were a decent number of missions to play through, but the game was set up so that you played them in chunks, and you were forced to earn certain ratings on each set of missions before you could make any progress. There were a few stages where this caused me a lot of issues, and I ended up going through a lot of trial and error before seeing what was next: the same maps, with the same enemies, all back for more. It got pretty tiring, though I will admit that my lack of entertainment sources at the time made it pretty hard for me to complain.
The basic controls and mechanics of RE4 & RE5 were translated very well and worked nicely on the 3DS – surprisingly well, actually. I felt very comfortable moving around while aiming in first-person, or sprinting around and avoiding enemies in third-person…just as I would if I had an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller in my hands. Even the 3D effects were pretty solid – I mentioned Ocarina of Time 3D at the start of this article; while that game was obviously much better than The Mercenaries 3D, I felt like Capcom’s game pulled off the 3D effects more comfortably.
On the other hand, the overall quality of the visuals was pretty low – the textures, character models, maps, animations, and special effects were all taken from the console versions of Mercenaries Mode. It’s pretty clear that Capcom didn’t put much polish into this one before it was shipped to retailers; even the sound quality was lacking. To make this worse, the volume of the game seemed particularly loud, so the result was a lot of crackling gunshots and the accompanying splatter of zombie brains. These things do not sound great normally, but take the quality down a few notches, and it was even more bothersome.
What is interesting is that Resident Evil: Revelations eventually looked a lot better and played much smoother than The Mercenaries 3D, which makes the game even less impressive in hindsight. The ultimate kick-in-the-shins came from the terribly short demo of Resident Evil: Revelations. Capcom boasted this feature of The Mercenaries 3D for quite a while before launch, and provided roughly 2-3 minutes of play time, with roughly the same number of enemies to encounter.
Even the roster of characters wasn’t very exciting; all the content in Mercenaries 3D was recycled, making the “leftovers” feel even more stale.
Conclusion & Recommendation
When Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D came out, it only took a few hours before I regretted making the $40 purchase. Don’t buy it: even with the current pre-owned price ($19.99 @ GameStop.com), I would advise against the purchase unless you are seriously dedicated to the franchise (and you’ve already finished Revelations), or you are really getting desperate for a shooter on the handheld (and, again, you have finished the much-better RE: Revelations).
I’ve done a lot of complaining, but I didn’t actually walk away from The Mercenaries 3D completely unimpressed: instead, I was frustrated about the price the entire time, and wondered why Capcom didn’t cut the price in half before launch. I would have even been satisfied with a $10-15 download on the eShop. Ultimately I didn’t give up on the series, and earlier this year the publisher proved that it had bigger plans after all – Revelations was nothing like Mercenaries 3D, and stands as one of 2012’s top 3DS titles.
Critique & Scores
- Concept: (5/10) The Mercenaries 3D was basically a slimmed-down, portable-friendly version of RE4/RE5’s Mercenaries Mode. Unfortunately, Mercenaries was free in those games – and it costs $40 for the 3DS, which is entirely too much.
- Presentation: (6/10) Though it didn’t look awful by any means, Mercenaries 3D was also not spectacular to look at. The grainy quality of the visuals made the low-res textures look messy, and the game could have used a lot of polish, from both the graphics and the sound quality.
- Functionality: (6.5/10) Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D actually did a solid job of translating the controls from RE4/RE5, and felt very comfortable to play. I personally enjoyed the 3D effects in this game more than Ocarina of Time 3D, but there were some design decisions I really didn’t like – the inability to erase the cartridge data, more than anything. Lame move, Capcom.
- Replay Value: (5.5/10) Although the single-player experience got repetitive pretty quickly, playing Mercenaries 3D with a fellow 3DS owner is just as entertaining as playing co-op with a buddy through Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of content to explore.
- Reviewer’s Tilt: (+0) When the game originally came out, I was more forgiving of its lack of content, but something like The Mercenaries 3D would be an insult to 3DS owners now – and it really felt that way last summer. I just couldn’t get over the price; setting the proper price is important, and fans could have actually gotten some value out of this game if it was within reason.
- Final Score: 5.8/10