Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D hands-on preview

Our first reaction to The Mercenaries 3D was "huh?" After all, this is a popular side-mode from Resident Evil 4 and 5, where you enter a map and blast the hell out of zombies until the timer runs out or you're eaten alive. Is that enough content to justify its own (possibly $40+) game? Well, initially I thought not, but after several rounds of uppercutting bad guys until their heads explode I realized this shooting-gallery style is a reasonable fit for bite-sized, handheld gaming.

There's no story. There's no reason or motivation - it's just pure gameplay. Enter a level, kill enemies quickly to keep the timer going and stay alive until you rack up the highest possible score. There's a beautiful simplicity to it, even though yes, we are still scratching our heads at the idea of Mercenaries as its own product. But even after my appointment and allotted time with the game, I felt compelled to go back and try again for a higher score. Maybe I can find more treasure chests this time (each with bonus time or extra items, like weapons or herbs), or perhaps if I choose Krauser and use his rocket launcher against the chainsaw dude, the match will last just a bit longer - it's every bit as infectious as the console version, just on the go.

Capcom reps acknowledged how Mercenaries will be perceived, and made it a point to spell out the various enhancements and additions. First, you're getting a cast of characters from across the RE universe. We saw Chris, Hunk and Krauser, each with their own loadouts, but we also saw a brand new version of Claire Redfield, and were told there were definitely more in the final version. Each is customizable, and there will be further ways to fiddle with each character via content unlocked as you play through the single-player game. What these customizable perks will be is still a mystery.

Second, the controls have been streamlined for easier access. Weapons are hotkeyed to the 3DS' d-pad, and healing items are mapped to the A button for a quick, one-press jolt of First Aid Spray (if you have one, that is). No clumsy menus or "hold this button while pressing another" to get to basic inventory. And if you bring up your gun with R, and then hold L as well, you can actually move while shooting - in a Resident Evil game! Granted, you won't be doing this often, as enemies are pretty much constantly breathing down your neck.

And on that note, Mercenaries 3D is every bit as intense as the console versions. The waves of infected villagers keep coming, and each of them look and animate alarmingly close to the 360/PS3 versions - in fact, the whole game looks more or less identical to the big boys. Sure there are obvious hitches here and there, but for a handheld, it's quite stunning to see. I did notice a bit of stuttery shambling from one baddie across the screen, but nothing else that really soured the experience.

As for the 3D effects... I didn't find them particularly good or bad. Yes there's depth, but it didn't make aiming any easier nor did it suck me into the experience more than a standard display. In fact, I played a few rounds with 3D on, then turned it off, and found the game just as fun, if not better when it was in dusty old 2D. On the plus side, the 3D effects never wore my eyes out or hindered the game at all.

Capcom teased there will be modes beyond "kill everything" and they'll be unique to the 3DS version of the game, but didn't elaborate. More specifically, there'll be online co-op, both local and over Wi-Fi, and naturally leaderboards to see who's on top. All you're really doing is playing for a top time, but hey, such simple competition can keep you playing for hours (as we've all noticed while playing NFS Hot Pursuit and Blur). I don't want to oversell the experience here, especially given the prospective prices of 3DS games, but for a straightforward, RE-themed shoot-em-up, this is pretty damn fun. The real question is whether those additional modes and customization will make Mercenaries feel like a real, standalone package or overpriced semi-spinoff. It's set to launch this summer, so there's a chance we'll see this again at E3 - maybe we'll know for sure then?

Jan 19, 2011




  • gUtSLyOiR - January 21, 2011 1:52 a.m.

    I think it would be a good fit for portable, but i hope its a bit cheaper than other full games. somewhere in the 20-30 dollar range might better suit this game. On the note of mercenaries being its own game, i always wondered why capcom never bothered to put the mercenaries on PSN/XBLA as a stand alone game for like... idk, 15 dollars? if they made it a combo of RE4s and RE5s, (chars, stages, etc), i think it could be amazingly addictive. captcha- apparently "novels prodfire" xD
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - January 20, 2011 6:38 p.m.

    @Joco I heard several lefties complain about Kid Icarus, but RE is more like a traditional stick and button game. If you're fine using a 360/PS3 controller, you'll be fine with this game. Touch screen interaction is limited to selecting weapons and grenades (which can also be hotkeyed to the d-pad)
  • Clovin64 - January 20, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    I'm a big fan of the mercenaries mini-games in Resi 4 and 5, and me and friend have poured dozens and dozens of hours into Resi 5's mercenaries mode. This is actually one of my most-wanted games for the 3DS.
  • bugcatcherjason - January 20, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    Hi, um... I like Mercenaries and all, but will there be more content/game modes? Or is that too early to tell?
  • Joco84 - January 20, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    Could anyone please tell me whether I should be concerned by the fact that there's only one analogue stick? I'm left-handed and the thought of using my right hand to write on the touchscreen makes me worried, as I can't use my right hand for anything. Can anyone confirm/allay my fears?
  • RebornKusabi - January 20, 2011 5:55 a.m.

    This, Dead or Alive and Street Fighter 4 are my day one purchases come March when I pick the 3DS up. I LOVE the Mercenaries modes that have been in the last 2 RE games so an entire game of it and on a portable makes this game a heavy plus in my opinion.
  • Spybreak8 - January 20, 2011 5:35 a.m.

    Hmm I was thinking about Pac Man CE and or DX when you were talking about always going for a high score/comparing leaderboards. Now that I think about it though I think this sounds like The Club with zombies.
  • ThatGuyFromTV - January 20, 2011 2:34 a.m.

    is the 3d feel like real 3d, or do all the depthy objects look flat?
  • Imgema - January 20, 2011 2:19 a.m.

    I knew this would be a brainless, action shooter and not a proper RE game.
  • BurntToShreds - January 20, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    Mmm, smell that rehash!
  • JLThatshilarious - January 20, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    I've been planning on getting this as my "launch" game.
  • CandiedJester - January 20, 2011 1:37 a.m.

    Never tried this, but I like simple concepts that are addicting because of forever trying to reach a higher score (Nazi zombies "cough") so I might keep it in mind.
  • MonocledYaoGuai - January 20, 2011 1:02 a.m.

    To me this looks awesome! I always loved Mercenaries in RE4, and I spent a lot of time playing it after the main game was over. Shame i'll have to wait till Summer...
  • WelcomeGhosts10 - January 20, 2011 12:59 a.m.

    Seems like a good idea for the 3DS being a portable platform, but to bad the 3DS itself is out of my reach because of $$$ Question though, did the 3D effects slow the FPS down or cause other performance problems?
  • n00b - January 20, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    but what about the gore?!?!!?!?
  • The_King_of_Nothing - January 20, 2011 12:44 a.m.

    Count me out. I was never a fan of this style of Mercenaries. I prefer the RE3 style. This type always got boring after only 3 rounds of doing the exact same thing with no endgame. I like having a goal to reach and actually earning things for doing good. There is no rewards for this Mercenaries. Not to mention it would cost another $40-$50.

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