Title: Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital | Retail
EU Availability: Digital | Retail
Block Usage: 4,711
Resident Evil is one of the franchises that I’ve loved ever since the very first game of the series I played which was, in fact, the original on the PlayStation. Since then, I have spent countless hours, from 1-3 on the PlayStation to 5 and Chronicles on PS3 to Revelations 2 on both the Vita and PS4. There has yet to be an RE game I didn’t enjoy, and that’s including that wonky Game Boy Color game, Resident Evil Gaiden.
This past week was the celebration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, and I have aimed to finish off all of the RE games I can currently review for the site because of that. I’ve already reviewed all of the RE games available on the Vita (with the exception of the PS3 games on PS Now), and have reviewed Revelations for the 3DS. That leaves two more RE games that I can review on handhelds until more release.
One of those games has not arrived in the mail yet, but the other I nabbed from this week’s sale for only $4.99! Here is my official review of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D!
Due to this game having no story mode, this section shall remain blank.
Mercenaries 3D is a third-person shooter with light survival horror elements. Since, unlike other Resident Evil games, this is solely focused on multiplayer, there are little to no horror elements here. So, for all intents and purposes, this game is a third-person shooter with the only survival horror elements coming from the enemies on-screen.
Progression in the game is in the form of missions. The game has 30 missions to take on, each separated into Ranks 1-5 and EX. Unlocking Ranks is in the form of completing all missions in the previous rank, though unlocking 5 and EX requires you to do all prior missions and achieve a high rank instead of just being able to finish them.
Unlocking new ranks will unlock new missions as well as new characters. There are 8 playable characters from across the Resident Evil franchise and they can all be unlocked by getting to higher ranks. You start out with only Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, so if you want higher-tier characters like Claire Redfield, Albert Wesker, or my personal favorite, Rebecca Chambers, you have to do campaign and unlock more missions.
Mission objectives are pretty simplistic overall, though the objectives only vary in the first few ranks which serve as various tutorials. You start with missions to help you move around and interact with environments and keep moving on various weapons, items, and other elements until you finish up with missions on how to defeat enemies, increase your time limit, and taking on bosses.
Once you get past that, every mission is the same: Kill as many enemies as possible in the time limit given to you. With this in mind, you will be firing upon enemies over and over again while looking for special items to increase your time limitation like Time Bonus items scattered across the map or simply using physical attack finishers to give yourself a little more time. The more time you have, the more enemies you can kill and the better rank you’ll get when the mission is over. Since you have to get a B Rank on every mission to unlock Rank 5, you’ll always want as much time as humanly possible.
Weapons are what you use to do this with. Each character has a specific weapon set assigned to them and you use those weapons to fight off enemies in each mission. Since each character has specific weapons, each character plays a little different aside from stat differences with some characters being stronger with physical attacks than others.
Customization mostly comes from skills. As you fight missions, you can acquire skills to enhance your character. These skills can increase how much health an herb can replenish or increase your aptitude with certain weapons. You unlock these by doing certain things. Use handguns a lot, and you’ll unlock Handgun Aptitude.
What you’ll be fighting against will be familiar to fans of the franchise. For all intents and purposes, this is like a Mercenaries mode for Resident Evil 4 and 5, as every location and every enemy are taken from those two games, the majority being from 5. So you’ll be taking on Ganados that can mutate, Maijin soldiers, and bosses like the Wasp/Scorpion monster from RE5.
This also brings up a good point in the game. Nothing in this game is new, aside from some of the alternate costumes you can unlock. Every location, item, and enemy were taken straight from RE4 and RE5. The mechanics here work decently well (more on that in the controls and presentation sections), but it feels like this is a glorified Mercenaries mode being packaged as its own game.
That is my main problem with the game. It feels so close and glued to the design of Mercenaries from 4 and 5 with virtually nothing new that it feels like more of a tech demo. To me, Mercenaries 3D feels like “Let’s see how an RE mercenaries mode might play on the 3DS and release it as a full game”.
One thing to mention regarding this is length. There are 30 missions total. 21 Campaign Missions and 9 EX Missions. Before Rank 4, all missions can probably be beaten in less than 5 minutes for a series veteran. That’s roughly 1 hour of play time for half of the game. Granted, later missions do take more time if you go for the time bonus, but the long and short of it is that, with only 30 missions, it’s not a very long game.
Now let’s talk about the controls for the game. This game was made before the Circle Pad Pro came out, and was never updated to work with it, like Revelations was. As such, the Z buttons and C Stick have no function in Mercenaries 3D. If you’ve ever played Revelations on the normal 3DS, you can see where I’m going with this.
The game has 4 control schemes. The main control scheme has you moving with the Circle Pad and then holding down the R trigger with various face buttons for the majority of the controls, such as R + Y for shooting and R + B for reloading. Pretty classic RE control scheme. It also has one more shooter-like with L and R for shooting, D-Pad for reloading, and the face buttons for moving the camera.
The latter is, by far, the closest to true dual analog controls and the least wonky with movement, but it’s still wonky. No matter what control scheme you choose, there will be at least one or two options that will be awkward for you to use.
Visually, the game looks fine. It’s got some pretty polished visuals, especially for an early 3DS game. When I played it, I just imagined it like “This is what RE4 or RE5 would look like if it got ported to the 3DS”. Granted, they’d need a much bigger cartridge size for all of one of those games, but it looked pretty good for a handheld RE title.
How the game plays is something that needs to be addressed. The frame-rate stays steady for the most part, whether you’re doing single player or playing with a friend over online co-op. The only discrepancy here is that faraway enemies will look choppy, a clear design flaw with the game’s draw distance, because they stop the choppy actions when you get so close to them or they get so close to you. Another would be some characters’ physical animations. Every time I use a finisher with Claire, her last kick goes through the enemy and hits nothing but air or a wall.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was the first RE game to grace the 3DS and it captured the Mercenaries feel from 4 and 5 well. While it can be a fun game to play, the short length, wonky controls, choppy animations, and the fact that it has nothing new to offer that players of 4 and 5 haven’t seen already makes it feel like more of a technical demo for a 3DS RE game than a fully-fledged game on its own.