Review: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

The first Resident Evil title for the Nintendo 3DS is not what you’d expect from the long running series. There is no storyline, cutscenes, or even the slightest trace of an adventure. Instead, what you’re getting is the Mercenaries mini-game from Resident Evil 4 and 5 as a stand alone product. It’s surprisingly not as bad as it sounds.

If you never played Mercenaries mode before, the object of the game is quite simple. You need to defeat as many enemies as possible before time runs out. Killing multiple enemies in a row within a short amount of time counts as a combo. The higher the combo count, the better your score. Scattered throughout each level are time crystals that will increase your mission time once activated. Finding the crystals while maintaining a combo is where the challenge comes into play. It’s completely impractical to just waste your ammo on everything in sight. You need to find techniques that conserve ammo and save time. What’s nice is that picking up items is all instantaneous now. It doesn’t make much sense but it does give the game a faster pace.

The game is split into five levels, each consisting of multiple missions. The first two levels serve as the tutorial. If you’re unfamiliar with the way Mercenaries works, this will bring you up to speed. Otherwise, the first six missions are a bit tedious if you know what you’re doing. Once you get past the tutorial, the real game begins. With 30 levels in all, this is a game that will last you quite awhile. Just playing through as one character can take roughly 5 hours, assuming you don’t replay any missions. That’s not even counting the unlockable EX missions.

[drop]There are 8 playable characters to choose from. Chris, Jill, and Hunk are available right from the start. The rest of the cast, which includes Barry, Rebecca, Claire, Krauser, and Wesker, along with everyone’s alternate costume needs to be unlocked.

Each character has their own set of weapons and unique melee attacks at their disposal (although it is possible to unlock the ability to switch weapon loadouts between characters).

For example, Jill is equipped with a machine gun, a knife, and a shotgun. She can easily go up to enemies and stab them to death without wasting a single bullet. When things are getting rough, you can bust out the shotgun to clear a path with relative ease. Krauser, on the other hand, is slower, but far more powerful. He’s equipped with a bow & arrow (with infinite ammo), a knife, and a rocket launcher. His standing melee attack is a knee to the face that will make an enemy’s head explode on impact. No character feels the same, which adds some value to the cast.

By default, the aiming is all done in first person view. This can be changed in the options menu to the more familiar third person view from RE5. The most useful addition to Mercenaries 3D is being able to walk and shoot. It’s not without its own set of issues. If you use the default scheme, you need to hold R to raise your weapon, L to enable walking, and press Y to shoot. The problem is, you can’t aim while walking using this control scheme. Your gun is locked to whatever position it was at when you pressed the L button. While it’s better than stopping and shooting all the time, the limitation is frustrating. All but one control scheme has this issue.

The one that works best is control type C. Basically, it’s one built for third person shooters. You use the analog stick to move your character and X, Y, B, A to move the camera around. L puts you into aiming mode, and you can actually move around and freely aim (like in Dead Space) without problems. To shoot all you need to do is press R. It’s pretty much your standard setup for all third person shooters, just without a second analog stick. You can walk back while reloading, walk forward while using the knife. It really makes the game just that much better.

For some reason, the weapons are displayed on the left side of the touch screen and not the right. You have to move your right thumb quite a distance as a result. Unfortunately, you can’t change where the weapon select is located. It’s not like seeing the map on the bottom screen would be hindered by allowing for such an option.

New to The Mercenaries 3D is the Skill system. There are 30 skills in all, but only three of them can be assigned to a character at a time. Each skill has three levels to them, which can be leveled up by using them in missions. The skills vary from improving the recovery of healing items or reducing damage to improving weapon handling and increasing damage output. For the most part, skills aren’t necessary until after you beat all five levels and unlock the more difficult EX missions. Otherwise, it makes the game a bit too easy.

Stage variety is where The Mercenaries 3D falls short. There are only 8 stages in all. You can boost that number to 12 if you count the night and evening variations of the Public Assembly, Old Castle, Village, Deserted Island. All of the stages should be recognizable to fans of RE4 and RE5 since they are taken from both. The lack of original content and the lack of a significant amount of old content is what really holds this game back. Capcom should have gone all out for this one. Instead, they released almost the bare minimum.

There’s a disturbing lack of enemies as well. There are several variations of Zealots and Majini from RE4 and RE5 (complete with random mutations), RE5’s Executioner, the crazy chainsaw men, and the Garrador from RE4. That’s pretty much it aside from a random chicken and those annoying spider creatures from RE5. At the end of a few levels you’ll have to face Popokarimu (the bat boss from RE5) while worrying about normal enemies at the same time. These fights are fun, but it doesn’t happen often enough. It would have been neat if other major bosses were included.

[drop2]Graphically, the game looks great. The character models showcase what the 3DS is capable of. It’s not quite console quality, but it’s definitely some of the best you’ll see on the handheld. You’ll encounter tons of enemies on screen in later levels and the frame rate doesn’t drop once. Enemies from afar, however, only have a few frames of animation. It’s really distracting when you notice it. The 3D effects are pretty subtle, even at full capacity. It doesn’t add or detract from the game at all. It’s also worth noting that the amount of gore is equal to RE5, which means that you won’t see any decapitations. In terms of sound, make sure that you’re wearing headphones. The 3DS’s speakers just don’t do the game justice. That said, sound effects and character voices are noticeably compressed.

There is support for local and online multiplayer. Of the 30 levels in the game, 22 of them are playable cooperatively with another player. As with SSFIV: 3D, you can host a lobby for anyone to join or host a private one for people on your friendslist. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to add random people you met to your list. If you had a really good game with someone you most likely will never see them again. The netcode works great and there wasn’t any noticeable lag. The only thing aside from voice chat that’s missing is an online leaderboard. That’s a pretty major oversight seeing as this is a game all about achieving the best score possible. What’s the point of replaying missions if you don’t have some motivation?

Mercenaries 3D also includes a demo for Resident Evil: Revelations but it’s going to leave you disappointed. The demo lasts for about five minutes and then ends abruptly. You can’t change the control scheme, and the shooting is locked to a first person view. It’s a shame that a more comprehensive demo, like the one that was playable at E3, wasn’t included.


  • Tons of replay value
  • Online multiplayer works great
  • Walking and shooting!
  • It feels like RE5 in the palm of your hands
  • Control scheme Type C modernizes the RE4 formula in a good way
  • Graphics really showcase the power of the 3DS


  • Only 8 characters to play as
  • Lack of stages and enemy variety
  • Boss battles are disappointing and nearly non-existent
  • Can’t change the difficulty
  • User interface could use some work
  • No online leaderboards
  • Having one save and not being able to delete it could be a problem for some

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is not for everyone. If you’re looking for a game with an interesting story, or any story at all for that matter, you’re going to be disappointed. If you loved the Mercenaries modes from past games in the series, you’ll definitely enjoy The Mercs 3D. The skill system and improved gameplay mechanics really do enhance the experience. It’s great as a quick pick up and play handheld title or one that you can play for hours at a time due to its addictive nature. Somehow Capcom successfully turned a mini-game into a standalone product that’s worthwhile.

Score: 7/10


  1. Resident Evil without a story. Bah. Keep it.

    • Heh. Yeah, I knew there would be some people that felt that way. Totally understandable. Honestly, I would have preferred this as a PSN/XBL release for $14.99. That would have been awesome.

  2. Sold, I’m getting it.

    • We should play!

      • Can do!

        Might be a while though, about to go through a funds-intensive months :-(

  3. Sounds decent but I got rid of my 3DS this week so guess I won’t be playing this one.

    • How come you got rid of it? Thinking of purchasing one myself soon…

      • While I actually really like the 3DS as a handheld (and there are some great looking games coming out soon), I found that I couldn’t play it for more than 30minutes at a time without getting really painful cramps in my hands :S Out of curiousity I asked Blockbusters how much they would give me if I traded it in and they offered me 40quid more than I paid for it so… :)

  4. Can’t help but think Nintendo should have learnt from the PSP and put in 2 analog sticks.

    • Can’t say that I disagree.

      • Probably, but can’t the screen function as one?
        As in the camera stick used in a FPS?
        I know some quite good DS shooters utilise that method.

  5. I’m torn between this one. At this moment in time i don’t have a 3DS but am getting one. The game seems good but the no over writing saves is a big problem for me.

    • The way I’d look at it is there is almost nothing worth buying coming out for the 3DS until September so I would personally pick this game up to fill the time. For the most part it has recieved scores of about 7 and 8 :)

Comments are now closed for this post.