If you didn't like Resident Evil 5's greater focus on action at the expense of suspense, you probably won't delighted with the premise of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Mercenaries was originally a bonus feature on Resident Evil 4 and 5. It's basically a time attack mode where you are trying to stay alive and gather up as many kills with in a set time limit. Players can rack up points faster with combo kills and stylish close combat attacks. The arenas hide many time bonuses which are essential you wish to achieve that mythical SSS -ranking.
Since Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D doesn't offer any kind of a plot or a story, it all comes down to clearing the levels of parasite infested zombies with a highest possible score and rank. The game offers five sets of levels with the total of 21. Getting B or higher in all the levels opens up an EX-mode with an additional set of eight levels.
Levels themselves don't offer big surprises if you've played the game mode in its previous incarnations before. There are eight different levels from previous two RE-games. Classic maps like the Spanish village and castle from Resident Evil 4 make an expected return.
The selection of available mercenaries in player's disposal are also a very familiar bunch. Eight is the magic number again with heroes like Chris, Jill, Rebecca, Claire, Barry, while Hunk, Krauser, and Wesker fill up the numbers for the other side. It's a bit of a surprise to note fan favourites Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong are missing from the roster. There isn't actually much difference between the characters apart from weapon sets and close combat moves. Weapon sets can also unlocked with 3DS Play coins so in the end the choice of character come down to melee skills and your favourite face from the series.
In addition to weaponry, players can customise their select mercenary with three special skills. Skills are unlocked by playing and give the character special abilities and boosts much like Perks in Call of Duty. Every skill also has three experience levels that can be developed by using the skills. There are thirty skills in total, so that leaves plenty of room for experimentation. However, unlocking each skill is painstakingly slow and after ten hours of play we'd only managed to open twelve of them.
Overall, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D has pretty solid gameplay. The level of difficulty is fairly balanced, but there are some problems with the camera and manoeuvring.
There are four different control schemes but they are never really a replacement for a second analog pad. It's the last sting in the tail of Resident Evil's tank-like controller system; it just doesn't feel fast enough in responding to the escalating threat levels, and in Mercenaries you really feel the loss of a dodge or evade move. Even more problematic as enemies also have a nasty habit of attacking the player from behind. It is not a big problem unless you have a giant chainsaw-wielding maniac on your hands. Getting sliced to pieces out of the blue just seems unfair.
If you get tired of blasting zombies by yourself there is always the Duo mode, where you can team up with another player over a local network or the Internet. It is possible to set up private games for your friends, but otherwise the options are very limited. There is no in-game communication, no end game statistics or even a possibility to ask your team mate for a follow up game. The Duo games are also a lot easier than Solo games as the difficulty doesn't change from the single player mode. If you know what you are doing you are going to run out of enemies before you run out of time.
One of the biggest grievances with Duo and The Mercenaries 3D in general is the lack of any leader boards or stats. Players can only see their own best Solo and Duo scores and absolutely nothing more. That seems to us a shocking blunder. After all the whole point of the game is high scores. In the long run motivation runs out quickly without the ability to compare yourself to friends or the best players in the world.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D still gets high marks for presentation. The game is easily one of the best looking on platform. The 3D effect doesn't really add drastically to it, but it looks nice and it is certainly easier to notice the distances between enemies and your character. There are some bugs, such as camera glitches when in tight spaces which throws your aim off for a second, but in all this is a strong conversion job transporting the game from console to 3DS. Music and sound effects also work well. The only exception is the super annoying announcer who gives half-ass advice in beginning of every single level. There no way to shut him up permanently but at least it is possible to skip the babble by pressing the Start button.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is typical 3DS mixed bag. The core gameplay is solid but it is ridden with many small problems which gnaw away the score. The biggest disappointment is of course the amount of content. There just isn't enough of it to really justify the £39.99 RRP. Playing the levels is fun for about 5-7 hours and by that point you really have already seen everything the game has to offer (aside from the ongoing Skill grind). Without extra motivation like leader boards or other game modes we just can't see ourselves playing the game any further.
Even with the skills and other stuff The Mercenaries 3D still feels like an extra feature - an extra feature we have already seen and played before. The Mercenaries 3D would have been a great addition to the upcoming Resident Evil: Revelations, rather than squandering an extra cartridge, and an additional forty quid on. As it stands this just about shambles over the 6 barrier to scrape a 7.