You can't have a modern Resident Evil game without a Mercenaries mode; the arcadey, run-and- gun race to take down as many foes as possible before time runs out. Capcom finally unveiled the Mercenaries component of Resident Evil 6 at the Tokyo Game Show, and it mirrors Resident Evil 5's version in almost every way. It's proven to be a worthwhile diversion from the standard story mode in the past, and now, with with the social-centric ResidentEvil.net, it's yet another way you can compete against your friends in the race to the top of the leaderboards.
Each round starts with a modest alotment of time, but play your cards right, and you can easily double or triple the length of a round. Killing enemies yields time-bonuses based on the method employed. Typical body-shots resulted in a 5 second bonus, but take out a foe with physical-force or head-stomp, and you'll double your reward. Time-crystals are handily strewn about each map as well, the locations of which are pre-determined, giving seasoned Mercenaries the upper hand when chasing the prestige of higher scores and the elusive "S" rank. The best players will be able to considerably extend their sessions, but fail to take advantage of every opportunity, and you'll only last a few minutes, at best. It was challenging to keep the clock running at first, but once we got accustomed to the location of crystals, and the pacing of the oncoming hordes, our scores quickly improved with each subsequent round.
Players are given the option to choose one of three characters: Leon, Chris, or, Jake. Each comes with their own selection of weapons and secondary support items that defines their relatively unique play-styles. Jake primarily uses hand-guns, the highlight being the “Elephant Killer”, which as you might assume, bulldozes through enemies in a single shot. Chris carries an assault rifle and a 9-mm pistol, but also has access to a combat-knife, should he run out of ammo. Lastly, Leon packs dual pistols, and a compact, pump-action shotgun. Compared to Resident Evil 5's mercenaries mode, which included ten playable character-builds, Resident Evil 6's three seems rather paltry, however it's highly likely we'll see more characters, or variations on the current linup, when the game is released.
There appear to be 6 maps available in all, however, only four were playable during the appoointment: "Urban Chaos", "Rail Yard", "High Seas Fortress", and, "The Catacombs". Each has their own assortment of enemies: Zombies in the Catacombs, Thugs in Urban Chaos and the Rail Yard, and lastly, Military Forces within the Fortress. Studying the maps is crucial to survival, as items, time-bonuses, and environmental eccentricities will, no doubt be the key to achieving a high-score.
In line with the main game, you can team up with friends locally or online, the former of which is accomplished via split screen. Communication will be the key to victory, presumably, as a misplaced explosive or shotgun blast might harm your teammate. Unfortunately, as this was a single-player setup, we were unable to test coop during the demo.
Overall, Resident Evil 6's Mercenaries mode will seem familiar to anyone accustomed to the one in Resident Evil 5. The integration of ResidentEvil.net's social features provides a new means of motivation, and potentially extends the games lifespan as a competitive multiplayer experience. There's no telling how, or if, ResidentEvil.net will take off, but Mercenaries, rather than the main game, stands a fair chance of enticing players into social competition when the game ships early next month.