We had the chance to get a deeper look at Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D at its Captivate press event last week. The 3DS game is based on the mercenaries minigame that was first introduced in Resident Evil 4 and expanded upon in Resident Evil 5. A presentation on the game showcased more of the content Capcom is packing into the title to flesh it out from its console minigame origins. In addition, a new playable work-in-progress version of the game let us look at more of the selectable characters and try out some new stages.
The game presentation was led by producer Masachika Kawata who explained that it had been Capcom’s intention to launch the title with the 3DS hardware, but development proved challenging and the decision was made to give the team more time to work on producing a more polished product. Kawata underscored his point by showing off a new trailer that ran through the game’s key features of character customization, cooperative play, character progression, and a tutorial mode. The game’s character customization lets players adjust their character’s weapon and skill loadout to best suit their play style. While you’ll have a modest number of skills and weapons to choose from initially, you’ll unlock more skills and weapons as you progress deeper into the game. Your skills will also level up as you use them in battle to offer added power that will come in handy during your matches.
Skills, meanwhile, will run the gamut from active offerings, such as the thunderbolt skill that adds electrical damage to your attacks, to more passive support in the form of reduced reload time. The cooperative play feature of the game is shaping up to be an ambitious, albeit slightly uneven, component of the experience. The good news is that you’ll be able to play wirelessly with a friend in local and Wi-Fi games. The more problematic news is the game’s communication options that appear to be limited to issuing in-game commands as opposed to proper voice chat, which would have been handy. That said, it’s nice to see Capcom continuing its trend of packing its 3DS offering with as many features that take advantage of the 3DS hardware as possible. Communication options notwithstanding, cooperative play will yield bonuses, thanks to combos you’ll only be able to perform when playing with a second player.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D’s controls have been refined from its console cousins and offer a broad range of control configurations to support each player’s tastes. In addition to a variation on the classic RE control scheme, the game offers a number of different options to choose from, including an option to let you move and shoot at the same time. Kawata also pointed out that the game could be played just as well in 2D as in 3D for those players who chose to pass on the game’s 3D effect.
In terms of the demo on display at the event, the new version featured six playable characters: Chris and Claire Redfield, Hunk, Jack Krauser, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker. Each character featured a unique but customizable array of skills, as well as weapons that were in line with how they’ve been portrayed in the games. The demo featured four levels, a solo-only tutorial and three levels (one easy and two normal) that could be played alone or with a friend. The stages were based on the familiar village center from RE4 and the docks from RE5. The action played out as it has on the console: Your goal is to blast as many foes as possible within a set time limit. You’ll find health, ammo, and time-restoring pickups throughout a stage as you stab and shoot your way around. The cooperative game was simple to set up, requiring you to decide if you were hosting or joining via an easy-to-follow menu. The in-game commands weren’t too tricky to pull off, but once the action heated up, we found ourselves verbally telling our partner what to do, which will be a challenge if you’re in a Wi-Fi game.
As far as the visuals go, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is a sharp-looking game with detailed environments and enemies that are comparable to its console cousins. The game’s frame rate zipped along at a steady clip even when things got clogged onscreen with foes and explosions. The 3D effect adds a solid sense of depth and is kept fairly subtle with a few flashy moments throughout the course of a game to remind you it’s there.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is shaping up to be a solid offering on the 3DS that offers some cooperative fun to the system’s software library. We’re curious to see just how much content is going to wind up in the game, but what we’ve seen so far is fun. The inclusion of a demo of the upcoming Resident Evil Revelations is a nice perk that we expect will offer one more reason for fans to pick up the game. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is slated to ship later this year, so look for more on the game in the coming months.