Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. Review
There’s more good in the theory of Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. than in the actual practice. The game is distilled to a small-scale version of the fun and popular arcade-style Mercenaries mode that appeared in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, but with a new edge: it takes it online in multiplayer on the iPhone and iPad.
Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. (IPhone [Reviewed])
Release Date: June 13, 2011
The resulting game, in which you run around in a third-person view, shooting enemies and taking on zombie-like “Ganados” from Resident Evil 4, can definitely be fun. Mercenaries modes in RE 4 and RE 5 are a lot of fun because they’re all fast-paced, high-energy, race-the-clock type experiences. The same is true of Mercenaries VS. — it moves fast and contains a lot of things to shoot. The difference is, instead of trying to kill as many nameless AI enemies as possible, you’re actually trying to kill other human players in an online deathmatch, but with AI enemies getting in the way and attempting to take you out with hatchets and chainsaws.
It’s a great idea, but in practice, Mercenaries VS. leaves something to be desired. The game primarily consists of online battles in which four players duke it out in either two-on-two team battles or free-for-all killfests. Killing Ganados is good, but killing opposing human players is better. The basic result is a Resident Evil experience in which you have a lot on your mind and quite a few things you have to be aware of at any given moment.
Mercenaries VS. ships with three maps to play on and includes three potential player characters — Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine, Resident Evil 5′s Chris Redfield, and the ubiquitous villain Albert Wesker. Each character has a different complement of weapons and equipment at loadout, so there’s a little customization to be had in which you choose.
The maps themselves are interesting, if not wildly different from one another. Each is fairly tight, including some basic interior sections and second-story rooftops you can use ladders to reach. Like in Resident Evil 4 and 5, survival under fire requires constant movement, and climbing a ladder means you can kick it down to prevent Ganados from pursuing you.
This setup can be hectic, and turning the basics of Resident Evil 4 into a multiplayer experience can be a great idea. The maps are the right size for the small numbers of players, the Ganados keep you on your toes and force you to make decisions about taking on opponents or fleeing situations, and the entire game is pretty dynamic.
There’s also a single-player offering, although it’s more for practice than an actual full-fledged game. In single player, you get an actual practice mode, in which you can play against AI bots in two-on-two or free-for-all matches. There’s also a mode called Coin Shoot, in which you have to scour each level for 15 hanging blue coins and snipe them within a set amount of time.
But while Mercenaries VS. sounds like fun on paper, actually playing with it on an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad leaves something to be desired. For one, Capcom hasn’t really made use of the devices’ technology — all the controls are virtual buttons, and as such it can be tough keep track of them. Mercenaries VS. is really designed for a controller, and as such, it doesn’t function to well in a platform in which one can’t feel the controls.
Mercenaries is also just kind of small. Just three maps and three characters means you’ll play through most every scenario the game can present within the first 10 or 20 minutes. Probably the most enjoyable mode is Coin Shoot, with the coins being tough to find and often tough to snipe, and well-hidden among the random stuff scattered throughout the levels.
Online, on the other hand, feels like it never quite reaches its full potential. Fights with enemy players aren’t really as harrowing as just surviving on the maps as Ganados swarm around. Aiming for accuracy is a tough affair with the iPhone’s touch controls, and you can move particularly fast to escape opponents if you’re in trouble.
Really, battling other players doesn’t carry the urgency that it ought to. Usually they amount to two players standing three feet off form each other, firing away until someone dies. If you catch someone in the back while they’re doing something else (or vice versa), you’ll likely gun them down before they have a chance to react — and if they don’t turn, face you, and kill you more or less instantly, they don’t have much chance of escaping if you’re close enough.
The fact that there is so little content to be had in Mercenaries VS. is also troubling. The game needs more options — more characters and load-outs that let players customize their play style, and more maps with varying terrain to fight through. As it stands, every game situation is pretty much the same, regardless of who’s playing or what map they’re playing on. I also had trouble getting into online games from my home network in Mercenaries VS., which was frustrating, although I wasn’t able to determine if that’s a function of weak Internet service in Los Angeles where I live or an issue on Capcom’s end.
Mercenaries VS. has a lot of potential. Resident Evil’s Mercenaries mode has something of a natural attraction to multiplayer, and with a little more development, Mercenaries VS. feels like it could be a quality online experience. The trouble is, it seems somewhat unfinished at this point.
- Good in concept, creating a fast multiplayer experience out of the popular Mercenaries mode
- Fun single-player modes complement the multiplayer action
- Nicely sized maps keep the action immediate
- Fighting human players and zombies makes things engagingly hectic
- Coin Shoot mode is a good change of pace and a lot of fun
- Only three maps and characters
- Controls are only passable on the iPhone
- Fighting often amounts to standing still and unloading on each other at close range
- Some connectivity issues
- Not enough variety in gameplay
Final Score: 65/100