Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is hardly a "new" game. Yet, even though Capcom is essentially regurgitating a mini-game that originally came out six years ago (in Resident Evil 4), pumping lead into non-stop waves of undead flesh-eaters is still pretty fun on the 3DS, especially if you're playing alongside another person. Unfortunately, Mercenaries hasn't really evolved much since it last appeared as an extra in Resident Evil 5...and its entertainment value is limited, as you can blast through its missions in only a couple of hours.
The Mercenaries 3D has a lot of things working in its favour. It's the first Resident Evil title on the 3DS, previous incarnations of Mercenaries are proven hits among fans, and the series has a profusion of iconic enemies and locations to draw from. Mercs is also perfect for the kind of quick-hit experience the 3DS lends itself to. But instead of building on the core concept of teaming up with another player to battle Resident Evil's assortment of cultists and infected aggressors, the game's more or less unchanged. Even the settings -- which are ripped directly from RE4 and RE5 -- are somewhat bland and lack diversity.
It's a shame, too, because playing the game cooperatively with another player (either locally or via the internet) is genuinely entertaining. While it lasts, at least. And aside from occasional choppy animations of enemies in the distance, The Mercenaries 3D is also one of the best-looking video games available on the 3DS, and it showcases the visual horsepower the device is capable of delivering. There's almost as much detail and polish to Mercs 3D as Resident Evil's console releases.
But in terms of what's actually new in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, there are only a few bits worth mentioning. The most notable enhancement to Mercs are the secret characters and special skills you can unlock by racking up kills, completing missions before time runs out, and earning letter grades for your performance (which range from the lowest, "D," to the highest, "SS"). You can even equip characters with up to three skills, which boost things like the damage you inflict with specific weapons and your resistance to certain attacks. It's a step in the right direction, but doesn't do nearly enough to deepen Mercenaries.
I do like how each character has their own specific weapons and melee attacks, which forces you to try out different mercs to see who best suits your play-style. I played most often with Umbrella Security Service Commando, "Hunk," who's armed with a P8 handgun, a grenade launcher that fires flash grenades, and an AK-47. His melee attack is quite cool, too, as he jams his knife into the throats of nearby enemies.
The game also comes with a playable demo of the upcoming, story-driven Resident Evil game, Revelations. The demo's only about two minutes long, but it gives you a small taste of what to expect from Revelations, which takes place on a boat infested with oddly-shaped creatures that look like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel.
The Mercenaries 3D had the potential to be an awesome expansion to Resident Evil's popular survival mode. But due to a severe lack of new content, it's not worth $40, and it almost certainly won't hold your attention once you complete the all-too-brief missions.