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Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D preview: a riot kick

Andrew Yoon , @scxzor
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D isn't a game -- it's fan service. You see, there are two types of Resident Evil fans: casual ones that have fun playing a "survival horror" game and the hardcore buffs that really, really dig its absurd, kitschy, over-the-top action. I'm part of the latter group, meaning The Mercenaries 3D seems like a love letter to me.

However: If you're not part of that latter group, you'll quickly find yourself disinterested in what The Mercenaries has to offer. There's a reason why the original "The Mercenaries" game mode was tucked away as a bonus in the last two console RE offerings. Where are the puzzles? Scripted events? Where is the story? These are all features that have been severed, packaged into Resident Evil: Revelations (another 3DS game, due at a later date).

While some will rightfully take offense at Capcom's obvious "double dipping," it's hard to deny the sheer fun of knifing "zombies" in the knees and spin-kicking them to increase your score multiplier. The Mercenaries is meant for those gamers that find the core gameplay of Resident Evil fun and want to memorize maps in order to get the highest score. It's meant for the kind of player that thinks seeing HUNK fight RE5's Executioner while roaming a castle from RE4 justifies a purchase. By merging characters, enemies and levels from both RE4 and RE5, The Mercenaries 3D has effectively become the closest thing to a "Smash Bros." the Resident Evil universe has.%Gallery-114644%

Because The Mercenaries has no story, it places much more emphasis on the quality of the core gameplay. I was expecting a direct translation of the mode as found in Resident Evil 5, but I was surprised to find out that the 3DS game actually features some improvements. Most importantly, you'll be able to move and shoot at the same time. While this is a given in nearly every other franchise out there, this is a revolutionary step for the franchise, making it all the more clear that The Mercenaries is less "horror" and simply "action." Holding the R button lets you aim and shoot, but holding both the L and R button lets you strafe as well. This changes everything.

The touch-screen inventory is a welcome addition to the franchise, allowing you to perform real-time weapons changes rather effortlessly. (Previous versions of Mercenaries demanded some vigorous inventory management.) This may seem like a minor change, but it drastically changes the feel from previous Resident Evil games.

Unfortunately, the demo we played didn't offer The Mercenaries' biggest new feature: online co-op. Resident Evil 5 proved how well the franchise works when you add a friend to the mix, and it's likely this will follow suit. The trailer released yesterday shows the return of classic RE5 co-op combo moves, something I look forward to trying out:

Oh, and did I mention The Mercenaries 3D is beautiful? In fact, it may be the most gorgeous game on the system right now, either in 3D or 2D. Not many games on the platform can attest to looking nearly identical to a current-generation console game. If there's one game that will sell you based on technology alone, this would be it.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is definitely not going to be for everyone. But, it seems like those that "get it" are going to absolutely love it. If you're part of that group, let me know -- we're going to need to trade Friend Codes once the game comes out.