Back in January at a Capcom preview event, I was able to get some hands-on time with Resident Evil Mercenaries VS [$2.99], a new multiplayer focused entry in the Resident Evil mobile series. During that preview, I could see that there was some potential fun that could be had battling it out with other players Resident Evil style, but was left with many reservations. The game’s performance was pretty atrocious, and it was slated to only ship with 2 playable characters and 1 multiplayer map. Even with the potential of the actual gameplay, these shortcomings left me doubting how the game would turn out.

Yesterday, Resident Evil Mercenaries VS was released in the App Store, a little more than a month after originally planned. The good news is that the extra development time went to fixing some of the problems I saw in the preview version, tightening up the performance a great deal and adding a 3rd playable character and 2 additional multiplayer maps to the game. The bad news is that even those additions can’t really overcome the poor presentation and mundane gameplay of the title.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Resident Evil Mercenaries VS is not a pretty title. The character models look halfway decent, but the entire game has a grainy, low resolution look to it that is full of jagged edges and a muddy color palette. These graphics may have been impressive a few years ago, but they don’t come close to cutting it in this day and age of iOS visuals.

Looking past the graphics, the game controls very well, utilizing the same scheme as the other Resident Evil iOS titles currently in the App Store. A control stick for movement and a set of context sensitive buttons for performing every action, along with a handy quick inventory for using items and switching weapons. The problem is that the Resident Evil style of gameplay just doesn’t suit what should be a fast paced multiplayer battle. Having to stop moving in order to enter an aiming mode, and then line up your shot on an enemy is an exercise in frustration as the other players and AI-controlled enemies that inhabit each level lay waste to you.

On the good side of things, the game does run relatively lag free while online. There’s even a single player component that lets you play the 4 player free-for-all or team battle modes with AI bots. The mode I had the most fun with was ironically not a versus mode at all, but rather the coin hunt game where you seek out and shoot 15 hidden coins in any of the 3 levels within a certain time limit, with your final score uploaded to a Game Center leaderboard. Even still, I don’t think this is enough to warrant recommending the game when what should be the star feature - the online multiplayer - is so sub-par.

With enough practice, some people may warm up to the style of multiplayer battling in Resident Evil Mercenaries VS, but with so many far superior online multiplayer experiences on iOS already it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Dimitris Katsafouros

    Another mediocre offering from Capcom...

  • E_Domina

    looked just ok at the start. looks like nothings changed

  • Kyle

    I've been so disenchanted with the Resident Evil series lately so something like this doesn't really surprise me much.

    What I also have never understood since RE5's release, is the need for a game mode in which you shoot both zombies(or whatever they are called now) AND other players. Its just senseless.

  • Xoleras20099

    I absolutely love the game personally. The game actually feels really fast for me, 3-4min matches (with hitting time extensions also) fly by quickly. There's a lot of gameplay things most people aren't noticing strategy-wise, though.

    - Boxes boxes boxes. You find all the good stuff in boxes. (You can get ammo, rocket launchers [which may sound unfair, but they take a while to aim, have one shot, and are hard to hit with] and herbs from them to easily turn the tide.)

    - Reload! The worst thing to have happen to you in this game is to get in a firefight with a player and accidentally trigger an Auto-Reload. You can easily reload your guns between fights by shaking your iDevice.

    - Need to turn around faster? Double tap the down button on the d-pad, your character will do a quick 180 degree turn about.

    - Aside from the "Inventory" menu (Which you have to stop completely to use.) there is also a "Quick Inventory" in the top right by holding your finger on your equipped weapon. This allows you to drag and select weapons on the move. The standard inventory should really only be used for: Combining Herbs and Dropping items to pick up better ones.

    - In Free-for-all, the heal buttons there for a reason. Hitting it quickly will let you recover from Dying state quickly.

    - Crank the sensitivity up to fast. It makes things so much easier to aim at. (And if you're facing an enemy to begin with, it'll automatically aim for their chest when you raise your gun.)

    - When you see an enemy flip over, stand up and start blinking red, don't waste your ammo, they're in dying state! Run up to them quickly and hit the action button for a quick finish (Bonus points and a small time extension, too)!

    Team games are my favorite personally, but it seems that most people want to play Free-For-All. If you can't find a match to your taste, just Create one! You can do that under the Custom Game tab.

    Capcom has also said that they are going to be adding new characters and maps ala Street Fighter IV style. (Although a few might be made In-App-Purchases)

    Although, I do agree with you when you say the graphics are dated, but as a 3GS user (no ip4 retina and no ipad stretch) it really doesn't bother me. Then again, I get really immersed in the gameplay because I love Resident Evil as a series and this personally is the first iOS RE entry I've enjoyed to the point that I keep coming back for more.

    And wow. I did not mean for this to be as long as it is. But with all the negative things I've seen about this awesome game, I had to say something about it, and share my knowledge about how to "better the strategy" of newer players. :]

  • Skavinger

    Mmm, PS1 graphics. Why did Capcom even bother?

  • Johnny

    The iphone 4 (and 3GS) are both more powerful than the Nintendo 3DS, so why does this Resident Evil game on the iphone look a lot worse than the Resident Evil Mercenaries game on the Nintendo 3DS?

    • Eli Hodapp

      Because Capcom treats the iPhone like a mobile phone instead of a game system. These are mobile phone games we're getting when the iPhone is capable of so much more. It's kind of sad because there's -tons- of wasted potential here.

      • Tim Dean

        Probably because the pricing model for the App Store means they can't invest as much money in iOS development. You have to sell a lot more $3 apps to make a profit compared to $40 games.

      • Eli Hodapp

        True but you can't convince me that the brand recognition of most of Capcom's IP wouldn't sell them a boatload if they actually put the effort in. Final Fantasy III has been floating around the top half of the top grossing lists since it was released nearly a month at ago $16. Seems like a SOLID Resident Evil game would do just as well.

      • Tim Dean

        That's a good point, but it's hard to say for sure. It depends on how long it ends of staying in the top grossing charts, and how much money you actually make from a few months on the top grossing charts.

        $16 is still a lot less than $40, and Apple's cut is probably more than Nintendo charges in licensing fees. (But I can't say for sure, of course, that information is always under NDA. I think in the GameCube era it was revealed to be about $10 per game.)

  • Gamer23

    The pace is good but resolution/graphics could have been better.

  • Philosonic

    What! First upfront negative review on Toucharcade!? I guess iDevices are now serious game platforms!

  • Gene

    This game offers the experience of playing Resident Evil 4 versus or with other people. I'm surprised that the review is so negative. The graphics were probably toned down to support that relatively lag-free 4 person online multiplayer the review was talking about, and the controls are good, which the review also mentions.

    So the problem the review had was that it was too hard to aim fast and accurately enough, while other people were aiming and shooting first. Yes, it's not the most effective control scheme, but that's what you have to do in the original game too, stop and shoot. I do think it would be better if instead of completely stopping while aiming, you could still move slowly while crouched.

    I think the game is what you would expect a Vs Resident Evil to be, the online multiplayer is smooth and the graphics are good enough, especially given the performance. I would recommend it. I dunno why it was given such a downer review.

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  • zeldafanboy23ify

    Id rather wait for the 3DS one.

Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 2.5