Developer: Capcom
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.00.00
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½ 
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

It took them a couple tries, but Capcom finally managed to make an entertaining Resident Evil multiplayer experience when they created their Mercenaries mini-game. Now they’ve brought the experience to iOS devices in the form of Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. It’s pretty much what series fans would expect, but it does have its limitations.

For the unfamiliar, Resident Evil Mercenaries VS. is all about scoring through killing. Four players compete against the clock, hostile enemies and each other as they attempt to out-shoot (and just plain shoot) each other, netting bonus points for streaks and combos. As of this writing there are three series favorites to choose as playable characters, each with their own weapon load-outs: Chris Redfield, who sports a pistol and shotgun for a good mix of range and close-quarters combat, Jill Valentine, who uses a pistol and a TMP machine gun, and finally Albert Wesker, with his pistol, magnum and triple-barrel (you read that right) shotgun. It’s a little disappointing to have such a small pool to choose from, but Capcom is planning to offer up additional characters via in-app purchase in the future. Fingers crossed for my personal favorite, the gas mask-wearing Umbrella Corporation soldier Hunk.

Even without the fan-favorite character, there’s still plenty for Resident Evil (and iOS Device owners in general) to enjoy here. Capcom may not be using the Unreal Engine, but Mercenaries VS. is still a pretty good-looking game. Especially the models for the player characters. More importantly, it’s also a lot of fun. Even when offline it’s easy to lose track of time while playing. Matches only last a few minutes, so once they’re over it’s all too easy to simply hit “Rematch” and try for a better score. It was also a pleasant surprise to find that there wasn’t any lag in the online matches. At least not that I could see.

Though it is a lot of fun to play I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of the controls at first. Each character felt clunky and unresponsive, even when compared to the earlier console games in the series. This is exactly what the single player Training and Coin Shoot modes are for. After spending a few rounds taking potshots at AI opponents and hunting down tiny blue coins on a time limit the controls feel much less restricting. They’re still a little robotic, but it’s easy enough to work with them. A far bigger issue is the fact that alerts can and will disrupt an online match. Phone calls I can understand, but even a simple text message to the host will cancel the entire match.

Capcom has done exactly what they set out to do: make a hand-held version of Resident Evil‘s popular Mercenaries mode. It’s lacking more than a few characters and the controls take some getting used to, but the overall experience is definitely a positive one. Especially for series veterans and third-person shooter fans.

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