Resident Evil Mercenaries Vs is like a marketplace arcade game you download for your console. It takes the Mercenaries multiplayer game mode from its story heavy cousins on console and shrinks it into a standalone game for the iPhone. For those who don’t know, Mercenaries is a mix of deathmatch and a horde type gameplay where you try to kill off waves of enemies and depending on your game mode, also other players. A timer occurs on every stage and once the timer is up, a tally is taken of the kills.
Mercenaries has all the colloquial quirks of the Resident Evil franchise. Do you remember watching a zombie movie when some protagonist on screen fumbles to reload a gun or ready his or her weapon and a slow moving zombie is able to catch up and pounce on them to, as Shylock in Merchant of Venice puts it, take a pound of flesh? The controller scheme for the iPhone version of Mercenaries can create plenty of these moments. There are two modes: movement and aiming. Both require you to utilize an analog stick and like the classic Resident Evil approach, you can’t move and shoot at the same time. This creates those situations where a string of zombies come at you and you frantically have to get into position and fire at a pace that is slower than an action game but slightly faster than an RPG.
The inventory system is no better. For a game with stages that finish in less than five minutes, I’m unsure whether there is a need for a nine slot inventory system with separate items for ammunition and options to help you swap or combine items together. Even some of the in game menus warrant criticism. Try selecting a single player game and the next menu prompts you with a prompt that looks like this: Team Team. One of the ‘team’ items is for you to tap on and swipe through the menu options. But there are only two options: Team or Free for All. Would it not be simpler to have two selectable items – Team or Free for All?
When you jump into an online game, Mercenaries is able to deliver the Resident Evil style of gameplay. Chainsaw wielding zombies, axe throwing ones as well as ones with tentacles coming from their headless body come at you. The game forces you to aim precisely so you can, for example, shoot an axe out of a zombie’s arm. This works against the characters Chris and Wesker, who wield shotguns that have a blast radius of a handgun. If you’re playing alone, there’s a shooting gallery that lets you vent your frustration at blue coins instead of the undead.
Online games have to go through Apple’s Game Center, which I found to be an extra layer of login than anything helpful. There is a PIN then you have to remember explicitly for Mercenaries, which I also found to be annoying. Once you get in, you can start or join a game with different parameters. But chances are, your best bet in trying to find a game is just to relax all the preferences and just join any open game out there. For the most part, other human players seem to be interested in only shooting the undead hordes rather than other human players. Because there’s no communication or even team signals in the game, you’re often backing yourself into a corner and shooting up zombies by yourself. Hey, that's another trademark of zombie movies there.