A lot of gamers who survived the Resident Evil series probably spent just as much time playing the game’s unlockable bonus mode, Mercenaries. Instead of a drawn-out survival horror experience, Mercenaries has always been much faster and more action-packed. Now that mode, a fan favorite, will be coming to the iPhone with online multiplayer through Game Center.
Resident Evil Mercenaries Vs. is Capcom’s first iPhone game with online multiplayer. Using Game Center, you’ll be able to match up with friends or strangers to battle an endless swarm of zombies within a tight time limit. In a surprising twist, the zombies are really just obstacles– your real goal is to kill the other players.
You can play as either Chris or Jill from the Resident Evil series, and the action all takes place in just one arena for now. If Mercenaries Vs. is a success, Capcom hinted that they could add more characters and arenas.
The arena we played was the village from Resident Evil 4, and the enemy zombies were those same diseased peasants bearing pitchforks and axes. The bag-headed chainsaw maniac from RE4 also makes an appearance as the Menace, and he’s more likely to show up if you’re in last place, to spice things up for the rest of the group.
In either two-on-two team battles or four-player free-for-alls, your goal is to get a high score by killing zombies and other players. For local multiplayer, two-player rounds are available through Bluetooth, with A.I. stepping in as the other two players.
Chris comes to the party with a pistol, shotgun, and grenade, while Jill has a pistol, sub-machine gun, and a flashbang. Green herbs and restorative spray can also be picked up from fallen enemies. To increase the length of the round, you’ll have to find statues that will delay your impending rescue by helicopter.
Using a context-sensitive control scheme from Resident Evil 4 on iPhone, we were quickly able to raise and topple ladders, scramble to the rooftops, and dispatch enemies. The beta build we played was very choppy, and the onscreen frames-per-second indicator hovered in the 10-15 FPS range. We don’t expect the FPS counter to be in the final version, and we’re also hoping the final game performs a lot better.
A few other neat extras round out this app. You’ll be able to play a single-player training mode, which is actually a score attack round with A.I. opponents. There’s also a coin shoot mode, where you can target the blue coins dangling from string around the level, just like in Resident Evil 4.
Despite the choppy preview build, we couldn’t be happier that Capcom is taking Resident Evil online on the iPhone. Only having one arena and two playable characters is a bit limiting, but Mercenaries mode on the consoles is known for being endlessly replayable. If more options arrive down the line in the form of updates, we can see this being a pretty spectacular online shooter. Look for it to hit the App Store in February.