With Gametrailers doing a full-on retrospective for Resident Evil, it would be hard to top that. Instead, I'm presenting to you one of the finest extra modes in gaming: Mercenaries. The objective is simple enough: make it through a gauntlet of zombies and creatures with a time limit. Think you can handle it?
It all started with Resident Evil 1....
It was simply called the "Battle Game"
. You could unlock it by either by beating the main game, or by using a cheat code with a second controller (hold X, Y, and Z and press Start at the title screen). Considering Resident Evil 1 was the first huge survival horror game, this mode was a blast! Unlike the main story, where you could spend as much as 10-15 minutes not blowing away zombies, this mode was all about undead Armageddon. Resident Evil's battle game was considerably different than it's successors. There is less emphasis on action, and a more limited amount of pickups throughout the game.
In what could be considered one of the first "3D time trials", you were given a ranking depending on how much health you had, and items you had left after completion. Unlike future iterations of the game, this mode was purely for fun; you didn't unlock anything by beating it. Hilariously enough, if you ever played this mini-game you'll remember "Zombie Wesker", an infamous enemy that took almost all your ammo to defeat.
* Chris Redfield
* Jill Valentine
Then Resident Evil 2 gave it a face
The Fourth Survivor
- HUNK is one of the biggest, and enigmatic names in Resident Evil. He's actually an Umbrella Operative, that was attacked by the Mutated William Birkin (One of Umbrella's Top Scientists). We never even see his face until the offshoot "Umbrella Chronicles"; he's kind of like Resident Evil's "silent Knight". In Fourth Survivor, HUNK has to make it from the sewer entrance to the Racoon City PD's helipad. The main difference between this game and Battle Mode is that you have extremely limited ammo. As a result, most of this game is spent doing what I used to call "barry sanders-ing". Translation: juke those zombie suckas! Everyone to this day recognizes Hunk due to his iconic mask, and if you haven't seen him until now; the more you know!
The Tofu Survivor
- The names "HUNK & Tofu" go hand in hand for Resident Evil fans. In Tofu survivor, you play the "blue beret" Tofu, and must reach the rescue chopper on time. It plays out exactly like HUNK's mission, except you're a giant piece of Tofu.
Hunk eats Tofu!
- Found in the Dual Shock version of Resident Evil 2, this particular game came after the above two mini-games that were featured in the shipped version. It played out just like Fourth Survivor, except you got to play as different characters, and it had a quasi-story. In this mode, you have to plant anti-virus bombs around the Police Department. There are also three difficulty settings that are unlocked; for the first time, a Resident Evil mini-game had incentive to "keep" unlocking. For added replay value, each character had a different weapon and item set.
Resident Evil 3 Improved it
The Mercenaries - Operation: Mad Jackal
- While previous mini-games were played for fun, Operation Mad Jackal actually impacted the main game. Every time you beat Mad Jackal you would accrue cash to spend on new items for the regular game. Additionally, the main character for the first time wasn't playable. Instead, you had to choose from three UCBS soldiers that were part of the main game's story. Like "Extreme Battle", Mad Jackal had different item sets for each character, but this time they greatly varied between each other, creating clear cut "begginer, medium, and veteran" choices. You'll also find survivors to rescue in this mode that drop items. You add time to your clock when you defeat enemies. Strategy was key in Mad Jackal: some enemies were better to run past, and some were neccesary to kill for time. Like all previous versions of Mercenaries, the map was a one way street.
In a huge way, Mercenaries mode was begging to shape up into a full-fledged main menu game, and not just a secondary "option".
* Carlos - Standard weapons, with 3 herbs (Moderate difficulty).
* Mikhail- Every major weapon in the game, with one herb (Beginner difficulty).
* Nicholai - Has little in the weapon department, but has 3 first-aid sprays (Expert difficulty).
Resident Evil Code Veronica revived it
Resident Evil Code Veronica saught to resurrect the magic of the original battle game, and added a few features. An unlockable first-person viewpoint was added, in addition to increasing the total character count to five. Code Veronica's version also adds a unique boss for every character to fight at the end of each session. For all intents and purposes, every character plays the same, which is kind of a disappointment considering how Capcom had every opportunity to improve. The only particular feature I really felt stood out is the ability to play as Albert Wesker, but that was mostly fan-service.
* Claire Redfield
* Alternate Claire
* Chris Redfield
* Steve Burnside
* Albert Wesker
Resident Evil 4 near perfected it
Resident Evil finalized the way we look at mercenaries mode today. It took the magic of Mad Jackal, and greatly improved upon it. Unlike previous versions, you add time to your clock by picking up special "clock items", and this time, instead of merely running through the same "one way street", you were dropped into a large map and told simply: "survive!" Now instead of carefully planning your escape route, enemies could come at you from all sides! In this definitive version, 4 levels and 5 playable characters are unlocked. You were also more inclined to play it again because secret items were hidden all across the different maps. There is no "finish line" Resident Evil 4's mercenaries mode but there is sort of an "end" that has unique bosses when the stage is winding down.
* Leon Kennedy
* Ada Wong
* Jack Krauser
* Albert Wesker
The best part of Resident Evil 4's iteration is that the extra characters all have special abilities. Krauser can use his infected arm to charge enemies occasionally, HUNK has a neck breaker one-hit kill attack, and Wesker has a special thrust punch that destroys almost every enemy in front of him. It plays completely different depending on the character you choose, allowing it to have near endless replay value. Here's hoping to Resident Evil 5 following the same path....
What to expect in Resident Evil 5?
I do know a few details regarding Resident Evil 5's mercenaries mode but I don't want to spoil them. There are 10 different "characters", but most of them are different skins. RE5's Mercenaries is also confirmed only to have split-screen play.
It looks like Resident Evil 4's derivative has made a return, with a few surprises. Thankfully, this mode, unlike the main game, can be played solo, and J.J the mini-gun totin' boss from RE4 also makes a return! I hope that this version makes some improvements over RE4's system, although we can't really tell yet. I hope you enjoyed this retrospective: now go out and replay these games! Resident Evil 5 is only a week away.