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The Ultimate Zombie Experience

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Imagine Black Op’s Zombie mode but with a lot more style and a hell of a lot more nostalgic arcade goodness, oh, and with a 3rd-person perspective. What you get is Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries – the most frustrating, addictive, yet ultimately satisfying arcade zombie brain splattering simulation available to date.

Only 4 characters, but each has different outfits that act, essentially, as different characters.


Mercenaries is an arcade mode in Resident Evil 5 that is available as a bonus once you complete the campaign. Mercenaries mode was first made available in Resident Evil 3, but wasn’t the ultimate zombie killing arcade game it is today until the RE system revamp for Resident Evil 4.

Basically, Mercenaries works like this. You pick one of ten characters (each having their own unique arsenal of weapons and healing items), then pick between seven stages to do battle in. The game starts with 2 minutes of time allotted, but you can find more time totems to break which each will add anywhere from 30-90 seconds to your total time. The goal is to acquire points by killing zombies. You can damage zombies by shooting them or by physically hitting them with a melee attack. If you kill a zombie via melee attack, you receive a 5 second bonus. There is a certain amount of zombies in each level, and if you kill them all before your time’s up you get bonus points for each excess second.

Each level has a special boss monster that will spawn every now and then to fuck your world up. If you die before the time’s up, it’s a game over, and you are awarded no points.


At first glance, the concept seems simple: kill as many zombies as possible, as fast as possible, and find all of the extra time to maximize your body-count. But the underlying complexity of the gameplay is where Mercenaries grabs a hold of you, and unlike a zombie grip which can be shaken off with a few shakes of a joystick, Mercenaries’s hold on you won’t let up so easily.


Each stage in this game has it's own unique vibe. The stages are all beautiful with just the right amount of creepiness.

See, the first few times you play you’ll probably be thinking “This sucks. It’s impossible to get a decent score without running out of time.”

Then you’ll memorize the locations of all the time totems, and you’ll start to think, “This is better than I thought, but it’s still hard to get a good score without running out of time.”

Then you’ll realize that the proper strategy is to be killing EVERY zombie with melee attacks (for the 5 second bonus), and you’ll think, “Holy shit, this is fun! It’s like being in the Matrix, but with zombies!”

The thing that makes Mercenaries so fun is the style of it. It’s not a straight shooter, but it’s not a straight hack-n-slash beat-em-up either. It combines both elements, and the fusion is flawless.  Sure, you can kill all the zombies just by shooting them to death or by throwing explosives at them, but you won’t get very far.

In order to play Mercenaries and get a good score, you have to 1.) stun the zombie by shooting it in the head or knees, and then 2.) run up to the zombie and press x (on x-box, probably square on ps3) to use a melee attack. Each character has at least 4-5 different melee attacks, which are unleashed depending upon how the zombie is stunned and where you are standing in relation to the stunned zombie. Each type of melee attack does a different amount of damage, and each is accompanied by a theatrical matrix style animation.

Speaking of animations, that’s another important thing in this game. While your character is in any one of many action packed animation sequences (from climbing a ladder, breaking a time totem, melee attacking an enemy) you are invincible. And while you are animating invincibly, you can reload! You can do this by opening your inventory, selecting some ammo, and then dropping the ammo onto the gun you want to reload. It might sound kind of complicated, but trust me, after only a few tries you’ll be able to do this in less than a second.

Here’s a video showing all of the melee animations:

So keeping all of this in mind, Mercenaries is incredibly complex, yet strikingly fluid. You have to take careful aim in order to shoot the zombie in the right spot to stun it in the right way, then approach the zombie from the specific direction needed to pull off your character’s strongest melee move; and while all this is going on, you still have to be weary of and deal with the threat of level bosses that can kill you from behind in one hit.

The game evokes a sense of unprepared for urgency that can only be likened to the feelings we would get from living through an actual zombie apocalypse. It takes raw skill, developed through dozens of hours of practice to get any good at this game. After 100+ hours of practice, you MIGHT be one of the few people that can actually completely clear a stage of all enemies – but probably not.


The graphics are really good. In fact, they are perfect for this game. 10/10 graphics.


Hold Y or Triangle to access the inventory screen. You can rack up combos by by killing multiple zombies in a short amount of time.


Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil 5 is, hands-down, the pinnacle of simulated zombie experience thus far achieved. Great graphics, sleek matrix-style action animations, and intense gameplay make this not only the greatest zombie arcade game, but the greatest arcade game of all time. Period. Casual gamers, as well as hardcore gamers can and will enjoy this arcade masterpiece for years to come.


Written by danielperry99

January 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm