Resident Evil: The Missions
Capcom's Resident Evil is good, but could have been so much better...
I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Resident Evil: The Missions, from Capcom. Some of the game's 100+ missions are made unbelievably frustrating and laughable thanks to certain game design choices, yet I kept coming back for more time and time again because of all the things the game gets right, as well as the ability to bypass those frustrating bits.
The storyline follows protagonist Jill Valentine as she attempts to fight her way out of a building overrun with zombies, and a roaming Nemesis. The game makes use of the series' trademark pre-rendered backgrounds to create one of the best-looking mobile games yet released. The polygonal models could use some work, though. They're impressive for mobile, but set against the excellent prerendered backdrops they look distractingly clunky.
In a stroke of brilliance that I admire Capcom greatly for, they broke up the adventure into 100 mini-missions. The shortest ones are over in literally five-or-so seconds (get a headshot), but even the longest ones are only about 3 minutes (get from one end of the building to the other). In another extremely smart decision, these missions are set up in a branching pyramid, so when you begin anew "mission 1" is always the same, but there are three choices for mission 2, and as the pyramid expands, eventually 19 choices for your final escape mission, mission 10.
Some mission choices early on are off-limits, enhancing replayability. You may need to obtain an item later on that will unlock that earlier path, for a subsequent play-through. At the end of each mission you're also given a score and a grade, and its simple to look up where you got Golds and where you got Bronzes, further enhancing replayability.
This branching mission structure does create a fairly major continuity problem, however. One mission your goal might be to avoid the nemesis for 45 seconds in a small room. Next mission he's nowhere to be seen, you're on the other end of the building, and are apparently searching for a poison antidote. The "story" is entirely incoherent.
Gameplay itself is fairly simple, but the varied missions still get good mileage out of the design. You have to choose just one weapon to take with you in addition to your knife, and for most of the game this will be your handgun. One softkey toggles between run and walk, and another toggles firing stance off and on. Once in firing stance Jill is immobile, with left and right used to select different targets (aiming is automatic). You can target either feet body, or head, and a targeting reticle will appear over the section chosen. The reticle expands and contracts, so through proper timing and rhythm you can conserve ammo.
My big problem with RE: The Missions is that it seems like too many missions simply weren't thought all the way through, or weren't playtested. In one you're tasked with killing the Nemesis while trapped in a small room. Without extra ammo or a new weapon (neither of which I'd yet acquired at the time), this is made literally impossible. Another tasks gamers with staying alive in a room full of enemies for a period of time, but it's very easy to get an object between you and them, and they can't quite figure out that they need to go around. The worst mission I encountered put me in a room with the Nemesis, two hunters, and no health or ammo. To succeed I had to get the Nemesis to kill the hunters by dodging his attacks and then hoping the hunters got in his way.
I really wanted to give Resident Evil: The Missions a better score. It's incredibly ambitious - it's the largest mobile game I've ever played (I put hours in and only cleared just over half the missions). It's a masterpiece from a technical standpoint, as well. The list of pros goes on- tons of unlockables, tons of replay value, etc. The problem is that way too often missions crop up that display fundamental problems in the game's design. Resident Evil: The Missions is so large and so often enjoyable that I think its one of the best-value downloads available, but make sure you're prepared to wade through moments of frustration.
What's Hot: Huge, rewarding game
What's Not: Often poor mission design