Truth is, Resident Evil 5's time-based, zombie-blasting 'Mercenaries' mode - unlocked when you finish the main game - might be even better than the (much better than we anticipated) story mode. But while it's easy to play, it's harder to master - let alone achieve that elusive 'SS' rank - and a lot of its subtleties have been left unexplained. Until now...
How does it work?
Shoot as many zombies as you can in the time limit (without dying) to unlock the next level - a 'B' rank will do it. The levels are full of ammo, objects, combo clocks and time-boosting crystals, mind. Complete all the levels, and you unlock a new character. Simple.
Here's a list of all the characters...
Chris Redfield (BSAA Outfit) - initially unlocked
Chris Redfield (Safari Outfit)
Chris Redfield (S.T.A.R.S. Outfit)
Sheva Alomar (BSAA Outfit) - initially unlocked
Sheva Alomar (Clubbin' Outfit)
Sheva Alomar (Tribal Outfit)
Jill Valentine (BSAA Outfit)
Jill Valentine (Battle Suit Outfit)
Albert Wesker (Midnight Outfit)
Albert Wesker (S.T.A.R.S. Outfit)
And here are the maps...
Public Assembly - initially unlocked
What scores do you need to get each rank?
D - 0 - 9,999
C - 10,000
B - 20,000
A - 40,000
S - 60,000
SS - 90,000
D - 0 - 19,999
C - 20,000
B - 40,000
A - 80,000
S - 120,000
SS - 150,000
You also get a varying amount of exchange points (which you can use to unlock the bonus items, including different characters from the extras menu) depending on rank:
D - 200
C - 600
B - 1,000
A - 1,500
S - 3,000
SS - 5,000
What do I need to know to get good, fast?
*Note: tips culled from the best of the Neogaf forums, plus personal experience, so you can be sure that these have been tested.
Items, Time Bonuses, and Combo Times don't respawn, so once you've sucked the level dry, you can only collect what enemies drop when they're killed - which, thankfully, is a lot. There's a set amount of enemies per level, but you're unlikely to kill them all unless you're exceptionally good. Mercs is a great way to get Exchange points for buying/upgrading weapons, quickly. You'll earn a lot more than in story mode.
Choose Solo mode as it's easier to unlock things than in co-op. Choose BSAA Chris and drop your weakest weapon right at the start of the game (the handgun, in this case). This guarantees that you only get shotgun ammo from fallen enemies. Some characters have a great handgun, but not the initial two characters - Chris and Sheva (BSAA).
It's important that you learn the map and grab most of the Time Bonuses as quickly as you can. By that time there should be a fair number of zombies after you (about ten). Get over to a Combo Time chest and make sure you're almost surrounded. Throw a grenade or get busy with the Shotgun. Each Combo Time kill gives you a 1000 point bonus. You should be able to get 10,000 pretty quickly by using this technique.
Combos give you the most points, so allow the enemies to stockpile before you start taking them out.
Once Sheva (Tribal) is unlocked, her longbow has infinite ammo and doesn't require reloading. Although you lose your laser sights, it's effective with practice - especially considering you get mostly one hit kills.