Game Review: Mindjack
Release: January 18, 2011
Genre: Third-person shooter
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Mature
Website: Mindjack Official Site
It’s hard to make a mark in the third person action adventure gaming market these days. With the Uncharteds of the world setting the golden standard, it seems that developers are trying to make their game stand out with one main… I hate the word “gimmick” so let’s say… gameplay mechanic. We saw it last year with Dark Void (hell they even stole Nathan Drake’s voice), and this year we have Mindjack. Now I realize there were some other poor imitators in the middle of these two games’ releases, but you seriously don’t even want me to get started on Quantum Theory. But just wait now, Mindjack may surprise you. It did me.
Set in 2031, the basic plot revolves around a group of rogue military agents battling some weird fascist radical groups who are trying to overtake the ailing governments of the world. But that’s all you’ll care about, anyway. The fact of the matter is it is the future, and you can quantum leap into another person’s head and steal their consciousness to make them fight for you. If you ever played Gears of War or (here we go again) Uncharted, you know what you’re in for in terms of gameplay. Hold A to enter cover, pull left trigger to aim out, right trigger to shoot. You can make mad dashes by holding A, throw grenades, blind fire, dodge roll, the whole shabang.
But on the other side, Mindjack does a few cool things differently. First, you can Mindhack. This is where you exit your current avatar’s body, and float around in an ethereal ball of energy (called a Wanderer) and choose another body to “hack” into. Whenever you get knocked out in combat, you’re forced to do this. Whenever both you and you’re partner are knocked out, it’s game over. Then there is Mindslaving. After you shoot an enemy enough to knock him to his knees, you can enslave them, causing them to change sides and fight for you until they die.
It’s these instances in the game that surprised me. The hacking is fun, especially when you get to control cyborg monkeys packing machine guns, but the slaving is where I found myself most entertained. There’s something endearingly daunting about entering a courtyard full of enemies, rocketeers, grenadiers, and grunt soldiers everywhere, and are forced to plan out your next move. It brings an element of strategy to the proceedings, and causes you to actually think how you take out enemies. You don’t want to use a sniper rifle and kill the dude fifty feet away, because you can only enslave people 10 feet from you, so headshot the guy on your right and slowly make your way to that bastard hiding behind the cover at the end of the room. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air from the run-and-gun brainless shooters of late.
But, of course, the bad stuff. I won’t even mention (besides right now) the horrendous dialogue and spotty plot. It’s bad. Take my word for it. And there’s nothing overall that constantly bugged me in the game, it’s little nitpicky things. So here’s some of my most… nitpickiest. Firstly, I quite like the idea of real people being able to “hack” into my game and take the role of the AI. But when a level 51 can hack into my level 3 game and destroy me in under 10 seconds, consequently forcing me to have to quit out to the main menu to turn off the multiplayer setting? Not cool.
Second, and probably most annoying, the bosses. The game gives you nothing on how to take them down. One giant mech you literally kill by offing all the enemies surrounding him and then it just blows up. What, robo suicide? Feeling lonely? I don’t understand. Another glitched and became superhumanly invulnerable to bullets, but fixed itself after I restarted the game and replayed through a good thirty minutes of gameplay. However, The King of Infuriating Bosses is Super Mech. This guy shoots lasers, bullets and homing rockets at you and the game gives you no hints as to where decent weapons are located on the map or what the hell you have to do to take him down. And how to dismantle it is so hilariously convoluted I won’t even make you suffer through a description.
Mitchel’s Final Say
So. Final say. Hm. Listen, I liked Mindjack. Surprisingly so. I’ve read the bad reviews, and I’m completely aware of the game’s limitations and… quirks. But there’s just something there about that core mechanic that really satisfied me as a gamer. It is not for everyone (especially those who require epic stories with amazingly deep characters) and sort of overstays its welcome, losing steam in the last three chapters or so, but I’m saying give it a try. Not everyone can be Nathan Drake.
+A pretty generous leveling system with perks and game-variants as rewards
+The cover mechanics are solid and perform as expected…
-…But some quirks pop up at odd angles, ending with you putting bullets into the cover, not your enemy
-The controls after hacking most any robot-type enemy are hit-and-miss… unfortunately, mostly miss
-“Instant Multiplayer” is a nice idea, and could be fun with a large group of friends, but is ultimately unbalanced and annoying
Final Score: 7/10