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Mindjack


This sure isn't The Matrix.
Probably best pigeonholed as The Matrix meets Quantum Theory, Square Enixís Mindjack allows players to take control of other characterís consciousnesses within the levels and fight as someone other than themselves. This is an extremely cool concept that Iím surprised hasnít been used more in video games. The narrative set in 2031 is about a highly top-secret conspiracy around the use of mind jacking that puts Federal Intelligence Agent Jim Corbijn in danger. Heís tasked with tracking down Rebecca Weiss, an activist, and they get caught up in some dangerous activities. Sadly, the overall presentation and depiction of an action movie is worse than the performances in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. Thereís little character development and the small amount that is present is hampered by a terrible script as well as wooden voice actors.

As mentioned, you have the ability to leave Jimís body and enter another during a firefight. This is problematic for multiple reasons including the fragility of Jim and the sluggish controls when taking over another person. The AI tries to move Jim back to a safe position, but he often dies before you can take over another body. Itís also difficult to specifically take over someone during a frantic fight as the enemies more around constantly. The cover system also rears its ugly head and tries to keep you up against objects during a battle rather than allowing you to roll away. While the enemy AI will often be oblivious to your position due to stupid programming, they are deadly when shooting on your position. Their weaponry often feels vastly overpowered on the regular difficulty and makes for a frustrating time.

mindjack take over body

You do have an AI partner that can revive you during battle. If both the main player and the AI character get killed, you can use a mindjacked player to revive them, but thereís little time to do it making the feature almost worthless. Thereís a very basic leveling system in Mindjack, but thereís little to customize as bonuses are added automatically. You canít change your weaponry at the start of the levels either. Strangely, the developer believes that our protagonist Jim loses all of his weapons in between levels and you only have a pistol to use at the start of each one. Perhaps they thought you wouldnít care since they wanted you to take over someone elseís body rather than fight as Jim.

There is a fun addition to the single player campaign very similar to the Test Drive series. Unless you switch it off, anyone can jump into your campaign and they are automatically assigned to teams (red and blue). The Blue team helps out the main player and the red team works with the awful enemy A.I. to take down the main player. However, one of the drawbacks to keeping this on is that you cannot pause the game to go grab a snack or hit the bathroom. Itís also frustrating to be faced with human adversaries in the main campaign, especially if you are just trying to beat a level. I found that some online players enjoyed ruining my progress and not allowing me to reach the next checkpoint.

mindjack shoot beat em up

Beyond the online co-op for the story mode, you can also play the 6 player adversarial multiplayer mode. You start out as a Wanderer and get to choose between being an ally or an enemy to the host. It can easily lead to an overmatched round of play, but itís an interesting way of structuring the game for those that seek more of a challenge. However, the same problems from the single player game exist in multiplayer, so the experience still stinks. The online player base is also very small. The achievement set in Mindjack is fairly standard and thereís nothing overly creative in the bunch. Most of the achievements deal with taking over hosts or defeating a certain number of enemies. There are also story related achievements and leveling achievements. I canít imagine anyone would want to keep playing this game until reaching level 50, but the achievement is there for those that are satisfied with mediocrity.

Graphics

This is probably the strongest section of the game, but it still doesnít compare to the quality of recent third person shooters. The quality of the texture work and the overall design of the backgrounds are excellent, but the levels are generally lifeless. Itís almost a throwback to the early days of Xbox and reminded me of Brute Force by many respects. Thereís also a complete lack of variety between levels and it all blends together worse than the outside environments of Mirrorís Edge. In addition, character animations are terribly stiff and the facial expressions on the main characters are laughable.

mindjack fire on chopper

Audio

Typically, I can find something to praise in the audio work, but thereís nothing here worth mentioning. The voiceovers are abysmal, much of which reminded me of the Dynasty Warriors series, House of the Dead series or the very early Resident Evil games. Itís clear there wasnít a budget for voice acting. The music is just as pointless as thereís nothing moving in the entire score and often doesnít fit with the on-screen action. Thereís no punch to the weaponry and all the weapons effects sounded like they were manufactured in on a cheap piano keyboard with the ďspecial effectsĒ sounds. Yikes!

Conclusion

On paper, the concept for Mindjack is definitely attractive. Itís the execution of the concept that fails miserably due to lackluster gameplay, poor enemy A.I. and a ridiculously silly narrative. In addition, the smattering of control issues often made me want to throw down the controller in frustration. While the concept of persistent multiplayer during the campaign is wonderfully executed, the complete lack of player base due to the poor quality of the gameplay destroys any chance for that aspect of the game to shine. After spending 7 hours finishing up the single player campaign, I can easily say Mindjack is one of the worst 3rd person shooters Iíve had to play in the past two years. Itís definitely not worth the full $60 MSRP and should be avoided completely.



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