Review – Mindjack

Mindjack brings a unique aspect to the world of gaming on the next gen consoles, but did it live up to our expectations, or did it just boggle our minds? Find out after the jump.

Developer FeelPlus and publisher Square Enix have teamed up to bring us Mindjack. A first person shooter based in the year 2031, where governments are weak, and corporations are strong. The story follows Jim and his companion Rebecca as they infiltrate the NERKAS Corporation. NERKAS is a bad company that has an unknown secret weapon that could change the very landscape of any battlefield.

There’s not much on the backstory available, and a few cut scenes do a great job of really confusing the player more than helping them out. The story wasn’t very compelling or entertaining. Voice acting was cold and the characters might as well have been reading off of a teleprompter. More time needed to be spent introducing gamers to the different characters and how they fit into the grand scheme of things, but ultimately it was left to their imagination.

The gameplay was both disappointing and a breath of fresh air. As a first person shooter, the gameplay was generic and uninspired, but add the ability to mind slave downed enemies, and the ability to jump out of your body and into an available citizen or mind slaved enemy, and you have something new. Mind slaving an enemy consists of blasting them until near death, then sending an electronic signal from your earpiece that will make them join forces with you. The AI is far from intelligent, so mind slaving isn’t exactly a plus. Great concept, but if the slave doesn’t have half a brain, it’s almost pointless. Being able to take over their body though, is a plus. One tactic that is very helpful is to mind slave an enemy, hack into their body, and then leave the main character to stay in the back. As long as both he and Rebecca remain alive and unhurt, you can’t fail.Be sure to pick up a decent weapon for Jim before heading out. You might want to jump into Rebecca long enough to give her a decent weapon as well. Both of them are happy with their little pea shooter pistols, even if there’s a nice assault rifle within reach. The word “intelligence” in the term AI seems to be questionable in this game.

The fps weapons are plain and simple. Consisting of just two handguns, a shotgun, a rocket launcher, and a few rifles. You would think by 2031 that the weapons would have advanced, but all of them are comparable to what’s available in 2011. Another disappointment was always losing every weapon at the end of each level, with the exception of your handgun. Most gamers are hunters/gatherers and will stock up on ammo before moving on to the next level, but that is pointless if you’ll be losing it all anyway. Persistent weapon inventory has always been a staple for FPS, but was left out for this one.

Combat itself has a cover system that allows you to roll from cover to cover, blind fire, or aim and fire while remaining in cover. The cover system isn’t always accurate, and occasionally you may roll sideways instead of going into cover, but the system works for the most part. You can also dash into an enemy and use them as cover, but you won’t be able to finish them off without releasing them, so you might want to make sure they are dead before letting go. An execution option was really needed considering the guy wouldn’t even drop his weapon. There’s also a melee option when you’re close enough, but it seemed hit and miss and using your fire arm is the best way to go.

Using a Hostage

You can also hack into robotic equipment like the drivable shield and the exploding wheel, so robotic unmanned weapons are available. The exploding wheel allows you to drive up to something and detonate it, and injuring whatever it is you are by. There’s also a few flying robots that you can mind slave that will give you machine guns or rockets, depending on the level you’re playing. You’ll come across some machine gun bearing monkey type things, and mind slaving these are entertaining. Their big brother, some sort of robo-gorilla, can also be hacked into, but he dies pretty easily so that was shortlived.

Robo Gorilla

You can play the story mode as either a host, or a hacker. As a host, you can allow other players to jump in to your game, or not allow them and just play by yourself. If you allow hackers, then others can jump in seamlessly and play either with you, or against you. As a host, you are always the Blue team and hackers can choose to be Blue, or play as the enemy and join the Red team.  The Red team seems to always have the advantage, with better weapons available, and harder to kill enemies at their disposal, but the host does have the ability to kick them out if they get frustrated. Voice chat is included, so you can discuss strategies, or anything that crosses your mind, with players that have hacked into your game. The game can go from a simple co-op fps all the way to a team deathmatch throw down, depending on the level played, and the players present. This is an area where the game delivers on a unique concept that hasn’t been tried before.

Incoming Red Team Member

As you play through the game, you’ll earn experience points (XP) which will move you up in rank and, in turn, unlock plugins. Plugins have two categories, Rules and Arts. Rules plugins are items that can be activated at the main menu and can change the difficulty (Glide Time, Berserker Time, and Demigod Time) or can change the balance of red versus blue in multiplayer. You can only have one Rules plugin activated at a time and you have five to choose from once they are all unlocked. Arts plugins enhance your combat abilities and allow two to be enabled at a time. They range from being able to aim better and have less bullet spray, to earning XP at a faster rate. With twenty in all, once they are unlocked, you have plenty to choose from.

Plug In Menu

The graphics aren’t terrible, but they aren’t top notch either. They are somewhere in the middle, and the developer should have spent more time polishing the game in order to meet the standards that gamers are becoming accustomed too. Level design is also lacking in that the levels are very linear and require little thought on how to get from point A to point B. Some objects seemed to have invisible extenders that wouldn’t let you shoot through them. Level design seems to have had just a little more time spent on it than the story mode, and both are lacking.

Mindjack is a game that has a huge potential, but doesn’t quite live up to it. The game isn’t broken, by no means, and is fun to play, but more more polish was needed on the story, voice acting, level design, and player animations. The ability to hack into available bodies is reminiscent of the agents from the Matrix series, and is an awesome idea. Being able to hack into someone’s story mode and wreak havoc upon them as the bad guys is also great.

Mindjack could have been a stellar title, but instead, it left us feeling mediocre about it.