2nd February 2011 - Mindjack struck me as an interesting kind of game with a lot of potential. But, as a few of my friends keep telling me, if potential isn’t allowed to be realized, what’s left will shrivel up and die. Funny that I bring that up after playing the game because that’s exactly what I want the developers to do, right after I get a brain enema.
Here’s the high concept of Mindjack. The year is 2031, and it’s a cyberpunk future, so much so now that people’s very minds can be hacked and reprogrammed. As fun as this idea could be, this is all just background noise to the main show of cover based shooting. Seriously, what is with the obsession of 3rd person cover based shooters? With a simple premise as above stated, this could have been a conspiracy story with lots of morally complex situations and, dare I say it, a game changer in the industry. But no, cover based shooter it is.
For those more detail oriented, here’s as much of the story as I can recall. You play as the main character named… let’s just call him Officer. Officer is tailing this token female character because apparently she’s speaking out against…something or other. He tails her until some sort of terrorist attack happens, except it’s not really a terrorist attack but a staged attack by the corporation Officer works for, which leads to a… you know what, forget this. The game makes it very clear it doesn’t want you in on the story the minute it doesn’t introduce an audience surrogate character or a moment to characterize anyone. The basic plot is so confusing and boring I think it officially deserves the Uwe Boll Award for Worst Character Chemistry, Characters, Plot Progression, Writing, and Most Obstinate Ignorance of a Good Idea.
I’ve stated above that this game is a 3rd person cover based shooter, and trust me when I say that this is all it is. 90% of the time is spent shooting from cover at copy-pasted enemies and the rest is spent walking to the next one. Before defense rises for cover based shooting, allow me to make it clear that I do not mind cover based shooting, but too much of anything will make you sick of it. Gears of War broke up its shooting with vehicle sections and large boss fights, Uncharted had puzzle and platforming sections, and Mass Effect 2 had diverse level design. Mindjack has none of these things.
What’s worse is that there are some new ideas kicking around; it’s just that they’re done badly. One of the selling points of the game is that after lowering an enemy’s health down long enough, you can hack them and turn them into an AI partner. In theory, this could lead to some large scale fights, in actual practice, the AI plays like it was just lobotomized, before and after the hacking. Also, if your health hits zero, you enter a first-person perspective and are able to enter the body of another individual and control them. Problem is, all you can do is enter the body of your AI partner, random civilians who just so happen to have weapons on them, or the occasional cleaning robot that does nothing. But what’s stopping you from controlling the enemy and making them commit suicide Code Geass style? Apparently they didn’t think about that and say, “Just because.” If that’s not enough to make you vomit a little, there are diverse uses for the body switching, such as the one time I managed to take over a cybergorilla, but you only come across one of these uses every hour or so and the use, in this case the gorilla, dies faster than a lemming in a blender.
There is multiplayer and dear god does this game want to make a big deal about it. The game boasts that you can drop in on a friend’s session at any point in the game and vice versa. Problem is nothing changes when such a thing occurs. Same amount of enemies pop up, same tired old impenetrable plot, and same multiplayer style HUD that shows who killed whom with what, and who got the most points. This interface is here whether or not you play multiplayer or when you specifically turn multiplayer mode off and just want to go solo. On that note, pressing start during multiplayer shouldn’t pause the whole game, that I understand, but Mindjack expects you to have multiplayer on even when it’s off like its deaf in one ear or something. It breaks the biggest rule of game design, a rule that’s been established since the Atari 2600 with Pong: Pause should pause the game!
I wish I could say Mindjack looks nice, but it doesn’t. Graphically, it’s something marginally above PS2 era graphics with some small bloom effects to make it appear current generation. The levels are all various shades of bright gray that just blurs together into one big blob. I didn’t see any texture tearing, but then again I didn’t look very hard.
The music in Mindjack is recycled, looped, and just an assault on the ears and the voice acting is flat to terrible at best.
Mindjack isn’t an Arcade game where we could care less about the plot and just want to shoot things like Time Crisis or House of the Dead, yet that’s what Mindjack feels like. A game you pop change into and play, get bored and move onto something better. Problem is gaming as a medium has gone past this age. We’re in a narrative renaissance in game design. To design a game is to craft interactive drama, stories that will stay with the player, and to express profound parts of the human experience. So why the hell does this game exist at a price of sixty dollars American when there are much better titles currently in the bargain bin? The answer is there is no excuse.
Do not buy this game, do not rent this game, if someone gives you this game as a gift, throw it into the nearest fire and watch it burn. If you see someone else playing this game, break the disc in two and get them something better, a.k.a. anything else.
AAG SCORE: 3/10
+ Interesting premise
- Stupid AI
- Horrible story telling
- Feels like a dimestore arcade game
- Repetitive gunplay
- Bad music and voice acting
- Dated graphics
Reviewed and Written by Tyler Chancey