Picture this scene: you have just hijacked the mind of a secret operative, and are now using your newly-enabled slave to fulfill your current objective. That objective is to locate a dangerous woman, to bring her into custody before she can cause more malice than she already has. However, you can see the other ‘Wanderers,’ as they are called, all around you. Red mist, resembling the glow of a computer’s insides, is floating around, multiples of them, hijacking into the enemies you’re fighting and using them to try and stop you. This is Mindjack.
Or an unimpressive mess! Unfortunately, Mindjack‘s story is confusing, barely explained, and I’m honestly uncertain that the story bit I presented in the previous paragraph was the actual story. The game does a poor job at trying to immerse you, and doesn’t aim to succeed with its plot or characters. What does Mindjack prevail at then?
Mindjack does a really good job of taking an extremely unique and cool idea, and turning it into something that I’d honestly never want to play again. At first glance, Mindjack has decent visuals and a decent set of character models. Player models seem pretty average compared to most generic video game characters, and the enemy forces aren’t so bad-looking either. But within the first five minutes of gameplay, I found myself dreading the monotone, blatantly boring voice acting, and the uninspired actions of the characters. In the first scene of the game, it would seem as the “woman” you were pursuing meets up with a friend. You then proceed to fist fight said friend, wrestle him to the ground, and shoot him in the head. The woman argues with you for a minute, then agrees to come with you, without having to use any force, whatsoever. The characters are unbelievable and uninspired. Mindjack does seem to insist it has a unique world, and a unique concept, but it all gets botched up and barely explained during the actual game. I had no idea what was going on, and it almost seemed as If I was supposed to. None of the terminology is explained, and the story is hardly ever scrutinized. Whatever Mindjack was trying to do, it did it wrong.
The gameplay is just as dreadful. Controls are extremely clunky and confusing; the shooting mechanics are just as awkward as the controls. The aiming reticule is slow, inaccurate, and often misleading. I found myself lined up for a perfect headshot on several occasions, just to jump out of cover to take pot shots at the chair in front of me instead. It becomes frustrating and tedious. I even experienced a slow down in frame-rate while aiming down the barrel of my pistol, making it even more difficult to align my shots correctly. Trying to line up the clunky reticule to an unsuspecting soldier’s forehead is a lot more work than it should be and bogs down the gameplay, ruining one of the only things Mindjack had going for itself. It’s not fun.
Visually, the game isn’t the worst offender. The character models and level blueprints don’t have terrible design; the graphics, though they’re not much to brag about, aren’t much to complain about either. Though Mindjack unfortunately has a habit of skewering anything positive that it has going for it. For the majority of the game, every single enemy looks the same; there’s nothing unique about any of them. Animations are cheap — sometimes nonexistent. I clearly recall occurrences where I did not see a character get up from cover — he was in cover, then magically stood up without any actual movement. Weapons are poorly designed in the cosmetic aspect, all made very bland, unimaginative, and after a while, the same as every other weapon (not to say there are many weapons to begin with). All the levels look the same as well — and again — are all cheap and uninspired. The game will start to appear old before you have even finished it.
In terms of fun factor, Mindjack again fails to deliver. Firefights are boring, repetitive, and dry. It’s hard to have fun with the game when it’s done almost nothing to keep your attention for an extended period of time. I can praise my first encounter with another real player, however. It was quite interesting to see another (real) user infiltrating my world, floating around as a red techno-like mist, hijacking into an enemy and fighting me. But this is only amusing the first time. Multiplayer firefights are unbalanced. The enemy team will have countless amount of enemies to jack into to try and stop you, and if you’re playing by yourself, you might only have a max of 5 available bodies to jack back into if you die (you may jack into civilians, as that’s what’ll happen) but your two main characters, and 2 or 3 extra civilians, won’t help against endless spawn of user-controlled soldiers. It’s unfair, frustrating, and it can impede your progress for quite a while. If the game is played at all, it’s best played by yourself, with the multiplayer feature turned off.
There’s not much else to say about Mindjack. It fails to really deliver anything worth mentioning, and is just a mess from the ground up. What could have been an intellectual, unique, and well-conceived idea, is merely decimated and overkilled by an overall uninspired, cheap, and poorly designed video game. Feelplus did a great job co-developing Lost Odyssey, but third-person shooters aren’t their forte.
Mindjack was reviewed on a PlayStation 3. The entire game was played to completion. Online modes were also tested. Mindjack launches for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on January 18 for an MSRP of $59.99.