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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
GENRE: Action
January 18, 2011

 Written by Alex Roth  on April 13, 2011

Review: Developer feelplus must feelbad about this one.

Oh Mindjack, what do we do with a game like you? As a third-person shooter you've waded in amongst some stiff competition. Even a strong candidate could easily be forgotten amongst titles like Mass Effect 2, Resident Evil 5, Gears of War 2, and Dead Space 2, and a strong candidate you are not. Your sci-fi is all fiction, no science. Nobody expected Bladerunner, but you're a blatantly sloppy amalgamation of Deus Ex, The Matrix, and Tron, to name a few. On top of that, your controls handle like a shopping cart and your graphics are a poke in the eye. As far as fails go, Mindjack is the complete package.

In the world of Mindjack, mind-jackers hop in and out of people's bodies like agents in The Matrix. Not a bad idea for a shooter. Maybe that's why Square Enix hitched their wagon to it. Sadly, developer feelplus dropped the ball on many technical aspects, and did nothing to address the inherent spookiness of the material. You see, once an enemy is beat down, you have the delightful option of making them your ?mindslave.? Yes, that's the actual term the game uses. You can also enter the minds of random bystanders, who are generally cowering on the sidelines. Either under your direct control or as your ?mindslave,? they charge into battle like psychotic little Pokemon. It's not just morally gray, it's nonsensical as well, since it has businessmen pulling Uzis out of their briefcases. Better reschedule your ten o'clock, you've been Mindjacked.

Games like Dungeon Master and Stubbs the Zombie have made this kind of thing darkly hilarious with their anti-hero protagonists. Mindjack acts like it's no big deal. GTA IV's Niko Bellic may gun down police and dismember prostitutes, but at least he leaves their minds intact.

Mindjack really trips over it's own feet in the controls department. No one can complain about a sprint and cover system borrowed straight from Gears of War- that's the cloth that every third-person shooter is cut from these days. It's just that feelplus did a really bad job of copying it. The sprint is incredibly drifty, like your character needs his alignment checked. Since A is used for both sprinting and taking cover, you'll be magnetically attracted to walls while running. There are just too many context sensitive buttons, and a lot of inconsistencies.

Sometimes you're just minding your own business, trying to shoot a policemen in the head so you can make him your ?mindslave? (typical stuff), and you turn the control stick just a little too far. You'll snap off of cover, and stand up in the middle of a firefight. No good, feelplus, no good at all.

The controls are definitely more trouble than the AI, which is DOA. Sometimes the bad guys are lying in wait, tagging you as soon as you've rounded the corner. Other times you have to kill three of their friends before they even notice you. The friendly AI for your lady partner and gang of ?mindslaves? is no better. They rarely use cover, never pick up better guns, and like to dance in and out of your line of fire. Worst of all, when you leave the main character's body to enslave some random innocent, the out-to-lunch AI takes control of him. First off, he'll probably get himself killed. Second, it makes no sense.

If you are that character's mind, and you've left his body, then who is controlling him? Am I playing as some sort of evil, floating, non-corporeal computer who is secretly controlling the hero? Now there's an idea. feelplus, you can have that one for Mindjack 2.

If we do end up getting a Mindjack 2 (please no), can we at least have some better dialogue? Again, no one is expecting a Tarantino script, but Mindjack's dialogue is routinely limited to characters shouting out stuff they see (i.e. ?Soldiers!? ?Stairs!?) There's a real lack of character motivation here. Seeing the enemy, your hero will say: ?They're in our way! We've gotta take them down!? How illuminating. This really feels like a conflict where stealing the free will of innocent passersby is justified.

Mindjack really bit off more than it could chew with its attempt at ?seamless multi-player integration.? It's one of those games where, if you enable the settings, random Internet yahoos can join your game. Sounds fun right? Well it might've been, if there were any kind of wall between the newbs and the bad asses.

There are no settings to keep games fair, and beating the host means you play the level over. Plus, there's no seperation of co-op and versus, it's all or nothing. If feelplus had just included a few of these settings to tweak, this could've been a redeeming feature, instead of something you should never use if you actually want to finish the game.

Even if you disable the multiplayer features, Mindjack still feels like multi with bots, which it obviously is. Level transitions are all a fade to black, making it feel like a bunch of instances strung together, not an actual campaign. Whatever weapons you've collected, along with all the minds you've "jacked", are lost as the game clumsily drops you into the next level. There are usually some guns laying on the ground to compensate. What a dangerous world, with all these weapons sitting around, maybe that explains all the businessmen mysteriously packing heat. Finally, in an inconceivably boneheaded move, there's no way to pause the game. Even if you're the only person playing, you can't stop to use the toilet.

It's not enough to withhold bathroom breaks, Mindjack also causes physical discomfort with its rough graphics and repetitive environments. Almost every moment of this game takes place inside, or in the courtyard just outside, of an industrial facility. Most games overdo the whole crates and corridors thing, Mindjack does it on an infinite loop. But in a rare moment of defying the videogame norm, Mindjack actually looks its worst during cinematics.

Maybe it's just all the nauseating shaky cam, or the angles that let you see every jaggedly rendered and poorly textured surface up close, but feeble dialogue isn't the only reason not to watch the cut scenes.

Bottom Line
Don't just skip the cinematics, skip Mindjack altogether. Playing this game made me wish it were as easy to enjoy a crummy videogame as it is a B-movie, but really, Mindjack is worse than that. It's more like a student film. It apes the big guys, in this case the co-op of Resident Evil 5, and the campaign style multiplayer of Left 4 Dead. It even has an idea of its own, ?mindjacking.? But like most student works, it doesn't have the technical chops to properly imitate or be original. It's just painful to sit through, and you would only do so to encourage a friend. Plus, no one's going to charge you to see a student film. Even if it weren't a drop in the bucket of a highly competitive genre, Mindjack would still be shovelware. There's absolutely no reason to put a dime towards playing this game.

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