Leading up to the release of Mindjack no one really knew what to expect. The game had a fantastic concept and something that I had not really seen before. After playing the game I still think it is a great concept, however, the actual execution leaves a lot to be desired. Mindjack starts out with you in an airport having to tail a woman you know nothing about. Things quickly escalate and before you know it, it seems like an entire army is after you. It also doesn’t take long for some of the problems that Mindjack has to surface. There are times when the controls are far too clunky. Sometimes your character will stick to cover longer than you want him to which can be annoying. There are also times where if you want to perform an action you have to push a button numerous times to do it. There were more than a few occasions where I had to push a button multiple times just to switch the weapon that I was using. When your weapon runs out of ammunition you then have to reload but that is a huge mess itself. When your character is reloading you can’t do anything. If I was trying to look around a corner to make sure the enemy wasn’t advancing on me while my character was reloading his gun then the reload would fail and I would have to push the button again. This led to a lot of “blind reloading” when I had to hope that I didn’t have a huge missile coming toward me or a group of enemies because I couldn’t check to see what was going on. Now it is true that reloading only takes a few seconds, however, if you are in a big firefight those few seconds could mean the difference between life and death. Especially if your health is already low or you have to run over to revive your partner. It’s a huge design flaw and will lead you to many frustrating moments.
Speaking of big design flaws, you can’t pause while playing Mindjack. You can certainly hit the “start” button and it will bring up a menu but the action never stops. This means that if someone shows up at your front door or if you have a kid that needs attention and you need to leave the game for a bit that you will most likely get killed and be sent back to the last checkpoint. It’s really unbelievable that in 2011 a developer would actually think it is a good idea to leave a standard feature like this out. We all have responsibilities and if something more important comes up then we should be able to stop the action until we are able to return. It is just common sense. Of course it doesn’t help matters that the A.I. in Mindjack is pretty stupid. During the final boss fight of the game the boss would charge right at you. Naturally I would dodge out of the way so I didn’t get hit but my ally A.I. just stood there and got hit every single time. What this meant is that not only did I have to worry about enemies firing at me from all over the place but I also had to constantly run back over to my partner to revive them. This would happen throughout the game and became a constant source of frustration. There would be times where I had the situation under control but then my ally A.I. decided to walk into the middle of everything and get knocked down so I had to run out there to revive them and ended up getting taken out in the process.
As I stated above the concept of being able to “mindjack” your opponents is fantastic. There was one specific instance where a civilian was standing on a platform high above the action. What I ended up doing was that I performed a “mindjack” on him and took control him, enabling me to shoot at the enemies below from an advantageous position. It was a great use of the concept but you take a huge risk that the two main characters won’t get killed when you are doing that. I also really loved how I was able to turn enemy soldiers into allies. Once you injure an enemy sufficiently they will drop down and you have a few seconds to “mindslave” them. If you pull that off successfully they will essentially join your team and start attacking your enemies until they either get taken out or you “win” the particular section that you are on. That was another thing that was annoying. The firefights were segmented into their own little sections. If you get taken out then you “lose” that section and if you successfully eliminate your enemy you “win” that section. The problems come in when you can’t take your weapon with you after that section and all you are left with is a standard pistol. Guns are strewn around the environment pretty generously so you never really have to go too long without some nice firepower but it still would have been nice to carry your guns from battle to battle.
One of the things that I did enjoy in this game was the multiplayer aspect. When you first start up Mindjack it asks you whether you want to host a portal or hack a portal. When you are playing through the single player campaign you can set it up to where anyone on Xbox Live can jump in at any moment on the enemy side. It adds a nice dimension to the action and makes things more challenging. If you are not interested in this feature you can turn this off before you even start so that you only have to worry about the computer A.I. I know I had a lot of fun jumping into people’s games and trying to take them out. As an enemy combatant if the guy I was controlling got taken out by the other player then I could simply jump to another enemy combatant and control them. This would continue until I either completely killed off the player on the other team or he cleared the room of enemy combatants. It is a fantastic concept and one that I hope to see in future titles where the overall game is designed better.
As you go through the game you will come across plug ins. These plug ins can help to alter the way you are playing the game. There are two different types of plug ins with one of them being the “rules” and the other ones being the “arts”. The “rules” plug ins will allow you to make the game easier, harder, reshuffle the blue and red teams when the battle ends and allow you to pick and choose the ratio of Blue to Red team members. The “arts” will give you abilities such as increasing your physical strength by 15%, gain XP automatically in the Wanderer phase, double the size of the player’s wanderer, prevent the enemy from taking you as a human shield and more. Depending on how you set these up it could lead another dynamic to the game. There are even achievements based on which “rules” and which “arts” you decide to use.
Mindjack is a bit of a mixed bag. I really like the concept but I hated the execution of the game. All of the design flaws are things that could theoretically be fixed in a patch but I don’t see the developer doing that any time soon. If you are still interested in this title I highly recommend that you rent it first so that you can see what you are getting into. That way if you like it then you can go buy it and if you don’t then you saved yourself a bunch of money. Hopefully, if we ever see a Mindjack 2, it will be a lot more polished and more thought out. There certainly have been franchises where the first title wasn’t very good but the sequel came out and fixed all of the problems of its predecessor. Hopefully Mindjack will fall into that category and we get a game that can actually live up to the potential of this great concept.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network