Mindjack Review – A Worthy Charity

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[Guest review by Ira Stocks]

Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to present the first nominee for worst game of 2011. And dear lord I hope this is nominated because if it isn’t, it means there is worse to come and that’s not a circumstance I would dare to consider.

Set in the year 2031, Mindjack puts us in the shoes of Jim Corbijn, an agent of the FIA (no relation to F1 racing) who has the special ability to hack people’s minds. Basically, old Jim can astrally project himself into other people’s bodies and then take full control of them.

The game begins with Jim monitoring a rebel named Rebecca Weiss at an airport. Given strict instructions not to intervene in Rebecca activities, Jim immediately does the opposite; by assaulting a man she is talking to. Just talking to, mind you. Then, having no idea who Jim is, Rebecca teams up with him to fight SWAT-type bad guys that suddenly appear. That opening sequence is but one example of a mish-mash of plot that serves only to befuddle. It’s certainly not the worst plot I have ever come across, but it is definitely the most nonsensical.

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Okay, we’ve had games with confusing plots before and many games have been excellent in spite of that, thanks to tight gameplay. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those games. Mindjack takes its lead from Uncharted and Gears of War, being a third person cover based shooter. In that regard though, its sort of like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. The basic outline of the original picture is there, but it loses definition with each copy. The targeting system lacks precision regardless of what weapon you may be using, so training your reticule on an enemy is difficult and frustrating. Fortunately, enemy AI is dismal, so the villains will wait while you struggle to take your shot. Likewise movement is mechanical and stiff. Basic gameplay may resemble Uncharted and Gears, but it just feels so completely wrong.

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The games highlight feature, hacking the minds of enemies and bystanders is a cheap effort to differentiate the game from competing titles. The concept seems brilliant, as it opens up some clever tactical options. The most obvious of course is to mind hack a bystander on the flank or rear of your enemies and then take them by surprise. Unfortunately, its let down by the games basic controls.

Even in terms of visuals and sound, Mindjack is a disappointment. It doesn’t look like a current generation game. Its not outright bad, but its obviously not up to HD standard. The technical failings extend to the art direction. The backgrounds character models, everything is just uninspired. It’s all so generic and echoing the look a of a cheap Sci-fi movie you might catch on eTV before the porn starts.

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The game does have one very good idea, that I hope finds its way into other games. Multiplayer is tightly integrated into the single player campaign. Basically, other players will mind hack into your game and take control of the generic baddies that you go up against. It doesn’t add much to the game, being let down by, well, every thing else. But the idea is still sound and would probably be a very welcome addition in a better game.

Mindjack is one of the few games I have played that is outright bad in nearly every respect. Bad presentation, bad gameplay, bad narrative. It’s not unplayable, but the experience lacks any inspiring turns or motivating moments. Spending any money on this game, would be considered charity and may well qualify as a tax deduction, but I can assure you that there are much more worthy charities than this. A truly terrible game.

Scoring

Gameplay: 3.0

The integrated multiplayer is about the only thing this game has going for it. Mind hacking is interesting, but let down by shoddy controls.

Design and Presentation: 3.0

Horribly dated. Looks like a reject from the last generation.

Value: 3.0

Coasters are available at Checkers in packs of five for just R14.99. That’s exceptionally better value than this game.

Overall: 3/10

Though the game borrows heavily from other third person games, it doesn’t do it particularly well – and you’re better off just playing those games.

[Reviewed on PS3]

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