MindJack – In Depth Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

In the not-so-distant future of 2031, world governments are crumbling, corrupt corporations are on the rise, and technologies are advancing the human race, but to what end?

You play as Jim Corbijn, an agent of the Federal Intelligence Agency.  A Mindhacker.  What started off as a routine reconnaissance mission quickly goes south, as your target, Rebecca Weiss, is suddenly attacked by persons unknown using lethal force.  The agency puts a kill order on you, and now you’re fighting for your life and trying to find out who is responsible for what’s happening.

At the beginning of the game, you’re given very little in terms of back-story regarding the characters or the larger plot at hand.  However, as you progress through the game, the story begins to unfold in its cutscenes and flashback sequences.  The only problem is that the story moves along so slowly that you have a chance to really concentrate on the dialogue, which is well-written but could have some better voice work applied to it.  This however, seems to be a consistent problem with games that are brought over from Japan.

Mindjack is a post-modern cyberpunk, third-person shooter with some RPG elements.  The game has some unique elements in both the single player campaign, as well as the integrated multiplayer, which allows other players to “hack” your campaign to either join you, or fight against you.  And an ability to “Mindjack” (more on that later on) NPCs, mechs, and even some terminals in the game.   During gameplay, the Mindjack ability becomes helpful as it allows you to essentially take control of an enemy combatant: after you inflict enough damage to your enemy you can hack to the combatant to fight against other enemies.  This feature works well for the most part as the enemy NPCs usually focus all of their attention on the ‘jacked’ NPC allowing you to get in closer and take down the remaining enemies.

The action in the game is fast paced and constant.  You very often find yourself on the move from cover to cover, having to pick up ammunition at points between during the action.  This is especially true when you start encountering mechs during your battles as they require a huge amount of ammo to take down.  Although I rarely found myself running low on ammunition, it does appear to happen more frequently during the boss battles.  Endless waves of enemy foot soldiers will come at you while you have the boss to deal with, and oftentimes you will find yourself having to break cover and be subjected to the level boss’s ridiculously high caliber weapons’ fire in order to restock and reload before the next wave of enemies comes down on you.

It’s during these times that the AI can be a blessing, not because your NPC allies (including the ones you Mindjack) are ruthless killers and have your back covered to no end, but because the AI all too often fails.  Your more common variety foot soldiers seem to be fairly proficient at pinning you down, whereas the heavier armed foes and medium armed mechs just seem to go stupid at times.  Instead of coming at you with guns blazing, they’ll very often just wander around.  In a couple of instances, they pretty much just walked right up to me and annoyed me more than anything because they would just block my path.  However, it’s more often helpful at times to deal with a well armed and lethargic zombie, than a feral killing machine.

However, the same problem is true with your allied NPCs.  Many times during a battle I found myself asking Rebecca, “Uhhh.  Where are you going?” as she seemed to wander off into the middle of a crowd of enemies, getting herself blown away well out of my range of being able to heal her.  Likewise, with your mindjacked NPCs, they will sometimes wander around aimlessly without attacking your enemies, making them not much better than bullet magnets.

You also have the ability to leave your physical body and move around in an energy-like form to hack into bystanders or different types of mechs during the campaign.  However, aside from the civilians, there aren’t many other effective NPCs that you can hack.  At one point in the game, I saw a mech just sitting around so I hacked into it, only to find that the only thing it was equipped with was a riot shield.

While the controls are a bit clunky, they aren’t too bad once you get used to them.  However, some of the actions can be quite frustrating.  When throwing grenades, there is no way to really aim where you want to throw them except by dead reckoning.  And if you do get it to land in proximity to where you wanted it to, many times it will wind up skidding across the floor for quite a distance, passing by all of the enemies you wanted to explode, only to take out an innocent stack of luggage or some other barrier.

Another frustration is with the hit boxes around objects that you take cover behind.  The boxing very often extends beyond the object, so as you peer around the corner and start shooting, you wind up firing half a clip into an invisible wall.

Also, when moving from one level to the next, you will lose your guns, grenades and ammo, and reset to a pistol.  Usually there’s another gun lying around to pick up, but it just seems to make no sense to me whatsoever that your character would drop all of his loot just because he went from one room to another in the same building.

And finally, game pauses don’t really pause the game.  Presumably, this is because of the multiplayer integration in the single player campaign.  However, since you can turn off the ability for other players to hack in to your single player experience, it would be nice if that switch also allowed you to pause the game.  I learned this the hard way as I decided I needed something to drink while I was playing.  I hit the start button, and a menu came up titled “PAUSED”.  However, the action continued.  I returned to find that the game had indeed continued, and poor Rebecca had failed to cover me until my return.

The multiplayer integration into the single player campaign is pretty interesting.  I left it on for a while just to see how well it would work.  When someone hacks into your game, you will notice a red glow around one of your enemy combatants.  This is your opponent.  Unlike you, they have the ability to mindhack into any enemy combatant without having to first injure them.  This definitely adds an interesting twist to the game.  I had a few encounters with a couple of online players, and was able to enjoy the experience for the most part.  The nice thing about this is that it adds an additional level of challenge to the campaign experience, because you’re now fighting against an enemy that is truly unpredictable.  And of course, if you’d like to just enjoy the campaign on your own, you have the ability to simply turn it off at the main portal menu.

Graphically, the game is absolutely top-notch.  I very rarely catch any texture pop, which seems to be common in the more graphically intensive games, and at any given time, you’ll see up to 10 or 12 NPCs in the mix in the level without any glitching.

I’ve read a lot of complaints about the sound, but I haven’t experienced any issues with it.  However, I’m just playing through my TV speakers, so if they’re using an external audio output, that may be where the issue lies.  Personally, I think the sound is just fine.

You would think that with as many complaints, I would completely trash the game.  But, in all honesty, I really enjoy it.  The story seems to be developing well as I progress, and the gameplay for all of the technical glitches is pretty well thought out.  Most of the problems that I’ve experienced are quality issues that could very well be addressed with a title update, which I was very surprised to see that there was no such thing available when I first started the game.  It’s my hope that there is such an update going through the approval process, and it simply didn’t get certified in time for the launch.

In the end, I simply cannot recommend this game to anyone.  Which is a pity, because the game has so much potential to be something great.

I rate this game at 2.25/5

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

January 20, 2011 - 8:38 pm