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Mindjack (Xbox 360) artwork

Mindjack (Xbox 360) review

"If it wasn't for its gimmick, Mindjack could have been the most timid third-person cover shooter I've played in recent memory. The flow follows the formula with such generic conviction, going from segmented area to segmented area as you shoot off rounds from pistols and assault rifles against an endless supply of soldiers, cops, and shotgun-wielding astronauts (I honestly can't explain that last one) in a futuristic metropolis setting."

If it wasn't for its gimmick, Mindjack could have been the most timid third-person cover shooter I've played in recent memory. The flow follows the formula with such generic conviction, going from segmented area to segmented area as you shoot off rounds from pistols and assault rifles against an endless supply of soldiers, cops, and shotgun-wielding astronauts (I honestly can't explain that last one) in a futuristic metropolis setting. Sadly, the developers don't take full advantage of this setup, as the city pretty much looks like... a city, with holographic screens thrown here and there. Most of the designs and layouts are nearly interchangeable, too, all sharing a sleek and steely look throughout; you start the game in an airport, and a couple minutes later you're at a monorail station, except it looks exactly like the airport. The visuals have an overall industrial look to it, and with this on again, off again blue hue that appears, gives an already robotic-looking environment an almost ghostly aura. I would have given up not even halfway if this were all there was to offer.

But the gimmick was interesting enough to help me want to complete the game once. And only once. This gimmick, a mechanic, gives you the ability to, well, Mindjack other people and control them as if they were your default character. Though, that means your original avatar will be AI-controlled for the time being. It's not as easy as it sounds, of course, since there are certain conditions. Civilians cowering in fear are simple to capture immediately, but you gotta go out of your way to spot them. As for the enemy, they can't be jacked unless you damage them to a degree, meaning you have to show some restraint when firing weapons. If done correctly, you can use Mind Slave with the tap of a button at close proximity, forcing them to your side, with an optional Mindjack as a bonus. This ends up changing how you approach your cover-shooting tactics to an extent, because you can strategically, and I use that term loosely, flip the battle in your favor, having your controlled posse strike back at the remaining nuisances.

Unfortunately, the one big issue concerning this ability is the lack of creativity. The developers literally do nothing else with the gimmick, reducing it to the same fate as the cover-shooting aspect: you'll just do the same thing over and over till the credits roll. Admittedly, it's more fun to Mindjack than straight up kill everyone yourself, especially when moments occur like a soldier, a flying turret, and a woman in a skirt and heels gang up on an astronaut. It's also pretty hilarious how civilians magically pull guns out their asses the second you capture them. But there was so much more room for improvement, for more variety! One such missed opportunity could be the use of jacking specific civilians to wander past unsuspecting soldiers and gain access to certain areas, to open doors or gather data. I understand they wanted to make this purely action-oriented, but the Mindjack ability is put to great waste due to this decision.

However, the developers had another supposed ace up their sleeve: an online component. If so desire, you can allow players to hop in your play session at any time, either to aid or, or, to hack into enemies and civilians to fight you. This actually sounds pretty neat... until you experience it firsthand. I was pumped the first time players hacked into my match, but that feeling quickly faded when it was a party that decided to fight me. One against three. Specifically, I was a low-level player with no abilities attached (take more damage, gain more xp, etc.) up against higher-leveled players, with abilities likely, and getting my ass handed to me nonstop, American Gladiators-style. Now I know what contestants felt when being manhandled by Nitro, Ice, and Turbo. To be fair, you can turn on a rule reducing the number of invading players, or just flat out disable the feature, but there's still a chance a high-level player can come in and wreck your stuff, or even a low-level participant that makes ya feel like you're bullying them.

Even if the development team refined the online aspect to make it more balanced, that doesn't change the fact that the actual game as a whole isn't exciting enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. The basic gameplay is decent enough to make gunfights doable, and they occasionally throw in silly new threats, like robotic monkeys and a ginormous Japanese mecha. But that, combined with the Mindjack element, doesn't have enough depth to make you want to go through the hassle of purchasing this title. The plot is really stupid, too, involving twists you see coming a million miles away or explanations that do nothing but give you brain farts; through most of the story, you will be accompanied by a woman that looks exactly like the protagonist's deceased wife, and halfway through the game, she divulges that she was tailing his wife the day she died. Th... that's the explanation they give for the resemblance. Arghoenahfgysa. If there's a better-known cover shooter or two that you haven't bought yet because you were curious about games like Mindjack, you'll be wise to check out those games, instead.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (September 16, 2012)

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Suskie posted September 16, 2012:

This actually sounds a lot like Inversion, i.e. a cover-based shooter with one central gimmick that it doesn't really do anything with. And it sounds like you felt the same way about this game that I did with that one, so there you go.

Good review. I didn't have any interest in playing this game to begin with and reading this didn't change that, so mission accomplished.
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pickhut posted September 17, 2012:

Yeah, it felt like they had an interesting concept that they just shoehorned into a basic cover shooter and called it a day. Thanks for reading the review, and having it being compared to Inversion bums me out. Even after reading your review back then, I still kinda wanted to try it out, but having it remind you of Mindjack makes me not want to anymore.
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zippdementia posted September 17, 2012:

I think that's a lesson to us all.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted September 17, 2012:

I had no idea this game featured hair removal. Sign me up!

The Alexandrite laser appearance, full warm individuals hair possible of years hair-growth, which is a good thing.

When marketing to English-speaking consumers, it helps to type English comprehensibly. #protip

Oh, snap! I just revised my own English!
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pickhut posted September 17, 2012:

For the entire game I think I only encountered one bald guy.
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zippdementia posted September 17, 2012:

Did you mindjack him?
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pickhut posted September 17, 2012:

The main character got into a fight with him in a cutscene in the beginning, ending with a neck snap. He was actually an undercover agent that everyone in the entire game thought was dead, and that's why you're killing cops and such the whole time. For some reason.

Then he reappears at the end of the game okay.

Yeah, the plot is really, really stupid.

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