Gaming Under $20: Mindjack

Almost ten years ago, I walked into a GameStop. With a heart full of wonder and a pocketful of birthday-money, I browsed the shelves. I had no idea what I should get,  but I didn’t want to blow all of my cash on a new game. My eyes wandered from game to game on the shelf of pre-owned products. Finally, one game caught my attention; this game was called Freedom Fighters. I scoured over the cover and read every word of the description on the back. With no guarantee of having a satisfying game experience delivered by it, I took the risk and paid $18.99 for it. ($18.99 to a young teen is comparable to $100 in adulthood.) After popping the game into my Gamecube, I soon realized that I had made a terrific choice. I loved every second of that game. Since then, I’ve been chasing that risky high of purchasing a cheap game that turns out to be pure gold. So, when I saw Mindjack on the shelf for $8.99, I hesitantly picked it up and dropped a Hamilton. I have never wanted ten dollars back so badly.

The plot of Mindjack is a tough nut to crack, not because it is deep and complex, but because it seems to be completely unaccounted for. From what I could guess, you play as a “Wanderer”. These Wanderers can travel from body to body and control their actions. The body that you primarily possess is the aptly named, “Agent Jim”. The game begins with Jimboy following some lady through an airport, while chit-chatting with an anonymous person in his ear. After being told explicitly to not interfere, Jim runs up to the woman, murders the gentleman she was talking to, and begins walking her through the airport. Shortly after, hundreds of armed soldiers begin bursting into the terminal, forcing Jim and his new Ladyfriend to shoot their way out. Now, you may be wondering: why did she help the guy that just murdered a random fellow? Why was Jim following some lady? Why are there hundreds of soldiers attempting to murder these two people? Well, I don’t have a clue, either. None of this is explained at any point in the game. After you escape the airport, it becomes a monotonous grind of running from one place to the other, for no given reason. There are muddled, shallow points about how people are being mind-hacked, some people are dying, and hundreds of robots. All of these plots end up being farts in the wind, because none of it is fleshed out.

The gameplay is a painfully linear third-person shooter. All of the action is cover-based, unless you are “Mind-Hacking”. This is where Mindjack claims its uniqueness: you can “hack” into the minds of enemies, civilians, or allies and turn them into your puppets. You can either directly control them, or force them to fight on your side. While this was initially an interesting concept, it crumbles under several gaping flaws. First of all, when you hack into other players, Jim doesn’t just stay put. Instead, he is taken over by an AI and consistently gets his dumb ass killed. Second, the civilians civilians and enemies don’t regenerate health like your main character does, forcing their helpfulness to be shortlived. Third, if you make enemies into AI controlled allies, they don’t take any precaution into surviving the fight. Instead, they just run right at their former allies and are quickly dispatched. Even the simple mechanics like, running, taking cover, or shooting are botched by Mindjack. More often than not, I found myself doing combat rolls instead of taking cover, sprinting into walls, and shooting everything except the badguys.

Mindjack also incorporates the multiplayer into the single player campaign. Much like Brink, players are able to jump in and out of the host player’s game. These outside players spawn as one of the many faceless enemies, allowing them to attempt to kill the host or help the host by betraying their team. While I have no real complaint about this style of gameplay, I do have a problem with not being able to pause my damn game. That’s right, since the game thinks that you’re constantly playing with multiple human counterparts, the pause button doesn’t stop the game. Nothing you can do will stop the gameplay for a single moment. I can’t even explain how incredibly frustrating this can become when you just need to step away for a moment. Also, who in their right mind is going to be jumping into games of Mindjack, anyway? Seriously. This isn’t exactly a raging online community.

At least, through all of the errors, the developers were able to do something right. This game looks gorgeous! The environment is lush, the characters are incredibly lifelike, and the animations ar-Oh, wait….Yeah, they screwed this up, too. The game looks like it was ported from the Playstation 2. The environment is just a series of gray hallways, construction yards, or city streets. The characters are stiff, emotionless, and poorly animated. Even the frequent cutscenes are drab, leaving you gasping for any other game to play. When you combine all of these horrible elements with the laughably bad dialogue and voice acting, you create one shitstorm of a game.

Just to add insult to injury, the achievement list is perfectly designed to rob you of your time, but not reward you for anything. It is a mix of a few very easy achievements, and tons of achievements that you’ll never get. You won’t escape an average playthrough of Mindjack with more than 350 or 400 Gamerscore. Most of the achievements are based on the idea that there will be other players, which is clearly not an option. All of the other gamers made the right choice and left Mindjack to rot on the shelf.

It is rare to see a game that was published by Square Enix to fail on almost every front. I know that publishers aren’t the ones that made the game, but why in God’s name would Square Enix want to put their name all over this piece of crap? Mindjack is one of the most shallow, boring, and ill-executed games that I have seen in my life. Without a single aspect of Mindjack being fully developed, it creates a torturous game experience. Please, anyone who reads this, avoid Mindjack at all costs.

I gleefully announce that Mindjack  is “Not Worth It”

By Blake Edwards

Blake

About Blake

Hi...I'm Blake and I'm a Cinephile. I've been this way since I can remember, although the environment I grew up in certainly contributed to my condition. As much as I love writing about films, I hope you all know that I write this for you. Look at me, Readers. It's all for you!

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