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PlayStation 3 Review: Mindjack

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The name Square Enix has long been synonymous with quality gaming. As an RPG and shooter fan, when I hear about a new game from this well-respected company, my ears perk up and my controller fingers begin to itch. This is one reason Square Enix’s Mindjack is such a major disappointment.

From the outset, it’s difficult to get too involved in this third person shooter. The year is 2031, world governments are failing and evil corporations are on the rise. The story is dull, predictable, and seems like an excuse for a whole lot of antagonistic bad guys to involve you in frenetic gunplay. The main characters, Jim Corbijn, an FIA agent. He and Rebecca Weiss, an anti-government activist meet in an airport and are immediately thrown into a gun fight with a concourse full of baddies.

The cool part of the fracas and the entire game is supposed to be that Jim can take over the mind of an enemy, passerby, or Rebecca if trouble is afoot. This is called “mindhacking” and is a wonderful idea. You can get your hackee to help you out of a jam and shoot at the other bad guys, after which you can make a quick escape into your own body by pressing down on the left and right sticks. This all sounds great on paper, but it is implemented poorly. Hacking is supposed to be a dreamlike experience but here it’s more like drifting through a murky mess. Think swimming underwater on Ambien and you’ll get the idea.

The AI in the game is ridiculous to the point of being nearly impossible to beat. The enemies, which at times include sentry bots and crazed chimps, have more stamina and armor than Halo’s Master Chief could ever wish for. Aiming is difficult and cutting the baddies down before they severely hammer you is a major challenge. This is why the six player online mode is a much better deal. As with some other titles in recent years, you can also play through the game allowing other people around the world the ability to hack into your game and help you out or hurt you (they can be enemies, not just allies).  Either way, you are dealing with humans who don’t have the advantage of advanced AI. It’s the only edge you’ll have in the game.

Other problems with Mindjack are small but irritating. You can’t pause the game. If you grab an enemy and use him as a shield, you can’t kill him. Others can though, so you have to either wait for it to happen or shoot him when you let him go. If you can.

There are a variety of rifles and pistols at your disposal. Since you can only carry two weapons at a time, plus grenades, this gives the enemy even more of an advantage. And it seems one of the best ways to kill a boss is to decimate the baddies around him. Once that happens, the big guy explodes. I discovered this after firing at one boss for longer than I’d like to admit. Needless to say, the frustration level of the game is high.

I wish I had more positive things to say about Mindjack. If the game was as good as its concept, it would be a definite must-have. Online it has its moments but your $50 could be better spent on a more worthwhile game.

Mindjack is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood, language, violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.


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