Mindjack is a unique shooter with a distinct development history. For a third person shooter from Japan with a cover system, it would be easy to call it an Eastern take on Gears of War or Uncharted. However, that's selling the game short, as developer Feelplus and publisher Square Enix have crafted a title with some very cool ideas.
MindJack takes place in 2031, where technology has improved to the point that people are able to control devices or even other people around them just by thinking. Unfortunately for our heroes Jim and Rebecca, a non-government organization called NERKAS is exploiting this tech and hacking into people all over. However, this is a two-way street, and both Jim and Rebecca are able to hack into nearby civilians, robots, vehicles, and even cybernetic simians to deal with the NERKAS threat.
When hacking, players can leave Jim's body at any time, and zoom around an area to hack into nearby characters. Often civilians will be located at higher points on the map, allowing players to surprise enemy soldiers from above with a tactical switch of characters. When leaving the body of a character, the computer AI will take over, and is generally pretty capable, so switching back and forth between many characters is a primary tactic. Deciding how to approach a firefight is just as important as being in one, and figuring out who you should be in control of is integral.
There are also vehicles and robots that can be hacked. For example, a small wheeled robot can be hacked, and then detonated after driving up behind the enemy characters. Additionally, the NERKAS organization is testing on simians, so many of the enemy characters are gigantic cybernetic gorillas and speedy spider monkeys with shotguns attached to their backs. These primates can be hacked and used for some serious melee damage. Finally, when an enemy soldier is damaged enough, players can “slave hack” them. Different from outright hacking them and controlling them, slave hacked soldiers will join your side and battle for you, with up to three at once.
Smart players will do everything they can to earn plenty of experience points. These points can be applied to “arts,” or modifiers that can change anything from player XP multipliers, increase player health, or the recharge rate of the hacking ability.
All this is grand and well, but it's the multiplayer that is really unique. When a player boots up the game, they can open their single player campaign to allow for other players to join. Technically, the single-player and the multiplayer are one and the same, and as players join up, they will be given control of the NERKAS soldiers or of Jim and Rebecca. Up to five separate players can join up for 3v3 player, and the host player can set up a series of modifiers to change how a level will play. With 15 single player levels, the entire game can be played with six players at once, and MindJack encourages this replayability.
MindJack isn't without problems, some of which are a bit concerning. Enemies are particularly difficult to kill, with minutes of pumping lead into a foe before they go down. Running is not exactly tight either, as the characters have a tendency to lock onto a bit of scenery if you get too close. This is a problem when there is lots of scenery about, and you'll find yourself locking onto walls when you mean to be running past. This can be frustrating to say the least. Controls are not the tightest, and while the graphics are okay, they aren't anything to write home about.
While I have some concern for the somewhat imperfect controls, I do have to say that the single-player/multiplayer crossover is very unique, and the hacking system is something not seen in other games. If Feelplus can tighten up the controls and balance the enemy difficulty, they might be on to a particularly special and innovative shooter.