Despite all of the screenshots of agent Jim Corbijn shooting a cybernetic gorilla, there aren’t many of them in Mindjack. The first time Jim sees one he makes note of the absurdity of shooting a mecha-monkey. Titans, as their called in the game, are more like a secret power-up more often hidden in the recesses of a level for players to find. While the gorilla can charge into Nerkas troops, he isn’t as effective as a gun and a few grenades.
So, you spend most of Mindjack running from one cover point to the next (with Jim sticking his hand out as he runs) and occasionally rolling into a wall when the game doesn’t realize you’re trying to hide. Guns are and bullets are generously scattered through levels making his melee attack, a kick in the shins, fairly useless. Jim’s main ability is he can leave his body as a ghastly wanderer and take over the mind and body of other characters on the battlefield. You almost always have a partner in the game and as long as one of you is alive the game continues. Stern activist Rebecca Weiss is the first ally Jim gets and together they investigate a conspiracy involving above the law corporations.
Offline Mindjack is bland. Online it gets… interesting.
Mindjack’s strongest feature is it lets you hack in to another person’s game. All of the levels in Mindjack are multiplayer enabled, even boss stages. During a boss fight two blue players (read: good guys) with a higher level than my character joined my game. The glowing ghosts took control of civilians, a police officer and construction worker who just happen to carry a machinegun. While I paid attention to the two-legged mech firing rockets, they continued to shoot fodder until, without warning, the boss spontaneously exploded. Later, I returned the favor by jacking into a different player’s game who was in an earlier level. I took control of his partner and restored Jim during a firefight. Whoever creates a game is also in charge of cutscene viewing, which meant I ended up watching the same event a second time.
You can also join a game as an enemy and take control of the Nerkas troops usually controlled by the CPU. The first time I did played on the red team (read: the bad guys) I jumped into a level way later in the game right when someone was in a boss fight. I took control of a unit armed with a rocket launcher, fired it at the human player, and defeated him in one shot. I quickly disabled his partner and lead the computer to victory. We were both sent back to the beginning of the stage where I hovered over the player as a malevolent red spirit. Before I could take control of another generic gun touting troop, I was booted from the game. About half-an-hour later I logged onto another multiplayer session as blue and ended up helping the person I defeated earlier as an apologetic ally.
In addition to the aforementioned gorilla, Mindjack lets you control nearly everything on a stage. The red team has access to nearly all of them. You can jump into a soldier or a Wraith, a type of speedy super-soldier. There are robots to take over too like a gunner with unlimited ammunition and the odd detonator wheel which can only self-destruct to attack. It’s a little more like playing as a living landmine than a character. Feelplus also threw in a shield robot that only has the ability to absorb bullets and plenty of neutral-side flight attendants. Controls for the robots can be wonky. The gun robot, for example, can’t take cover and is awkwardly turns corners.
Levels are designed so red team players can easily access guns and grenades too. While red team has a numbers advantage at the beginning, Jim and other blue team players can turn Nerkas soldiers against themselves with the Mind Slave ability. Underneath all of the flying bullets, there’s a bit of tug of war going on between sides. Perhaps, an unbalanced game of tug of war because a high level player can log into a beginner’s game. Experience points unlock arts, a fancy word for stat boosts that reduce bullet spray, increase stamina, and the power of your shots. You can only equip two arts at a time, but those are enough to give one player a sizable advantage.
It’s far from polished, but Mindjack has a somewhat neat concept at its core. Although, I wonder when the appeal will fade. Right now, there are a decent number of people playing Mindjack online. Finding a game to jack into isn’t a problem. After the game’s novelty wears out and the online community fades away the game’s primary appeal will change from story based shooter where you can be the rare bad guy to man vs. machine vs. monkey in story mode.