‘Be careful what you wish for’ is a saying that certainly rings true when playing Mindjack. For years people have been saying that originality is dead in videogames with shoot ’em ups in particular being a case point. Feelplus – the Japanese developers behind this third person shooter – have tried to do something different here but for all their good intentions it has ended up being a bit of a mess.

Set in a futuristic computer generated world – a fact you have to assume, as you’re never actually told this is the case – Mindjack involves making your way though short and linear levels with an AI team-mate who hinders rather than helps. The presentation mirrors that of an online deathmatch, with a list of who has killed who constantly being updated on the side of the screen. When all the enemies in an area are dead you’re proclaimed as ‘the winner’ and it’s off to the next stage. The cut-scenes between levels are embarrassingly cheesy; so much so that I started skipping them as soon on as the second stage.

During battles you can leap of out of the main character’s body and become a blob of floating pixels to ‘mindhack’ robots, citizens and enemies to gain control. Having to swap characters is never used for puzzle solving, which is a little unexpected given the potential, but it’s handy for acquiring some heavy firepower or to take an enemy by surprise. When taking control as a citizen for instance there’s always a short delay before the enemy realises that it’s you in control.

The problem here is that when you play as a hacked character the AI takes over controlling the main characters and often ends up getting killed. As Army of Two taught us, having to rely on a CPU character to heal you is also rather annoying as they often end up running straight into oncoming fire en route http://viagraindian.com/products/levitra/. I got the achievement for healing a team-mate 20 times by the end of the first level, just to illustrate how often you have to come to your cohort’s assistance. It’s also not uncommon to see characters unloading their clips into walls, in a dim-witted attempt to kill enemies on the other side.

It speaks volumes that the simplest of ideas is one of the best. Once you’ve killed an enemy you’re able to make them ‘mindslaves’ and follow you. Mindjack is at its finest when you’re having a large-scale battle with half a dozen AI drones on your side. Becoming an unstoppable force, albeit for only a few minutes, can be fun.

Clearly the most interesting feature, though, is that human players can drop in and out of your campaign. They’re auto-assigned to be either good guys or bad: fighting alongside and against humans does make things more challenging and varied. If the two main characters die then it’s game over and the opposite team wins. If you simply want to plough through the story – which takes a good eight hours – then fortunately you can turn the option of human-interaction off so that you can progress swiftly shop.

Even if the AI was up to scratch, this would still be a mostly frustrating experience as the checkpoints are sloppily placed and it’s littered with bizarre design choices. The same button to heal and reanimate the deceased, is also used to pick up weapons, so often you go to do either and end up picking up a gun you didn’t want. A crappy handgun, usually. Weapons aren’t carried over from one stage to the next either, and although you can level up and assign new skills you have to quit to the title screen to do so.

Due to the vast amount of annoyances and suicidal AI it’s not hard to imagine people giving up before even half of the way through. I managed to stick with it – purely for the purposes of this review – but it was done though gritted teeth. On a few occasions switching the Xbox off seemed like a brilliant idea, especially when the enemies started to include giant bionic gorillas and chimpanzees with machine guns mounted on their backs. A mind fuck? Totally.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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