Preview: MindJack

How awesome would it be to have a futuristic headset that you can use to perform even the simplest tasks? Say, turning on a microwave? I mean, who wants to get up, walk to the microwave, and press a button to turn it on? No me! That’s exactly why in MindJack, Square-Enix’s upcoming third-person shooter set in the year 2031, uses exactly those headsets. Every citizen has one, and uses them for similar conveniences, however an evil organization has risen and has begun taking over people’s minds using the headset. As a member of a team of rogue agents, the player’s duty is to stop this organization.

Stop shooting me, Frank!

Perhaps the coolest thing about MindJack, which I didn’t know about earlier, is that it’s actually a single-player game within a multiplayer game. Players can ‘host’ their own single-player story, opening the door for other players from around the world to ‘hack’ your game and step in the shoes of the multiple enemies you’ll face. Their goal is to stop your progress. When an enemy player dies, they can proceed to ‘hack’ their next body and come back as that character. Not only are enemy AI controllable by other players but bosses are, as well, meaning yes, you can play as that giant gorilla. Apparently, each boss has their own distinctive control set, too. It’s a neat idea, that’s for sure, and I wondered why no console-game developer had ever attempted such a system before. Of course, for those that aren’t too up to the idea of friends better than they at the game coming in and slowing down their progress, completely offline play is an option as well.

As you might have guessed by the game’s title, MindJack‘s biggest gameplay feature is ‘hacking’. When enemies are weak, a yellow aura-type glow will appear around them, signifying that they’re vulnerable to mind control. Players could choose to “mind slave” or “mind hack” the enemies; the first makes the enemy fight for your side, the second allows you to take over their mind and become them. Enemies aren’t the only hackable entities, though. Civilians, vehicles and robots can be hacked, as well. Mind hack comes in handy especially for tactical purposes — think about mind hacking an enemy or civilian on the far side of a shoot out; you’ll be able to take out the enemies you couldn’t hit, then return back to your body for an easy walk. Hacking also comes in handy during low health, as it’s okay to die in a different body — you’ll only go back to your own afterward. There’s definitely a lot of strategy involved in the game.

Rackin’ ’em up.

Players get experience points for the things they do in MindJack. You’ll get plus ‘number’ for certain types of kills, etc. Players will be able to use the experience they earn in combat to upgrade their hacking abilities. For example, players can upgrade the distance to which they can hack. There are negative experience points, as well, though. Doing malicious deeds like shooting civilians will cause the player’s experience to drop.

MindJack looks like it has the potential to be catch attention and has a nice amount of unique offerings to back it up. I was impressed with what I saw (the visuals could be better, though), although I can’t be surefire on it as I didn’t get to test it out for myself. Stay tuned for future updates.

MindJack is scheduled for an early 2011 release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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