Twists make 'Mindjack' worth renting


I have a personal problem with "Call of Duty: Black Ops." It's nearly flawless, so it makes almost all other shooting games seem small and deficient.

As you'll recall, I gave "Black Ops" a top rating when it came out in November, as did most critics.

Here we are in February, and it's still in the weekly Top 10 sales and Top 10 rental lists, even after grossing more than $1 billion by Christmas Day.

Did you get that? More than a billion bucks. It has out-earned "Toy Story 3's" box office.

Anyway, my point is I'm reviewing the new shooting game "Mindjack" this week based on its own merits. But after playing it, I couldn't help but compare it to the superior "Black Ops" online.

"Mindjack" is a very good idea for a video game but it doesn't do the shooting right.

"Mindjack" is a futuristic adventure with a twist. You portray a soldier-cop guy who shoots rival soldier-cop guys in a series of offices and metal-wall levels.

The twist is, if you play the game online, other gamers may float into your battle rooms (resembling at first a ghostly gas in the air), then they can inhabit and portray any good guy or bad guy in the room.

That's cool. Also creative: If you get severely injured, you can pull your mind out of your hurt body and inject it into the head of your healthy female cohort or another protagonist in the room.

There's one more fantastic idea: After you kill a bad guy, you can point your finger at him and turn him into a zombie killer who will fight by your side for a few moments.

That stuff works well. But here's the trouble with "Mindjack." To kill most of the bad guys, you have to shoot them in the head with a full clip of ammo -- or maybe two clips.

That's an absurd amount of headshots to lay down one bad guy at a time.

To make matters worse, there's not much to the action of "Mindjack" other than shooting people with a revolver or with a machine gun.

For comparison, in "Black Ops," you get pistols, rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, knives, plus more than 100 other options, from gun muzzles to camouflage, and many multiplayer battle modes.

I don't think it would be a terrible idea for you to rent "Mindjack" for a few hours to judge its interesting inventions. Or, buy a used copy in a few seasons if this $60 game then drops to $15, an adequate price.

I certainly think the game maker, Square Enix, should revisit this mind-transference device in a future game. It's pretty swell.

For shooting online now, however, it's "Black Ops," only "Black Ops" and nothing but "Black Ops."

("Mindjack" by Square Enix retails for $60 for PS 3 and Xbox 360 -- Plays dull. Looks just OK. Moderately easy. Rated "M" for blood, language and violence. One and one-half stars out of four.)

("Call of Duty: Black Ops" by Activision for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii, PC and DS -- Plays quite fun, and even better in online multiplayer. Looks great. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, strong language. Four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

NEW IN STORES

"Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds" (Capcom) is the kind of game you don't see much anymore. It's a fighting game.

That sounds so simple, doesn't it? Fighting games used to be a fairly dominant genre, or at least an equal with other types of outings. Alas, a good fighting game is hard to come by.

This one pits familiar characters from the Marvel and Capcom games of yore, including Ryu from "Street Fighter" and Trish from "Devil May Cry," plus new characters, such as "Resident Evil's" Chris Redfield.

It is, of course, more than just fist and feet combos. There are swords, Wolverine hand fists, Captain America's shield, guns, fireballs and pretty much any magical weapon you've ever seen in a Marvel or Capcom bruiser.

A lot of fans of the comics-fighting genres will be stoked to see various characters in action.

But, although I haven't played the game yet, it looks (in videos) to be the fastest-moving fighting game I've ever seen. Frankly, characters strike so quickly, you can barely see some of their moves.

The Tuesday release retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3. It's rated "T" for mild language, partial nudity, sexual themes and violence.

"Test Drive Unlimited 2" (Atari) is a racing sequel that puts you behind the wheel of Ferraris, Audis, Mercedes and other exotic autos, driving on roads around Ibiza, earning cash to buy houses (which you can peruse personally) and clothes.

You can compete in races, time trials and other events, and there are driving achievement combos that, if you chain them in order, net you cash. This isn't a simulator. Bumping your car hurts the exterior, but doesn't blow your axis.

You also can go online in a massively multiplayer online mode, in this open-world racer.

The game retails for $50 for PS 3 and Xbox 360; $40 for PC. It's rated "T" for lyrics, mild suggestive themes and simulated gambling.

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone;" "T" for "Teen;" "M" for "Mature 17+")

-- By DOUG ELFMAN

 

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