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e3 2010

What Is Mindjack?

by Joe Juba on Jun 16, 2010 at 08:36 PM

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Amid a booth packed with familiar names like Final Fantasy, Front Mission, and Kingdom Hearts, one title from Square Enix stood out as a mystery. On first glance, Mindjack appears to be a normal third-person shooter. After seeing how it tries to break down the barrier between single and multiplayer modes on the E3 show floor, however, I can say that this action title is far from traditional.

Developed by Feel Plus and AQ Interactive, Mindjack fuses its multiplayer and solo campaign into a unified experience. On one hand, you'll be playing through a series of levels, gunning down bad guys and progressing through a story -- just like a single-player shooter. However, you won't be doing it alone.

As you go through the campaign, other online players will be able to drop into your game, either in a cooperative or competitive role. This means that you could be facing down a group of AI soldiers, and one of them could suddenly become a human controlled enemy -- and a greater threat. On the other hand, players can decide to join on the host's team, working together to mow down the bad guys.

The two teams each play differently, too. The host's team is composed of the three hero characters who have the ability to turn defeated foes to their side. On the other hand, the opposing team has access to greater firepower, including mechanical drones and cybernetic monsters. If you die, you can simply respawn in another nearby body and continue the fight until one side emerges victorious. Even better, these kinds of clashes aren't pre-scripted; they just happen as other players join. Ideally, this would be occurring almost constantly.

What was once a standard player-versus-computer encounter could evolve into a 3-on-3 firefight  including humans, beasts, and mechs. The ability to drop in and fight other players seems to open up the possibility to extensive griefing, but you can refuse on a player-by-player basis when someone requests to join your game, so you don't need to worry about hitting a wall.

If you don't like the idea of other players encroaching on your experience, you can just turn the feature off. But, as game director Takehiro Kaminagayoshi jokingly admits, "Of course you can play like that, but it's not fun." Unlike many third-person shooters, the core appeal of Mindjack isn't in the way it uses setpiece moments to create intensity. Instead, it's about unpredictability and the thrill of squaring off against intelligent and challenging opponents.

You can see how Mindjack blends these two types of gameplay when it releases this October on PS3 and 360.