If there was one game that surprised me at this year's GamesCom, it has to be Square Enix's upcoming third-person shooter, Mindjack. On the surface it probably looks like any other generic shooter, but once you delve a little deeper, you realise this couldn't be further from the truth.
The game is set in 2031 A.D., so the developers have a bit of creative licence with regards to the technology featured in the game. And this has enabled them to come up with the 'Mindjacking' concept. In a nutshell, there's a big corporation that has a monopoly over the world's technology. They have created a headset which unbeknownst to the general public, has the ability to take over their brain, hence Mindjack. However, much to the dislike of the big corporation, they aren't the only people who can manipulate the technology for their own desires.
So this is where the first interesting concept comes into play, the ability to create Mind Slaves. As you play through the game, you're able to control the minds of various civilians or enemy soliders. You can take over two at a time and they will then fight by your side - rather handy really. You can also choose to leave your "host body" and Mind Jack someone else entirely, creating another AI character in the process.
As interesting as this probably sounds, it becomes a lot more interesting when introducing the game's other main element, the multiplayer. Initially when the whole multiplayer element was explained to me, I was a bit sceptical - it does sound a bit crazy.
The game has a co-operative system whereby other players can (at any time) join your team. These other players can also control up to two other AI characters, and those in control of the two main characters can also Mind Jack other people to create another two AI characters. This means that what starts off as a single-player game, can rapidly grow into a game which has four player-controlled characters, and all of their AI counterparts. You can create a mini-army!
It was at this point, that I was introduced to the concept of Anti Co-op. The game allows allies to join the main character, so why shouldn't it allow people to join as enemies? That was the mindset of the developers at least. My initial query was, why would anyone want to do this? But then I thought about how competitive gamers are - of course they'd want to try and impede the progress of others. There's also the fact that they can Mind Jack any of the units the opposition has at that time, including boss characters.
Up to four people can join on the opposing side, so you can see that what starts off as a single-player game can very quickly evolve into an all out mutliplayer affair, just by playing through the game. It's all integrated seamlessly, and it's very impressive.
My only slight reservations come with the lack of any dedicated multiplayer mode, but when other characters join, the game tries to make it seem like one as much as possible. After each section, the two sides are given scores and EXP is obtained to unlock new items.
For me, the concepts that Mindjack plays around with are extremely interesting. I can't wait to see how this PS3/Xbox 360 develops and it'll definitely be on my radar as it nears its release.