DC creates a good universe; Mindjack doesn’t

Not every online multiplayer game strives to be World of Warcraft. Being fast, furious and effective in a rather abbreviated time span can actually work in a game’s favor, as long as the game effectively provides what it promises.

DC Universe Online

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PC

Genre: Online role-playing; Publisher: Sony

ESRB Rating: T, for teen

Grade: 4 stars (out of 5)

Not every online multiplayer game strives to be World of Warcraft. Being fast, furious and effective in a rather abbreviated time span can actually work in a game’s favor, as long as the game effectively provides what it promises.

This is essentially the good/bad appeal of DC Universe Online. This massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) is seemingly built and designed for the gamer who wants tons of action, wants the character to reach the top of his or her abilities, and then feel comfortable enough to move on.

Let’s face it: There may not be a better way to do this than by basing the entire game off the DC Comics license.

Instead of populating an unknown world with hobbits, archers and warriors, you get to create a superhero (or supervillain, if you prefer) and interact with characters you already know and some you may not remember.

With the game’s easy-to-navigate character creator, it takes all of about 30 seconds before you find yourself in some fighting.

This is the core of the game: Get into battle, move along and then get into another battle. The cities of Gotham and Metropolis serve as the well-populated battlegrounds, and you’ll form factions and adjust your characters’ skills to achieve victory easier.

Leveling up and unlocking new content from clothing to equipment comes often, and the game constantly rewards you for continued play.

Those looking for greater meaning in this game or hoping to spend the next 12 months living out a second life within this space will find it disappointing. After a while, there are few new dungeons and buildings to raid.

Whether it’s intended or not, the DC Universe Online is a perfect entry-level MMOG that pairs immediate and constant gameplay with a well-known trough of characters and storylines to keep you interested until you top off your character.

Gamers may not hunker down for the long haul, but they won’t complain that their time was not action-packed.

Mindjack

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Shooter; Publisher: Square Enix

ESRB Rating: M, for mature

Grade: 2.5 stars

A premise alone can sometimes be enough to send a title into stardom. Mindjack has exactly that kind of potential, but the execution leaves you wanting more and focusing too often on what could have been.

In this futuristic setting, two competing entities can enter the minds of just about any character and command it to do their bidding. No one can be trusted, and the person by your side can quickly become your enemy.

Awesome premise, right? If only the gameplay matched the idea’s wit.

Being able to “hack” into the mind of a random human, animal or robot in a given space is really smart gaming.

Pinned behind cover by numerous shooters? Just leave your body and hack into someone nearby who’s got the drop on those pesky foes.

It’s genius when it works, but most of the time you’re left hoping for more.

This is primarily because the controls are stiff. Real stiff. Like walking-dead stiff. Yes, you can run and tumble and execute some melee moves, but none of it feels fluid.

Pair with this the incredibly weak artificial intelligence (for both friend and foe), and the game’s weaknesses get exposed. The drab environments don’t do Mindjack any favors, either (apparently gray is the only acceptable color to wear and decorate with).

Mindjack begins with an intriguing proposition of not truly knowing who is your friend and who is your enemy.

The game lets you down too often, however, and leaves your constantly feeling that it’s never on your side.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler.

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