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.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to GameStop.com. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Zumba Fitness: Join the Party" (Majesco) for Wii; rated "E"
2. "Dead Space 2" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3 and PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)
3. "BulletStorm Epic Edition" (EA) Feb. 22 release pre-order for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, use of alcohol)
4. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)
5. "NBA 2K11" (2K Sports) for Xbox 360; rated "E 10+" (mild violence)
6. "Pokemon White" (Nintendo) March 6 release pre-order for DS; rated "E"
7. "Space Chimps" (Brash) for PC; rated "E 10+" (animated blood, crude humor, language, mild fantasy violence)
8. "Pokemon Black" (Nintendo) March 6 release pre-order for DS; rated "E"
9. "LittleBigPlanet 2" (Sony) for PS 3; rated "E"
10. "Dead Space 2 Collector's Edition" for PS 3
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
"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.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.