Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy Review

When I was a little kid I only had two wishes, world peace and having superpowers cool enough to take over the world.  Through the years, I’ve grown wiser and realize it’s ridiculous to wish for something that will never happen, world peace.  Finally, I have got my hands on a game that presents a solid action/adventure base with powers everyone wants to have in real life, Psi Ops.  This is the closest anyone will ever get to having real Psi powers…or will it?

The truth is that while this game presents us with a fictional setting and plot, the idea surrounding government testing of operatives with special abilities is not so far fetched.  The game offers a “Psi Secrets” Documentary which goes into some of the things nations have funded behind closed doors dealing with paranormal abilities.  You play Nick Scryer, a UN soldier taken prisoner by “The Movement”, a military cabal with aims of taking control over the common man.  Locked away in a secret base, you must count on your training as a Psi Agent and an undercover operative, Sara Blake, to free yourself and stop The General (leader of “The Movement”) from fulfilling his insane ambitions.

Let me first say that you wont have your powers (Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis, Remote Viewing, Mind Control, Mind Drain, and Aura View) right at the get-go.  Before purposely dropping Nick into the hands of “The Movement”, Mindgate (the American Psi program, the good guys) used advanced brainwashing techniques to suppress his memories and his powers until he got inside.  Through the game, he begins remembering his past and his immense powers.  The nice thing about this delay of powers is that it gives you a chance to use standard weapons like silenced pistols and machine guns.  Believe me, once you get your powers, weapons will become secondary alternatives to defeating your foes.

After going through training upon activation of your powers with your military partner (who will play a major role in the game), you are ready to jump back into the hot zone.  About 70% of your game experience will involve the use of Telekinesis.  It offers one of the most realistic physics engines I have seen on the PlayStation 2.  This is evident in the way you can grab enemies and throw them across the room or at the nearest wall.  A cool side effect of TK is what the developers call “TK Surfing”, which allows you to jump on an object and levitate.

As you probably think, your Psi powers are not unlimited.  That’s why you must pick up Psi vials and rejuvenators when you find them to boost up the amount of Nick’s Psi power.  Mind Drain plays a role in this too, allowing you to get your power from the minds of your enemies, either dead or alive (leading up to a grotesque head explosion).  Mind Control is also a fun power and opens the door up to new gameplay strategies.  Pyrokinesis is the quickest way toward killing your enemies but you pay for it in Psi power.

The enemies that will be at the unfortunate receiving end of your powers are called Meat Puppet Warriors.  Though they come in different forms and difficulties, they are rarely a match for your skill with poor AI and terrible aiming.  Boss fights are another story.  You’ll be facing rogue Psi operatives who specialize in one of the powers.  The Master of Telekinesis, Edgar Barrett, can move fuel tanks with his mind while you’re limited toward midsized objects.  The funny thing is that although the bosses are powerful, they understand the immense potential of Nick and some have even had a past with him.  They often ask Nick to join them in their cause, in which he refuses.

The controls are very simple to manage and will become second nature to you in no time.  I have some complaints, however.  Though the boss fights are cool in enormity, most of the time you will need to use TK to throw objects at the boss to defeat him which gets monotonous and tedious in aim.  There also is no automatic healing process that rejuvenates your health slowly over time.  Though some of you will say “That’s what the medkits are for, dumb”, there were many points in game where the only thing stopping me from progression was my low health.  The game also has extra content including replaying old levels, opening up new ones, and cooperative play.  Psi Ops is a failure of its own success by throwing in some of the extra content.  Cooperative play doesn’t allow you and a friend to control two separate characters.  In a cooperative, one of you controls Nick’s movement while the other controls his powers and weapon use.  How lame is that?!?!  The game is also too short.

Graphically, the game feels like it was meant for the PlayStation 2.  On the Xbox, the graphics look a bit substandard.  But because we rarely expect much from Sony in terms of graphics, the game fits right in.  The opening cinematic looks very good.  For the PS2, the character models are nice but what really takes the cake are the PSI power effects.  There is good voice acting although The General sounds too evil for his own good.  Sound effects are good too.  The main theme comes from the rock group, Cold.  “With My Mind” may be the first music video ever revolving around a video game (the game includes the video for viewing).

Wrapping it up, Psi Ops:  The Mindgate Conspiracy turned out remarkably well done.  The developers did their homework to make it a good military third-person action/adventure, but through an ingredient to the mix that will be hard to duplicate in the future.  This game is rightfully rated Mature, so parents be cautioned.  Otherwise, I’d go for it.