Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is quite the hidden little gem on the Xbox and PS2. I first brought this game on the PS2 when it was sitting in the dirty corner of a Gamestation (remember that business), it came with disc and manual only and it looked unloved and unwanted so I adopted it for the low price of 75p and was very happy with what I had discovered. Since I enjoyed the game so much I re-purchased it complete on the Original Xbox for the even lower price of 49p.
It was released in 2004 for PS2, Xbox and PC and was developed by the memorable Midway games. It is the rather generic story of the boring character Nick Scryer who wakes up with amnesia and you have to find out who you are and what is going down. It’s not an interesting set up though it peppers in a few twists, turns and government conspiracy plots but the main character just does not stand out as unique or even memorable. However, the bad guys are a different story they are interesting, annoying and are incredibly entertaining and memorable except for the big bad boss right at the end where the game once again falls in to the trap of seen it all before bad guy especially with a silly name like ‘The General,’
What sells this game by far is the gameplay, this alone is probably the reason you will enjoy it. Psi Ops, is a third person shooter with psychic abilities thrown in. The shooting is very by the numbers and works how you would expect, the abilities however, which include telekinesis where you can throw objects like boxes and even human enemies dead or alive around the room never get old. Other powers include mind control which is possession of your enemies, mind drain which causes your enemies heads to literally pop and many others provide some fun flexibility in the game play.
You can almost go through some levels and not shoot a single shot, and you’ll find new creative ways to dispatch enemies and reach the level goal each time you play through. One of my favourite moments of which there was many was throwing an enemy into some exploding barrels then down a lift shaft into the electrified floor (and yes I’m getting that therapy I clearly need).
Of course abilities are unlocked over time through cut scenes and when your character conveniently remembers how to use them. My only main criticism and it’s a big one. Is towards the end of the game foes become incredibly tough so much so that most of your special skills are useless against them, so it feels more like a boring shooter by this point which is a darn shame and many may quit the game for this reason.
The game is level based and checkpoints are frequent enough to prevent everything from getting frustrating. There are several boss battles in Psi-Ops which mix up the action requiring you figure out the bosses pattern before defeating them however most solutions usually require the use of your psychic abilities.
Graphics are just okay. Nothing here is going to blow you away, levels tend to be very metal grey like standard complex buildings and character models are what you would expect for the Xbox,PS2/Gamecube generation. The boss characters look more unique than the stupid main character you play as, they have their own personality and remind me a lot of the crazy bad guys in the Metal Gear Solid series. There was a great opportunity to do something interesting with the graphics in the game. Sadly it all just looks so boring and uninteresting you would not believe that this is even set in the future.
Music, again nothing to write home about but it does feature music from actual music artists ‘Cold,’ with their song ‘with my mind,’ but if that’s not your thing the music won’t exactly stick with you. Voice acting feels appropriately silly especially from some of the bad guy characters, you’ll chuckle occasionally at the cheese. But generally it won’t wow you. Psi-Ops really seems to open up once you complete the game for the first time as old school cheats are available, several challenge levels open up and you can change the costume of your character and many more other cool things. If you are able to stick with it and complete the game there is a lot more to experience.
Verdict:- Psi Ops excels in its fun gameplay design but sadly disappoints in almost every other area. The graphics are average, the sound doesn’t leave a lasting impression and the main character is dull and wooden.
What is here is a terrific gameplay experience that you probably wouldn't have expected and certainly warrants a single playthrough, at least.
Second Opinion:- Transbot has to disagree with this review as it's one of Transbots personal favourites, this pre-dated things like Force Unleashed by years and did similar things in better ways.
The graphics are not as bad as what this pesky human fleshling Jam will have you believe, they do look a bit flat sometimes and the colour palette is not the best but they work fine.
Transbot approves this game!
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10