Psi-Ops The Mindgate Conspiracy ReviewCain Dornan
Ever wanted to move objects using just your mind? Or how about controlling someone elses mind? Comics from around the world have created characters that are able to use their minds to control objects, humans and more. Midway has developed an action-based title that combines both weapons and psychic abilities to form an action-packed title that is unique from so many others in this genre.
You play as Nick Scryer, an average-looking guy who is not only skilled with guns, but also has the ability to kill you with his mind. Trained by the US Governments Mindgate department, Nick has a range of powerful psychic abilities, allowing Nick to control people minds, move objects, float through doors and more. After having his mind whipped, Nick is captured by The Movement who planned to brainwash Nick and add him to their ever-expanding meat-puppet army. However, once captured, an operative helps Nick to regain his memory. Using his powerful mind and a variety of weapons, Nick needs to find the truth about The Movement, Mindgate and himself.
Your main enemies in Psi-Ops are meat-puppet Minions, brainwashed humans who are programmed to kill. Boss battles also occur in certain points in the game, each consisting of the main members of The Movement. Each boss battle relies heavily on your psychic abilities. One boss battle for an example is with your ex-trainer, Edgar Barret, a strong telekineses user. Since he is immune to weapon fire, you need to rely on your telekineses to throw objects at him, whilst dodging flying objects from him. This keeps the boss battles interesting as you are required to use different psychic powers in order to win, rather than simply shooting the enemy.
As well as using your psychic abilities in boss battles, you will also be required to use them during missions. Using telekinesis to stack boxes allows you to gain access to higher areas. Mind Control can be used gain control of your enemies, which you can then use to open doors or gain access to restricted areas and Aura View allows you to view hidden areas. Each psychic ability is essential in order to proceed through the game. Also, you have the option to use your psychic abilities to kill your enemies, instead of relying on your weapon power for each kill. Telekinesis can be used to throw enemies off buildings or by throwing objects at them. Mind Control can also be used to gain control of a Minion, then use his weapon to kill his un-expecting teammates.
Players have the option to proceed through the game using stealth. To begin with, you are equipped with a silenced pistol, which remains with you throughout the journey. This allows you to easily dispatch an enemy without alerting nearby enemies. With plenty of interactive material filling the stages, it is rather easy to make your way through a large majority of the stages quietly. At times, you can also use your psychic abilities to dispatch enemies if needed; taking over the mind of an enemy and quietly walking him off a building works just as nicely as shooting him with the silenced pistol.
Once killed, enemies will continue lying on the ground for some time. They will react to any movement around them; running over them will result in the body moving appropriately. This is a great little realistic addition to the game, with few other shooters on the market that have this type of interactivity with its surroundings. Other objects also interact to Nick coming in contact with them, such as boxes, tables and chairs.
The AI is generally intelligent in Psi-Ops. Enemies will duck for cover behind available objects and will call for back up if needed. One problem with the AI, however, is that they regularly appear from no-where. On several occasions after a alarm has been triggered, enemies have appeared directly behind me, where only a solid wall is present. This results in some loss of health as you battle with the rather slow controls to face Nick at the attacking enemy.
Along with the solid single player mode, Psi-Ops also boasts a co-operative multiplayer mode. Instead of the usual controlling of two separate characters, both players are required to control Nick one in control of Nicks movements whilst the other controls Nicks psychic abilities and weapons. This truly is a co-operative mode, as both players need to work together in order to progress through the game, however not everyone will find this to their liking. A nice little deathmatch mode in addition would have been appreciated.
Although nothing spectacular, the graphics in Psi-Ops are well detailed. Your surroundings are generally smooth and crisp, complete with interactive objects. Lighting completes your surroundings, with dark moody areas in warehouses or brightly light office rooms. The amount of interactivity with your surrounding environment is outstanding, a feature which many games in this genre lack.
The characters in Psi-Ops are well detailed and move realistically. Great attention to detail has been spent on every aspect. The Havok 2 physics engine allows a huge number of ways that your enemies and surrounding react to things. Using telekineses to pick up and throw an enemy can result in him smashing face-first into a wall, then slumping down onto a ground. Or, you could land on one of the commonly placed explosive barrels, resulting in his body flung into the air like a rag doll.
Overall, everything on the graphics side looks great and runs smoothly. They defiantly arent the quality of some of the most recent releases, but what is there works well. It is quite impressive that such large levels are loaded in such small loading times, with close to no drop in frame rate, even when there is plenty of on-screen action.
The music in Psi-Ops does the job well, and doesnt subtract from the gameplay. The sound effects and voice acting is also great. Each character sounds exactly as you would expect them to, with no over-acting of situations. Soldiers will call for back up appropriately, or yell There He Is! once they have spotted you, alerting nearby enemies to your presence. When objects, including bodies, are thrown, a realistic thump is heard, reassuring you that he wont bother you again.
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy impressed me in both gameplay and visual terms. The developer has taken great care with details on almost every aspect in the game. The game would be a solid shooter without the psychic abilities, however the game becomes more unique and enjoyable with it added.
Although there are some minor problems, such as a rather clunky camera, what the game does well easily outweighs the small problems with it. There have been plenty of third person shooters released over the past few years, and I feel that many people are beginning to get sick of this genre. What Psi-Ops has done, however, is create a game that is similar to others in many ways, but also has some unique abilities with the interactivity with your environments and Nicks psychic abilities. Psi-Ops impressed me, and Im sure it will do the same for you.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.