Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Mind freak!
Developer / Distributor: Midway / Zoo Digital Publishing
Release Date: 24 Jun 2004

Rating: ESRB – Mature, PEGI 18+

GamersGate - Buy and download games for PC andIntroduction
No, this is not a review of a game about magic nor does it have anything to do with Kriss Angel. Today’s game is all about playing with the mind. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is a highly polished science fiction shooter game that came out of nowhere and surprised me with its great game play, interesting plot, cool movies, and beautiful and realistic scenes of madness, mayhem, and destruction.

In the game, you get to take on the role of Nick Scryer, the protagonist of the game. It seems that a short time back, Nick willingly undergoes an operation to change his looks. He also has his memory of his past life blanked out. Nick is then placed at a fuel refinery that gets attacked by an organization called The Movement. This organization is run by nasty people possessing super psychic abilities, their only objective – to take over the world of the common people. They are lead by a person identified only as “The General”.

In the ensuing attack, Nick is captured and brought into the secret base of The Movement. There, Nick meets Sara – a double agent. She injects him with a substance to help him regain his memory, all the while explaining that Nick was placed in this state of forgetfulness so that The Movement would not be alerted through their psi detection equipment. From there, the plot develops into an incredible journey of infiltration, action, and adventure…

Psi-Ops starting up

What you get
Psi-Ops is a single player only game that takes you through 8 huge missions. It may appear short, but each of these missions are broken down into smaller segments that really add to the game.

Incidentally, there are a ton of unlock codes that require to be activated through placing your mouse on the menu item “Extra Content” and then pressing the “V” key. Check the internet for these codes, you will be surprised by the many bonus missions and extras that are made available to you.

Gameplay
After watching the movie cutscenes in the game, you will start the campaign in a little prison cell. You are rescued shortly by a lady who introduces herself as Sara Blake, and it seems your character will have to trust her to survive his predicament.

Crouch and take cover

You have quite an arsenal of weapons to use against your enemies. First, there are the conventional weapons of warfare – silenced pistol, machine gun, shotgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle. Then, there are the psi powers that are the key highlights of the game.

Even more sneaking

You can carry two types of conventional weapons, a larger type and a silenced pistol. I found conventional weapons to be a tad irritating to employ due to two things:

  • you have to continually pick up discarded weapons since ammunition depletes pretty fast thanks to the burst mode (especially if you hold your mouse button down too long).
  • you must remember to use the Tab key (default) to switch between the two weapons you possess. This is a different implementation scheme compared to other shooters.

There is also a useful auto-aim feature in Psi-Ops. Like in other shooters, head shots are what you should aim for, than say a shot to the torso.

Flashback time – And into the training mission we go
Psi powers are gradually introduced to you in the game. Whenever, you are introduced to a new psi power, a flashback scene occurs and you are brought to a training mission that teaches you how yo use your recently awakened power. Your protagonist’s latent powers include:

Telekinesis (TK): The power to lift objects and people with the mind is a truly awesome experience that has been implemented in this game. You can not only lift inanimate objects such as crates, weapons, and bodies, but you can also lift your living enemies with your mind. Follow up with a flick of the mouse to throw your enemies through the air like rag dolls. If you like, you can even do something called TK surfing. For example, you climb on top of a crate, look down and then telekinetically lift the crate with you on it into the air. This is definitely better than any Swami Indian Rope Trick.

TK’ing is great

Remote Viewing: The proper term for this is actually clairvoyance (the ability to see through someone else’s eyes). This power allows you to travel through doors with your mind and glimpse what fate could possibly lie behind it.

Mind Drain: Drain psi from corpses or from people who are alive to fuel your psi powers (the blue bar in the screen shot below). To drain a living person, you must carefully sneak up behind him and invoke the mind draining power. When you perform a drain like this to the fullest extent, the victim’s head will pop in a bloody explosion of blood and gore. This is the reason why Psi-Ops has been graced with an ESRB of M – Mature for 17 and older.

As Dean Koontz writes, “It’s a popper!
Later in the game, you will be introduced to three more mind powers. They are:Mind Control: This is a pretty straightforward but absolutely fun psi power. Take control of an enemy and wreak havoc. The best use of this power though is to control enemies who use special weapons such as the flame thrower and rocket launcher. Watch the other bad guys unknowingly get baked to a crisp by their very best friend.

Watch out for traps!

Pyrokinesis: If you remember seeing Drew Barrymore in Stephen King’s Firestarter, you will know immediately that pyrokinesis is an awful power that sets stuff on fire. This psi power gets even more deadlier when used in conjunction with telekinesis. Fireballs anyone?

Aura View: With this power, you will be able to see things that you can’t normally see. Think of this psi power as akin to night vision goggles. There is however one distinction – if an enemy is not aware of you, his aura is blue; if he is alerted to your presence, then his aura is red. There are other uses of Aura View that your training mission will tell you about, and I leave it to you to find out.
Watch where you step
Now that all the psi-powers have been covered, let’s talk about the repercussion of having such mind powers. As Nick is practically a super hero, the developers have decided to ramp up the number of enemies trying to kill him. This can make the battles very challenging as lots of enemies converge upon you. I think the old adage – Live to fight another day, is an all important mantra that you should repeat in your head while playing Psi-Ops.
As for the bosses of Psi-Ops, they are powerful and worth battling against – these guys truly make you work for your next level. You have to pay attention to what the bosses do, and then use your psi powers to find a weak chink in their armor.
The first boss is a real pain
Graphics
I found the graphics of Psi-Ops to be very detailed and nicely done. The lighting in the game is very dramatic and the level design is awesome. There is some backtracking to do in the game, but nothing too seriously repetitive that it becomes a cause for concern.The movie cutscenes in Psi-Ops are perhaps some of the best I have ever seen in a game. The graphics is captivating, the good guys, enemies and bosses are all rendered with beautiful detail. Moreover, the rigging of the actors look accurate and authentic.

Simply captivating movies to watch

Sound
The voice acting is impressive for a production like Psi-Ops. The lead hero and heroine is done by Steve Matuszak and Joanna Buese respectively.

The music is dynamic and interesting and it really brings the game to life when there is a sudden change in tempo and style as a squad of bad guys enter the room to challenge you.

I couldn’t tell the difference for the sound effects as they really seem quite similar to the sounds from other shooter games.

Analysis
In the game, you have many ways to accomplish an objective. You can either enter a room with guns blazing, or perhaps use mind control to attack the enemies inside until only one remains, or maybe… well, I believe you can see what I mean – this game really makes you think out of the box to find that creative solution that does the least damage to your character. There are many ways to skin a cat and Psi-Ops has provided you a Swiss Army Knife to do the job.

Gotta head for the far door at the end of the compound
In addition, the game comes with an inventory system where you can make use of psi rejuvenators/vials/elixirs to replenish your blue psi power bar, or health kits to refill your red health bar. You can also navigate to see a blueprint of the map that you are playing on. These are handy little additions that truly add value to the game, it makes me feel like I am actually playing an RPG.I also want to add one last point – I feel the developers have done a good job of porting the game from console to PC. There is a distinct “designed-for-PC” feel to the game, and I might not have known it was a port if not for the Internet.

Get the unlock code to see zombies in Psi-Ops

Conclusion
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is truly an impressive game that deserves more attention than it currently deserves. I strongly recommend this imaginative science fiction game to all gamers out there who want to play a different kind of shooter. This is one game that rewards you with that goody-two-shoes feeling for coming up with a creative solution to a problem. Get it now before you regret missing it later!

Daily PC Game Review Score: 8.5 / 10
Review Date: 14 Apr 2011


The Verdict

8.5Great

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