STAFF REVIEW of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (Xbox)

Saturday, July 10, 2004.
by Sheeyt

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy Box art When I first heard about Psi-Ops I was skeptical. Midway had been on a decline as far as game quality goes as of lately. However Psi-Ops was a very big surprise to me. I\'m enjoying the game very much. The presentation and gameplay are very well done. It\'s not as stealthy as I think they built it up to be from early on, none the less its still a blast to play and a game definitely worth some attention. The Psi powers are a great idea and make the game fun. Infact playing through the game I hardly use the guns that are available, its just to hard to resist picking up an enemy and throwing them around with your mind. Not to mention throwing them into an incinarator or off a broken bridge.

Psi-Ops is your typical third person shooter action game. You are Nick Scryer and you work for a secret branch of the government known as Mindgate. You have Psi power match only by a few. Former employees of Mindgate have splintered off and formed a rebel group bent on world domination. The group is controlled by a rogue general, who unlike his cohorts has no Psi abilities, but has a plan to acquire them. The story is very in depth and actually kept my attention.

The game starts off with an impressive FMV scene showing a massive assault on the Mindgate compound. Nick and his troops try to fight of the assault but are overwhelmed. He is captured and taken to the Generals base.

When you finally get to take control, you have no Psi abilities. Let not your heart be troubled. Your Psi powers started \"awakening\" quickly. I like how Midway incorporates the training of the Psi powers into the game. As you play through the game and a new Psi power \"awakens\" the main story stops and you are warped into a memory of the training that Nick originally went through to learn the abilities. You get to play through all the trainings so you get accustomed to the abilities. Once you\'ve completed the trainings, the story picks back up but now you can use that Psi power.

The Psi powers themselves are very cool. For instance you have telekinesis, Pyrokensis, Mind Control, Remote Viewing, and Mind Drain. Each is activated by a simple button press on the controller. Telekinesis of course is the ability to control objects with your mind, with this power you can control no kidding every single thing you can see. You can pick up people, boxes, steal boxes, dropped weapons, explosive canisters, chairs, tables, fire extinguishers. The is probably the most used Psi power in the game. You can use it to stack cracks, and climb to higher areas. You can also pick up attacking enemies and either levitate them mid air, and gun them down or you can hurl them in any direction. Pyrokenisis is pretty self explanatory. You unleash a fireball igniting anything in its path on fire. Mind Control is also obvious, taking control of someones mind either have them hit a switch for you or kill their friend, or them self. Remote Viewing, allows you to leave your body and scout ahead going through closed doors. All the powers are useful but as I said Telekinesis is the most useful. You will use this power the most to throw enemies around, throw things at enemies or get something out of reach.

The Psi-Powers are not your only weapon. Nick is also packing heat. Well he acquires it from fallen enemies. Nick can only carry two weapons at once, so choose wisely. When it comes to gun battles, Nick can put his back to a wall peak around a corner jump out and unleash hell on an enemy a little Sam Fisher-esq. Nick can also crouch, and sneak up on enemies, hide behind cover, or climb crates. You can also use Mind Drain to suck brain waves out of living and dead enemies to replenish your Psi power. Dead enemies will only give you a limited amount, but a living person will almost fill you up. However you can only use Mind Drain on a living person if you\'ve successfully snuck up on them.

The game is very straight forward and easy to pick up and play. The level of difficult seems just about right. The enemies will duck for cover, some will charge you guns a blazing.

The boss battles are one of the best parts about the game. They are all very different and very fun. One battle pits you against a former friend, infact the you will recognize the man as the person who trained you in your Psi Powers. You must battle him in an open train yard. As your Psi powers are not as strong as his, you must pick up crates and launch them at him. All the while he is picking up tanker trucks, and train cars and launching them at you. This is just one of the many great boss battles.

The game is pretty lenghty with plenty of levels and areas to visit. However once its beaten I don\'t think there is much of a reason to replay the game.

Graphically Psi-Ops is nice. Maybe not up to par with graphics that could\'ve been if the game was exclusive to Xbox. Nevertheless they are still good and easy on the eyes. The character models are all uniquely different. The environments are ok, some are bland and common. Like your typical all metal corridor. The game will take you from military bases, to train yards, to office buildings.

Alot of the environment is destructible, and Midway did a nice job incorporating the Havok engine into the game.

The particle from explosions are done well. You can pick up a canister with telekinesis hurl it into an area causing it to explode living black charred markings everywhere. As with the Pyrokinisis you can engulf a stack of crates in flames, once the flames go out the crates will be charred and ashy, and easily fall apart. Also if you have a row of crates or anything flammable and you ignite the first crate it will send a chain reaction all the way down the line as long as things are flammable. When you pick up an enemy you can slam them into a wall with Telekinesis and blood will splatter everywhere. Or if you are able to sneak up on someone you can use Mind Drain and suck their brain power until their head explodes in a nice bloodly explosion with head and brain chunks flying everywhere. Also if you light a person on fire once they go out their bodies will be blackened and burnt as well.

The FMV\'s and cut scenes all look good. There is an area where you are running through a hallway while someone is casting all these illusions around you. The screen blurs and people and things pop up everywhere. It really feels like you are hallucinating.

The sound effects of the game are probably my least favorite part. The guns sometimes sound awkward and other sound effects just aren\'t as good as they could be.

But to make up for that the voice acting is excellent. For a bunch of unknown people I must give them around of applause. Each character is brought to life very well. The acting is believable and very entertaining. The entire game is very cinematic.

Midway did a good job with the cast of voices they put together. The voices really fit with their character on screen which makes for some enjoyable interaction.

While Psi-Ops is a very good game. Maybe tightening up the controls a bit could help, they sometimes feel very loose. Improve the in games graphics a bit and sound effects. All in all the past two games Midway has produced have been a big improvement from past Midway games.

Overall: 8.4 / 10
Gameplay: 8.6 / 10
Visuals: 8.2 / 10
Sound: 8.2 / 10


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