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Psionic Powers, a new Genre? I hope so!
on 7 November 2004
'Psi-Ops, the Mindgate Conspiracy' is a game that was released to no great celebration, which in my opinion is wrong. This could have something to do with the fact that it was released within the same time span that Free Radical's own psychic themed sub standard game "Second Sight" was unleashed upon Europe. Yet the similarities between these two games ends with the theme of controlling a psychically adept character, as Free Radical's attempt delivers a mundane, all too serious take on the theme, where as Psi - Ops is much more fun.
Upon writing this review I have completed the game once on the Normal difficulty setting and am about to start my second play through almost immediately for this has been one of the most enjoyable playing experiences of my life. I will begin by listing the few negative points about the game as I would not want to present a biased opinion, and then move onto the many positive points.
- It is a little too short. I completed the one player mode in under ten hours, however, there is A LOT of replay value as completing the game on each difficulty setting unlocks genuinely interesting material such as deleted scenes, concept artwork, new skins for your character and fun cheats
- Towards the end of the game a new enemy briefly stands in your path, making a change from the usual three varieties of easily manipulated soldiers. These are psi - monsters, things that can only be seen when you are using one of your psi abilities. Not only do they diminish the sense of extended reality the game usually puts forth, but also they are irritating to deal with as no psi powers (the best thing about the game) work on them. However, this is just my opinion, others may think them an interesting change of pace
- The Artificial Intelligence sometimes leaves a lot to be desired as, although usually very solid and exciting, if make a motion that leads to you being detected, suddenly all the enemies in the near area know your EXACT position and attack you no matter how far away you are.
- The best thing about the game is it is genuinely fun. Each one of your psi powers create lots of ways to deal with a variety of situations. Do you take over the mind of an enemy and use them to obliterate their allies? Or rip a fire extinguisher off a nearby wall using Telekinesis and launch it at them, only to shoot it a second after blowing them to smithereens? The possibilities are almost endless and usually end with very satisfying results thanks largely to the game's astonishingly accurate physics and rag doll system
- The graphics. Although this game looks sharper and smoother on the X Box version, the PS2 version is still something very special, just look at any screen shots you come across and try to argue with me
- The sound. When I first saw this game I thought it would contain a lot of 'grungy' rock music, but I was willing to make this sacrifice as I knew it was a good game from playing the demo. However, it turns out that there is a lot of grand orchestrated music accompanying the game's levels and especially its cut scenes, adding suitably dramatic effect. The voice acting is very good throughout and each of the 'boss' characters have their appropriately evil voices berating you as you battle them, and the grunts that you learn to love scream and shout as one might do in real life if picked up and thrown about like a 'rag doll', excuse the pun
- Level and boss design. Each location in the game looks different to the last and offers many new items to launch constructively or destructively, and I was always compelled to reach the next place if only to see what it looked like. Similarly the bosses' characters are very well implemented into the storyline despite Nick not seeing them too often, and each battle is very amusing to handle.
- The storyline. Although the ending is a little disappointing with its 'To Be Continued...' ominous tagline, the prospect for a sequel has me very excited. The narrative itself in the game compliments Nick's psychic abilities very well and never ceases to amaze with the excellent voice talent and score going along with it.
In conclusion, I am extremely glad to have experienced Psi - Ops in all its glory and it more than lived up to my expectations. Although my 'experience' with it is not quite finished yet, I plan to play through it several more times to unlock everything and to find even more interesting ways to dispatch my foes, I can say this without doubt..
I would recommend the game to anyone who enjoys action adventure and shooting games, and I would implore those who don't to start with this one if they wish to learn the error of their ways.
Unleash your mind and discover 'The Mindgate Conspiracy', you won't regret it.