Title: Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Released: June 14th 2004 (North America)
October 1st 2004 (European & me)
“Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy” has a history that is… complicated. First it was released around the same time as “Second Sight”. Made by awesome guys (and I’m not saying that because they are/where a UK company) Free Radical Design [Now Crytek UK] and released by Codemasters. “Second Sight” was a game about a US government special agent who loses his memory and develops psychic powers when he regains his memories. Not to be compared with “Psi-Ops”, a game about a US government special agent who loses his memory and develops psychic powers when he regains his memories.
It was then compounded when a man by the name of William L. Crawford III in 2007 filed a copyright claim against Midway saying that they had ripped of his screenplay called “Psi-Ops” that shared a similar premise, characters and psychic abilities. (Not be compared with “Second Sight”, a game about a US government special agent who loses his memory, oh wait…) Midway, as-per policy, never openly talked about the law suit. But in December 2008, the United States District Court for the Central District of California (thank you Wikipedia) ruled in favour of Midway, finding no evidence of copyright infringement. This added to the pressure that was on Midway at the time because a year later in 2009 Midway filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors.
Well, some of it did. Midway Studios (Chicago) was bought by Warner Brothers and became NetherRealm Studios, Midway Studios (San Diego) was bought by THQ (which filed for bankruptcy in 2012) and a lot of its publishing arm was divided and regionalised to other, more local, companies.
Anyway, back to “Psi-Ops” the game. (Not be compared with “Psi-Ops”, a screenplay about a US government special agent oh wait…)
You play as Nick Scryer, a man with no memory, who is implanted by the US government into (well… captured by) a terrorist group called ‘The Movement’. The Movement is made up of former special agents, who have psychic powers, from various governments. So I call them “The International Cavalcade of Evil Psychic Evil Doer’shfekjhbwflkbgjnhte THE MOVEMENT IS GOOD. THE MOVEMENT IS SAFE. PRASE THE MOVEMENT.”
Throughout the game you get the ability to move stuff, set things on fire, see/project through walls and mind control. And you can shoot guns. There are always guns.
The psychic powers add a depth to combat that would otherwise be a bland 3rd person shooter. Gun-wise, you get the usual assortment of pistol, shotgun, machine gun with an added assault rifle (which just replaces the machine gun after a point) and sniper rifle. You also can get flamethrowers and missile launchers as special weapons but considering you can make fire (after a point) and missiles are rather scarce in all but boss fights (and considering you can only have your pistol and a second gun at a time) you will always end up picking the machine gun/assault rifle or the shotgun depending on the situation.
As you play, a conspiracy is laid out before you, concerning your past and lost memories, blah, blah, blah, we have danced this dance so many times since then there is no point in going through it. There are a few well laid out twists in the story but with all the games/films/stuff that have come out since some people will see some of the twists coming.
That doesn’t mean that the story is bad. Two sections stood out when I played through. One section in Asia that is based around illusion that weirds me out and another section in an Aztec style pyramid that is based around an invisible dimension parallel to ours. It’s scary. Not scary as in “Slender” or “A Machine for Pigs”. It’s scary as in “Limbo”. That sense that there is something bad out there and it wants to eat your face. You can see the monsters with one of your powers but you can’t have it on all the time and one can quickly turn too many and you can find yourself over your head easily.
The characters in the game are what you’d expect. Even the way they are laid out as bosses. You gain a power at the start of a stage, learn to use it through a level and then fight a master of that power. Although it usually ends up with you just throwing stuff at them and/or their object du jour rather then using other powers or even shooting at them. I was quite impressed to see that Ed Boon lent his voice to the game. Not as any of the main characters. In the credits he was listed under ‘Additional voices’. Still, shows he had commitment when he was working at Midway. (You know, after voicing Scorpion in “Mortal Kombat”.)
I have to mention the ending. It ends on a cliff-hanger with the lead saying the immortal words “I remember everything” and then goes straight to a black screen with “To Be Continued” on it. If you remember from the start of this I told you the story about how Midway no longer exists via bankruptcy. So there will never be a sequel. At least it is very, highly unlikely there will be one. And that makes me said.
Looking at the game now, people will see that it is dated. It’s certainly ‘of its time’. But at the time it was great. Not outstanding. Just great. Time has only weakened it because it gets compared to other games that have seen its story and gone ‘I’ll have a bit of that’. But it still is a substantial game even by today’s standards.
Retro Score: 4.5/5
Today Score: 3/5