marino's Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (Xbox) review

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The Sleeper Hit of 2004

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Psi-Ops is Midway's new third-person shooter game, but before you write it off as just another run-of-the-mill TPS like the other 47 games you've seen, give it a chance.  The game puts you in the shoes of Nick Scryer, a secret psi-agent who has telekinetic abilities.  Nick has been trained by the government's Mindgate contingent whose current mission is to destroy the terrorist organization known as The Movement.  Still sound generic?  Well, Nick has undergone a complete memory wipe and facial reconstruction and is being sent to infiltrate the terroriest organization undetected.  Once inside he is to meet up with another operative who will help him restore (remember) his telepathic abilities.  Throughout the game you will learn skills such as Mind Control, where you can physically possess the mind of an enemy and briefly control them rather than Nick;  Telekenisis, which allows you to levitate objects and throw them using only your mind; Pyrokinesis, which allows you to summon and throw waves of fire; Mind Drain, which allows you to syphon all the kinetic energy out of an enemy and replenish yours (perfect for stealth kills); and even the ability to have out-of-body experiences which allow you to look through walls or doors to see what's coming up.  All of these abilities, plus all the generic ones like multiple guns and melee combat, make for some of the most fun experiences so far this year.  Psi-Ops is more than just another third-person shooter. 
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The game is solid in the visuals department.  The character models look good and the special effects are very good.  The physics engine Midway has developed makes great use of rag-doll physics, which hasn't been seen alot on consoles.  The majority of the environments, which are quite large on most levels, are interactive and destructable.  And being able to throw most of the level around the screen with your powers would make some people think the framerate would get sluggish, but it does not falter.  The only drawbacks are that the levels are fairly dull and dark in color/polish, but not everything is going to be Ninja Gaiden.     
Midway did an excellent job with the gameplay aspect of Psi-Ops.  With so many options at your disposal, it's extremely important that the controls feel right.  It takes some getting used to at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be destroying everything in your path with ease.  One of the best things about the gameplay is that there are multiple solutions to every obstacle.  If you find a gap you can't jump across for example, you could possess an enemy on the other side and lower a bridge, or you could hop onto a crate and levitate the crate while standing on it to carry yourself across the gap.  The camera becomes an issue on occasion, but for the most part the controls in Psi-Ops are top notch. 
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This is probably the weak part of the game.  The effects like explosions and listening to enemies die agonizing deaths are good, but the music is an eclectic mix of butt-rock and doesn't effectively ramp up in tense situations like most games do now days.  The voice-overs are better than most would expect though.     
Replay Value 
Well, it is an action shooter game.  Once you've beaten it, which should take about a dozen hours depending on how you play, there's not a whole lot to look forward to.  Although, since the game features so many different ways of going about accomplishing missions, that it is actually worth going through again on a harder difficulty level.  But don't look for any multiplayer or Live support.     
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I could spend hours just messing around in the practice room.  There's just something inherently fun about being able to lift up an enemy with your mind, and while holding him in the air, light him up with your assault rifle.  Or maybe you'd rather levitate the enemy and toss him into a flammable barrell.  Once you get good with the telekinesis, you can actually juggle people in the air, tossing them back and forth across the room.  You can control just about anything, which is hard to convey in words, but I'm trying.  Don't want to walk into a room full of guards?  Peek around the doorway, target one of them, possess his mind and have him kill all his buddies.  By the time he figures out what just happened, you'll be able to run in and toss him off a bridge or set his ass on fire.  The game starts off a little slow since you don't have any of your powers, but the farther you go, the more varied the action gets and the more enjoyable it becomes.  If you like third person action games and are looking for something new, go check out Psi-Ops.  It's been marketed like crazy, but for good reason.     
*** This review was written for shortly after the release of the game. ***

Other reviews for Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (Xbox)

    You'd never expect Psi-Ops to be this good. 0

    I can imagine that a developer working on the low-visibilty Psi-Ops was, at some point, told that their game would never be any good.  After all, Psi-Ops appears to be so generic that it would get lost among established franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. Fortunately, the overachieving developers at Midway wouldn't hear it. On the surface, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about Psi-Ops. You play as Nick Scryer, an undercover military operative, with amnesia of course, who's...

    0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

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