Can you define what a sleeper hit is? I am sure you have played one before; they come in all shapes and sizes. From Beyond Good and Evil to the even more recent Midway smash The Suffering, these little gems seem to lighten up any gamer’s rainy day. Midway has been on a roll lately, from the above mentioned Suffering to the more recent NBA Ballers, there seems to be a constant flow of quality running through the veins of the house that Mortal Kombat built. In comes Psi Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy and completely blows the doors off the genre. Combining unique combat elements in the form of psychic powers and straight ahead action/stealth Psi Ops grabs a hold of you early and doesn’t let go.
You play the role of Nick Scryer, a member of Mindgate, and guess what? You have complete amnesia, yes the plot is as predictable as an episode of Dragonball Z but it does the job. What is memorable though are the characters, Psi Ops takes a page from the old school library with boss specific levels finished off with their respective leaders. Each boss also requires you to utilize the power you acquired within their domain. Sure it may sound simplistic, but you would be surprised how many times this formula is overlooked for so called innovation. What does make Psi Ops so innovative is its use of psychic powers. You can wield telekinesis, pyrokinesis, remote viewing, mind drain, and others to aid you along your path to glory. Each power is introduced with a brilliantly scripted flashback training session, complete with Mr. T haircuts.
The control scheme is pretty standard for action games, move with the left aim with the right and shoot with the trigger. You utilize the left trigger to perform your telekinesis, and then move the right analog to aim the object you desire to toss. This is what really captures the fun in this title. Finding multiple ways to obliterate your enemy can account for hours of endless entertainment. Combine this with the implemented Havok 2 physics engine and you can witness the best death scenes this side of cheesy horror movies. Each level requires you to use each power in several situations and the level design works excellent for the most part. Towards the end of the game it becomes all stick and move puzzles which can detach you away from the fun, but it’s a small complaint.
Multi-console releases are usually plagued with downgrade syndrome; Psi Ops however is certainly designed to take advantage of superior hardware. The Xbox version supports sharper textures, improved frame rate, and looks amazing in HDTV. The character animation is actually done very well, but the real beauty is the physics engine. Watching enemies flail around the environment realistically truly adds a sense of excitement to an otherwise boring shooting fest. The sound however could truly use an upgrade, while the music is hodge podge at best, the voice acting can be atrocious at times. The worst part is, the actor is usually not at fault, the script is. You will truly giggle more than once at the horrible dialogue and let’s not even talk about the ending.
With tons of unlockable mini games such as boss battle and electric floors there is plenty of reason to play through more than once. Unfortunately the game is a mere 5-6 hours long and truly ends long before it should have. A sequel is undoubtedly on the minds of the developers, but will it ever see the light of day? Regardless I suggest everyone give this game a shot, it truly is an amazing experience that will certainly surprise you once given the chance. So what are you waiting for, stop anticipating the upcoming great games, play one of them now!