Psi-Ops is Brains and Brawn (literally)

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Available For
PC, Xbox
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)
ESRB
ESRB
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Quick question: What is the most powerful weapon a soldier in today’s army possesses? The answer is the same today as in the Stone Age: their mind.

Psi-Ops takes this principal to an entirely new level where you play a soldier that can kill with common weapons as well as their mind. I have always been fascinated with psi powers. One of my favorite sci-fi series on television, Babylon 5, featured a psi-corps of soldiers that could do amazing things with their mind, and even though they were kind of the bad guys, I always secretly rooted for them. If they were as powerful as your character in the psi-ops game, things might have turned out differently.

The premise of the game is that governments created soldiers as part of a psi-corps but then when the cold war ended they stopped funding these programs and turned their backs on the psi-enhanced soldiers. It’s kind of a stupid move to create a powerful weapon out of a person and then turn your back on them, though I would not put it past some government organizations. A lot of the dejected psi-soldiers from around the world banded together and decided to fight a war to wipe out or control the mundanes, which is anyone without psi-powers.

You are one of the remaining psi-ops good guys and are working with the government to bring down this secret organization. To help swell their ranks, the bad guys have been kidnapping people and brainwashing them, making them effective soldiers that are immune to fear and sometimes pain. And there are hundreds of these "meat puppets" to go through before you even get to the various boss-level psi-powered troops.

Thankfully, your arsenal is impressive and also incredibly fun to use. No meat puppets are going to be able to stop you if you use your powers correctly. For starters you have telekinesis, which lets you pick up objects in the game with your mind. It’s really fun to pick up an enemy and then toss them like a rag doll into their friends, or just smack them into a wall a few times.

The most fun mind power at your disposal however is mind control. Using this power you can actually take over the body of an enemy, forcing them to kill themselves or attack their friends. This is extremely fun on high buildings cause you can just make the bad guys decide to step off the edge. It also works well when there are multiple opponents.

Picture this: one minute two sentries are walking past one another guarding a door and the next moment one starts putting bullets into the other, before firing into a group of explosive barrels and killing himself. Then your character calmly comes out of the shadows and walks inside the now unguarded door. Now that is the way to infiltrate a building.

There is also pyrokinesis, which lets you generate a wave of fire across the ground. You can even combine this power with telekinesis for deadly effect. One of my favorite moves was to use pyrokinesis to turn a wooden crate into a flaming box of doom, and then use telekinesis to hurl it at a group of enemies. In this way, it’s kind of like D&D type games where wizards can cast fireball spells.

But despite all your impressive powers, you are not invincible. You have a limited supply of psi energy to call on. As you use your powers your psi energy drains. You can get more from dead bodies, though only a little, and also from powerups lying around. There is also a power called Mind Drain where you pull the psi energy from someone living, since everyone has a store of psi energy whether they have psychic powers or not. That method really fills up your psi banks and kills your opponent to boot, but leaves you very vulnerable to attack during the draining process should other bad guys be around. You also have to catch your victim unaware of you at the start of the attack.

If you use too much psi-energy then you might find yourself drained right when you need it most. Thankfully you also have some pretty nice standard weapons to fall back on like machine guns, a sniper rifle and a silenced pistol.

The boss level bad guys for the most part all have psi-powers like you, so taking them down is a lot harder than beating up on the meat puppets. You will have to plan your assault carefully and learn how to counter certain powers.

The interesting thing is that Psi-Ops would be a descent shooter even without the psi-powers. The graphics are really well done and the music, some of which was recorded by the band Cold, is fitting for the experience and atmosphere. The controls are fairly easy to learn, though you might have some difficulty using your psi-powers at first, especially using multiple powers at the same time quickly.

When you take a good shooter and add in the amazing and amazingly fun psi-powers, you end up with an A-list title that will be on a lot of people’s favorites list for sometime to come.

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