Nick Scryer wakes up in his dingy little cell. He has no idea who he is, where he’s from and, most importantly, why he is being held captive in the cell he finds himself in. What he does know is that he has more than just brute strength and guns to escape. He’s got the power of his mind, and he’s going to use it.
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy can be considered one of the best games no one ever played. Before you even consider to play the game it’s best that you know that it ends on a ‘to be continued’ end of game screen. Since then the developers, Midway Games, have been dissolved with no plan to ever bring the sequel back to life, and it’s a real pity as it plays as good today as it did back in 2004.
Where is my mind?
The big draw card at the time was the ability to incorporate the power of Nick using his mind to manipulate objects, enemies and just about anything you can think of. It’s done so using a clever process as you’re introduced to each power as you progress through the game – in other words you don’t have access to everything right away. You just about feel that in modern times these various powers would be charged for as extra DLC. The first one you’re granted is Telekinesis. To tell you that I’ve had an enormous amount of fun revisiting the mechanics that’s involved would be an understatement. Picking up objects (ranging from crates, to explosive gas canisters and even human bodies) and throwing them at your enemy never gets old. Need that out-of-reach weapon or health pack? Use Telekinesis to pull it towards you.
A person that is alive will provide you with more energy than a dead one, and you’ll see their head pop with brain splatter everywhere.
You have access to various weapons including a silenced handgun, shotgun, rifle and machine gun, but you’ll rarely use it as you’re having far too much fun with your powers. Whenever you use your powers you’re depleting your Psi energy bar. Run out of it and you have to make use of your weapons, therefore it’s important to collect as many Psi Elixirs as you can to fill the gauge. That said, you do have other powers, one of those being Mind Drain. Get near any human body and press the black button to drain that body to restore Psi Energy. A person that is alive will provide you with more energy than a dead one, and you’ll see their head pop with brain splatter everywhere (it’s worth it). Mind control gives you the ability to invade and control other bodies; Pyrokinesis lets you light up objects and foes into flames; Remote View provides an out-of-body experience where you can move through closed doors to see what’s on the other side and later on Aura View will let you see beyond the visible spectrum. Combine all these powers and it’s a game that’s very unique.
Leave your guns and let your mind do the talking
Throughout your 15-hour experience you’ll come face-to-face with some interesting boss fights. Each fight is unique in that it requires you to have a good understanding of your various Psi powers up to any particular point. Some will receive damage from your weapons, but when in doubt make use of your powers to bring an end to any boss. It’s not all just all-out action throughout the game. There are basic puzzle elements too that will have you scratching your head a few times. Can’t find that door code? Use Remote Viewing to move through closed doors – you might just find the code scribbled somewhere for all to see. Other puzzles are time-based and places a focus on you snapping between various powers to solve it in time.
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is a fantastic game that got lost due to a corporate battle in the background.
Graphically Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy aged really well. Yes, textures are a little blurry, but the detail is impressive for its time. Voice acting, on the other hand, has aged poorly. The Xbox version also comes with extra content that includes cooperative play where you and a friend can tackle missions you’ve finished before, though it’s not in split-screen. It’s a weird combination of one player operating Nick’s movement, aiming and melee, while player two takes care of his weapons and Psi Powers. It’s a little weird at first, but play long enough and it starts making sense.
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is a fantastic game that got lost due to a corporate battle in the background. Whether we’ll ever see Nick and his powers at work again, completing the story, seems highly unlikely, but should it happen it’ll be a mind-blowing experience. For now you can head into a world and enjoy what is there, just don’t expect a conclusion.