Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Look Back - Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Way back in the beforetimes of 2004, a wonderfully flawed gem fell from the skies and landed in this realm to be judged.  And, while judged approvingly many never saw this gem.  Many more never even knew of its existence.  Branded with a logo carrying the name of Midway, the title of "Psi-Ops:  The Mindgate Conspiracy" etched in, the gem provided a façade not unusual for the time, but hardly telling of the glory it held.

Gaze upon, ye mighty.
I will go out on record saying that, if you do what is necessary, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy will afford you one of the most satisfying gaming experiences you could ask for. If, of course, being the cause of controlled mayhem is satisfying to you. This is because Psi-Ops places you in the role of Nick Scryer, a man with no memories of anything, including who he is, stuck inside a facility that he doesn't remember going to, or even what it is. In very short order, you, the player, learn that he is a Psionic Agent who has infiltrated a Terrorist base with the goal, of course, to shut them down. Quite standard, sure, and the story is definitely not the game's finer point, and in fact, could very well be one of it's biggest flaws (though the bigger ones will be discussed later), but at this moment, the game starts you off, and gives you one of the biggest, best tools in it's arsenal: Telekinesis.

Also pictured:  A gun.  You will not need this.
Yes, the ability to move objects, as well as people, with your mind. Also a hand gesture.  As slightly pictured above, we see Nick holding up one of the soldiers up with his mind and his hand.  (I'll stop that now.)  Of course, the main fun with this power is that you do not simply -move- people and objects, should you desire.  Oh, no no no, what you can do is pick up a soldier on one end of the room and, with a simple flick of the control stick and letting go of the TK button, and launch him at a fellow soldier on the other end of the room.  What you can do, is pick up an explosive barrel and launch it with enough force at a group of soldiers that it breaks every law of physics (as explosive barrels are wont to do) and explodes, leaving them a heap of charred ex-opposition.  What you can do, is rush into a fight and simply throw everything not bolted down at whoever or whatever you wish, destroying everything without firing a single bullet from any of the guns you (needlessly) carry.

Sense a pattern?  What Telekinesis offers is the ability to have fun with the game.  One could argue that it is in fact the entirety of the fun with the game.  And is that a problem?  On most levels, no, of course not, fun is the objective, and this carries it out, but the restrictions, as they often do, seek out to spoil your fun.  Unsurprisingly, your Psionic powers are not infinite and every throw of a soldier, picking up of a crate, tossing of a barrel drains from your Psi Energy which can be replenished with conveniently available Vials in small and large sizes, as well as with the use of a power acquired later called Mind Drain.

I don't intend to do a walkthrough of the game here, so I'll simply list the rest of the powers that will become available to you and indicate their usefulness.

Remote Viewing - While interesting, as this power allows you to exit Nick's body and walk about, in first-person perspective, it's fairly useless, offering only one or two points during the game where it's actually necessary, forced even, and the battles are easy enough to win that you'll never need to use it for scouting, although it is certainly capable of that.

Mind Drain - This is one of the Holy Trinity of Psi Powers that you'll acquire during the game.  As implied by the name, this power allows you to syphon off Psionic Energy from unsuspecting guards/soldiers to continue your fun.  Unfortunately, the amount gained from a corpse (As is the most common way you'll find you can use this power, since it can't be used on opponents who can resist, as ones who've seen you already) is a mere pittance versus what you probably used to take him out.  This is where stealth comes in handy.  Sneaking up on someone affords you the opportunity to drain them fully, almost always refilling your gauge mostly, if not completely.  This almost always ends with a Scanners-Style head pop because, hey, why not.

Mind Control - This power falls just short of being eligible for the Holy Trinity of Psi Powers, surprisingly, as it does exactly what the name implies it will.  You take control of whomever you target and, from there, use them to flip a switch you can't quite reach or take out a few soldiers with some good old-fashioned gun-play since you cannot use other powers in conjunction with this one.  This is, of course, the downfall as well, as there is simply no satisfaction with the guns.  Sure, they fire, stuff falls, but there's no feedback from it, no impact with it, as other games provide.  If you're particularly sadistic, once you're done with this soldier, you'll most likely run him off a tall building, into one of the many hazards of the game, or (and this is not recommended, as it eats your psi energy like crazy) have him turn his gun on himself.

Pyrokinesis - Our third and final member of the Holy Trinity of Psi Powers, Pyrokinesis allows Nick to make one swipe of the hand from the ground and out to send forth a wave of flame, engulfing and immolating anything in its path.  This really needs no explanation.  You set anything on fire and throw it at a soldier and that soldier will also catch fire.  Or you simply skip the middle man and burn them where they stand!  Or perhaps even a conjunction of the two; I know I used that combo a lot.  Burn grunt, flaming corpse launch, cackle.

Aura View - There is no getting around it; if the devs hadn't implemented puzzles in the last couple levels of the game where you absolutely required Aura View, you would never use it.  What it does is alters your view so you can see things you might not otherwise.  Footprints, writing that's been removed, and, of course, psychic monsters and invisible bombs.  Wait what.  This power, of course, is a sign that you've made it to the point where the fun has definitely ended.

What the Christ?

What needs to be said, and I have made a few references to it, is that Psi-Ops is very very much a flawed game that can offer a solid long as you're comfortable with not beating it.

What starts out as a third-person shooter set in a military base, ends up being a third person shooter set in a military base with a bunch of bullshit everywhere.  Spoiler alert:  The last level includes a section filled with floating mines that you can't see without Aura View.  That you also cannot disarm through any means besides chucking a body into it.  At least, not that I've encountered.  Your own body will not work, of course, as you need your body and the mine will blow it the hell up.  "So there's infinite guards in that section?"  Why of course not, that would make it easy.  I'm sure you can take from that how things can go wrong.  

If you can't:  On my first play through, I was running about, throwing mans here and there, and just having a fine time trying to win the game until I ran into a corridor and promptly exploded.  Expletives were thrown as I finally managed to make it back there, turn on aura vision, only to see that there was no way I was getting through without getting rid of some of the bombs.  Gunshots didn't work, throwing objects didn't work.  Throwing a body?  Worked like a charm.  "Oh, I just need more bodies, then", I say, and walk about, expecting to find someone.  There was nobody, as, of course, thanks to limited technology, the bodies have to disappear for a while.  This quickly becomes an exercise in frustration in very obvious manners.

So how do you make this game the best experience you can make it?  Well, it's quite easy.

Step 1:  Find the Cheat Codes.  Yes, yes, as proper gamers, most of us have the ingrain aversion to cheating that some games have built into us (For me, namely, the Grand Theft Auto series, since they will disallow you from ever -fully- completing two of the games at least), but these codes are vital to your enjoyment.  You need these.  (For those of you that don't want to look them up, the two you will need are 537893 and 456456.)
Step 2:  Enter them and start the game.
Step 3:  Have fun until you run into our friends pictured above.
Step 4:  Take note of the level you were on, and declare loudly to yourself, "WELL, THAT SURE WAS A CRAZY NIGHTMARE NICK HAD", and start from the beginning again, convinced that what you played before was simply Nick having a crazy amnesiac nightmare.
Step 5:  Stop playing the game before the level you took note of.  Convince yourself that Nick simply won, use the last boss fight you encountered as 'the last boss' hand-wave away the lack of ending, and simply enjoy your fond memories, as well as the fun game you have.

As far as you're concerned, the rest of the game doesn't exist.  Really, it's the best thing for everyone, because, as I've stated several times, Psi-Ops has the capability to offer so much enjoyment.  Why would you want to ruin that for yourself and for the game?


  1. You have successfully made me want to never play this game. How did it end up with an 84% if the ending is really that broken? Is it really that broken?

  2. Really, I think it got an 84% because the sheer fun you can have far outweighs the ending. I haven't played the ending in a while, since I've taken to following my own steps, but I don't believe I'm over-exaggerating. Of course, I may have simply missed something.

    Though, I didn't remember to mention that one of the bosses (the fourth main boss, actually) has a glitch associated with her that renders the fight unwinnable, requiring a level restart, I believe. So...there's that, too.

  3. The training room was the best thing in this game, after you beat it. And co-op.

  4. Well I am playing Psi-Ops right now. Loved the game when it came out and am loving it again. BUT: The cheats and unlocks don't work. If I press "enter" in the keypad, I get a "D'oh" like sound. If I try "accept" it is the same thing. I have tried all keys, and none seem to enter the code after I have entered the numbers.

    One place I read that I should get a gnomish laugh if the code was successfully entered, other places I saw that I should get a written confirmation.

    So - what must I do after entering the codes in order to get the cheat/unlock registered?

    1. From what I've seen after doing a little looking around, mostly here, the input method is a -little- different, but the codes are the same. Apparently you get a 'sound', but it doesn't say what that sound is; I could use a bit of conjecture and suggest that it is that gnomish laugh, though.

      "Highlight the "Extra Content" option at the main menu and press the key assigned to Aura View (default is V). A sound will confirm correct code entry and the console window will appear. Enter one of the following codes to activate the corresponding cheat function."

      That might not be at all what you're looking for, in regards to help, but I figured the slightly altered method of inputting might have tripped things up a bit. Hope it helps!