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Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

  • Maybe ideas spring fully-formed into developer's heads when their time has come. How else to explain why two incredibly similar games - this and Free Radical's Second Sight - have popped up at the same time? Or perhaps there's some industrial espionage going on. Whatever the reason, this time, it doesn't matter; while Second Sight, like TimeSplitters, is bound to be tremendous, Psi-Ops is looking equally as entertaining, continuing Midway's recent run of excellent games, last exemplified by The Suffering.

    The hook, as you no doubt know by now, is that you get to use an endlessly entertaining range of psionic powers to help you uncover main man Nick Scryer's mysterious past. As well as butcher lots of cannon-fodder enemies. And they're endlessly entertaining - not just because they're cool and fancily implemented, but because there are myriad ways to employ them and combine effects.

    Take Telekinesis. Naturally, it's used to fling stuff around with the power of your grey matter, and thus can be used to stack boxes to make impromptu stairways, or pick up guards and bash them to death on a wall. But you can also pick guards up and shoot them while they're hanging in mid-air, stand on a crate and surf yourself around, or use a bit of pyrokinesis (whereby you can set things on fire) to ignite a hapless goon and use his mates for a bit of fiery human-bowling.

    The scope for inventiveness in Psi-Ops is huge. The other powers - Mind Control, Remote Viewing, Mind Drain and Aura View - all have their own functions and puzzle-solving capabilities but the real fun in the game comes in mixing and matching them. There's a real toybox approach to Psi-Ops that lets the player decide how the fun commences, which gives the game real depth. And at this stage, that means Psi-Ops is shaping up to be very bloody good indeed.

    The big gripe we have with the game at the moment is that it features rather too much running through featureless grey corridors which, psionic pyrotechnics aside, makes for an unremittingly grim-looking game. And while the controls are competently implemented - while third-person, the game uses traditional first-person controls - aiming is fiddly as the reticle swings all over the shop. Handily, the sights home in on enemies or objects, and hitting Y (inconveniently placed, it has to be said) allows for a full lock-on. Given that, combat can be a satisfyingly explosive affair - though it's the fantastic psi-powers that remain the centrepiece.

    Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is released for PS2 and Xbox in September

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