Video Game: Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
is a Third-Person Shooter
designed by Brian Eddy
for the PS2
and PC that incorporates Psychic Powers
into combat and puzzle solving. The game centers around Nick Scryer, a powerful psychic in the employ of the government who has been stripped of his memories
and given a new identity
in order to infiltrate "The Movement"
, a terrorist organization led by powerful psychics who are defectors from the government. He is aided by Sara, a Telepath
who is also undercover.
As the game progresses the mental blocks inhibiting his powers slowly give way, causing a power to resurface just in time for a new puzzle
. He gains several powers, among them Telekinesis
, Mind Control
, Life Drain
, Astral Projection
, and Aura Vision
While the shooter aspects are pretty standard, and the story is fairly engaging, where the game really
shines is in the many, many, many
creative and inventive ways players can solve puzzles, kill enemies... and torture them. This game really has possibly the highest Video Game Cruelty Potential
of any PS2 games. Leaving aside the wanton (and fun) ultraviolence
, the various psychic powers and puzzle designs lend themselves to very open ended solutions. One area has a pool of electrified water and a locked door needed to cross it. Options are: Use telekinesis to smash an acid container against the door, use telekinesis to "surf"
on top of another object, or Mind Control to make the guard on the other side unlock the door.
The PC version has been released by Midway as ad-supported Freeware, and is available from Fileplanet (Ausgamers also has a mirror download if Fileplanet doesn't work).
Has its own wiki here
Not to be confused with Second Sight
, another game with similar premises that came out in the same period.
Tropes used in the game include:
- Affably Evil: Edgar Barrett, especially during Scryer's psionic training flashbacks when a latent power is reawakened.
- All Your Powers Combined: Nick Scryer's psychic abilities aren't as powerful as those of the specialist members of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad, but he possesses all psychic powers (except Illusion and telepathy) whereas each Psi Elite member only has one.
- A God Am I: The General, after using the Monolith to gain superpowers.
- Long before that, Nicholas Wrightson styles himself as the "True God of the Ether."
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The opening movie shows that the General ripped off quite a bit from Triumph Of The Will when forming his organization, The Movement.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
- Aura Vision: Allows you to see the alertness of guards, Aura Beasts when they're not trying to kill you, Fluorescent Footprints, invisible mines, and erased writing on walls. If you kill enemies with it on, you can even see their soul escaping their body!
- Awesome but Impractical: Pyrokinesis is cool, but poorly implemented. It travels across the floor, so it gets blocked by almost everything. If you have direct line of sight, whatever you're trying to kill should already be dead. The one enemy that can't be TK'd will shake off pyrokinesis at higher difficultly levels before you can use something else to disable him.
- Awesome Yet Practical: Telekinesis will, without question, be your most widely used power. This is followed by Mind Drain for limitless psi power to fuel your telekinesis.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: The Edgar Barrett boss battle, which is a pure telekinesis vs. telekinesis duel. The rest of the boss battles generally favor telekinesis, too, since they're immune to the power they're specialized in.
- Big Bad Friend: Edgar Barrett, who was once Nick's trainer but has since switched sides.
- Bond One-Liner:
Mom always did like me better, bitch
- Boss Arena Idiocy: Pyrokineticist Marlena's level has oodles of fire extinguishers... self-replenishing fire extinguishers. Justified, as it's not meant to be an arena, but an important lab and facility which harnesses her powers. Given how unstable she is, they would be foolish not to have all that coolant at the ready.
- Blatant Item Placement: Psi-vials. Of course, you'll stop paying attention once you get Mind Drain, since it gives you a practically limitless supply of psi energy.
- Cliff Hanger: For those who really want to know: The game ends with the General killed via being sucked into a black vortex. Three helicopters enter. Nick shouts out that they aren't there to help, remarks he remembers everything from his past, and proceeds to telekinetically grab one as it prepares to fire. Que black screen and the words 'To Be Continued'.
- Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: World War II was fought over the pieces of the artifact the General is assembling. Even the Apollo moon landings had the intent of bringing back more artifacts.
- Co-Op Multiplayer: The game features an incredibly unique coop mode, in which one of you controls movement, aiming, and melee, while the other controls shooting and psychic powers.
- Crate Expectations: Crates are everywhere. The first training mission is even based almost entirely around teaching the player to lift them up and throw them.
- Disability Superpower: Jov Leonov was blinded in a childhood accident, but that same accident also gave him frightening powers of Mind Control which he uses to great effect. He even sees through the eyes of his controlled subjects.
- Dueling Games: With Second Sight, another third person shooter that combines gunplay with psychic powers. Psi Ops is a more straightforward shoot-em-up third person shooter with heavy sci-fi and military themes, whereas Second Sight had more emphasis on adventure and stealth elements and played more like Hitman.
- Elite Mooks: The Level 3 Meat Puppets have 2.5x times as much health as a basic Level 1 Meat Puppet soldier and special Psi-resistant armor that makes them immune to most of your psi attacks (unless you stun them by setting them on fire or knocking them down with thrown objects first). Of course, in higher difficulty settings their armor has built-in fire suppressants and they have an uncanny knack for dodging your thrown objects.
- Enter Solution Here
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: The General's multinational Quirky Mini Boss Squad of psychic lieutenants.
- Evil Twin: Amusingly, the Good Twin's original mission was to find and save her sister, but at the end Good Twin mercilessly guns down Evil Twin (complete with one-liner) after learning she's a douche.
- Fluorescent Footprints: A feature of Aura Vision.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted. Nick was embedded into a UN squad after his Laser-Guided Amnesia, and one level has the illusionist torment him with the "ghosts" of his dead comrades.
- Funny Background Event: Barret's hair changes with each training mission to reflect the year Nick is flashing back to.
- Gameplay-Guided Amnesia
- Giggling Villain
- Grievous Harm with a Body: You can always count on mooks as an impromptu weapon to be telekinetically thrown against their fellows. Especially amusing if previously lit on fire, as fire spreads!
- Guest Fighter: Scorpion!
- Guns Are Worthless: You can carry two guns at a time, neither of which will have much ammo to spare, and it usually takes about a clip to kill anything bigger than a normal mook. By comparison, telekinesis can kill several mooks, usually by using the mooks themselves as weapons to kill their friends. The only truly useful weapon is the sniper rifle, for when you need stealth or the enemy is very far away.
- He Knows About Timed Hits
- Incendiary Exponent: Some enemy soldiers burst into flames before attacking you.
- With pyrokinesis, you can also throw Fireballs.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Marlena is very bad about this. Barrett in the training sections is also quite fond of these.
- Interface Screw: Leonov has an attack which inverts your control scheme temporarily.
- Interface Spoiler: Averted (at least in the PS2 version) - opening the control layout option in the menu will only reveal the relevant buttons for psi powers Scryer has learnt, not revealing ones he has yet to learn.
- Large Ham: The General, especially in the cutscene leading up to the final battle, when he starts talking with weird facial expressions straight out of a Loony Toons cartoon.
- Actually, a lot of the villains are large hams, particularly in their boss battles.
- Live-Action Adaptation: Not actually (yet), but this has to be one of the games with the largest demand for one among its fans. Its IMDb board is flooded to this day with speculation and casting threads, frequent choices including Clive Owen as Scryer, Scarlett Johansson as Sara, Ralph Fiennes as Jov Leonov and Matthew Lillard as Wrightston.
- Master of None: Nick has the powers of every boss, minus illusions, but is weaker in those areas than they are as a result.
- Meaningful Name: Nick Scryer.
- Mind over Matter
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: When Evil Twin poses as Sara, she has a sultry inflection, half lidded eyes, makes off comments, and generally acts "off". Of course, Nick trusts her and hands over a piece of the artifact.
- Muggle Power: The General's recruiting schtick, promising psychics rulership over the "inferior" Mundanes as the Psi Elite. Amusingly, he's a Mundane himself, but seeks to correct that with the ancient Artifact of Doom.
- Murder by Cremation: You can either use telekinesis or Mind Control to kill enemies in incinerators. There are also a wide variety of means to set them on fire.
- Nintendo Hard:
- The beginning of the game forces you to ration your psi usage, since you don't get Mind Drain for a while. This forces you to fall back on your crappy guns, since psi-vials are somewhat hard to come by.
- Any part of the game that involves getting past an autoturret can seem this way to the unprepared. The parts at the very end of the game, where you start running through mine-fields and giant, psy-proof mooks with infinite rocket launchers, are Nintendo Hard for EVERYONE. The checkpoint system that the game saves with only exacerbates the problem.
- Further, said mines are invisible without Aura View and the spaces between them (particularly in the endgame) are almost exactly as large as a crouching character. You seriously have mere pixels between safe passage and instant death. Thankfully, mooks will set them off, so you can punch larger holes in certain paths by tossing mooks into the mines.
- Not Quite Flight: TK surfing. This was actually emergent behavior; the programmers initially didn't intend for you to be able to stand on something you were levitating.
- One-Winged Angel: The Illusionist boss turns into a giant monster midway through the battle, although it's really all a giant Mind Screw and not actually a physical transformation (although, since Your Mind Makes It Real, for gameplay purposes it's more than real enough).
- People Puppets
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance
- Psychic Powers
- Puzzle Boss: The illusionist forces you to fight two golems, which can't just be shot or beaten to death. Earlier in her level, you also have to fight a bunch of immortal zombie soldiers. Both instances require using your other powers to get around their invincibility.
- Quirky Mini Boss Squad
- Ragdoll Physics
- Real Song Theme Tune: "With My Mind" by Cold, written exclusively for the game but still popular with Cold fans.
- Self-Made Orphan: Sara's twin sister.
- Shock and Awe: Mind Drain gets the visual trappings of this, with affected mooks twitching convulsively and babbling incoherently as they're sucked dry.
- Slave Mooks: All the mooks used by the Movement are this. Mind-wiped, engineered to feel no pain, and controllable en masse by the mind control guy. Leads to a bit of Nightmare Fuel in the opening, where a rocket is fired into a group of mooks. One does a backflip, lands on his feet missing an arm, and still keeps shooting with his remaining arm.
- Theme Tune Cameo
- Trapped in Containment: In the first level there are some gas chambers (well, chambers that have health-damaging gas). Walk in and you get sealed in, usually with a luckless science minion as a mook taunts you from outside the glass doors. Amusingly, thrown objects can break the glass, telekinesis can throw objects, and mooks can be thrown just like objects. Alternately, you can skip the escape and tele-toss a mook into the gas chamber.
- Voices Are Mental: When possessed by Wrightson, both Nick and Sara speak with Wrightson's voice.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Practically a mascot for the trope.
- What Could Have Been: A sequel.
- The game's title was changed just before it was released. The original name? ESPionage.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: "But... true power is not meant to be shared!"
- Your Head A Splode: The result of draining a mook of all his psychic energy. One of the more prominent and graphic examples in all of gaming.
- A headshot with a shotgun will produce the same results on a standard Mook.
- Also occurs when Sander's explosive collar short-circuits: quite horrifically, this leaves a sizeable chunk of his face staring up at Nick.
- X Meets Y: Gameplay-wise, Psi-Ops is kind of like Splinter Cell meets The Force Unleashed. It has the stealthy 3rd-person action bits of the first and the focus on coming up with unorthodox, and painful, ways to dispose of your enemies with telekinesis of the 2nd.
- You're Insane!: Spoken verbatim by Scryer to Barrett.