Have You Played… Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Physics-based comedy games are ten a penny these days but there’s nothing to compare with Psi-Ops, which is utterly hilarious purely by virtue of the fact that it’s not a comedy game. You can drag people around and throw them into bizarrely exposed machine-works using the power of your mind but this is serious business.

The level design was dull, the enemies were about as smart as a sack of potatoes, and the plot was a load of old bollocks, but, damn, I love Psi-Ops. It occupies a booth in my mind that only Dark Messiah is allowed to visit. They’re both games that use ragdoll physics and environmental kills to elevate themselves.

Psi-Ops is one of those glorious games in which individual enemies took on personalities not by virtue of any lines of dialogue or unique animations, but simply because they had memorable deaths. Every time I met one guy, who was hiding behind a pane of glass, I chortled right before I plucked him up with my mind-fingers and smashed him straight through the glass.

I called him Max Payne.

34 Comments

  1. Blackcompany says:

    This is something more games need to utilize. Why are bullet time, telekinesis, levitation and free running not staples by now. Let us manipulate worlds instead of just looking at them.

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    gritz says:

    So are we gonna talk about Gemini: Heroes Reborn in here? I’ve heard great things.

  3. seraphsword says:

    The things I remember most from this game are using Mind Control to make enemies shoot themselves, and the music video for the main song (With My Mind by Cold). Good times.

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    Oakreef says:

    I actually bought a PS2 and a couple of games for it, including this one, a few weeks ago.

    • Synesthesia says:

      oh! There are some real gems for that console. Play Okami if you haven’t! And Katamari Damacy! And Fatal Frame!

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        Oakreef says:

        I have the Wii version of Okami (though I haven’t actually played it yet). Played Project Zero years ago on the Xbox and quite enjoyed it. Katamari Democracyorwhatever is the rolly-ball game right?

        • Author X says:

          Okami was on my list of to-plays for a long time until I got the Wii version. Unfortunately, the controls were absolutely horribly (requiring precisely timed button-presses but replacing the primary button with a waggle), so it’s back on my to-play on any other console.

          • welverin says:

            There is an HD version for PS3, so there are a couple of options.

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            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            I remember a few years back seeing some really nice screenshots of the Wii version of Okami running in an emulator. Not sure how well it runs or how well it plays but it could achieve higher resolutions than the PS3 remake. You already have the disc so no worries there.

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            Oakreef says:

            If you have a Wii and an SD card it’s reasonably easy to hack it and use it to make your own dumps of your discs rather than download copies of the games for Dolphin (which is an amazing piece of software, I just finished 1080p Rodea the Sky Soldier playing primarily with a mouse).

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Okami is utterly sublime. You play it!

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        In addition to those I thoroughly recommend the following (in no particular order):
        ICO & Shadow of the Colossus (if you don’t have them on PS3 that is)
        God Hand
        Prince of Persia trilogy (or at the very least Sands of Time if you’re disinclined to play all 3).
        Jak & Daxter trilogy.
        Kingdom Hearts & it’s sequel.
        Rez (if you can find a copy).
        Mark of Kri
        Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.
        and don’t forget Killer 7.

    • Pulstar says:

      The PS2 might have prematurely murdered my beloved Dreamcast platform, but it is the greatest console ever in terms of games.

  5. Doogie2K says:

    I never did finish this game. Got about 3/4 of the way through and then left it behind, eventually giving it up with my original Xbox. Real shame: it was the better of the two competing psychic-action games (the other being Second Sight).

    Apparently Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is similar, but with the requisite Lucasian skin. Someday I should try it when it’s $5 on Steam. If I don’t accidentally already own it.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      The force unleashed got a bad rap on PC because it wasn’t a great port.
      Playing with mouse and keyboard is pretty much impossible, and it doesn’t have a huge range of resolution options. And zero graphics options if memory serves.
      But as star wars games go, it’s one of the best since knights of the old republic. The only other one that is as good (or maybe even better) is republic commando.
      Stay away from force unleashed 2 though, it’s real poo despite being a better port (only just though).
      If you’re a star wars fan, and enjoy action adventure melee games like that, you can’t go wrong.
      And you can get it really cheap when it’s on sale.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Personally, I enjoyed both Force Unleashed games, the first more because it was longer. I played them with mouse and keyboard and it was okay, although not nearly as good as the Jedi Knight games or anything made for PC. The main issue is that the camera in TFU doesn’t follow your movements (turn left and the camera doesn’t turn left), so you have to use the mouse and keyboard in tandem all the time to avoid e.g. suddenly jumping backwards into a bottomless void.

      • Jackablade says:

        I mostly remember the ability to fling Jawas into orbit.

    • ashjxx says:

      I gave up around the same time. As soon as those invisible floating monsters showed up, the game became WAY too scary for me. (They maybe didn’t float)

    • Pulstar says:

      TFU is boring as hell.

  6. Darth Gangrel says:

    This and Second Sight (both released around the same time) are two games which prove that one fun mechanic is pretty much all it takes for a game to be fun. Both got pretty good ratings on Metacritic as well, a shame no one else made anything with that mechanic.

    Psi-Ops can’t be found other than in a free-with-ads version that RPS wrote about, link to rockpapershotgun.com. Second Sight can’t be found anywhere, except ebay.

    • Veav says:

      Always preferred Second Sight myself. Whups- it was on Steam… link to steamcommunity.com Track down a Steam key from a reseller?

      • Immobile Piper says:

        I likened Second Sight to a good 3/5 thriller movie. Whereas Psi-Ops is a fun game, Second Sight is a good cinematic experience without a ton of cut-scenes, QTE’s or other bullshit.

      • mika76 says:

        Loooved Second Sight. What a cool story and mechanic. Never played Psi Ops though.

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        john_silence says:

        Second Sight was great! I never got into Psi-Ops, it felt like a… mindless game by comparison. Although Second Sight was the more narrative, experimental, weird and personal of the two, it was also surprisingly tight and satisfying gameplay-wise. And the OST is great, it’s on Bandcamp for anyone nostalgic.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      They’re both free on Pirate Bay.

      Yeah, I prefer to pay for games, but when the rights-holdier doesn’t want your money, you have zero moral obligation to fuss around trying to find a way to give someone else your money instead. Just pirate it.

    • Jerykk says:

      You can still download Second Sight from link to us.gamesrocket.com

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        It’s says it’s unavailable there and my RPS link for Psi-Ops doesn’t work either I found out when I checked it after posting my comment. I just won an ebay auction for Second Sight where I was the only bidder. I bid 1 £, but shipping might double/triple that. Still, it’s better than the price on that site you linked to.

  7. Immobile Piper says:

    I did play this, it was quite fun. A few scrappy parts here and there. Clearly a console game as well, if you know what I mean. But a fun psi power fuelled romp nonetheless.

  8. psychoconductor says:

    I loved this game. One of the little details that I thought was a brilliant touch is that when you killed an enemy while viewing them with the psychic vision you would see their souls leaving their bodies. Also their sandbox room was a blast.

  9. Eddy9000 says:

    Brilliant game, forget HL3, this is the vapourware sequel I’m waiting on. So many times I’ve remembered a great moment in a game and thought ‘which game was that’ and remembered it was psi ops. The graveyard section for example, amazing. Also the time when I skipped a whole load of platforming by standing on a piece of scrap and using telekinesis to slowly surf along on it.

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    phuzz says:

    I think we know who wrote some of the christmas cracker ‘jokes’
    ;)

    • thedosbox says:

      I’m convinced this piece was just an excuse to crack that particular joke.

  11. Cash at Folsom says:

    I’m not sure if it came across to the PC version, but the console version had an incredibly fun multiplayer mode where one player controlled the hero’s body and the other got the mind powers. Talk about unintentional comedy.