In a genre that’s saturated with imitators and
look-alikes, breaking out of the mold can be a hit-or-miss
endeavor. This is the challenge Midway undertook when it developed
its newest third-person action/adventure shooter,
In addition to the standard run-and-gun gameplay, players are
presented with four psychic abilities that can be accessed at the
touch of a button: pyrokinesis, telekinesis, remote viewing and
mind drain. While each of these abilities is well-crafted and
visually striking — the particle-based effects on the fire
and light are particularly impressive — the core of the game
reveals itself as merely mediocre.
The major stumbling block for “Psi-Ops” is its
schizophrenic execution as it vacillates between a stealth game and
a full-blown “shoot ’em up.” Gamers can easily
see opportunities to quietly sneak around and eliminate
unsuspecting guards, but the game gives players such a ridiculous
amount of ammunition, firepower and random psychic
“power-ups” that the temptation of taking a more
aggressive approach is far too overwhelming.
Once the player gets tired of lighting things on fire and
throwing them at oncoming enemies, the game feels too much like
just another third-person shooter. There are no intricate puzzles
to solve or obstacles to overcome. Despite the obvious care taken
with details such as character animations and player controls
— the game is easy to pick up and the character intuitively
easy to control, even with the addition of four psychic powers
— the developers need to address the larger picture.
In the end, the psychic abilities in “Psi-Ops” play
out like “Bullet-Time” did in “Max Payne.”
These new traits add a breath of innovation to the game, but
don’t drastically improve the final product. The principal
difference between these two games is that “Payne” had
a rich and textured storyline, varying gameplay and a sense of
style to back up the one or two new features it brought to the
table. “Psi-Ops,” unfortunately, doesn’t.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
— Jason Roberts