What child has never yearned to move objects by force of mental concentration alone? To levitate a meddlesome bully, to fetch another fudgecicle without leaving the couch?
Midway Games knows many of us have, and they know some of us are growing up. Thus, we get “Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy,” a violent but ingenious game for the Playstation 2 and Xbox that keenly exploits the human fascination with the paranormal brain.
The plot of “Psi-Ops” is standard video-game claptrap, vaguely resembling the premise of the X-Men: bad freaks – the “Psi-Elite” – are out to rule the world and the good freaks – defenders of the “Mundanes” – are out to stop them.
There’s an evil organization with the least original name in the history of evil organizations (the Movement); there are government compounds to be infiltrated; there are dark secrets and ancient artifacts to be discovered.
The main character helps explain why so few women enjoy games. Nick Scryer is a tough-talking, muscle-bound baritone whose psychic powers range from telekinesis (moving objects) to pyrokinesis (torching objects) to mind control (turning other humans into objects to be moved and torched).
A covert government agent, Nick comes into his powers through a series of flashbacks since his entire memory has been wiped out in a medical procedure as part of a plan to infiltrate the Movement (so he can evade the “psi probes” – don’t ask).
Once Nick regains control of his powers, “Psi-Ops” turns into a game of extraordinary cleverness, albeit exceeding violence. Its system of psychic control requires only a flick of the controller to toss a piece of hardware, invade a body or launch a wall of flame at an enemy.
“Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy” hero Nick Scryer levitates an enemy into the air and opens fire in an image from the video game.