Has there ever been a point when you’re looking through your gaming library and wondered, “Huh, whatever happened to this title?” Well, I’ll be taking a look at videogame standalones/franchises and the lead up to their eventual absence. With that being said, today I’ll be asking the question: “Whatever Happened to… Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy?”
One hit wonders in gaming are becoming less and less of a staple as each year passes. With the amount of sequels and remasters that find their way onto the scene, it’s almost impossible for a title not to be continued in some form or another. However, if one were to go back around ten years or so, near the end of the PS2 and rise of the Xbox 360, one-offs were a far more significant outcome for developers who were, at the time, just trying to get new properties off the ground. There are several good examples in this regard, such as Killer 7, God Hand, and Eternal Darkness (pretty much covered my whole month for the series here), which all received general praise for overall quality and deviation from the norm. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the less notable titles, including the likes of Haze, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, and Trigger Man, to name a few. These games, although functional, would find themselves at the negative end of reviews. Almost ensuring there would be no sequel to arrive.
What does this have to do with Psi-Ops though? Well, upon release, the Midway Games shooter was very much rooted in the same discussion. The fact of the matter was the game did incredibly well critically, with several sites and players wondering if there was ever going to be a sequel or, indeed, a series based off the title. Unfortunately, many individuals never got the answer to that question. But what made Psi-Ops so intriguing? What about it was so interesting and unique that it could bring about such a dedicated fanbase in a short amount of time?
Well, for one thing, the game itself was executed incredibly well. The ragdoll physics and quirky psychic gameplay mixed for an interesting style that would, overall, bring it to the attention of a lot of players. The plot was also a big selling point as it managed to capture solid characterization, an over-arching story that gamers cared about, and a decent conclusion that was undermined a bit by the ‘To Be Continued’ logo flashing during the credits. Regardless, Psi-Ops had everything going for it. Unfortunately, the franchise didn’t strike gold.
One of the reasons behind this was the amount of competition at the time. During the initial release of Psi-Ops in 2004, other such titles as Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were also released. Now considering how well all of those titles did, it isn’t hard to imagine that a game such as Psi-Ops would get lost in the shuffle of what are now classics in many respects. Perhaps in another year, the psychic power based shooter would have been a much larger hit.
So, with lacking sales figures and a sequel push that would never come to light, it can be said for certain that Psi-Ops will find itself in the ‘one and done’ section of gaming history forever. This is quite disheartening, especially when one wonders, with a bit of polish, how far this series could have gone. Perhaps it is for the best, though, as the current structure in the gaming industry would have, more than likely, sequeled Psi-Ops to death to get as much money out of it as possible. That being the case, I’m glad we got the entertainment that we did out of the Midway title.