D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 12

Welcome back gamers, Christmas has come and gone, hopefully you all enjoyed yourselves and got some lovely new video games to sink some hours into. Now New Year’s Day fast approaches and with it the last “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” of 2015 (tear drop). Last week I discussed some of the oldest PS1 games that I spent countless hours playing in my youth, all of which are part of entire series that I don’t spend any time on. This week I will go over some PS2 games I sunk a number of hours into back in the day, some more than others. Let my final feature of the year begin.

 

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (PS2)

This game was not perfect, but damn was it badass. You play as Nick Scryer, a man who has lost his memory and must stop a group of heavily armed terrorists from causing a lot of trouble. As he slowly begins regaining his memory, he also gains a number of psychic abilities with which to destroy his enemies in the most satisfying ways imaginable. He’ll have access to telekinesis, pyrokinesis, mind control and the like. The way all of Scryer’s psychic abilities and firearms could be combined to do away with his enemies is truly a thing of beauty, especially telekinesis, which is the bread and butter of all his powers. He could levitate an enemy with telekinesis, use his gun to shoot the helpless enemy, then toss him into a wall or another enemy. He could set a crate on fire with pyrokinesis and then use his telekinesis to toss the flaming crate into enemies. He could use mind control to take control of an enemy and force him to kill his allies, then make his host kill himself by jumping off a roof or blowing his own head off. He could even use telekinesis on grenades thrown at him by enemies and toss them right back.

Scryer had other psychic abilities that were helpful in other ways. Remote viewing worked like astral projection and allowed Scryer to leave his physical body and explore normally inaccessible areas unseen, aura view allowed him to see messages, traps, and enemies that were otherwise invisible, and he could use mind drain to absorb psychic energy from enemies to replenish his psychic power meter (and make his enemies’ heads pop like overinflated balloons). On top of these awesome and fun psychic powers, the game also had some great boss battles. All the bosses were psi-agents like Scryer, but while Scryer was proficient with multiple psychic abilities, each of the bosses were masters of one specific psychic ability. One was a master of pyrokinesis and could launch all manner of fireballs, explosions, and even fire clones, while Scryer could simply launch a small wave of flame. Another boss was a master of telekinesis and was capable of lifting and throwing shipping containers and train carts, while Scryer could only lift things as large as crates, barrels, and people. The bosses were both challenging and fun, an accomplishment lots of games even today can’t always pull off with their bosses.

The story wasn’t as interesting as the gameplay, in fact it was rather straightforward, but it was engaging enough due to its colorful cast of characters. Unfortunately, the game ended with a massive cliffhanger. It actually said “To Be Continued”, yet no sequel was ever released so it was never “continued”. Psi-Ops was released back in 2004 and after developer Midway went out of business, the rights to the series went with them…along with any chance of a sequel being made. To make matters worse for myself, my copy of the game suddenly crapped out on me and I was unable to advance through the last quarter of the campaign due to infuriating freezing, and it would do this with both my PS2 and my dad’s, so it was definitely the game itself. Damn disc wasn’t even scratched, so I don’t know what the hell the issue was. At least I was able to beat the game a couple of times before this freezing occurred. I got rid of the game afterwards and never got around to getting a new copy.

Even though this game didn’t reach the same level of popularity as a Metal Gear Solid or God of War game, those who did play it gave the game almost universal appraise, making it a sleeper hit. Many gamers even today would like a remake or a proper sequel of Psi-Ops to be developed, and I am among them. Imagine how fun this game would be with the improved technological capabilities of today’s gaming systems. I’m not holding my breath though, at this point I’d just like the game to be added to PSN. Come on Sony, is that really too much to ask?! Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy gets a score of 88%.

 

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2)

I saw an article on this game in a magazine purely by chance and was particularly drawn to one picture showing Devil May Cry’s Dante pointing his gun at the main protagonist. Not that I wasn’t intrigued by the game’s premise of the world coming to an end and all of humanity being killed off to make way for all manner of creatures like fairies, trolls, angels, demons, and gods, but the fact Dante appeared to have an important role to play was what drove me to take a chance and buy the game. At the time I hadn’t even heard of the Shin Megami Tensei or Persona series, so it certainly wasn’t the name brand that got my attention. Much like Final Fantasy VIII, Nocturne was an RPG with turn-based combat, which I don’t particularly love, though it can be engaging in its own way. What made the combat in this game better than that in FF VIII was its accessibility. This may partly be due to my inferior knowledge of game mechanics at the time, but building my characters in FF VIII so that they could be more resistant or even invulnerable to certain elemental attacks seemed impossible for me. But in Nocturne, the option to build the main character to my liking and make him resistant to very specific types of attacks was much easier to accomplish.

That’s not to say the game itself was easy, quite the opposite in fact. There was quite the learning curve when it came to learning how to deal with enemies and bosses, exploiting weaknesses and defending yourself appropriately. Aside from the fun and strategic combat, the fact you could recruit enemies to fight alongside you was not only necessary to your survival, but it gave you more options for dealing with other enemies. While you have comparatively less control over recruited creatures’ movesets, it’s still possible to have a collection of allies with a wide range of strengths and abilities that compliment those of the main character, making your little demon party a true force to be reckoned with. Navigating all the different dungeons with their own mazes, puzzles, and traps is a big plus as well.

The story is pretty interesting as well, if a little “out there”, but given that almost every single character is a mythical creature or demonic entity, that’s to be expected. Certain decisions you make throughout the narrative, namely your responses to other characters’ inquiries and who you choose to ally yourself with, will affect certain cutscenes and how the story plays out. These decisions also affect which of the 6 different endings you get, which really increases the game’s replay value. And that’s saying something since this game can easily take well over a hundred hours to beat. Even the soundtrack kicked ass, in fact my copy of the game came with the soundtrack in a separate CD, which I admit I listened to on many car rides to school and work. This game was definitely a surprise hit for me, so if you’re reading this Kane, it could be a surprise hit for you as well. The only flaws I can come up with are that a couple of parts are pretty much impossible to figure out unless you look up the solutions online or in a guide, also other parts relied on trial and error, which I’m personally not a huge fan of. Also, random encounters with enemies tended to occur way too often in certain areas. Still, the game is awesome. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne gets a score of 93%.

 

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (PS2)

This game was kind of unusual for me. It was pretty fun, but it also had a number of issues. Some of Marvel’s most popular heroes and villains such as Spider-Man, Venom, Iron Man, Daredevil, and Magneto are dealing with an alien invasion of New York, as well as another group of superhumans known as the Imperfects that have been altered and given powers of their own by the aliens. This was actually a fighting game made in a slightly similar style to the Super Smash Bros. series, only the environments were fully 3D and littered with environmental items that could be used as weapons like parking meters, mailboxes, light poles, cars, etc.

Also similarly to the Smash Bros. games, the different characters all control the same, but their different powers and abilities, as well as their different strength and speed levels, make each character feel somewhat unique. Spider-Man has mid-level strength, high speed, can web swing and stick to walls, and can shoot weak web blasts from a distance. Iron Man has high level strength, low speed, can fly, and can shoot powerful repulsor and missile blasts from a distance. New character the Wink has low level strength, high level speed, can teleport, and has no long distance attacks. Other new character Paragon has high level strength, high level speed, can teleport, and can send waves of plasma energy along the ground from mid-range distance (she was actually kind of overpowered).

There was a story campaign that followed the Marvel heroes and villains as they battle aliens and disrupt their operations. These missions were fun enough, but were also very repetitive. The Marvel characters would also battle against the Imperfects, and certain missions would have you controlling the Imperfects and defeating the Marvel heroes and villains. Then the ending kind of leaves you hanging and wondering how many of the Marvel heroes and villains are even alive, if any, while the Imperfects are find and dandy. Apparently, a short comic series shows what happens after the game, but I never read it, though I’m not sure anyone did to be honest. Turns out the game and the comics were based off alternate universe versions of the Marvel characters anyway, and since the game’s sequel was apparently cancelled, the series just died off.

The most fun I had with the game was when I played against the computer in the versus mode, and sometimes my dad would join me and we’d take turns against the computer (he no longer wanted to fight against me in games at this point). I played a few online matches as well, and from what I remember I won half the matches and lost the other half. The online play had a lot of lag though, so I didn’t stick with it for very long. Even when playing against the computer, there were glitches like the sound suddenly cutting out and framerate hiccups, also when attacking from longer distances my character would lots of times end up striking an explosive barrel instead of the enemy standing near it, which was annoying. I eventually traded-in the game after I had beaten it multiple times and realized I had squeezed out every bit of fun I was going to get, and the game’s mediocre and unfinished story didn’t make me want to keep it either. The game was still relatively fun overall, just not exceptional in any way. Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects gets a score of 75%.

So ends my last gaming discussion of the year of 2015, but fear not readers (assuming I have any) for my feature will return next week/year with a discussion of the Onimusha series, one of my favorite series during the PS2 era. It’s got samurai, ninjas, demons, all the good stuff. Check out some more stuff to read on our site below:

Check out Ian’s review of Xenoblade Chronicles X here. If I had a Wii-U, this would certainly be a game I’d be interested in playing.

All of us here at Gaming Respawn have listed and discussed our own personal Games of the Year for 2015 in a special two part article. If you haven’t seen our list yet, then check here for Part 1 and then check right over here for Part 2.

Sean has decided to close out the year by returning again with another “5 Points of Gaming” article, now apparently renamed “Five Points of Gaming”. And keeping with the new leaf that Sean appears to have turned over, he’s got some more positive news to go along with the usual negative news he provides us in his always amusing manner. Check out his article here.

Michael has prepared a special holiday edition of “Retro Respawn”, so check out his Games of Christmas Past over here.

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