Psychic Force was a bizarre and only marginally popular series, and it's not likely that PF2 will be a breakthrough hit. While it does have some new modes and an extra character, it is essentially just the PlayStation version of Psychic Force 2012, a Dreamcast game that will be coming to the US courtesy of Acclaim.
We've seen this series before in the States; the original Psychic Force came out a few years ago (also from Acclaim) and immediately dissolved into obscurity. That's a shame, because if you had given the game a try you would have found that it was unique and interesting. The setup is like this: Two psychic warriors known as psychiccers float inside a huge cube, fire projectiles at each other or, when close, engage in hand-to-hand combat. While a fireball fight might sound pretty unappealing, it's not the same as in other games because there is a full range of motion within the cube (on one plane), and there are many different types of attacks, each one based on a psychic theme. The gravity-based psychiccer can hurl rocks at you, suck you into a black hole, or crush you; the light-based fighter creates beams, lasers, bolts, and prisms.
Once the round starts, the warriors square off, as in any normal fighter - the big difference being that they're suspended in midair. Movement in any direction is possible, and the arena is quite large. There are normal and strong projectiles at your disposal immediately - just tap the button. If you're in close, the energy will be concentrated into fists and feet, as punches and kicks replace psychic energy. When you perform a move, your Psy meter will drain. During a lull, you must charge it back up or you'll be unable to perform any moves besides the basic projectile or punch. Psy and life share one gauge; as life is lost, the space it had occupied can be used for additional Psy storage. The fights can get pretty intense - sometimes it's hard to tell what's going on. The action is quick, and it sometimes feels random, but once you get the hang of it, it begins to make sense.Control is quick and configurable. While the game is peculiar, to say the least, after an hour or so you'll be able to fly around and zap everyone with ease. The ability to place a lot of the more complex functions on their own buttons helps, too. The game is pretty difficult, if not as unrelenting as the Dreamcast version. There are eight difficulty levels, which is sure to please just about anyone.
To differentiate this game from PF2012, the developers had to add something - after all, if it offered an identical set of features but looked and sounded worse, it wouldn't be very tempting. So, the game sports an intensely generic anime opening. It's beginning to seem as though every fighting game has the same opening, actually. There's also a hidden character not found in PF2012, Sonia. Finally, some new modes differentiate it from its Dreamcast cousin.
Most of these modes aren't particularly original, but they are new to PF2 all the same. In addition to arcade, story, and versus, group versus, and survival, the game has Psychiccer's Network and Psy-Expand. Psy-Expand is the only meaningful new mode here. Similar to the world-tour mode of Street Fighter Alpha 3, it lets you modify your character's statistics. You can even gain levels, as each Psy-Expand battle gives you experience points. You can save the character to your memory card and whip him out in any of the other modes on the disc - a pretty interesting addition but not something you'd miss if it suddenly disappeared. Finally, there's an album mode, where you can access the attractive high-resolution artwork shown at the completion of the game. Basically, if you have the DC version it's going to take a hard sell to get you to switch to the PS version, unless you're a true Psychic Force completist. The good news is that even if Acclaim decides it has had enough PF for a lifetime, this is an English-heavy import.
Do you have an open mind when it comes to fighters? If you do, then you might do well to check this game out. If your interest has been piqued, it comes down to one thing: Do you have a Dreamcast? If you do, skip this version. If you don't, then you might be in for an esoteric treat. The gameplay is weird but good, the graphics are reasonably attractive, the music is neat, and the character designs are cool. All in all it's a slick little bit of fun, though not deep enough to hold your attention for long.