Back during the hey-day of the original PlayStation, Syphon Filter was the king of covert-op action - but as the PlayStation faded away with the arrival of the PS2, so did the Syphon Filter series. Resurrection seems to be in the cards, however, as nearly three years later, the next installment arrives on the PS2 with Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain. Can it live up to its past glory? Read on to find out. Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain has all the makings of an enjoyable covert action game: a twisting plot filled with mystery and intrigue, equally engaging mission objectives, and most importantly for a game of this type, some fun and adrenaline pumping action. However, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain seems to be built with multiplayer intentions mind, not single player.
For example, levels are absolutely huge and filled with tons of objectives. Not only is it hard to actually go out and complete the objectives, but finding your way around the levels to figure out what you have to do is also a huge pain since accessing the map doesn't pause the game, giving enemies ample opportunity to riddle you with bullets. And there are lots of enemies. Tons. Enemies constantly re-spawn in some areas, and often it's just best to run past them when you have to backtrack through the level. It seems a lot of these gameplay decisions were made to cater to the online portion, but a little more consideration into the single player experience would've helped out considerably, especially for all the gamers out there without a connection to the 'net. Online is where Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain really hits its stride though.
All of the problems that mar the single player game seem lessened in comparison during multiplayer sessions: the overly ambitious level objectives are a lot easier to tackle when there's three others by your side, the constant stream of enemies are much easier to mow down with a few buddies, and the map system makes a lot more sense. Overall, it's just a much more enjoyable experience online. It isn't exactly a graphical masterpiece howeber, but it works. It's obviously going for a realistic, gritty look, but it uses a limited color palette, giving all of the environments a drab and uninspired look. Character models, however, look nice and the character customization options available are extensive, though much of it will have to be unlocked through the course of the game. Audio-wise, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain is pretty average.
The music isn't half bad, but the implementation of some of the voice acting wasn't done too well. One teammate, a strong and spunky female type, will constantly barrage you with comments that don't fit into the context of the situation, like telling you to hurry up when your objective isn't on the clock. Sometimes, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain will hit the mark, providing an immensely entertaining experience. At other times however, it just seems way too ambitious for its own good, providing an equally frustrating experience. If you were a fan of the original Syphon Filter games on the PSX, then chances are you'll dig The Omega Strain in spite of its problem - just make sure your network adapter is set firmly in place before you buy it.
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