Syphon Filter

a game by Eidetic, 989 Sports, and 989 Studios
Genre: Action
Platforms: Playstation, PSX
Editor Rating: 8.7/10, based on 5 reviews, 10 reviews are shown
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 1 vote
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With stealth games and third-person action games all the rage right now (Metal Gear Solid, Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, Tenchu, etc.), it's no surprise that a title should arrive that combines elements of both. Syphon Filter, for lack of a better comparison, takes elements of both Tomb Raider and Mission: Impossible (or, possibly even Tenchu) and knits them together to form an action game that is two-thirds gun-blasting chaos and one-third stealth. However, it's not so much a stealth game in that you can't allow yourself to be found. Oh no, you'll be seen a great deal in Syphon Filter.

Rather, you'll need to use your keen sense of awareness to take advantage of your surroundings and emerge alive in this tale of kill-or-be-killed.

The main character in Syphon Filter goes by the name of Gabe. Each level has objectives that you must complete in order to advance the story line. You're kept up to date by your contact at headquarters who will periodically send you new instructions on-the-fly. No sooner have you taken down one Boss character, when your superiors radio in another set of instructions. The game is fast-paced and will keep you on your toes as militant soldiers swarm in from all sectors, sometimes attempting to get to you, but more often than not, engaging in gunfire with your fellow agents. You must be careful not to get caught in a cross-fire, as friendly fire can damage you too. Furthermore, you must also be careful not to shoot one of your own men. Thankfully, your crew runs around in bright yellow suits, so identifying your allies shouldn't be a problem. Quite often, gunfire will be whizzing all over the place, right outside a window you might happen to be standing by. It gives you a feeling that things are happening whether you're present or not, making you feel like you're part of a really big mission and not some solo hotshot. Very cool.

Gabe has a large number of moves available to him. He can, of course, run in all directions, a simple process which is greatly aided by Dual-Shock compatibility. Using the analog pad makes things much easier on the thumb in this game. Gabe, being the limber cat that he is, can also duck, duck and roll, shoot his gun, duck and shoot his gun, strafe and climb objects. One of the best features in the game is the auto-lock. This reduces the stress caused by the sometimes awkward camera angles, because if there's a baddie in the area, Gabe will automatically lock on to him. You can even pick off guys firing at you from rooftops, which you can't even see. Another reason that this is such a welcome feature is because the graphics can be pretty rough at times, making it difficult to see the bad guy dressed in black at the end of a particularly grainy alley.

While there are a few issues that need to be sorted out before this game is finished, it seems as if developer Idedic is all over it, making Syphon Filter one to watch for this winter.

Download Syphon Filter

Playstation

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PSX

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Gabriel Logan has a tough assignment. He must navigate through seven assassin-filled levels while convincing gamers that Syphon Filter is no Tomb Raider/Metal Gear clone. Of course the latter is not really Gabriel's concern, but it's definitely something the developers (989 Studios, formerly Sony Interactive Studios) are clearly trying to accomplish.

To help break away from similar games, Syphon Filter places the emphasis on action and less on puzzlesolving elements. That's not to say the action is mindless. Enemies are placed in strategic locations which require some planning prior to assault. The best example of this is in the park level where snipers are trying to prevent you from completing your objectives by cornering you into traps. In addition to making you use your head, you'll have access to more than 20 weapons which range from the standard to the "oh yeah" level.

Zoom scopes are one of the trendier accessories making their rounds in other games and they have found a home here. Syphon Filter does up the ante a bit by adding an infrared scope which detects body heat and tracks enemies by it. Very cool.

In the end, it'll take good enemy Al and proper level balancing to make Gabriel and his game standout out from the pack.

  • MANUFACTURER - 989 Studios
  • THEME - ACTION
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1

Overview

Show me one red-blooded American male who has not, at one point or another in his life, dreamed of being a secret agent. Try as you may, you will not find one. I think that every kid's dream is to have all the coolest new weapons to blast the bad guys and save the world. It looks like our childhood dreams have come true, because in Syphon Filter you get to do all these things and more.

Your name is Gabe Logan and you are a guerrilla warfare expert in the areas of Counterterrorism, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Assault and Stealth. You are trained on a number of different assault weapons with numerous targeting options. It is up to you to use these skills to stop the deadly Syphon Filter virus from being unleashed on U.S. soil. There is no more time for dreaming about being a secret agent, because this is the real deal.

Gameplay

I don't know where to start. Should I begin with the awesome weapons? The challenging missions? The surprisingly decent voice-overs? The complex yet intuitive control system? The interactive environments? No, I think I will start with the super intelligence of the enemies. You will face a number of enemies throughout your missions, but one thing I found was that they can definitely be smart. I don't want to give them too much credit, because there were times that the enemies seemed to have no brains at all, but mixed in were some pretty impressive moves on their part. For example, there were three enemies standing near each other. I ran by and tossed a grenade between them. I heard one shout "incoming" and the guys jumped out of the way. Not bad. Another example is the constant surprises they will heap on you. I could be running across a beam way up high only to hear gunfire coming from the ground. Apparently one of the enemies detected my movement and was taking pot shots at me. This game has some of the best AI that I have seen in a PSX game to date.

Now let's talk about weapons. What secret agent would be complete without access to some seriously kick-ass weapons? Not to worry, because you will have the opportunity to lay waste with some of the coolest weapons around. One of my personal favorites was the sniper rifle. By holding in one of the shoulder buttons and moving the control stick around, you can aim for specific areas on the enemy's body. By holding in the triangle button, you can zoom in for pinpoint accuracy. Line up the scope with the enemy's head and all it takes is one shot to send him tumbling off the roof. This weapon is enhanced later on in the game, when you find the night vision sniper rifle which detects heat from people in the area and gives off a look similar to the look in the move Predator. If finesse is not your thing, there are also plenty of weapons of mass destruction. The M-79 Grenade Launcher is great for killing multiple enemies with one shot. Nothing clears a room faster.

Let's move on to the challenging missions. First off, the game is mission/objective based. You start out with a number of objectives that are required to complete the overall mission. It is not uncommon to have objectives added during the middle of your mission. These objectives vary from disarming bombs to killing ringleaders. There is no doubt you will find each of the missions progressively more difficult as the game progresses almost to the point of frustration. It turns out that the majority of my frustration was the result of missing something in a dark corner or not noticing a ledge to jump up to, but this does not diminish the challenge at all.

One of the things that is consistently bad in games is the voice acting. You can tell that the translations aren't accurate. This really makes a game lose credibility in my eyes. I think they did a great job making Syphon Filter as real as possible, and the voice acting played a big part in this. There is no B-movie quality acting here. You really feel as if you are in the middle of a big-budget spy flick.

On to the controls. The game has a training video that will explain all the controls to you, and I suggest you watch it. Actually, I suggest you watch it twice. This game has a ton of actions and uses every single button on the controller (some buttons are actually used for multiple actions). I usually prefer simple controls and was a bit hesitant about the complexity of the controls. It turns out that, the more you play, the more intuitive the controls become. By the time you finish your first mission, they should almost be second nature to you. I will admit that there were some things I never really got good at, like running away from somebody and switching weapons at the same time. It was just too difficult to watch where I was going and watch the weapons cycle past. Other than this, they are spot-on.

Something else that really adds to the realism of the game is the interactive environment. If you shoot at glass, it breaks. If you see a box, you can climb on top of it. A perfect example of the cool little touches they added to the game happens very early on. You will come to a gate with a padlock on it. You can't get past, so you will seem to be stuck. Instead, you can switch to the manual aim mode and aim your pistol at the padlock. One shot and you will blow the lock off the gate. This may sound like a subtlety, but it is the little things like this which add up and make the overall experience work so well.

I honestly don't have any real complaints about the game. There were a few instances where the old 3D control problem reared its ugly head, but other than that I really can't complain much. Oh yeah, one other thing that bothered me a bit was that some of the missions tended to drag on a little too long and the objectives were fairly vague. This is just nitpicking, though.

Graphics

The graphics were not the best, but they were not the worst either. I could tell this game has been in development for a while. The backgrounds looked a bit on the blocky side at times as well. The graphics did not really hurt the game in any way, which is good, but I wish they were a bit more crisp and clean.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a great spy action adventure game, look no further. This game is long, challenging and most of all a fun experience. I think 989 Studios did a great job in creating a realistic environment. It is almost like you are playing your own interactive movie. While the controls may seem a bit overwhelming at first, stick it out because it will pay off in the long run. This game is highly recommended, so check it out.

Overview

Show me one red-blooded American male who has not, at one point or another in his life, dreamed of being a secret agent. Try as you may, you will not find one. I think that every kid's dream is to have all the coolest new weapons to blast the bad guys and save the world. It looks like our childhood dreams have come true, because in Syphon Filter you get to do all these things and more.

Your name is Gabe Logan and you are a guerrilla warfare expert in the areas of Counterterrorism, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Assault and Stealth. You are trained on a number of different assault weapons with numerous targeting options. It is up to you to use these skills to stop the deadly Syphon Filter virus from being unleashed on U.S. soil. There is no more time for dreaming about being a secret agent, because this is the real deal.

Gameplay

I don't know where to start. Should I begin with the awesome weapons? The challenging missions? The surprisingly decent voice-overs? The complex yet intuitive control system? The interactive environments? No, I think I will start with the super intelligence of the enemies. You will face a number of enemies throughout your missions, but one thing I found was that they can definitely be smart. I don't want to give them too much credit, because there were times that the enemies seemed to have no brains at all, but mixed in were some pretty impressive moves on their part. For example, there were three enemies standing near each other. I ran by and tossed a grenade between them. I heard one shout "incoming" and the guys jumped out of the way. Not bad. Another example is the constant surprises they will heap on you. I could be running across a beam way up high only to hear gunfire coming from the ground. Apparently one of the enemies detected my movement and was taking pot shots at me. This game has some of the best AI that I have seen in a PSX game to date.

Now let's talk about weapons. What secret agent would be complete without access to some seriously kick-ass weapons? Not to worry, because you will have the opportunity to lay waste with some of the coolest weapons around. One of my personal favorites was the sniper rifle. By holding in one of the shoulder buttons and moving the control stick around, you can aim for specific areas on the enemy's body. By holding in the triangle button, you can zoom in for pinpoint accuracy. Line up the scope with the enemy's head and all it takes is one shot to send him tumbling off the roof. This weapon is enhanced later on in the game, when you find the night vision sniper rifle which detects heat from people in the area and gives off a look similar to the look in the move Predator. If finesse is not your thing, there are also plenty of weapons of mass destruction. The M-79 Grenade Launcher is great for killing multiple enemies with one shot. Nothing clears a room faster.

Let's move on to the challenging missions. First off, the game is mission/objective based. You start out with a number of objectives that are required to complete the overall mission. It is not uncommon to have objectives added during the middle of your mission. These objectives vary from disarming bombs to killing ringleaders. There is no doubt you will find each of the missions progressively more difficult as the game progresses almost to the point of frustration. It turns out that the majority of my frustration was the result of missing something in a dark corner or not noticing a ledge to jump up to, but this does not diminish the challenge at all.

One of the things that is consistently bad in games is the voice acting. You can tell that the translations aren't accurate. This really makes a game lose credibility in my eyes. I think they did a great job making Syphon Filter as real as possible, and the voice acting played a big part in this. There is no B-movie quality acting here. You really feel as if you are in the middle of a big-budget spy flick.

On to the controls. The game has a training video that will explain all the controls to you, and I suggest you watch it. Actually, I suggest you watch it twice. This game has a ton of actions and uses every single button on the controller (some buttons are actually used for multiple actions). I usually prefer simple controls and was a bit hesitant about the complexity of the controls. It turns out that, the more you play, the more intuitive the controls become. By the time you finish your first mission, they should almost be second nature to you. I will admit that there were some things I never really got good at, like running away from somebody and switching weapons at the same time. It was just too difficult to watch where I was going and watch the weapons cycle past. Other than this, they are spot-on.

Something else that really adds to the realism of the game is the interactive environment. If you shoot at glass, it breaks. If you see a box, you can climb on top of it. A perfect example of the cool little touches they added to the game happens very early on. You will come to a gate with a padlock on it. You can't get past, so you will seem to be stuck. Instead, you can switch to the manual aim mode and aim your pistol at the padlock. One shot and you will blow the lock off the gate. This may sound like a subtlety, but it is the little things like this which add up and make the overall experience work so well.

I honestly don't have any real complaints about the game. There were a few instances where the old 3D control problem reared its ugly head, but other than that I really can't complain much. Oh yeah, one other thing that bothered me a bit was that some of the missions tended to drag on a little too long and the objectives were fairly vague. This is just nitpicking, though.

Graphics

The graphics were not the best, but they were not the worst either. I could tell this game has been in development for a while. The backgrounds looked a bit on the blocky side at times as well. The graphics did not really hurt the game in any way, which is good, but I wish they were a bit more crisp and clean.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a great spy action adventure game, look no further. This game is long, challenging and most of all a fun experience. I think 989 Studios did a great job in creating a realistic environment. It is almost like you are playing your own interactive movie. While the controls may seem a bit overwhelming at first, stick it out because it will pay off in the long run. This game is highly recommended, so check it out.

With one of the stranger names in gaming as of late (rivaled only by Eggs of Steel and Irritating Stick), Syphon Filter comes to us from Eidetic and 989 Studios. In this 3D action/adventure reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, Mission: Impossible and GoldenEye in some aspects, you control Special Operations agent Gabriel Logan as he tries to unravel the mystery behind a terrorist organization and a deadly biological weapon they possess which is capable of destroying mankind altogether. Obviously, this is a bad thing.

So, as Gabe, your job is to make your way through a variety of levels, each with its own real-life look (e.g., subways, city streets, parks, etc.), and a number of enemies, obstacles and objectives to save everybody in the world. So far, the story is quite interesting and is weaved into the levels rather well, thanks to CG cinematics, above-average voice work and large, well thought-out stages. Some levels have you chasing an enemy down subway tunnels, with trains going both ways right next to you. One wrong step, or a misjudged roll and you're dead. Another level has you following a major player in the game's plot through a museum. But if you get too close, or pull out your weapon, his guards will be alerted and your mission will be a failure. Weapon-wise, Syphon Filter isn't lacking, but it's obvious the game's emphasis is on strategy and not carnage. Nonetheless, you'll find a variety of weapons, ranging from your standard 9mm with silencer to a deadly Assault Rifle, among many others.

You may remember the developer of this one and their work on another game from the past. If not, let us refresh your memory. Eidetic is best known for the 3D update to Bubsy, with Bubsy 3D for the PlayStation. But don't worry-even this beta version of Syphon Filter is leaps and bounds better than the finished Bubsy 3D, and might even end up being a keeper when it's completed (the Review Crew will let you know soon). Please note: This preview is more of an update, showing you new pictures and such. For another preview of Syphon Filter (with more detailed info concerning the game, its story line and how it plays), check in the December issue of EGM (#113).

People say:

8

I'm sure many of you are anxiously awaiting to find out what scores we gave this game, especially considering 989 Studios' recent track record. Well, to be honest I'm going back and forth on Syphon Filter even now as I write this review. On one hand Syphon Filter is a lame attempt at a Metal Gear Solid-type of game. It has several minor but annoying graphical and control glitches, in addition to several examples of cheap deaths. But then on the other hand there are some original areas in many of the game's levels, and an interesting plot twist or two that get you wrapped up in the game's intriguing story. Then I realize Syphon Filter can actually stand on its own two legs without having to rely too heavily on the hype caused by MGS. There are enough cool areas and well-executed ideas in Syphon Filter to pull this out of what could've easily been a nose-dive right into mediocrity. I give Eidetic a lot of credit. It couldn't have been easy to make a game like this--especially considering that it's out not too long after the monumental Metal Gear (which I own but never formally reviewed). So if you can overlook the minor problems I've mentioned, you should find you've purchased yourself a nice little title. It's certainly more interesting than most people thought it was going to be. I would buy it.

6

At some point this probably seemed like a really good idea. The covert military theme has a lot of Metal Gear about it at first glance, but unfortunately the gameplay is nothing like what you'd expect. Imagine Duke: TTK without the good bits and you're pretty much there. Throw in some appallingly oversensitive controls and an equally oversimplified combat system and you have yourself a fairly mediocre experience.

8

It's not as polished as GoldenEye and it's not as mysterious as Metal Gear, but SF is definitely worth your time. It's easy to dismiss it on some merits--one-speed running, no jumping, some goofy-looking animation, etc. But for edge-of-your-seat, sniper-fueled action, SF outshines both MGS and GE. Add to that competent and semi-innovative level designs and the result is a well-rounded, gripping action/adventure game.

8

Syphon Filter takes a lot of cool Metal Gear Solid-inspired ideas and crams them into a slick package. It delivers a great story line; lots of weapons; realistic, highly interactive environments; and a rewarding emphasis on stealth and sniping. The only major downfall is the control. It just isn't precise enough for a game that requires so much aiming and sneaking. You'll need patience to get used to your character's quirky motion.

Admit it: Golden-Eye always looked cool to all you PlayStation owners. Luckily, Syphon Filter might just save your day with its promising espionage-themed action. Yeah, the game's name is pretty feeble, but the premise seems charged with adrenaline: You play as a secret agent battling terrorists intent on attacking the U.S. with lethal viruses. The combat-intensive gameplay goes down in a third-person view, but you can also switch to a slick sniper view, replete with green night vision. Armed from a selection of 20-plus weapons and equipped with cool toys like a silencer and a flashlight, you save the day in missions set in subways, military bases, and elsewhere. If this hot prospect lives up to its potential, you'll finally be able to get over that GoldenEye envy.

In the never-ending battle over which system rules, PlayStation gamers may finally have an answer for N64 owners who wave the smash hit GoldenEye in their face: Syphon Filter. Okay, so the name doesn't have even close to the same ring, but the gameplay has the guts and the graphics have the glory to be tagged as the PlayStation's answer to GoldenEye.

Syphon Filter's set to strafe shelves in February with what will likely be the best third-person action game on the PlayStation. What about Metal Gear Solid? Syphon Filter will be pretty different focusing more on run-n-gun bat-des and less on stealthy adventuring. The 75 percent preview version we played was on track with the style of a big-budget action flick and the right combo of smarts and gunplay. Three months before its release. Syphon filter had the makings of a surefire hit.

Secret Agent

Like most good games. Syphon filter will begin with a compelling story. When work started on the game back in January 1997, Ebola virus scares were as huge as X-Frles conspiracy theories. Both influences echo throughout the tale of Gabe Logan, a counterterrorist operative for the mysterious Agency, who's tasked with taking down terrorists bent on unleashing a viral plague in the U.S. As Gabe takes names and kicks butts, it will gradually become clear that larger forces are at work.. .including some shady happenings inside the Agency that will ultimately lead to a showdown in Kazakhstan.

So what's a "syphon filter," anyway? "To tell you the honest truth," says Connie Booth, executive producer of Syphon Filter and producer of the first two Crash Bandicoot games, "it doesn't mean anything it just looks cool. We tied it into the back story, though. Its the name of the virus that Gabe must prevent the terrorists from releasing." Uh, okay, that settles that....

Eat Lead. Punks

Syphon Filters gritty one-player-only gameplay should breathe life into its cool story line with an action-heavy focus that will evoke the excitement of playing as a commando. Most of Gabe's problems will be solved with the right ammo and the skills to survive the gunfight, though you'll definitely need to dust off your gray matter now and then. The missions will usually dish out intense gun battles, accompanied by objectives like assassinating key figures, providing covering fire for bomb squads, and so on.

But, as with Gabe's Agency, things will never be what they seem. Lian Xing, Gabe's partner and mission controller, will often radio in with sudden changes in the plan, including new tasks and new threats. "We didn't want it to be this static thing where you go in, do your objective, and get out," explains Booth. "In real life, things happen. So surprises take place. Of course, they're scripted, but it feels like they're happening partly as a result of what you're doing."

The result will be a volatile, fluid feel to the gameplay that'll ratchet up the excitement.

Gabe's no Duke Nukem, though, and that means stealth will often be crucial to success. While it won't be nearly as central to the game as it is to Metal Gear Solid, sneaking past terrorists and using silenced weapons will sometimes be the only way to survive. Syphon Filter will also try to break free of corridor crawling with what Booth calls "vertical game-play," meaning that enemies will blast you from above or below, so you'll have to keep alert in all directions.

Fierce Firepower

When it comes to firepower, Gabe will have it all. Over the course of the game, you'll riddle enemies with bullets from machine guns, machine pistols, and shotguns, snipe them with silenced pistols and sniper rifles, obliterate them with grenade launchers--and even fry their eyeballs with tasers.

Gabe will have the moves of a commando, too. He'll be able to bust off a slick duck and roll, crouch behind cover, strafe, and, of course, sneak. And his health will depend on his armor--once his flak vest is toast, he'll be dead meat after a hit or two.

Target Locked

Probably one of Syphon Filter's coolest features will be its excellent targeting system. In many third-person action games, lining up your shot's a chore, but Syphon filter will provide three ways of aiming (see sidebar "Targeting Explained"). If you're just running around, Gabe will automatically target the enemy in front of him. Plus, in sniper mode, you'll be able to use the sniper rifle to zoom in or use the night-vision rifle to go infrared and pick off targets at night. Other weapons will give you a cursor to point in sniper mode so you can go for the all-important head shot

Finally, you'll also be able to select and lock on to a target A meter will show you how locked on you are so you'll be able to run in one direction while shooting in another.

Superspy Style

When it comes to graphics, Syphon Filter's striving to deliver extremely tight camera work Some games have a troublesome floaty perspective that often cuts you out of the action or traps you in tight corners (Tomb Raiders a prime example), but Syphon Filter aims to keep you in the game. If you have your back against a wall, for example, Gabe will become transparent so your view of the action won't be obscured.

But his movements are a big part of what 989 Studios hopes will make the visuals truly eye-catching. In the preview version, Gabe already sprinted, aimed, rolled, and crouched with lifelike grace--the result, Booth says, of the game's unique method of animation. "We motion-captured Gabe, then cut him into pieces," she explains. "That sounds kind of gross, but it lets us animate every part of his body separately, so his legs can be running or crouching while his torso's looking and aiming at his target."

989s focusing on the enemies as well. After Gabe unloads a clip or two into them, they'll spray blood, stagger around clutching their wounds, then crumple to the ground. Dramatic music will cue in at such moments to keep the tension level high.

GoldenEye for the PlayStation?

That's a tall order, but Booth says that with Syphon Filter the team "set out to create the ultimate spy/fantasy game," and, at least in terms of the PlayStation, they appear to be headed for success. Whether Syphon Filter will ultimately match that N64 masterpiece remains to be seen, but, barring a last-minute disaster, it seems clear that PlayStation gamers will have a hot action tide to look for this February.

Targeting Explained

Syphon Filter supplies three methods of targeting your weapons--and you'll need to use all of them to stay alive. Here's a look at how they worked in the preview version.

Standard Riming

Whenever Gabe's just moving around, he automatically points his gun at the nearest target straight ahead.

Sniping

If you hold L1, Gabe goes into sniper mode. With everything but the sniper rifle and the night-vision rifle, this produces a crosshair you can line up on your target. If you also hold L2 or R2, you can lean out around corners, which is very useful for quietly taking out terrorists without exposing yourself to incoming fire.

Target Lock

By tapping R1, you can cycle between targets. If you hold R1, you stay locked on the current target, allowing you to run in one direction and shoot in another. Target lock's also useful if you sneak up on an enemy. A meter in the upper-left corner indicates how locked on you are, so if the enemy doesn't know you're there, you can wait until your aim is perfect and take them out with one shot.

If Metal Gear Solid's too sneaky and strategic for your taste, 989 Studios has the answer to your GoldenEye dreams with its action-packed espionage thriller, Syphon Filter.

Bullet-Riddled Blast

Okay, so the name's kinda silly, but the gameplay in 989 Studios' new spy game would impress 007 himself. Syphon Filter puts you in the flak vest of Gabe Logan, a counter-terrorist operative charged with stopping terrorists who are threatening the U.S. with a deadly virus known as (ahem) Syphon Filter.

The gameplay in the early one-level demo was awesome, packing in tons of third-person gun battles and an interesting array of objectives to achieve. But unlike the methodical Metal Gear Solid, Syphon's a shooter first, delivering the tense excitement of a big-budget espionage film.The only thing missing is two-player deathmatches, but as long as 989 stays on track. Syphon Filter should debut as the PlayStation's one-player answer to GoldenEye.

Lock & Load

One of Syphons most impressive features is its incredibly tight targeting system. Unlike most third-person shooters. Syphon's targeting is a breeze because Gabe automatically aims at the nearest enemy. You can also choose to hold LI for sniper mode or Rl to stealthily select and lock on to unsuspecting targets. Throw in the fluid camera work and slick, edgy animations, and Syphon's already great fun.

Gabe comes equipped with a powerful arsenal, including a sniper rifle, an M-16, a grenade launcher, a silenced pistol, a laser, a shotgun, and more. Cool gadgets like a grapple gun and a night-vision sniper scope add to the excitement of this hot prospect.

989 Studios sneaks onto the spy scene with an awesome third-person action game that would stir even 007 to raise his martini in salute. Once you get past its lame name, Syphon Filter's captivating mix of thrilling action, sweet controls, and beautiful visuals catapults it into the ranks of the PlayStations must-buy games.

Viral Threat

Playing as Gabe Logan, an operative with the shadowy Agency, you're charged with eliminating a group of terrorists before the release a lethal virus known as Syphon Filter. An intriguing setup, it translates into the white-knuckle thrills of a Bond flick as Gabe solves challenge after challenge with a little smarts and a lot of lead. Its the kind of twitchy, combat-heavy gameplay that will hook action gamers hard.

Missions usually begin with a few objectives (locating viral bombs or terminating viral scientists) and a whole lot of terrorists in between. 989 keeps the pace snappy and surprising as your partner, Lian Xing, frequently radios in new objectives, changes in the plan, and other challenges. Mayhem isn't the only way to succeed, either--you'll often need to be a sneaky little weasel and worm your way past the enemy when their superior numbers could shred your flak jacket fast

Its one hell of an exciting ride, which makes the games only significant flaw a real shame. Save points are few and too far between, though checkpoints (which you can't save at) somewhat reduce the boredom of replaying familiar territory. It's a disappointing annoyance, but it doesn't ruin the show.

Target Sighted

Like any good spy, Gabe's got moves--sidestepping, sneaking, rolling for cover, and much more--but topnotch camerawork and targeting really set Syphon apart. Plenty of other games leave you in the lurch when it comes to perspective, yet Syphons camera never strands you as Gabe blasts away. Lining up shots is also simple with both the intuitive Target Lock mode, which lets you easily run in one direction while shooting in another, and the in-depth Sniper mode.

Factor in the smooth analog movement, and Syphon's controls score top honors for their responsiveness and ease of use. Useful radar, automapping, and inventory systems complete Gabes arsenal.

Superfly Superspy

Fluid animations steal the show. Gabe moves with graceful stealth as he stalks enemies, slams home new clips, and the like. The terrorists capture the eye, too, clutching their wounds and geysering blood.

Detailed scenery showcases everything from the D.C. subway to a spooky monastery-turned-biolab. Excellent lighting, ranging from the glare of a subway cars headlights to Gabes flashlight, makes the levels look spectacular.

Killer sounds keep the tension levels high. Dramatic music warns you of imminent danger, while the weapon effects, from the whuff of a silenced pistol to the metallic cough of armor-piercing rounds, flat-out rock. The voice acting gets a tad cheesy at times, but, hey, you can't have everything.

Cunning for GoldenEye?

So how does Syphon stack up against gamings spy superpowers? On the PlayStation, Metal Gear Solids thoughtful, strategic action is a different beast, and its appeal is so different from Syphon's that there's plenty of room for both (think C&C versus Nuclear Strike). Facing off against the N64 superstar, Syphon keeps pace with GoldenEyes one-player game, but GoldenEyes excellent multiplayer action gives it the go-ahead goal.

Which leaves Syphon in the fine position of being the PlayStation's best third-person action game and one of gamings leading espionage thrillers. If intensely addictive run-n-gun action sounds cool, snap up a copy of Syphon--you won't put the controller down for days, maybe weeks.

ProTips:

  • In Roehmer's Base, shoot out the searchlights with a silenced weapon to prevent alarms.
  • One-shot kills work with head shots or with the combat shotgun, 45 pistol, grenades, gas grenades, or M-79.
  • If you get to the Mars exhibit in the museum without finding a key-card, go back to the huge rocket. Stand on the elevator and shoot the blinking light near the tip of the rocket, which raises the elevator to the level where you'll find the terrorist with the keycard.
  • In the Georgia street level, head into the alley behind the bar, dimb up the dumpster, and shimmy across to the balcony on the other side to find the M-79 grenade launcher.
  • When you creep up on your enemy or need to connect right away, crouch (press and hold x) to improve your aim.
  • Quickly tap Down on the directional pad to turn 180-degrees and check your six.
  • In the Base Bunker, if you can't find a way to unlock the laser beams, look for a switch to shoot out on the other side of the beams.
  • As you cross the field toward the third bomb in Washington Park, stop every few paces and check ahead with the nightvision rifle.

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