Next month Sony plans on celebrating the one-year birthday
of the PSP with a whole host of brand new games in a number of different genres,
including Pursuit Force, a Jak &
Daxter spin-off, and this much anticipated portable Syphon Filter. Originally
released on the 32-Bit PlayStation, the Syphon
Filter series is known for its dark storylines, strong characters, and imaginative
use of gadgets. Next month you will be
able to fit all that action (as well as a few surprises) into your pocket when
Sony releases Dark Mirror, the very first game of the franchise to grace the
I had an opportunity to sit down with the first few minutes
of Dark Mirror and have come back
with some mixed feelings. On the
positive side the game is gorgeous, featuring well detailed characters and
environments. It looks like just about
everything fans have enjoyed from other Syphon Filter outings will be retained
in this portable game, including the top-secret gadgets, weapons, and goggles
(night vision, infrared, and thermal).
But all of this comes at a price, and from my short time
with the game I have to report that the bulk of my frustration came from the
awkward controls. Last year SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo proved that
you could make a solid shooter on the PSP, a system burdened by its lack of a
second analog stick. By giving up a
little control (and allowing for a much-needed auto-aim button) SOCOM managed
to provide a fast and entertaining experience without giving up too much, but the
developers behind Syphon Filter have
decided to go a much different route.
The control in Syphon Filter is similar to that of Konami's Coded Arms; a first-person shooter that
had you using the face buttons (the square, triangle, circle, and x) as if they
were the second (right-hand) analog stick.
This means that if you're going to aim, you're going to have to do it by
using the buttons … which is hardly the ideal set-up for a game of this
type. Even after you've gotten used to
it this control scheme is just not accurate enough, and led to a number of
Thankfully gamers won't be forced to use this inadequate
(and frustrating) control set-up. If you
search the options menu you will locate a number of different control schemes,
including one that is almost identical to that found in SOCOM. Instead of always
aiming your weapon, with the "classic" set-up you can aim at the
touch of a button, leaving you to focus on the story and action. This classic set-up comes with a few quirks
(instead of there being a single strafe button, you are required to use two
different face buttons to strafe left or right), but it's nice to see Sony
addressing this concern.
When you get past the control options you are in store for
one heck of an exciting ride. Dark Mirror starts out by explaining
that a group called the Red Section has attacked an oil refinery in Alaska, it's your job as
Gabe Logan to go in and figure out what is going on and what these evil doers are
up to. For obvious reasons Sony has been
very hush-hush about the story in Dark Mirror, but if it's anything like the
previous adventures you can expect a whole bunch of twists and turns and a lot
of exciting, Hollywood-style action sequences.
There is no doubt in my mind that if you can get past the control issues
you will find a deep and interesting story worth playing to the end.
The game also comes packaged with a lot of variety. Not only are you forced to take down enemy
combatants, your job description has you solving puzzles and even playing as
multiple characters. Infiltrating the
enemy will require you to use all of the gadgets at your disposal, often giving
this game a feeling all its own. There
is a genuine sense of accomplishment when you can use your toys to help you
sneak up on enemies, especially when it involves you looking through walls (and
the ceiling) with your thermal vision goggles.
Along with dozens of missions and a couple of different
playable characters, Syphon Filter
will feature a unique online play that will allow you to live out specific scenes
from the game with your friends.
Unfortunately I was unable to get a hands-on with this portion of the
game, but it's certainly one of the most intriguing aspects of this game.
With tons of weapons, cool looking areas to explore, and
plenty of espionage action, Syphon
Filter: Dark Mirror could prove to be another winning entry in the
franchise. Only Sony knows for sure
where this game will lead us, but if you're the type of person who loves a good
spy game then Dark Mirror might just
be the title you've been waiting for.
Expect a full review of this PSP Syphon
Filter around the time of its release.
Editor's note: This preview was updated to reflect the alternative control scheme available in the game.
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