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Syphon Filter: Looking Back At One Of The Stealth Pioneers

Everyone knows and respects the name Metal Gear Solid. But there's another name that played a significant role in the evolution and popularity of the stealth/action genre.

It's Syphon Filter, which did indeed labor under the shadow of the legendary MGS back in the original PlayStation days when both franchises first started to toy around with the idea of stealth. Some called SF "the poor man's MGS," which it really wasn't. It was just different, and still innovative - and even revolutionary - in a number of ways.

The latest revisited classic over at the PlayStation Blog is Syphon Filter, which definitely deserves a look back. Sony Bend creative director John Garvin spoke about how the game came to be and its lasting legacy. Here's one of the more interesting comments:

"Metal Gear Solid actually had nothing to do with the genesis of Syphon Filter. We had been in development for quite a while before we had even heard of it. The idea originally came from a producer at Sony’s (then) 989 Studios who had written a one page synopsis that he called “Syphon Filter” which had zero meaning, i.e. there was no plot, no character, and no story, just an idea for settings, mechanics and gameplay. From the beginning it was to be a “stealth action” game (in the days before there was such a genre) that focused heavily on weapons, gadgets and stealth. Our goal was to make the player feel like a super spy. Our lead designer back then was pretty heavily influenced by Nintendo’s GoldenEye, which was probably the closest you could come to finding a game like Syphon in those days."

Additionally, Garvin said the element of which he is most proud was the story aspect of Syphon Filter. He said it bothered him that people would say, "Who cares? It's just a game!" So they set about trying to make a realistic and emotional story arc, one that would make you care about the characters. It reminds one of Telltale's comments, doesn't it? Anyway, while it probably wouldn't stand up well over time (3D action games from that period didn't age well), Syphon Filter was still a breakthrough series at the time. Remember and appreciate!

Tags: syphon filter, syphon filter game, classic video games, classic game

10/25/2012 11:40:37 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (27 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 12:16:14 PM
Reply

Never played it. But that same things scared me to this day when I read people on the internets saying "What's with these long cut scenes? I don't care what's happening I just want to play!"

It's like, uhhh GTFO of here you little bastard. Go play a casual game then!

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TheWuziMu
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 12:33:08 PM
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One of my favorite PS1 franchises. This game changed my perspective on what a game could do, when done correctly.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 12:40:08 PM
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Back in the day when they came out, I actually preferred SF over MG.

And I'd like to see the SF franchise rebooted too!

Good times.

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laxpro2001
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:27:58 PM
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Wait Ben, what about Tenchu? That released the year before Syphon Filter and was a lot more fun IMO.

I guess it wasn't nearly as popular though. :/

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xenris
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:40:31 PM

I loved tenchu man, but it was not popular at all. It was definitely one of the first stealth games also I think it came out before MGS and Syphon filter if I remember correctly.

Yeah, Tenchu and MGS released about a week from each other according to the wiki, and syphon filter a year later.

Man I miss this genre :( Why wont they give me a PS3 tenchu and Syphon filter.

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slugga_status
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:47:23 PM

Tenchu was a game I spent a lot of time with..I liked luring guards with rice cakes and taking them out as they ate it..Only thing I can remember that I didn't like was the camera would be off at times..

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laxpro2001
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:56:46 PM

LOL those poison rice balls were awesome. And yes the camera the toughest enemy you faced the whole game.

Was anyone else freaked out by the last level with all the demons which really just looked like flaming aliens that danced in a very eerie manner?

I would love a PS3 version of Tenchu. Heck I'd even settle for an HD remake of the PS1 versions. That would be pretty sweet actually...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:59:24 PM

Tenchu was the sh*t. If I recall the sequel wasn't as good.

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xenris
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 2:42:20 PM

I think the first 3 tenchu games were amazing 3 being the best controlling and playing of all of them. Tenchu z was fun but didn't feel like a tenchu as you didn't have to sneak you could just bull rush people and snap there necks.

I know most fans think Tenchu 2 was the best as far as story, levels, and stealth kill design. But the combat was probably worse than the first one. If you were seen you died pretty much, and that made boss fights miserable.

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Lotusflow3r
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 3:09:34 PM

Tenchu was technically the 1st 3D, mainstream game.

To me, there has only been two Tenchu games and that's the brilliant 1st two, peaking at the 2nd installment which was a very special game. They were designed and developed by Acquire before Sony sold the rights to Activision who proceeded to make average installments.

However, Acquire substituted the loss with a new franchise, Shinobido. Almost identical gameplay and almost just as good, but no where near as popular. There are two installments to that too:-

Shinobido: Way Of The Ninja (PS2, PSP, 2006)
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen (PSVita, 2012)

If you enjoy Tenchu, you'll bloody love Shinobido. They aren't quite as good as Tenchu yet, but a damn good replacement attempt and better than the recent Tenchu attempts via Activision.

Tenchu 2 is the ultimate, though. It had all the amazing stealth features of the original, but enhanced...and then upped it all with an incredible soundtrack, an emotional plot and fantastic execution. You could even make your own levels!

Acquire also went on to create the brilliant Way Of The Samurai series, fyi.

Oh, ironically, after the success of the original Tenchu, Tenchu 2 had a budget upgrade and featured almost the entire voice cast of the original Metal Gear Solid! Fun fact.

//Acquire nerd mode off

Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 10/25/2012 3:11:14 PM

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slugga_status
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 3:31:24 PM

The Tenchu soundtracks were pretty good as well I must say..

@Lotusflow3r did those Shinobido games released in the U.S.? I've never heard of them..

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 4:03:14 PM

If Tenchu had been more popular, it would've better fit the title of "pioneer." You can't be a pioneer of anything if you don't get noticed. ;)

But the series did have a staunch following, and the first two games were excellent. They just weren't technically sound enough, I think, as you had to make a lot of concessions and forgive a lot of faults to really appreciate the stealth.

Also, Syphon Filter offered a bit more in the way of diverse gameplay and I hate to say this, but also had much better stories than Tenchu.

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laxpro2001
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 4:12:24 PM

I loved Tenchu I's sound track. I'll still hum one of the tunes when you verse Onikage every now and then and my younger bro will chime in too.

I remember trying to figure each of the stealth moves (I think there were 7). The last one I figured out (and my favorite) was when you stand back to back to an enemy with Ayame and she breaks like 5 of their bones. So much fun pulling that off.

I actually tried syphon filter and I couldn't handle the movement mechanics. Not to say Tenchu was much better but I never played SF until it was available on PSN and couldn't really enjoy it much :(

Also Tenchu definitely had better graphics than it... and more gore!!



Last edited by laxpro2001 on 10/25/2012 4:14:29 PM

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ZenChichiri
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 8:42:50 PM

Call me crazy, but I didn't like 2 as much as 1 or Wrath of Heaven. I really enjoyed my time with Wrath of Heaven though, contrary to popular opinion.

And yah, as for the combat, in all games the combat really sucked. The stealth parts are awesome, but as soon as you get into a one on one fight you stop feeling like a ninja and start feeling like a fat man in a suit of armor. But I guess that's the point huh? It's just the forced boss fights can be a struggle.

Other than the combat though everything else usually kicks ass in these games! I do remember spending a lot of time with the level editor in Tenchu 2 as well.

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Lotusflow3r
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 9:49:42 PM

@Slugga
Only Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen made it to the US, unfortunately. The 1st made it to Europe only.
If you have a Vita, pick it up, a Tenchu fan won't be disappointed.

@Ben
Pretty much. Acquire tend to attract a cult following and mostly all their games suffer those infamous technical flaws that the said cult following learns to overcome and even like!

As for story, that's definitely down to preference, i think Tenchu 2 far surpassed the competition at that time in terms of story.

@ZenChi
Not to make excuses for the admittedly at times problematic combat system, but the developers made it so that one-on-one combat was tough as nails because a Ninja was not supposed to engage in that....This is so that the player feels the need to avoid confrontation as much as possible.
The combat reminds me of the Souls games in a way, in that you have to learn the enemies patterns and plan your strikes carefully.

There's an MGS easter egg in Shinobido 2 by the way. There's a hidden snake in one of the levels that when you find it, the main character, Zen, reveals his phobia of Snakes by screaming "Snake?! Snake!! SNAAAAAKKKKKEEEEE!!!" lol.

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BikerSaint
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 1:21:41 AM

Sadly, I've only got Tenchu:Stealth Assassin & none of the Shinobido's in my collections.
But I do have a hard-to-find Tenchu:Stealth Assassin's power card by Game Champion(sits in the memory card slot)

BTW, I've also got a PS2 game in my collection that you could play stealthy too....
"The Operative: No One Lives Forever"

Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/26/2012 1:23:05 AM

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xenris
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:37:24 PM
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When I saw a video for this game on a demo disc I almost crapped myself.

Hanging from a wire and silence pistoling a guy through a window just blew my mind. The amount of control and things you could do just blew me away.

I loved MGS1 but this felt like it controlled way better and made more sense to me to play.

Its not better but man I would like a PS3 version of this game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 1:59:42 PM
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Metal Gear Solid is cool.

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Clamedeus
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 2:03:53 PM
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Tenchu, MGS, Syphon Filter was all i needed for stealth games. <3 'em.

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Neurotoxiny
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 2:42:24 PM
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I was really sad that Gabe Logan wasn't in PSASBR... :O

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Killa Tequilla
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 4:08:49 PM
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I used to play this game as a kid, Syphon Filter, I didnt get past the first mission as i had no idead whatto do.A new game will be welcoming.

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duomaxwell007
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 5:27:13 PM
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I dont recall syphon filter one having very much in the wsy of stealth... now 2 and onward (when you could play with lin yes) but 1? could be wrong though its been years after all

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Clamedeus
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 8:50:46 PM

You could do stealth, but you had to be very careful how you did it. And they also had stealth missions in the first game if I remember correctly.

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___________
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 4:02:04 AM
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awwwwwww logan, how far the memories go back!
ive been wondering what bend have been doing ever since they finished golden abyss, so maybe this is a sign?
a test of the water to see how popular a new syphon filter game would be?
oh please make it so, we need syphon filter back!
i remember back in early 08 when those leaked videos of 8 days released on the net and all of a sudden everyone was running about saying $ony was bringing it back, then someone found a listing for a new syphon filter.
sigh, what a dissappointment that was!
$ony really needs to bring those three back, 8 days, the getaway 3 and syphon filter as ps4 launch titles would make the system sell like the frigging iphone 5!

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Ludakriss
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 5:38:58 AM
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Ohhhhhh, MAN!

I used to loooooove to literally fry people with the taser!!

I will admire this game for all time.

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Ludakriss
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 5:40:33 AM
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Ohhhhhh, MAN!

I used to loooooove to literally fry people with the taser!!

I will admire this game for all time.

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Zeronoz
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 10:31:20 AM
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Aaah yes, Syphon Filter...Tasers FTW!! I remembered shocking an enemy til he burns! Good times, good times.

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