Right around the time Metal Gear Solid was taking the world by storm, another series was rumbling in the background. It was called Syphon Filter, and while it didn’t gain the same insane following, it was similar to the stealth/action genre MGS helped bring to mainstream gaming. Unfortunately, the series took quite a long hiatus and didn’t really make any impact during the last generation. The only PS2 installment, The Omega Strain, failed to meet the high watermark set by the three PS1 Syphon Filters, so most fans simply abandoned the franchise for the likes of MGS 2 and MGS 3. However, the series returned to make a big splash on the PSP with Dark Mirror, and Sony is primed to do it again with Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow.
Thanks to some new details revealed during Sony’s Gamers Day, we’ve learned that the latest installment on the PSP should be plenty entertaining. Not only will it sport the same style of gameplay everyone fell in love with way back when, but it will also feature some fresh new elements never seen before. A sequel to Dark Mirror, Logan’s Shadow puts you back in the shoes of spy Gabe Logan, but his partner-in-crime, Lian Xing is in some trouble. You’re not really sure what happened, but after Lian heads off on vacation, he ends up going missing. Gabe is on assignment in the Indian Ocean when he gets the news, and the story takes some very interesting twists and turns from there. As usual, the plot is a major focus in the game, so this ought to excite and intrigue all you Syphon Filter fans out there.
So anyway, Gabe is on a mission to protect some sort of classified cargo in the hold of the USS Mount St. Helens, which is a naval supply ship. The government has reason to believe terrorists will attempt to either steal or destroy that cargo, but before Gabe really gets into things on the ship, he finds out his good friend has disappeared. Obviously worried, Logan narrowly escapes the ship, only to find out the government suddenly considers Lian a dangerous double agent working with some foreign power. Logan doesn’t believe it for a second, but the government is all paranoid about a mole in the agency, so if Gabe wants to get to the bottom of this, he’s on his own. Well, not entirely on his own. Theresa will go with him, but he won’t have any of that fancy agency equipment to help him out (at first), so things are a little dicey, to say the least.
For some reason, while we definitely like the sound of this storyline, it sounds awfully similar to the one in Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Of course, the main character in DA was the double agent; here, you’re trying to prove your comrade isn’t a double agent. However, as you’re not really on the government’s side – we guarantee Gabe is gonna “go off the reservation” to find Lian – there does seem to be a few similarities. It must be the time for railing against governmental powers, or something… But moving beyond that, and despite Gabe’s initial lack of gadgetry, the player will end up with plenty of nifty toys and abilities. No matter what the situation, spies end up getting all the fun stuff, don’t they?
Some of your favorite items from Dark Mirror will make their return, such as the night vision and thermal goggles and a couple of the weapons. But in another interesting similarity to Double Agent, Gabe will be in the water several times in Logan’s Shadow, except he gets weapons Sam didn’t. For example, there’s the spear gun (ouch!), bolt pistol, and bolt driver, all of which will be at Gabe’s disposal during his dives. And you know how you can lean around corners in other games? Well, there’s a version of that feature in this game, which allows Logan to shoot blindly around corners to drive back advancing enemies. You might not hit much, but your foes probably won’t hit you, either. At worst, you’ll miss everything but still force the enemies to slow down and take cover.
Another big bonus will be the appearance of characters from previous installments in the series. Supposedly, we’ve heard you’ll be able to even control some of them, although Sony hasn’t specified which characters just yet. But perhaps they will tie in with the very cool storyline they’ve prepared for this game, and maybe you’ll have the option to make certain decisions along the way. There usually isn’t much in the way of open-endedness in stealth games, as they tend to rely on wonderfully written and presented storylines (we shouldn’t even have to mention MGS), but it’s still a possibility. Do something specific with one character, and watch the impact and possible consequences of that action play out in the plot. It’s the kind of element that might bring in a whole new set of fans, and the current set will be satisfied with the inclusion of familiar characters.
Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow is scheduled to arrive some time this fall, but we’ll be sure to let you know when they nail down a release date. This one could very well be another must-have title for the PSP.
5/26/2007 Ben Dutka