Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow
Run, gun, and have fun with Gabe Logan and friends.
So let me be frank about this, I've never played a Syphon Filter before. In fact, to tell just how much of a newbie I am to this series I checked the Wikipedia entry on just what the name Syphon Filter actually referred to. It was some sort of virus or something, I don't know. But I can tell you one thing, I've played a lot of action games and can tell the good ones from the bad. So when I popped in that UMD, fresh to the series, I knew I had some catching up to do.
Gabe Logan is your classic comic book secret agent, little wonder then that comics scribe Greg Rucka has been brought on to tell the new tale. So he gets himself into the kinds of plots involving terrorists and big explosions not so much in the way Bond would, but Nick Fury instead could be right at home. Word has it that this new storyline features a potential reversal, some intriguing plot twistery, and a betrayal from long time partner Lian Xing. But little of that matters at the moment. We're on a helicopter flying at high speed-low altitude over the Indian Ocean heading towards a US Naval Supply Ship that's been taken over by Somali terrorists. Gabe has a job to do.
Our arrival was more than a little expected. The terrorists take control of the ships missile launchers and using anti aircraft RPGs put up a rousing defense. Using the chaingun on the side of the helicopter, you've got to take them out before they take you down. Not a bad way to wake up in the morning, and aiming with the analog nub makes taking out these guys a piece of cake. Once they're cleared out, we make a clean landing and get ready to shoot up the bad guys on foot and we get right acquainted with the cover system. Tap forward once with the analog nub and you stick to the wall. From there you're generally safe enough to take your time with the aiming. And if you're just getting started, then taking time with it is key. You aim with the face buttons and it takes a bit of a leap coming from the past several years of dual analog control. But once you get used to it, you'll never need a second analog stick. On my second run through, headshots are simple and satisfying.
Moving from cover to cover is a big part of the game, as cover is plentiful but available for the bad guys too. With the ability to blind fire and the available flashbangs, you've got enough to distract and startle your enemies. Should you need to keep firing on the go, you can lock onto targets with the L trigger. It's not accurate but its enough to get you to the next position of cover. The balance of aggression in your enemies and your available firepower is well done. And so far in the game you're never lacking for another target. If the demo was asking to be action packed, then they got that part down. The oddest exception is the inclusion of QTEs (quick-time events). Instead of doing a simple thing like pushing a button to attach a crane to some rubble, you've got to hit the correct face buttons in a timed sequence. In the cases presented in the demo it stops the action dead in its tracks, so heres hoping for a more calculated use of such QTEs throughout the course of the main game.
But the main game is already more than alright, the controls are tight and the play is satisfying. With the additional multiplayer component returning with the maps from Dark Mirror and more ready for 4 on 4 battles, and voice chat included, its online component does not appear lacking. The question of whether or not it's going to be a satisfying experience seems moot. Being the sequel to one of the PSPs premiere action titles, offering what appears to be more of the same with a new story full of those excellent mad spy escapades, the only question seems to be will it be a worthy encore.