Genre : Action
Release Date: March 2006
The Syphon Filter games on the PSOne are sort of forgotten classics of their genre. While they aren't perfect by a damn sight and they've aged about as gracefully as raw meat does, they're excellent tactical action/stealth games. It's doubly surprising, since they came from Eidetic, now known as Sony Bend, the developers that brought us such disc-borne abominations as Twisted Metal 3 and 4.
For the most part, Gabe Logan (who's starting to look a little bit like Sam Fisher) and Lian Xing have sat this generation out, aside from the underwhelming and forgotten Omega Strain on the PS2. That changes suddenly with the arrival of Dark Mirror, which returns Gabe, Lian, and their ally Teresa Lipan to action.
Gabe ended Syphon Filter 3 by being promoted to the director of what's simply known as the Agency. Now, he's the chief of operations, and the Agency is called in on the most dangerous antiterrorist missions. This time, Gabe and Lian enter the field to deal with a group called Red Section, in a case that'll wreak havoc the world over.
The good news is that Dark Mirror updates Syphon Filter's gameplay into the next generation of software, using the PSP's limited controls impressively. You can use the D-pad to switch between Gabe's available weapons on the fly, and Gabe's picked up a useful set of goggles. By pressing Left on the pad, you can pull up a menu and switch between a flashlight, thermal vision, nightvision, and a red-tinged view that'll highlight important mission objectives.
At the same time, Gabe's still packing his trusty silenced 9mm and sniper rifle, which places the emphasis of Dark Mirror on stealth and rapid response. The gameplay rewards you for dealing with incoming threats quickly, safely, and lethally.
The bad news… is that like last year's Coded Arms, Dark Mirror is a 3D action game, which means it's meant to be played on a system with a second analogue stick. Dark Mirror, again like Coded Arms, attempts to compensate for the lack by assigning your free-look to the face buttons. Gabe looks up with Triangle, down with X, left with Square, and right with Circle. You also have a handy autolock system, usable by holding down the L button.
How much you're able to enjoy Dark Mirror--which is otherwise a very solid game, featuring excellent graphics, a suspenseful if generically "military thriller" soundtrack, and some surprisingly good enemy AI--will depend on how readily you're able to adapt to the game's bizarre controls. They're responsive, but unintuitive. You'll get an idea of whether or not you can handle them next month, when Dark Mirror ships.
More articles about Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror