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PSP Preview - 'Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow'

by Andrew Hayward on May 23, 2007 @ 4:29 a.m. PDT

Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow features a variety of combat mechanics including the ability to force enemies into cover with "blind-fire," an advanced melee system that allows Gabe to use enemies as human shields, and 360 degree underwater combat.

Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA Bend Studios
Release Date: Fall 2007

The Syphon Filter franchise seemed to be left for dead after The Omega Strain, the poorly received online entry that took the series in an unwelcome new direction. Instead of pushing forward with this flawed philosophy, the team at SCEA Bend Studios scaled things back considerably, releasing a straightforward, story-based shooter for the PSP. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror was a smashing success on the portable platform, garnering some of the best reviews the series had ever seen.

In the hopes that lightning will strike twice, SCEA Bend Studios is hard at work on Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow for the PSP, an entry that sticks to the core mechanics of its predecessor while enhancing the experience in several key ways. Over the course of five chapters and more than 20 missions, Logan's Shadow will pit series protagonist Gabe Logan against Middle Eastern extremists and Somali aggressors in the Indian Ocean in his quest for the truth about his missing partner.

Novelist and comic book writer Greg Rucka (Batman, Perfect Dark novels) was tapped to compose a narrative that combines an epic tale of espionage with a personal twist. Agent Lian Xing, Logan's longtime partner, has gone missing during a trip to Cypress. At roughly the same time, terrorists have boarded a naval supply ship in the Indian Ocean, claiming the classified contents of the cargo hold. With the agency dissolved by the U.S. government, Logan sets out on his own to discover the link between the two incidents and find out if Xing has been playing him for the last decade.

Logan's Shadow begins with Logan hovering above the USS Mount St. Helens, manning a helicopter-mounted machine gun to take down a heap of terrorists and their shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. Once the bulk of the baddies has been silenced, Logan drops down onto the ship to take matters into his own hands. Logan's Shadow largely replicates the third-person shooting experience of its predecessor, with the key addition coming in the form of a blind fire attack. For a game that relies heavily on the use of cover, the ability to randomly fire at enemies without exposing Logan's body should help with some of the trickier segments.

Contextual action sequences return, with Logan able to take part in some light hand-to-hand combat, but he will also be tasked with other responsibilities, such as lifting debris and breaking through wrist restraints. Logan will also be able to use fallen enemies as "human shields" to progress through frantic firefights.

Though not seen in the Gamers Day demo, the addition of underwater environments is said to mark the greatest enhancement over Dark Mirror. John Garvin, creative director at Bend Studios, stressed that exploration would be downplayed, as the submerged sequences are concerned only with action and intensity. As such, weapons like the spear gun and bolt pistols have been added to the game.

Logan's Shadow looks exactly like its predecessor, with a capable 3D engine and a very similar user interface. Based on what was shown at Gamers Day, the game looks to put a greater emphasis on the use of CG sequences to further the highly touted narrative. Though it may look quite a bit like the last title, Logan's Shadow will sound much different, as Bend Studios enlisted the talents of composer/singer Azam Ali ("300") to enhance the soundtrack. Garvin announced that the theme song would be titled, "How Do You Escape the Shadows of Your Past?"

As with its predecessor, Logan's Shadow is likely to feature a comprehensive Infrastructure multiplayer mode, though Garvin could not offer any official details. He did, however, confirm that a specific announcement would be made at the forthcoming E3 Media & Business Summit in July.

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow looks to maintain the quality gameplay and visuals of its predecessor, while improving upon the aspects that still needed some enhancement. The one element of Dark Mirror that kept me from becoming fully invested in the game was its lacking narrative, but the addition of writer Greg Rucka and a shift toward a personal storyline should bode well for the franchise. Be sure to check back later this summer for additional news and details on this promising portable sequel.

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