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Oct. 31 2006
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror - PSP Review
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Syphon Filter looks absolutely stunning.
While action fans may drool over the release of every new Metal Gear Solid game, or even the multi-player focused SOCOM titles, there is also a very large following for Syphon Filter - Sony's take on the espionage action genre. The first title appeared on the PSOne to rave reviews in 1999 and then followed up with two, some would say lesser, sequels on the system. For one reason or another the Playstation 2 has only seen on release in the series to date, that being Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain. It received poor reviews, and wasn't received well by the gaming public either. Sony aren't giving up on the series with Gabe Logan headed to the PSP in Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror. Let's see how it stacks up.

The story in Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror sees the return of Gabe Logan, the renowned Precision Strike Operative from Syphon Filter - a black ops US agency that doesn’t officially exist – even to the President! Logan’s job is to infiltrate, recon and execute decisively - on his mission to retrieve Dark Mirror... a weapon which threatens the lives of all those on the planet. To be honest the story is your typical terrorist type plot, but it has been told quite well and will hold your interest.

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Even the interiors look awesome.
Spread across 23 single player missions Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is a third person action title with plenty of stealth thrown in for good measure. While you may feel like going in all guns blazing that generally won't see you succeed in too many of the missions at all. In fact, you'll need to use a wide range of gadgets, moves and weapons to help you succeed. To start with you have a range of different vision such as heat and night, as well as all manner of weapons including automatic and sniper. It's even possible to change the ammo type and rate of fire for some weapons. Gabe's abilities include being able to lean up against a wall to take cover, changing between crouching and standing positions and so on. When leaning up against a wall it's possible to target enemies before ducking from cover, taking a few shots and then going back behind the cover.

There are quite a few enemies in the game, with around half a dozen often attacking you at one time. Their AI is pretty solid too, not perfect, but solid. At times it's quite clear they're on a scripted path however when they spot you they'll duck behind cover when under fire, and also seem to work together on occasion as well. It's not all about the enemies though as you'll often be working with friendly soldiers to complete missions including solving some puzzles.

One of the things we were worried about, as we are with almost every action title, is how well the developers can handle the PSP's reduced number of buttons, lack of analogue sticks, and the somewhat awkward slider stick. Fortunately the developers have given gamers several choices for button layouts however we're happy to report that even on the default seting the game plays extremely well even with the massive number of things to do in this title.

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Multi-player is also included with five online maps and support for 8-players either through ad-hoc or online infrastructure modes. These modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Objective and Rogue Agent. Even more impressive is that the development team at Sony America has been able to include the facility for voice chat while playing online, full clan support and chat rooms. Impressive.

There really are few problems with Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror with the biggest issue we have being more to do with the PSP's controls, but seeing as we can't improve them we have to admit that this game probably makes the best possible use out of the PSP's limited controls to date. The game could have also been slightly longer in the single player campaign with some missions a bit smaller then gamers have come to expect.

Every bit as impressive as the game itself is the quality of the graphics. Rarely has the PSP produced more impressive, more fluid and more detailed graphics. In fact the character models, both friend and foe, wouldn't look bad on the more powerful PS2. Special mention must also be made of the games pre-rendered cut scenes which are absolutely stunning. I would love to see these on a big screen TV - they would look sensational.

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The game is full of enemies.
Audio on the PSP is rarely something to get excited about, however the production values in this game are well beyond almost all other titles on the system to date. The sound effects are meaty enough, be it the guns blazing away, a massive explosion, or the smallest atmospheric sound. To add to the atmosphere the developers have included some wonderful music which suits the environment, and action, perfectly. All this is topped of with some great speech, especially that from James Arnold Taylor as Gabe Logan.

While it's taken a terribly long time to reach our shores (the game came out in America last March) it has certainly been worth the wait. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is one of the best games on the PSP, is a fantastic return to form for the series and puts Sony's other flagship action title, SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo to shame. This is, without a doubt, a showcase title for Sony's handheld.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSGorgeous graphics that showcase the PSP at its best. CG rocks too!
SOUNDAs with the graphics the audio is simply stunning in all categories.
GAMEPLAYAs solid controls as we'll see on PSP, engrossing and varied play.
VALUEA decent single player game, but multi-player adds plenty more value.
OVERALLSyphon Filter: Dark Mirror is a game which gamers should have no hesitation in picking up. It looks wonderful, sounds stunning and plays just as well. A stunning title for the PSP this Christmas.

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