Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

Developer: Sony Bend
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2007
Systems: PS2 (reviewed), PSP
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Boy they sure filtered that syphon. Or, uh, syphoned that filter. Wait, what?

0:01 Since I've never played a Syphon Filter game before (I know, I'm a bad game journalist) I'll try the training mode.
0:02 Wow... they even bothered to make a backstory for the training mode. I'm supposed to be helping someone test out a new training obstacle course for new recruits. Sheesh.
0:04 There's a cut scene in the middle of training mode. Kind of odd to stop the action, considering I'm being timed.
0:05 Logan moves very deliberately. When he turns, he pivots at the hips, like a tank. When he falls he barely seems to notice he's falling until he lands. It's quite funny to watch, actually.
0:07 The hidden code to the keypad is 989. Cute. Also: "This is a functional door," ranks up there with the best lines ever spoken in a video game.
0:08 I like how it's easy to use the radio if you need help, but the helper isn't constantly chattering in your ear about how to do simple things like climb a ladder. Classy.
0:11 Combat training time. I like how the reticle resizes itself to show how accurate shots will be. Nice and subtle.
0:13 It's way too fun to jump out from behind corners and fire at people. Also surprisingly accurate.
0:15 Compared to Metal Gear Solid, the combat controls seem much more solid and robust.
0:16 A trainne, after a knife to the throat "That stings!" The weak attempt at humor seems a little out of place.
0:20 My summary of the overly long description of the rifles: Blah blah darts blah blah zoom blah blah silenced blah.
0:21 Amazing how my targets don't react at all when an electric dart hits them in the face, but once I activate it and BAM, they're down.
0:22 Aiming while zoomed in is surprisingly smooth and easy. I like the controls a lot.
0:24 Bring on the actual game! But first, some story. We're in the Kanuti mountains of Alaska. A plane flies through snow to dramatic music. A girl sits in a jeep in the plane. Some people blather on about targets and opponents. Logan is trying to be a bad-ass like Snake but it doesn't really work, mainly because the voice acting isn't nearly as good. "Tell them we'll go, but on my terms only," A robot could deliver the line better.
0:27 Jeez, they're still talking. The music continues to swell. I zoned out there for a second. Let me play, already!
0:28 Logan is shooting a gun from the van roof in the cut scene. That looks like fun! Can I do it? Please?
0:29 "Gabe, they were ready and waiting for us." "Yeah, they were waiting... but I guarantee they're not ready." OH, NO YOU DI'IN!
0:30 "Something's going on that Washington isn't telling us. I'll find out what." Ugh. So cliched. And I'm finally playing!
0:32 The sniper takes three shots at me out in open, all misses. I chose normal difficulty, not super baby easy pansy, right?
0:34 I come up on a guy hiding behind a box. I have to do a double take to make sure he's alive because he doesn't react to my presence at all. I shoot him point blank in the head before he makes the slightest move. Sigh.
0:38 These guys are uniformly awful shots. They can't touch me. I know it's the first mission, but sheesh!
0:40 So far, the combat feels a little sterile compared to more action-oriented games. I know that's not what they were going for, but the thrill was much more visceral there. Here it's just... clinical.
0:43 I really have no idea what anyone is talking about in these cut scenes. I mean I'm used to kind of tuning out the usual random game story blather, but it's amazing how little I'm absorbing here.
0:45 I "have been eliminated"? Really? I didn't even know I was close to death. Where's my health meter. Or is this one of those lame games where one bullet kills you? I play games to escape from real life, thank you.
0:50 So I find an ammo box, and I find I have to take out ammo. for each weapon separately. Can't the game just assume I want it all at once?
0:54 Whoops. Despite my superhuman ability to avoid bullets fired at very close range, I can't survive a short fall of about 20 feet.
0:56 A fall of 15 feet to the top of a nearby crate, however, is A-OK.
0:57 Boss fight time. "Red Jack" wears a kevlar suit and has a back-mounted flame thrower. He barbecues me before I have a chance to move.
0:58 Wow... on my second try, all I have to do is fire one bullet at the gas tank on his back. That was easier than most other enemies. What a seriously crappy boss.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? It's decent enough shooter, but it has tough competition. Stranglehold has better action and BioShock has a better story.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.


wildweasel said...

Dark Mirror is good for when there's nothing else, or when you want the thrill of completing a mission using only the taser/EDT darts. There is nothing more satisfying than tasering somebody until they set fire - something that's been in the SF series since the very beginning.

PsyGuy said...

Agreed...thanks to the PSP version,i can tazer/dart whenever i'm bored :D