Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
One of the most surprising hits ever on the console makes its debut on the PSP handheld in a way that most games can only dream of. Gabe Logan is back in Syphon Filter. Personally, I discovered the original Syphon Filter by accident but I was immediately completely hooked and still got some good memories about the tazer that allowed you to turn your enemies into instant barbecue.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror evolves around the mysterious organisation Red Section that took over an industrial factory and got its hand on something called “Dark Mirror”. What this Dark Mirror is and how it poses a threat to all of mankind isn’t exactly clear at the beginning but what you do know is that the US government is – again – holding back some information. Apparently, they have something to hide too… But hey, Dark Mirror is some kind of WMD so let’s go in and shoot the place up! A new version means new features and gadgets and that is no different for Syphon Filter on the PSP. Gabe has now acquired a dart gun with all kinds of different arrows; you have stun darts but also explosive and some rather shocking ones.
Apart from that, the developers paid a lot of attention to the stealth aspect but I can assure you that Syphon Filter is anything but a Splinter Cell Essentials clone. The developers themselves call the game a cover based action shooter and stressed that it is up to the player himself to decide which style he will use to finish the game. You can try to sneak around the place, trying not to get detected by the guards while using your gadgets and all sorts of goggles. One of those goggles is the Energy Sensor Unit. This device detects magnetic fields and is very handy when you are stuck in the game and do not know how to proceed. On the other hand, you can go Black and make sure that every guard in a 10-mile radius knows you have entered the building. Both ways have their advantages and flaws but they both work out very well.
Syphon Filter is also the first – if not only – 3D person shooter that allows a total free aim mode on the PSP. Using the X;O,… buttons you can freely move your crosshairs around and have total control about your character. The whole thing has a Goldeneye 64 feel and works like a charm after you get used to the system. For the non-believers there is still a controller configuration with a target lock and a selectable downsized free aim mode available. Also for online gaming, you will have to make a choice between those two but remember that your target lock does not automatically aim at the head. Syphon Filter supports PVP multiplayer up to 8 players who can make a choice between versus mode, team and death match and a Rogue Agent mode.
Apart from excellent gameplay and controls the graphics are simply stunning thanks to the beautiful lighting and fog effects. In addition, the rag doll physics do a great job and add a lot to the realistic feel of Syphon Filter. Changing weapons, gadgets and ammo is as easy as pushing a button so the pace of the game is not interrupted. The stealth features as cover based shooting, wall hugging and sneaking behind boxes and using the shadows is a very cool feature that you will certainly have to use because the A.I. of the enemies is very high. They will rarely take you on by themselves but will immediately call for back up and will use the surroundings to their advantage and will more than once get you in a tight spot. Luckily, you have tons of weapons and gadgets to turn the place into one giant Burning Man festival.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror does not only look beautiful, it also plays like a charm, which makes this PSP-title one of the best games ever released this year. The freedom that you have in the single player campaign and the well-produced multiplayer will keep you busy for weeks if not months. In addition, the loyal Syphon Filter fan will see some of his questions answered that he had while playing the Omega Strain episode