Have you ever wanted to be in your own action movie? Have you wanted to single handedly take out all of the bad guys while a complex plot envelops around you? Well according to the recent sales of espionage adventure games you do. As a sequel to one of the best selling adventure games of last year Syphon Filter sticks close to the original and with what worked. This version is a little longer (2 disks) and incorporates more puzzle solving and stealth making it a closer clone of Metal Gear Solid than its parent.
The story line in Syphon Filter 2 is surprisingly engaging. The covert operative group simply called the Agency that were the good guys in the first game has become corrupt. They are trying to control the use of the biological weapon Syphon Filter and to sell it to the highest bidder. You as operatives Gabe Logan and Lian Xing are exiled from the Agency and must work with other renegade forces from the Agency and with the Chemical and Biological Defense Command. It seems that they will stop at nothing to have Logan killed even if that means kidnapping Xing and infecting her with the virus. With both Xing's and Logan's story lines happening simultaneously, the action is constantly changing and always engaging.
The control and action elements are really what made the original game so much fun to play and not much has changed here. There is still the same targeting system and all of the same control of the character. What has changed is the use of all of the different movements. There is much more of a need for stealth in this game as you sneak up on unsuspecting victims, and keep quiet to keep alarms from getting set off. There is also more use of sniper aiming. Merely running into an area packed with bad guys and taking them out doesn't work as well in this game as it did in the last. Sometimes it is better to hide behind a rock and target your enemies. I really like the increased strategy over the first one. It provides just enough contrast to the constant running and shooting to make the game diverse. It also makes you use just enough logic and exactness to make the game believable.
Saying that the Syphon Filter games are merely Metal Gear Solid clones is but hardly fair. Of course there are glaring similarities, but that does not mean that Syphon Filter and its sequel do not stand on its own. One of the greatest differences is the high level of gunplay that prevails over much of the game. Sure there are mission objectives and certain tasks that must be accomplished, but they really do not get in the way of where the real fun lies, picking enemy agents off. You will never have to spend time figuring out how to make a hard jump or looking for an impossible to find item. The objectives are clear and the environments are easy to navigate. What makes the game difficult is all of the freaking soldiers everywhere. The tactics and the strategy come in when you try to figure out the best way to dispose of all of the enemies in real time. In this realm I don't think there is any other game on the Playstation that this aspect with such fluidity.
"Sure it is a good game, but didn't we play it already?" Yes, you did, and if you are expecting leaps and bounds beyond what you have already seen then you are going to be disappointed. However, the original Syphon Filter was a great game and its sequel continues in that tradition. It keeps enough of the feel of the original and adds a few new elements to warrant it being called a sequel. It reminds me of the Bond series (in the movies I mean). They make that same spy movie over and over and it is always pretty good even though it seems to follow the same formula.
There are some differences. Jumping up from a Teen to a Mature, Syphon Filter 2 incorporates a great deal more blood and more relentless shooting. Blood actually erupts from all of the wounds when a bullet hits it. You also get bonuses for head shots. Ouch. There is also a deathmatch option, in case you finish the real game or want to test your Syphon Filter skills against a friend. It seems that this is fast becoming a requirement for any game involving a gun. I would have rather seen a simultaneous adventure mode where you can go through the game as different characters on the same mission assisting each other.
It is no secret that the action genre has been a bit dry lately. The only releases in recent months have ranged from the mediocre (Rainbow Six, Tomorrow Never Dies) to the truly horrible (Die Hard Trilogy 2). However, Syphon Filter 2 comes on the scene as a breath of fresh air. Incorporating fast gameplay with a wonderfully developed story line, it makes players glad to be part of the game. And isn't that what all of us who are not already super secret espionage agents really want?
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