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Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow

 

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: PSP
Category: Action Games
 
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9.5
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Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sony Bend

Features

Players: 1-8
Memory Stick Duo: 624KB
PSP Headset Compatible
Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc) (1-8 Players)
Wi-Fi Compatible (Infrastructure) (1-8 Players)

Developed by Sony Bend and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is the sixth game in the Syphon Filter franchise. The franchise has come a long way since its early offerings on the PSone. Now considered a third person action game; Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow arrives on the PSP with big footsteps to follow. Last year Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror was a huge hit on the PSP and received glowing reviews, including a 9.3 from our own Game-boyz.com Editor-in-Chief, Kirby Y. With new gameplay elements and a lowered ESRB rating, I have to admit I was sceptical with Sony's latest instalment. Fortunately within only minutes of playing the game my concerns were alleviated and there is no question, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is worthy successor to Dark Mirror.

Graphics:

Right from the get-go, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is a wonderfully presented game. Similar to Dark Mirror, Logan's Shadow looks great on the PSP. The textures are crisp and clean on the large widescreen. The character models look fantastic and the special effects are a sight to behold. I was very impressed with the lighting which was not only incredibly realistic, but also created that 'Mission Impossible' type atmosphere. I was also taken back by the fog and dust effects which were incredible and certainly rivalled any home console title on the market. The game’s environments offer lots of variety and are incredibly detailed as well. For example, I found that the water effects are simply stunning and I don't think I have seen better on Sony's handheld to date. The explosions are also very good, and big, only adding to the stellar looks which add to the gameplay of this title. Even the weapons themselves are well rendered and were done with minute details. I was impressed the first time I noticed the heat and smoke which rose from a gun after firing it which is a nice little detail I don't think I have ever noticed before on a game on the PSP.

In many ways, it appears Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow was specifically designed for the PSP and it shows. From top to bottom the visuals are slick. The game suffers no noticeable slow down or framerate issues during play. If there are any graphical issues I certainly didn't notice any. Overall, it is clear Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is yet another testament to what kind of high quality visuals can be accomplished on the PSP.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is enjoyable and the following stood out for me:

- Sounds of the weapons are very solid;
- The soundtrack is decent and blends in nicely with the game; and
- The overall presentation and battle sounds are effective.

I am always amazed with how good some of the games sound on the PSP system, and Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is no exception. The game delivers sharp weapon effects, grandiose explosions and superb voice acting. You can tell a considerable amount of work was put into the games audio. Small details such as helicopters hovering from above, the echoing sounds of firing weapons, and enemy chatter are all equally impressive and sound good on those small little PSP speakers. Many sequences are also coupled with a magnificent soundtrack by the same award winning composer from Dark Mirror. The soundtrack consists of primarily orchestrated music and it is effective as it adds to the gameplay experience. The voice acting is the game is also very good. It's clear and, most importantly, believable. As with Dark Mirror, Logan's Shadow has an abundance of cut-scenes. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I found myself getting immersed into the characters and actually caring for them as I would in a big screen action flick.

Gameplay

The game begins with our hero, Gabe Logan, ordered to investigate an assault on a heavily armoured American battle cruiser. Terrorists have learned of a secret device being stored in on the ship and decided they want it. As a result, the ship has been ambushed and the package stolen. Just when things could not get worse Robert Cordell, the governmental bureaucrat in charge of the IPCA, is shutting down the agency due to the failed mission and because Gabe's long-time partner, Lian Xing, has disappeared and is suspected of being a double agent. In disbelief, Gabe goes at it alone, traveling the world in order to find Lian and recover the stolen technology.

Similarly to Dark Mirror, a "kill the terrorists" theme is back in Logan's Shadow. Fortunately, much like last year’s theme, it does not take anything away from story or the gameplay as you really find yourself getting immersed during our time with the game. Granted I was disappointed in the ending as far too many games end the same way these days, nevertheless, the story is certainly on par with its predecessors.

As I suggested earlier, Syphon Filter used to be all about stealth based action but over the years the series has evolved and is more action based. Similar to such games as Rainbow Six: Vegas and Ghost Recon, the game utilizes a cover system and lots of up close shooting action. If you are new top the series Logan's Shadow features a great little training exercise helping new and experienced gamers alike with the controls. Some would criticize Logan's Shadow for coming across as more of an expansion pack than a true sequel; however there are simply too many new elements in this case to consider it merely an expansion pack.

For starters, the game features new weapons and gameplay mechanics. These include additions to the cover system such as side-to-side movement, leaning, and blind fire around obstacles and corners. Logan’s Shadow also offers up Havok physics, an advanced melee system that allows Gabe to use enemies as human shields, 360 degree underwater combat, and the ability to command other characters from the franchise's history to provide backup for Gabe during missions. Finally there is also a new button-pushing "mini-game" to move obstacles. I would say that anyone not realizing there is a lot of new additions to the series would have to be nuts.

My favourite of the new feature is the 'Solid Snake'. In this case you can sneak up behind an enemy, grab them and use them as a human shield. And if you have no use for them, you can simply snap their neck. It's a great little feature but for the most part you won't need to utilize the 'Solid Snake' as often as you may like. Generally, you are better off simply shooting the enemy with your silenced weapon.

The largest new addition is that of the underwater segments. The underwater physics allow players to experience 360 degrees of water navigation to explore shipwrecks and target enemies with new underwater weapons like the bolt pistol and spear gun. The developers did a wonderful job with this addition. Just as he does on land, Gabe is easy to control underwater. Often times during Gabe’s adventure you will be swapping between underwater and land based objectives during the available missions. It does not detract from the gameplay and only lends to Logan's Shadow being one of the better PSP shooters around.

Big boss fights are back in Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow. Unfortunately, it remains one of my concerns with the game as they are simply not much of challenge. Granted they have more health, but by no means are they more of an effective killing machine. With the exception of the final encounter and the Sub boss battle, most of the bosses come across as generic characters who are destroyed with only a couple of accurate shots.

As far as the multiplayer experience is concerned, players can now play as many new factions in five game modes, two of which are new to the franchise. The new modes in Logan's Shadow are Sabotage and Retrieval.
Sabotage pits two teams against each other as they try to locate bomb codes and arm the other team's nuclear warhead, while Retrieval has players trying to retrieve objects scattered around the map and bring them back to base. Returning modes are Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Rogue Agent. The online gameplay is quite engaging and robust. Games are very easy to find and for the most part the game they are a lag free experience. The online game is fundamentally the same as Dark Mirror as up to eight players can compete against each other online in the various game types across different maps. It is a pretty basic multiplayer set up but really works really well thanks to the stellar gameplay carried over from the single player campaign.


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