SONY PSP REVIEW: SYPHON FILTER: DARK MIRROR

The most refreshing Syphon Filter since the original. by StewXX

March 16, 2006 - (This is StewXX's final review for Cheatcc.com and we'd like to wish him all the best with his future endeavors. He's been a big part of Cheatcc.com for the past few years and he will be missed and extremely hard to replace. Thanks for your years of dedication Stew! - CCC) Fans of Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, Mission Impossible and James Bond games are going to love this first portable version of Syphon Filter. Dark Mirror is a great game full of shooting, action and stealth. It's intense, exciting and varied. Not since the original has a Syphon Filter title felt and played this good. Welcome back, Gabe.

Gabe Logan, (Not Kaplan), once again stars in this cloak and dagger adventure. He's a secret operative of an American tactics squad - or a super spy if you will. The organization's missions are so top secret that the government denies its existence. Authorized to use deadly force, Logan infiltrates the enemy's installations and through the use of weapons, gadgets, intelligence and his highly trained skills, he targets the heart of their operation, systematically destroying them from the inside out like a fast-moving poison.

The story is told through various well-produced cutscenes which include lots of voiceacting which is also well acted although some of the dialog is action-hero cornball stuff. From the background music to the realistic animation, the production values in Dark Mirror do not go unnoticed. The various locations which range from the frozen tundra to the South American jungles are so well rendered and integrated into the missions that you can almost feel the chill of the arctic air and the oppressive humidity of the rain forests. Your travels will also take you to exotic locales in Europe where you will infiltrate secret bases and explore sites that most tourists will never see.

Liam Xing is your partner and he will accompany you on occasion but mostly you will communicate with him and Teresa as they hang back at the base gathering intelligence on your immediate and upcoming missions. There are seven large campaigns each with numerous objectives to accomplish. Several gadgets such as radar and various vision goggles will help you assess your situations. The radar system allows you to locate the enemy while you remain undercover. The various vision goggles allow you to see relatively clearly in low-light situations. There are thermal imaging goggles that are heat sensitive and will display the heat generated by the enemy's body. In addition, the EDSU system lets you discover various hidden switches and other secret buttons that you will have to press to gain access to specific rooms. The EDSU will also highlight dangerously invisible laser grids.

Sniper rifles, machine guns and even a tank-mounted rocket launcher are some of the weapons that are available to you. They can really do some damage but you can also employ the use of non-lethal ammunition if so desired. Gas pellets can be fired as well as electrical darts which can be used for silent kills. Headshots are the best way to assure a kill. The sniper rifles and other guns with scopes can be easily zoomed in for a precision shot. You can lock-on to other enemies using the same L shoulder button if you're using a gun without a scope. The lock-on is also good for precision shooting but only from a distance. When you get involved in close-range shooting the guns are more difficult to aim.

Logan has his back up against the wall in this game - literally. He can push his back up against the wall and sneak a peek around corners while remaining out of sight. It's a great stealth move and it even allows him to pre-aim his shot. He can move out, take a shot and then duck back behind the wall before anyone knows what hit them. By using stealth weapons or silencers he can make great silent kills this way without alerting the other guards. For the most part, moving Logan around with the stick is a pretty smooth affair but it can be a little tricky getting him to move back against the wall. It's not a problem when you have the time but if you've been spotted and you're in the middle of a shootout this slight glitch can cost you a life.

You can use zip lines but you can only use existing ones. You can't create your own. It's one of the few imperfections in the game. It's a little unbelievable that these lines are already there for you but they are disguised as power lines so as not to put a wrinkle in the fabric of this virtual reality.

Weapons, gadgets, ammo and health are plentiful but not so much as to not make the game challenging. Some of these items are hidden in the game and require a little bit of searching. There are times when you will run out of ammo or heath before you reach a checkpoint. Fortunately the checkpoints are well placed and if you do die, you'll respawn quickly and with full health. The game loads quickly so you won't be dealing with a lot of down time. Completing the game will unlock more missions and playable characters. It's a nice bonus but there's nothing here as exciting as the single-player missions.

Online and wireless multi-player modes will extend the replay value as long as you're interested in frag festing. These modes will accommodate up to eight players with voice chat for those that have the headset mic. There are some objective-based missions but there are only five maps for the Deathmatch modes which will run their course rather quickly. The online play is very smooth with no detectable slowdown or latency.

Dark Mirror is as impressive looking as the gameplay is to play. It's loaded with lots of background details and fluid animations. For a game that takes place in typically low-lit areas, it's not too dark. It has the right amount of gloom without obscuring your vision. The explosions are colorful and highly destructive with bodies and chunks of wall flying in all directions. My only real complaint is that the sound effects of the explosions and those of the guns are a little weak.

If you're looking for a tactical shooter game that has it all, you won't find anything better on PSP.

Features:

  • Infiltrate - Utilize deadly force and the most advanced weaponry and high-tech equipment imaginable.
  • Recon - Take down hostiles who feature awareness, behaviors and communications based on player actions.
  • Execute - Precision aiming, melee attacks and target enhancements provide plausible deniability to any action.
  • Online - Precision strike teams (four-person teams) match up against each other in a battle for competing objectives.

By StewXX
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (PSP)
4.5
Graphics
Great 3D effects. Smooth animation. Looks better than some PS2 games.
4.2
Control
There is the odd glitch in the control system but otherwise it's very responsive.
4.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are tons of voiceovers which help communicate the story. The music is fitting but the sound effects are weak.
4.0
Play Value
You can open new missions and search for more unlockables when you complete the game. The multi-player frag fest mode will also keep you coming back for more.
4.5
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Sony
Pub: Sony
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 - 8
Review by StewXX

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best