|System: PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SONY||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 18, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror for the PS2 is actually a sign of the decline of this once mighty next-gen console. You see, Dark Mirror is actually a port of an PSP game. It's a reverse situation of what we've come to expect. It's not often a handheld game is ported to a console - and in this case the handheld version holds up much better. Dark Mirror is merely a hazy reflection of the original.
If you haven't played the PSP version of Dark Mirror, you don't know what you're missing. But that's a good thing because it won't interfere with your enjoyment of the PS2 version. You will notice that some things are not up to standards, especially in the graphics department. This is definitely not Splinter Cell or MGS, but at least it will keep you satisfied until something better comes along in the action/stealth genre.
Dark Mirror is part shooter, part action, and part stealth. Its story can be a little hard to follow, but it's not imperative that you know all the details. You can replay parts of the game later where you're more likely to take it all in through osmosis. One could write a book about it. That's how much information there is to process. However, Dark Mirror takes things a little easier, storywise, than previous installments. Here's a little background on the origin of the series. Gabe Logan and his trusty partner, Lian Xing, are special agents entrusted with the responsibility of saving the world from high-tech, international terrorists with connections to major corporations. A lethal, bio weapon known as Syphon Filter was created to assist in a genocide project. This manmade virus was developed to target only specific races. In an effort to protect the innocent, Logan and Xing will stop at nothing to take down these terrorists. Welcome to an action-packed world of intrigue, murder, mystery, and subterfuge.
The story will take you to different locations around the world including Alaska, Detroit, South America, and Europe. In these locations you'll explore weapons, plants, corridor-filled office complexes, and the requisite warehouse compounds - all great places to hold a mini-war. You'll start off with some simple weapons and work your way up to some pretty serious firepower, in addition to a host of Splinter Cell-style gadgets. Special goggles will allow you to see in low light conditions. A mini radar device senses the whereabouts of enemies and pinpoints their location. You can sneak and peek around corners, and even aim and shoot from behind cover. For added adventure, there are zip lines that will whisk you from one location to another in relative silence. Knives and other devices such as electric darts and silencers may be used for steal kills. Weapons range from pistols to submachine guns, with a variety of explosive devices.
There is a good balancing of the gameplay elements. You'll go from stealth to shooting at the accidental trip of a switch, only to clamor back into the shadows when the alarm is silenced. To gain access to new areas, you'll have to break codes, pick locks, and solve other puzzles. Always keep your eyes open for new weapons, gadgets, ammo, health, and other useful items which are littered throughout the environments. The checkpoints are well placed, and if you play it relatively safe the first few times through each mission, you should always find enough health, ammo, and armor to make it to the next checkpoint.
Having played the PSP version, there are a few major differences between the two games. The first I'll touch on are the graphics. Due to the fact that this a port of a handheld, especially one with relatively longer screen than the standard TV set, the graphics appear distorted and washed out. Characters appear elongated, and some environments are unnatural looking. Some of the audio and animated cutscenes run at a different speeds, making the voices out of synch with the lip movements. On the plus side, you can use both analog sticks to move your character and aim your weapon. It was a pain in the butt having to use the face button and the nub on the PSP. You also don't have to contend with the auto-lock when facing multiple enemies. But the ultimate bad news is that there are no multiplayer modes. Not a one. That was a huge feature with this game on the PSP. You can still go back and try to improve on each mission, but the replay value is seriously diminished without online play.
It's disheartening that these two PlayStation games are so disparate. Syphon Filter is a great franchise, but the PS2 version of Dark Mirror misrepresents the series in terms of overall quality. The only way to experience the full impact of this title is to play it on the PSP. It's too bad that this version makes PS2 owners feel like third-world gamers.
CCC Senior Writer