Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow Review
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Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is a refreshing entry into a long running series that had begun to become stagnant. Offering diverse gameplay elements and choices, along with good story and plot development, this is one PSP game that every action or stealth gamer should at least play, if not buy.
- Great mix of action and stealth.
- Boss battles are excellent.
- Mini games keep things fresh.
- Learning curve is a bit steep for casual gamers.
- Some story elements don’t make sense if you aren’t familiar with the series.
Spy games. WMDs. World espionage, stealth kills, and secret agendas. Welcome to the world of Syphon Filter. The latest installment of the series for the PSP finds Gabe Logan and the agency rushing to the aid of a besieged navy transport; the Mount St. Helens. This mission is undertaken at the behest of Cordell, a white collar criminal and bureaucrat who reeks of corruption and is dirtier than a sewage worker in a white suit. Shortly after hitting the scene, Logan and crew are plunged into a firefight as they encounter pirates attempting to hijack the contents of Hold 5. Without revealing too much of the storyline, Logan finds that he is not the first response team to make the scene. Gabe is also quickly robbed of his escape route, as well as any support in the field.
The story is somewhat hard to follow, especially if you are not familiar with previous Syphon Filter titles. In the end, 5 different covert agencies end up being involved, with levels spanning no less than 8 different countries and locales. From sinking and already sunk navy vessels to bombed out cities in the midst of rebellion, from Russian radicals' torturous gulags to plane hijackings, Logan’s Shadow definitely keeps it interesting as each and every level is different. You may be laying siege to a terrorist outpost in one level, and in the next, you could find yourself scuba-diving into a sunken vessel to check the contents of a secret hold. These changes in both scenery and gameplay keep most levels fresh and exciting.
On the gameplay and control aspect of things, Logan’s Shadow is somewhat of a mixed bag. The controls for any shooter are often questionable when they are put on to the PSP, but the team at SCEA has done a good job of making them manageable, borrowing heavily from other PSP success such as Star Wars Battlefront II. Triangle and X are used to change vertical orientation, allowing for players to aim at higher or lower targets, and also allowing players to swim in 3 dimensions in certain levels. Similarly, the square and circle buttons allow side to side movement of vision, allowing for strafing. Right trigger controls attacks and shooting, while left trigger allows for scoped aiming or auto aims. Movement is controlled with the analog stick. The d-pad serves as a multifunction control axis, with the down arrow controlling crouching and crawling, up controlling reloading, and the right and left arrows control use of the multi-function goggles. One thing I did find about the control scheme that should certainly be noted is that it was not very intuitive initially. There was a somewhat steep learning curve. After a few levels, however, it becomes much easier to remember. It was just the initial process of becoming comfortable with them that was a bit rocky.
Other control mechanisms do come into play routinely as you progress through each mission. These “special actions” are indicated on screen, telling you what button to push, and what the intended action does. For instance, you may get notification in certain areas that you can press the down arrow to begin crawling, or the up arrow to jump to a ledge at a higher elevation. These are found in many areas of the game. Other actions, however, are often level or task specific, and may only show up in certain places. These actions can end up resulting in God-of-War-esqe mini games, where buttons must be pushed in sequence or rapidly tapped to accomplish your goal. They range from closing valves and shutting down reactors, to disarming land mines, resisting interrogation, or using a wench to remove debris from an area. The mini games add quite a bit of variety to what might otherwise be another hum-drum stealth-action shooter, keeping the action quite fresh and involving players more heavily on the task at hand.
Logan’s Shadow also offers players diversity in the methods in which they handle each and every mission. Played a lot of Gears of War or Rainbow 6: Vegas? Then you will love using the similar cover system to engage enemies from protected locations, popping head shots into enemies, followed by mowing them down as they run using either blind fire or aimed shots. More ... (continued on next page)
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