007: The Metal Gear Who Loved... Something, maybe?
Syphon Filter is a third-person shooter game that released on the Playstation 1 console early in 1999. According to it's specific wikia page, since every title for everything has it's own wiki now, tells me the story revolves around Gabriel Logan as he investigates a terrorist faction that is behind a series of biological attacks across the globe before the opening of the game which comes to a boiling point as they strike out at Washington, D.C. which sets the stage for the first level of the game.
I've played many Playstation games in my day, but non have been able to lose my attention quite as quickly as Syphon Filter, which is why after playing through about half of the game I still wasn't able to follow the story very well and had to resort to wikia surfing which I can't stand doing if I can help it. Let's get into who, what, where, when, and most importantly- why?GRAPHICS - 7
Surprisingly enough, graphics are actually one of the strong points in this action shooter- depending on where you're looking. The in-game models and level design holds up relatively well as it gives players a rather sizable world-space to explore for such a linear game. The levels are well crafted and as a whole is able to achieve and maintain a somewhat interesting atmosphere that doesn't break very often.
Character wise, we of course have your standard polygonal affair which is of course natural for Playstation titles. The characters are unique, and have a nice look to them that fits well into the aforementioned "somewhat interesting atmosphere". Despite this uniqueness, however, the whole thing feels relatively generic and had me thinking quite often throughout my playthrough of a weird love-child between Metal Gear Solid and James Bond.
The FMV's are severely lacking compared to the in-game graphics as well as FMV's from other games from the time period like Final Fantasy or Resident Evil 3. Generally in a well made pre-rendered cutscene you're not supposed to have the ability to point to a background element (since the story is achingly boring to the point that you're likely paying more attention to anything but the plot) such as a window and clearly say "oh that's just a VERY poorly compressed jpeg that's plastered on the wall like a poster". Looking closer at the character models shows that the faces are poorly drawn and animated faces on a very flat surface with the only break being a triangle for the nose.SOUND - 6
Sound isn't necessarily a hard thing to get wrong in video games. It doesn't take a colossal effort to take some stock sound effects- gun shots, explosions, some ambient noises- and trick them out to sound rather believable. Sure, Syphon Filter has it's fair share of these effects and they are in fact done up well enough to pass the bar, but the soundtrack doesn't have a single song that I would be able to point out and recognize years later. The background music tends to be flushed out by the action, and quite frankly is easy to simply ignore while you're shooting your way through a level.
The voice acting seems to be all over the place. We have our main character with two first names, Gabriel Logan, who has an okay voice actor which was the main thing that made me think of Metal Gear Solid due to how close he sounded (to my ears at least) David Hayter's gravelly voice used for the main character Solid Snake. The secondary character, Lian Xing, has a decent enough voice as well despite being highly unmemorable. The rest of the cast is absolutely RIDDLED with God awful accents that seem heavily over acted and had me wanting to find a way to just disable the voices overall.ADDICTIVENESS - 4
A lot of things that would tie in to the low score on the scale of addictiveness and replayability will also be points on the Depth scale down below. There isn't anything random about the levels, so everything tends to be cut-and-dry. Memorizing enemy layout is easy, and depending on the players ability to dodge makes the levels laughable.
There is, however, one shining light of hope for the addictiveness in this game and gave me many MINUTES, that's right entire periods of 60 seconds each, of joy: The Taser. The taser, which you get right from the beginning does almost exactly what you'd expect. It shocks people- shocking, I know. However, hold the taser on to an enemy long enough and they'll burst into flames AND YOU CAN STILL HOLD IT. This is, sadly however, the only thing I was really able to take away from my experience with the game.STORY - 5
Every single minute of "story" in this game feels like it was taken directly from the script of a failed B spy film from the late 70's or early 80's. A criminal syndicate is trying to set off viral bombs and you're tasked in hunting them down after they've reached American soil and are attempting to take out the nation's capitol. Later on some pharmaceutical company is implemented a la Umbrella Corporation, and there's something about a missile somewhere? I had honestly checked out by the cutscene that explains your characters motivations just prior to the first level.
It isn't all bad though, admittedly. While the overarching plot is yawn-worthy and great if you're trying to do something to make you tired before your curfew- the events that take place in the levels can actually be rather exciting. The second level comprises mainly of the D.C. subway system where Gabe has to disarm a handful of boring plot devices (viral bombs) before they explode. Gabe arrives too late, no matter what, to the final one and it goes off and the best FMV I seen in the game is displayed where subway trains are derailed and everything descends into chaos.
The first "boss" character, while frustrating, is an interesting twist as Gabe chases her down a two-way train tunnel while huge hunks of speeding metal are going back and forth along the tracks- one small step and you're gone, which adds an extra layer of creativity which was honestly a breath of fresh air.DEPTH - 6
With 20 levels, a load of weapons, and the difficulty is the next talking point the game actually has a surprising amount of depth to it. The stages can be relatively lengthy for a new player to the title who is still learning where each bad guy is, and where all the weapons and items are located through out each scenario. However, the difficulty is what really makes this game feel longer than it is, but we'll talk more about that-Difficulty - 8
-now. Depth got a relatively low score BECAUSE of the difficulty in the game, which is sporadic. Upon loading into the first level an enemy ran up to me while I was figuring out the controls and I was able to test every single button (shooting him once in the process) and not once did any of his shots hit me. The Stormtrooper-level accuracy isn't always consistant, however, as during the second level while ducking and dodging over subway tracks it seemed like every single enemy decided to remember all at once that they are professional mercenaries and/or soldiers and stepped up their aiming skills to MLG Call of Duty 360 no-scope levels and landed headshots damn near every single time.
Likewise the creative bossfight I mentioned earlier also seems to change every other time I experienced it. I died maybe 4 times the first time I played through it- chasing some lady with a terrible accent and attempting to shoot her while dodging subway cars speeding forward and backwards. On one life, I shot her maybe 2 or 3 times before her and her cronies shot me down. The next 2 lives were taken by misplaced combat roles that landed me in on-coming traffic, and the fourth time seemed to have been a lucky headshot as I went from full health to 0 immediately (with no trains in sight, mind you). On my fifth and successful try, I had been chasing her EXACTLY as I did before but every single round from my assault rifle apparently found their mark and she was gone in SECONDS and ended up feeling rather anti-climactic.OVERALL
While the game is terrible generic in my mind, and filled with absolutely mind numbing plot devices, I'd personally say that the game is maybe worth picking up at least once- even if it's just to tase a bad guy until they want to return in the next game boasting black armor, a red sword, and a serious case of asthma.