For the month of July, ITF’s Video Game Library will focus on the favourite games from four of our writers’ younger years. Darryl, Brady, Bracken and Tracy. Each one reminisces about a game on a different console towards the end of the article, but first, let’s take a look at Bracken’s choice from the Video Game Library.
Syphon Filter (1999) – Sony PlayStation 1
Syphon Filter is a stealth third-person shooter, developed by Eidetic and published by 989 Studios, that takes the player on a journey through the clandestine world of espionage. It sees you take control of Agent Gabriel Logan. With the assistance of Lian Xing he must perform missions for an organisation called The Agency, a top-secret government institution which tackles high-risk missions across the globe. The story, as with most espionage stories, is filled with tension and mystery and by the end of the game leaves a lot of unanswered questions which lead into the inevitable sequel.
In the first iteration of the Syphon Filter series, the story sees Gabe travel to several locations across the globe including Costa Rica, Washington D.C. and Kazakhstan in order to stop a terrorist organization from starting World War 3. Some of the environments prevalent in the game are urban areas, underground subway tunnels, museums and factories. There is a lot of variety in the combat scenarios as well, as it shows Gabe going head to head with terrorists of varying caliber. The AI, for its time, is quite outstanding considering this is a PlayStation 1 title. The enemies, once they spot you, will make a run for cover and if you decide to do the same, they will start throwing grenades in an attempt to get you to leave the safety of your hiding spot. Syphon Filter is one of the better examples of AI becoming more difficult as the game progresses, which really is a good thing. The enemies are much harder to kill later on in the game, as opposed to the enemies in the beginning of the game, who prove to be small fry in comparison. I think what developers Eidetic had in mind was for the game to gradually move into more familiar territory later on, thus focusing on new players to the genre more effectively with a bit of a learning curve in the beginning of the game.
Gabe has at his disposal a large array of weapons during the game, amongst which are a Silenced 9mm handgun, a .45 handgun, a G-18 pistol-machine gun, a shotgun, an M-16 assault rifle and many more. You can pick up a fallen enemy’s weapon or collect its ammunition to help you progress in a level, but ammunition is scarce, so using it sparingly is a given.
For its time, Syphon Filter had an exemplary sound department. The ambient music only served to enhance the overall experience and has become one of the hallmarks of the Syphon Filter series. Sound effects have been executed perfectly, which each and every weapon in the game having its own uniquely identifiable sound, making it less of a task to identify which weapons your enemies are using and deciding what weapon would be best to tackle your problem with. Voice acting is not some of the best I have ever heard, with inconsistencies appearing at various points in the game. For such an outstanding title, I think a little bit more time could have been spent in perfecting this section to balance out an otherwise amazing game.
“Syphon Filter was one of my favourite titles on my PS1, and my primary school days were filled with the adventures of Gabe Logan, Lian Xing and their numerous cohorts across locations and missions ranging from stealth in the jungles of Costa Rica, to escaping an aeroplane wreckage in the Colorado Rockies and even to the streets of Moscow as you escape a terrorist ambush and riot police. The three original PlayStation titles were my first real experience with the third-person shooter genre and are still some of my favourite today, due to the balance between action and stealth combat, the wide variety of weapons that were available to the player as well as the vibrant and intricate environments, which I would often explore for weeks at a time. The titles were also my first experience with stealth based multiplayer, as I used to play split-screen with my dad (also known as: screen-watcher) all the time, and in many ways, this is what really stoked my interest in the third-person shooter genre and could possibly be part of the reason why I enjoy titles like Hitman: Absolution and the multiplayer component of The Last of Us so much, despite the massive thematic differences between the titles and the generation quality standards. When I eventually picked up a PlayStation 2 in 2006, I was unable to find a copy of Omega Strain, and the franchise seemed to be drifting towards PSP obscurity – a handheld which I never had the opportunity or inclination to own. While one day, I might decide to pick up these titles on PlayStation Network or even Android, I think I’d rather just look back on the hundreds of hours I spent as Gabe Logan positively and have a smile for the great memories instead of tainting it with new, possibly nostalgia-killing, experiences.”
Syphon Filter was one of those games that really hooked the player heading in, and kept them engaged for it’s outstanding, yet short, experience. It had a gripping story to tell and an excellent execution of action to compliment that story. Apart from the voice acting, which at times proved to be tedious, it had an exemplary sound department which only served to enhance the already excellent experience even more. If you have never played this game, then you surely missed a treat.
Join us next week as we take a look at Darryl’s choice for the Video Game Library.