Syphon Filter 2
Syphon Filter took the gaming world by storm with its superb combination of spy elements, plot and action. The game ended on a somewhat unfinished note, leaving players anxiously wondering about a sequel. One year later, 989 Studios and Eidetic, Inc. have delivered the second installment, and its presentation is nothing short of excellent.
Syphon Filter 2 picks up where the original left off, with Gabe Logan operating outside of the powerful and secret U.S. intelligence organization known as the Agency. The Agency was responsible for the development of the deadly Syphon Filter virus, and corrupt elements within the organization are now preparing to sell the virus for use in biological warfare. Gabe and his partner, Lian Xing, were attempting to expose the conspiracy and prevent terrorist organizations from obtaining the virus. Unfortunately, Lian was infected with the Syphon Filter virus and captured by the Agency, and Gabe is now being hunted by Agency operatives, the military, and local law enforcement.
The game begins quickly, with an action-packed CG introduction leading to a parachute drop into Colorado. From this point forward the pace is brisk, following the same formula as the original game. Each level opens with a mission briefing, which provides background information, mission objectives and parameters. The parameters are strict guidelines which must be followed, such as "Do not set off any alarms" or "Do not kill any security personnel". In addition, objectives are sometimes added as the level progresses, depending upon how the situation unfolds. Checkpoints are achieved by completing objectives or reaching certain areas, which eliminates the need to save the game during levels. All of these traits give Syphon Filter 2 a very dynamic and realistic feel, and players will rapidly become immersed in the game.
Character control alternates by mission between Gabe Logan and Lian Xing, although the majority of the game is played using Gabe. This provides a multi-faceted approach to the story, as events are witnessed from two perspectives. CG cut-scenes link together the levels and propel the plot forward, as plans go awry and chilling information is revealed.
Gabe and Lian have a wide variety of moves at their disposal, such as walking, running, sneaking forward at a crouch, kneeling, rolling, climbing and strafing. When necessary, the agents can climb hand over hand and jump. Weapons may be used while an agent is hanging, and jumping is performed automatically if the agent runs toward a gap. There is an auto-targeting feature, as well as a first person perspective which allows specific body parts to be targeted. It would have been nice if there was an unarmed attack, such as a submission hold, but this is a minor detail. The controls are tight and responsive, and all of the actions look realistic. This provides the experience of controlling a highly trained special agent.
The arsenal of available weaponry is tremendous, with most of the weapons from Syphon Filter making an appearance. New additions include the Crossbow, Tear Gas Launcher, and H11 Sniper Rifle. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, and different scenarios will require the use of the appropriate firearm. There are also some nifty gadgets like camera scramblers and binoculars, but they are not used much in the game.
The quality of the game that shines above the rest is the involvement of other characters in the missions. Gabe will at times operate with a partner, and the interaction is incredibly realistic and heightens the tension. Running into a new area and hearing cries of "Snipers! Get down!" or "We're dry!" as fellow operatives run out of ammo really envelops the player in the atmosphere of the game. Agents will receive information and help via their radio during levels, and specific actions are sometimes necessary, like providing cover fire or clearing out enemies one by one so others can move forward.
The game does have a few flaws, the first being that there is little mention of the original Syphon Filter. Players who are unfamiliar with that title will not fully appreciate the plot, and some of the in-game references will not make sense. It would have been helpful to have background information provided in the manual, or shown as a flashback during the game. In addition, Syphon Filter 2 is very similar to its predecessor. While there is something to be said for sticking with a winning strategy, new actions or vehicle usage would have been welcome.
However, Syphon Filter 2 provides a wide variety of little touches that more than make up for these shortcomings. Parachuting Agency operatives, when shot out of the sky, will scream while plummeting and land with a wet thump. Footprints and blood show up in the snow, and precipitation sometimes occurs. Sneaking up behind guards will allow players to eavesdrop on conversations, and a solitary sentry will quietly hum or complain about the weather. As Gabe runs through a hail of enemy fire, headlights on surrounding trucks shatter. All of this adds up to create a wonderful experience.
In short, Syphon Filter 2 is a highly entertaining title filled with rock-solid gameplay and continuous action. It is a heartily recommended addition to any game library. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide
Although the graphics do not represent much of an improvement over the original Syphon Filter, they are still excellent, with realistic backgrounds and fluid character movements. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide
The voice acting during the CG cut-scenes is very good, although at times the inflection seems a little calm, considering the situation. However, the rest of the audio is just about as good as it gets. A perfect soundtrack plus wonderful ambient noise and background chatter equals pure listening pleasure. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide
Syphon Filter 2 is an absolute delight to experience, allowing the player to become a secret agent. More often than not, it feels less like playing a game and more along the lines of choreographing an action thriller. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide
The replay value is very good, given the multiple difficulty settings and the two-player deathmatch mode. In addition, there are secrets in the one-player game which, once found, unlock new levels and characters in the two-player game. However, the bottom line is that Syphon Filter 2 is a game that is fun to play through again regardless of any extra options. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide
The manual is very detailed, and reads almost like a mission briefing. The available weapons and accessories are illustrated, as are the actions that the agents can perform. However, it would have been helpful to include some background information from the previous game. ~ Rich Briggs, All Game Guide