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In 1999, the world was captivated by Action Spy movies. James Bond, Mission Impossible and even Austin Powers were feeding the craving of stealth-action for movie theaters. On the smaller screen and in video game land, developer Eidectic teamed up with 989 Studios and released Syphon Filter, a third-person shooter filled with terrorists, government turmoil and stealth-action for the original PlayStation. What makes Syphon Filter a memorable game? Grab your taser and let’s shock this Syphon Filter review!
Syphon Filter Plot:
Set in 1999, the player controls agent Gabe Logan who is investigating biological outbreaks from international terrorists. The first mission takes place in Washington D.C. as the terrorists are planting viral bombs across the city. Gabe teams up with his female partner Lian and with her communicating through an earpiece, Gabe disables the bombs and tracks down a commanding terrorist named Anton Girdeux.
After defeating him, Gabe discovers a new lead, a man named Jonathan Phagan who is the CEO of PharCom, a pharmaceutical and biotech corporation. Gabe trails Phagan during a PharCom special event witnesses Phagan meeting with two other terrorists, one an ex-agent. Gabe protects Phagan from an assassination attempt, killing the ex-agent and taking in a female terrorist named Mara Aramov.
PharCom has been teaming up with the terrorists creating the virus in their labs for them. The virus is dubbed “Syphon Filter”. The terrorist organization has been lead by Erich Rhoemer who Gabe has been tracking since the beginning of the game. Gabe lands in Kazakhstan to destroy one of Rhoemer’s main terrorist bases.
After blowing up the base, Gabe travels to Ukraine where secret lab tests are being administered to prisoners and patients. Lian has been captured and is being held captive inside one of the jail cells. Gabe rescues Lian and runs into Phagan who has also been captured by Rhoemer. Phagan is assassinated by Aramov but strikes a deal with Gabe informing him that Rhoemer plans to launch a missile at a secret base.
Gabe reaches the secret missile base and discovers that his boss Thomas Markinson has been working with Rhoemer all along. Rhoemer kills Markinson in front of Gabe and starts the launch of the missile. Gabe rushes to shut the missile off and confronts Rhoemer in a computer lab killing him. After the credits roll, Aramov is seen talking to an unidentified man in front of PharCom boxes. He tells her that she did good and that the plan is still in place.
Syphon Filter Gameplay:
If you read my Driver 2 review, you’ll remember how I complained about how poor the running mechanics were. They were stiff, hard to control and unreliable. Syphon Filter is the complete opposite, Gabe runs very smooth and turns in all directions. You don’t have to stop to make Gabe turn, you can continue running and he’ll start moving in the direction you want in a smooth motion. It sounds simple, but after playing some bad games with character controls, Gabe’s running physics are great. It made completing my Syphon Filter review much easier with such smooth controls.
Each mission will have a few different objectives like killing a certain target, disarming or planting bombs, and making your way to a section on the map. You’ll receive helpful checkpoints during the mission in case you die, which will happen. I rarely died from enemy firing, but died a few times from falling off ledges or shafts. I didn’t look before I jumped, whoops! Syphon filter goes into great detail with its weapons. You can take a look at each weapon and it will describe in-depth the history of that weapon and why the agency uses it. Useless knowledge, but cool! Bonus points for my Syphon Filter review!
Speaking of weapons, you’ll get a lot of them. From silenced pistols to machine guns, shotguns, grenades and my all-time favorite weapon, the legendary air taser. This taser is hilarious to kill enemies with. The range it has is almost endless, you’ll be able to shoot the wire into enemies from just about anywhere on the screen. Once the wire hooks into the target it starts to electrocute them, Their bodies will shake and spark while you hold down the button. Keep the button held down long enough and their bodies will catch on fire as they scream in agony as they burn to a crisp. It sounds like an awful death, but it’s so hilarious and fun. As long as enemies aren’t wearing a flak jacket, I used the taser on them. Another great element of the gameplay was the auto-aim feature. Holding R1 will auto-lock onto an enemy. You’ll be able to run around with Gabe’s gun pointed at the enemy. It’s unrealistic, but it’s quite useful.
Combat is both fun and strategic in Syphon Filter. You’ll have firefights with two or three terrorists and you’ll also sneak around putting silenced bullets into the back of their heads. The environment is also yours to use. Shooting barrels will cause explosions, or much to my delight, in the labs you can shoot vials of liquids and cause them to spew poisonous gas that takes down scientists. Writing all of this for my Syphon Filter review makes me want to restart the game and play it all again!
Missions aren’t just run-and-gun, you’ll have to carefully maneuver past enemies and solve small puzzles. One mission has you searching buildings for infected bodies in boxes with an x-ray sensor. There were only a couple of instances where I was stuck and had to turn to a guide to see what I needed to do.
Syphon Filter’s gameplay was great, but it does have a weakness. The cut scenes are cringe-worthy if you can even make out what the dialogue is. The characters talk very fast, and sometimes it results in very serious situations coming off as humorous. In particular, there is a bomb that is about to detonate, and Gabe is telling Lian it’s too late as he dives away from it. He is speaking way too fast and the result is comical.
I completed my Syphon Filter review within 15 hours, ten if you know exactly what you’re doing. Syphon Filter is one of the best stealth-action shooters on the PlayStation, not quite Metal Gear Solid but not too far behind.
I’ll have much more to say on Syphon Filter 2 as I have quite the story on that game, but I don’t have any memories of the first game. I received a PS One classic recently and Syphon Filter was one of the games so I decided to try it out and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Syphon Filter Review Score:
One of the top games in the original PlayStation library, I highly recommend you play Syphon Filter if you’re a fan of stealth-action.
Syphon Filter scores a 9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Syphon Filter review? What did you think of Syphon Filter? Did you have as much fun with the taser as I did? Are you surprised the series doesn’t live on today? Let me know your thoughts and memories, I’d love to read them!
If you want to own Syphon Filter you can purchase a preowned copy of it for the Playstation on eBay between $5-$10.