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A.P.I Review: Syphon Filter
Developer: Eidetic, Inc. OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1 Player
Game Type: 3rd Person Action Memory Card
Review Date: July 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Please allow me to introduce to you the world's most dangerous special agent, Gabe Logan. Gabe can slice, dice, mince and chop anyone that tries to get between him and his mission…oh; he's a mighty fine shot too. Heck old Gabe may even kick you in the nuts if it means getting the mission accomplished. So be on the lookout 'cause the no-nonsense killer is back in vogue.

Gabe is called into action to eliminate a terrorist organization that is threatening to unleash a deadly virus, code named "Syphon Filter", into the United States. They have already infiltrated Washington, DC and have begun to plant their viral death bombs. Playing as Gabe, it is your job to locate the bombs and kill all of the terrorists. Hey, it's just another walk in the park for the old Gabester.


Syphon Filter is an action packed 3rd person perspective espionage thriller set in the US in downtown Washington, DC. It's nice to see games of this genre starting to be exploited on the Playstation because you actually get a gripping storyline to go along with all of the action. Bring 'em on!


I found the graphics in Syphon Filter to be quite capable and in some levels very impressive. They reminded me somewhat of the graphics in the Tomb Raider games and can certainly hold there own in the action game category.

The character model of Gabe as well as the all of the other good and bad characters that you will come across during the course of the game move about with a good deal of realism and motion. When strafing or rolling, Gabe postures himself much the same way you would in real life, but when he breaks into a full run he appears to have a load in his's really kind of amusing.

The background animations such as fire, explosions and the like are fairly well executed but I found the flames to be a bit pixeled out when you draw near to them. For playing out in the Playstations low rez mode though, the designers manage to pull of a rather convincing environment.

The backgrounds are also quite interactive as you can climb all sorts of objects and blast out windows and streetlights and stuff. It's actually kinda neat when you shoot out a light…the immediate area around where the light was will grow darker. The lighting effects are cool. Gunfire will also leave small chunks out of the objects that you hit and I liked the fact that if you shoot at a car's gas tank it will explode. This can work both for you or against you…don't linger around a car too long or you may find yourself going up in a blaze of glory if a sniper hits the car with you next to it.

There are also nicely produced CG scenes throughout the game that manage to fill in the pieces of the intrigue and mystery quite well.

In the end, while certainly not cutting-edge, the graphics are quite inspiring and there is a good degree of attention to details and overall interaction with the environment.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects in Syphon Filter totally rock! Bullets are buzzing around all over the place, nice sounding electricity crackles from cracked wires, or from your taser, and superb voice acting all come together to create the sinister world of Syphon Filter. Everything falls together perfectly to place you right in the middle of the action and never let up or disappoints.

Music is also well done and varies greatly from level to level yet always sounds appropriate for each and every setting. In games like this the music needs to create a certain "mood" and not be overbearing or intrusive. On this level, the score succeeds royally.


Syphon Filter is the second "special agent" 3rd person action title to come out for the Playstation, counting Metal Gear Solid (I chose to not count Duke in this category for my own reasons) as the first and folks let me tell you, it's the real deal. I was worried that it would either be a cheap knockoff of MGS or a lame attempt at the genre, but this title really kicks some ass. While it may certainly remind one of MGS on the surface, the game plays out much differently and relies on its own set of rules to get things accomplished. Truth be told, it actually reminded me much more of the Goldeneye game for the N64.

Be warned up front, there is a fare amount of violence in this game, but heck it's all in a day's work.

Level's are broken out into missions which you much complete before being allowed to save the game. These make checkpoints very important because that's where you will start each time you get killed…and you will die quite often in this game. At least there are an infinite amount of lives to use because Syphon Filter is a tough game to play. Some of the missions actually make Metal Gear Solid seem like a cakewalk in comparison.

Luckily the control, once you become accustomed to it, is rock solid and intuitive. There is a good deal of commands at your fingertips such as standing or running strafes, climbing, semi-crawling, a running tuck and roll, and more. You also have a plethora of weapons to choose from including a very cool sniper rifle with zoom capability and a taser that will electrify and fry you "buddies" to a crisp! I must also mention the pure rush of satisfaction you get when you zero in on someone with the sniper rifle and pluck off a perfect headshot…ahh, pure delight!

About the only thing regarding the control system that I did not particularly appreciate was the way you go about selecting your weapons. You need to press and hold the Select button and then the R2/L2 buttons to scroll through your weapons menu. Simply pressing the Select button will also enable you to arm the next available weapon without having to go to the menu. It's not intolerable, but it could have been made a little more user friendly.

Getting back to the levels…they are wonderfully designed with all kinds of semi-hidden pathways and obstacles that must be overcome. There is also a lot of interaction with the environment, as you will need to climb up objects to get to places, watch out for fast moving trains, beware of fire and a ton of other things that all draw you further into this world.

During your adventure there is also a map screen that can be brought up to display your position relative to the surroundings. It is actually quite useful and in addition to indicating where you are, you can occasionally tell where some of your mission objectives are located.

Each level normally has several mission objectives that must be met before finishing…and being allowed to save your progress. In addition to completing the mission objects that are laid down up front you will occasionally get additional mission parameters that will need to be completed as well. The mission's flow seamlessly from one to another in a logical manner yet manages to display a wide variety of settings to keep things fresh.

If you are wondering about the stealth aspects of the game I can tell you that the enemy AI is VERY aggressive. Sneaking up on someone is extremely difficult and will will more often than not find that the best course of action is to just go in with guns blazin'. That is not to say that stealth doesn't play any part in the title…there are some missions that will require you to sneak up on use your sniper or night vision rifle to take out the bad guys, but these occurrences are few and far between. So remember, lock and load, and ready, fire, aim should be your main strategy going into this game and you will do just fine.

Overall, there isn't anything major to fault this title on. It succeeds on every level in bringing gamers into the world of intrigue and espionage. Gabe is a convincing hero with an arsenal of lethal weapons at his disposal and it doesn't hurt that he strongly resembles a real life action movie star (Stephen Sagal). The game will take you on a roller coaster ride of action, suspense and intrigue all the way up to the grand finale. It constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat…and isn't that what playing games are all about?

Value for Money

Syphon Filter is a tough game and a tough act to follow to be sure. The levels are pretty big and the missions are varied and interesting. Even once you complete the game, chances are you will want to go back and visit this action packed world again and again.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 Syphon Filter is a wonderful game that manages to combine the action/mission based elements of Goldeneye with the military overtones of MGS into one slam blam package.

The game consists of non-stop adrenaline pumping action that will take you through the streets and into the very bowels of Washington, DC.

The graphics are tight and convey the action superbly. Everything moves along at a decent framerate and some of the special effects are very special indeed.

I guess about the only thing that remains is the BIG question…in a fight, who would win…Gabe Logan or Solid Snake? I would say that smart money goes with Solid kicking Gabe's ass but damn, it would be a glorious fight now wouldn't it?
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 19/20


GRAPHICS: 16/20 Well, well... Isn't life full of pleasant surprises! Syphon Filter, just released on PAL format, certainly fits that bill. I though it would be at least a year before Metal Gear Solid would be surpassed in terms of stealth gameplay, but little did we know that Sony had this gem hidden beneath the counter.

Maybe the visuals don't reach the standard set by the Konami classic. But I guarantee that if you give this amazing game just a few levels to come to terms with the control system then you won't be able to put it down until every absorbing mission has been achieved successfully.

The most enjoyable action adventure I've played on the Playstation to date.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 20/20


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