Syphon Filter Dark Mirror


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


Reinventing a franchise that was for all purposes dead, Syphon Filter Dark Mirror is a PSP game that shouldn't be a PSP game. The full production values, extensive online play, superb controls, and spot-on graphics engine are unlike anything else on the console. It's enough to forget about all the sloppy ports and limited original titles for a while and just enjoy what this console can truly do.

syphonfilter1psp.jpg (31183 bytes)The biggest hurdle for a 3-D title on the PSP is the lack of that ever so important second analog stick. Syphon Filter tackles that problem head on, with accurate and customizable aiming controls. The automatic aiming is suspect, but once the adjustment is made to use the face buttons for secondary movement, it's almost as flawless as an analog stick would be. The camera is placed over the shoulder of the player's character, and never swivels around unless the player chooses to do so.

The d-pad is used for reloading, crouching, weapon switching, or selecting devices like night vision. Things here are a little convoluted, especially since you can't move as you try to reload. In tense combat, it's cluttered and slow. Thankfully, scenes like this are minimal.

Gone is lead character Gabe Logan's awkward leaning run. It's plagued the series since its inception. Finally, Gabe moves like a normal person, upright. Dark Mirror is a little slower paced than previous games, though the action is as prevalent. A few sporadic missions have players taking control of another character (including more when the game is completed), though they have no differences in controls or objectives.

Dark Mirror's only real problem is the abundance of escort missions. While the AI is smart enough to fight back when they need to, it's hard to keep track of friendly targets when you're bombarded with various terrorist types. Cinematics and story sequences make the extra effort worth it, as the professional voice acting and graphics engine (easily the most realistic looking of the PSP's library) are well beyond what we expect from the console at this point.

syphonfilter2psp.jpg (30162 bytes)Online multi-player is also deeply robust. While the number of maps is limited to a weak five, the amount of competition, real time voice chat, messaging, and clan support more than makes up for it. The small stealth elements (shooting from cover especially) make for some tense stand offs here, certainly more so than in single player. Modes of play are standard fare, and a co-op campaign of some sort would have been welcome in replace of Rogue Ops, where one player attempts to heist an objective while racking up kills.

Easily the best out of all recent PSP offerings and possibly even the overall library, Dark Mirror is a revival of a dead franchise on a system that needs exclusive games this strong. This is undoubtedly going to show up on best-of lists come the end of the year. It's a complete surprise, and a guaranteed classic.


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Last updated: Sunday, June 25, 2006 11:22 PM