Syphon Filter

Moby ID: 3729
PlayStation Specs
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Description official descriptions

Gabriel Logan, one of the government's top covert agents, must neutralize the terrorists that threaten Washington D.C. and destroy a biological weapon that has been built to end the lives of millions of innocent people.

Syphon Filter is an action game played from the 3rd person. Players take the role of Gabiel Logan as well as other CBDC agents. To successfully complete the mission, players must utilize each of the character's skills accordingly. Logan is able to kneel, crouch, walk, roll, climb, jump and run to meet his objectives.

The action unfolds over thirteen missions that are chock full of dangers, hazards and puzzles.

Spellings

  • サイフォン・フィルター - Japanese spelling
  • 虹吸战士 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

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Credits (PlayStation version)

210 People (182 developers, 28 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 22 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 61 ratings with 3 reviews)

Snake? Snake!? SNAAAKE! ...Or is Syphy Filter better than that?

The Good
Metal Gear Solid 1 has actually defined, or at least in my opinion it has, the way in which games now tell there stories. It's complex story is one you'd expect in a sci-fi novel series, yet you can see the events on screen and visualized, thus it is being much easier to follow. And it's better than just a book-to-movie adaption, because you can interact and you feel like your a part of the story's world. And MGS1 pulled the story off nicely, but the action...?

That's where Syphon Filter enters. You see, Syphon Filter's story is no where near the complexity of Metal Gear Solid - in terms of story, but it is a good story none-the-less; but anyway, despite the quality of story, this game... has... ACTION!

Grenades that actually give a threatening explosion, guns that actually kill you like real life, flak jackets that actually keep you alive (or at least, help). The original MGS1 seemed to promise all this, yet never really delivered; but Syphon Filter? Yep, Syphon Filter delivered in crates.

No seriously, you get weapons from the game via crates.

The AI is actually out to kill you, and not just some idle "I'll patrol here until an intruder passes by, lose sight of him, then return to my post like if nothing happened" gameplay. No, Syphon Filter has enemies that match the term "enemy". By this point, you may have noticed my references to MGS1 (the review title, the actual mention of said game, the above gameplay) and you may be wondering why. Well, MGS1 was supposed to be good. And it was, just not as expected kinda "good" - but Syphon Filter was there, just like a virtual close best friend that offered a shoulder to cry on when your MGS didn't deliver on action, just story.

Okay, so this point on; I'll review Syphon Filter as Syphon Filter. I'll begin with audio. Most of the time in this game, you'll be expecting the booms of grenades, or the opening of crates (click-click) or the chuuk-chuuk of the shotgun. That's basically the low-down on effects, but what of actual voices? Well, you got the quite-convincing voice of an enemy on fire (happens twice in the game, if I recall) which I always like in a sinister manner, as if the game makers actually recorded a man on fire. You also got Gabe and Lian. They have good voice actors, but you might often find they talk to fast or like if they all know what other's are about to say and are jumping to say their next line. During a few points in the game, I actually missed what some of them said and I was like "What? Why are we doing that again?" or "Why can't I simply go down the tunnel to the next objective? Every time I try to I get MISSION FAILED!?" (the answer to that last one? You have to basically have to flick a switch).

Let's see... Ah, layout. Well, most of the items look generic and similar, but let's be reasonable; this is a PS1 game, folks. But at least there is sometimes variation - not like in FF7: Dirge of Cerberus (PS2). Luckily, you have a map that is actually (most of the time) annotated (great use in the warehouse level).

The weapons are good (as in variations of firing, sound effects, effectiveness) and the difficulty is just right, as long as your wearing a flak jacket - or so help you God. The story is good and immersing, even if it is a little slow at times.

The Bad
There are sometimes you'll find things, mostly passages, are way too dark (or are perhaps lit up in a red light that makes an almost-straight cave tunnel so confusing) - and it'll require the use of a torch. HOWEVER, this means being unable to use a weapon at the same time, which means you're screwed when you travel down the dark tunnel. So you go with a weapon instead, but that'll mean you have no clue where you're going - which'll eventually lead to you falling down a pit, or from a great height, or being gunned down by an unseen enemy; and you'll have no idea about this unable "Mission Failed" pops up.

Luckily, the two most boring levels are short and have a checkpoint before they get hard and annoying.

Oh, and the difficulty. Before, I said it is "just right" - but only if your wearing a flak jacket, because if you're not, you might as well turn of the game yourself if you can't find an easy enemy or a crate. Because even one enemy, with you on full health, is an easy situation, but then another dude runs by shooting you before you even have a chance to pick up the drooped enemy's ammo and flak jacket. Then another guy'll come running past, and... So basically, you want to be fast in a location with multiple enemies. And sometimes these enemies just pop up out of nowhere (THE WAREHOUSE MISSION!!!) so you can never tell if this is such a time to apply speed.

The Bottom Line
I recommend Syphon Filter 2 as an introduction the the series, before you play this one. Syphon Filter 1 is good, but some may be put off from the entire franchise if they play this game and automatically assume the others are like it. And in terms of graphics, sound, story, they are. But level layout, weapons, story, a few minor game play tweaks and a two-player death match mode (full of characters and locations) makes Syphon Filter 2 much more superior. But after you've played that, and like it, I also suggest you play this game. Obviously, it's now old (two generations back as of PS3's release) and thus, cheap (either that or it's rare) so buy it if you see it. Totally up to you, of course.

PlayStation · by Reborn_Demon (127) · 2008

Groundbreaking classic with some flawed mechanics

The Good
I did not get the chance to play Syphon Filter at the time of its release but bought a used copy many years later and played it on original hardware.

The levels can be broken down into four different types: shooting, stealth, escort, and darkness. Shooting makes up the majority of sequences in the game: You walk, run, climb, shoot, and sometimes interact with objects in the environment. In stealth, you have to be cautious and avoid being discovered. During escort, your task is to protect friendly AI until they reach a target zone. In darkness sequences, the lights go out and you have to survive an onslaught of enemies while you can see only through night vision goggles. While I was generally not fond of the stealth and escort sequences, the shooting and the tense darkness were engaging.

The first level was even impressive: You fight alongside friendly AI in city streets and inside of buildings. Locational damage is great: You can avoid the first boss fight entirely if you take him out with a precise head-shot from afar. The graphics are blocky, but they have their charm. The frame-rate was also consistent in most levels. I thought the fire effects were excellent for their time. The soundtrack sets the mood, even though the tracks felt not particularly memorable to me.

Later levels introduce new environments, a wide variety of weapons, and more of the plot. There was never a moment in the game where I did not want to keep playing.

The Bad
Overall, I did enjoy the game. There are some flaws that pretty much all the reviews I read online did not mention, which is why I go into a bit more detail here. I hope I don’t sound overly critical; I know Syphon Filter was groundbreaking for its time.

Syphon Filter is a difficult and occasionally unfair game with stiff controls that loves to put you into ambush situations. There are many, many situations in which enemies spawn right next or right behind the player, and you get less than a second to react before you get killed or before the mission fails for other reasons. It happens quite frequently in the later levels of the game.

What can really mess with you is the automatic targeting system. The game is pretty much broken in situations in which you are swarmed by enemies and have to quickly dispatch specific ones. An example is a helicopter fight on a rooftop: Waves of soldiers jump from the helicopter down onto the rooftop, and each time you have to manually target and head-shot them because the automatic targeting system will always lock on to the helicopter instead of them. I got killed so many times in this sequence because it wouldn't lock on to the soldiers who were mere feet away, shooting at me with assault rifles. This even happens even when the helicopter is not visible on the screen, blocked from view by a building. Imagine standing right in front of an enemy, pressing R2 to target, and your character turns in the complete opposite direction to fire at an unseen target before getting shot in the back and killed. This happens so frequently I have no idea why reviews from 1999 do not even mention this problem.

I think this is one of the reasons why the odd „danger meter“ was included: You only start taking damage after it has filled up, after enemies have taken a couple of shots at you. This is probably supposed to give you more time to react while you wrestle with the controls.

But when enemies use explosives, the danger meter won’t help you: For example, enemies with grenades are absolutely deadly. Even if you immediately turn and run after you see an enemy lob a grenade, it often is too late. Their aim is perfect, and grenades explode as soon as they hit the ground near you. Game over.

The key to beating Syphon Filter therefore is to learn how to abuse how enemies can't see around corners whereas you can due to the third-person perspective of the game.

Moving away from the shooting sequences: What I don't like about the stealth missions is that there is often only a single way to beat the mission and you get seconds to react to new enemies when you enter a room. You can only beat these if you have already memorized everything. If you go into a new room without knowing what to expect, you will instantly die or fail the mission due to an alert that gets raised. You just have to know in advance where the guards will appear and how you can dispatch them quietly. These missions require a tremendous amount of patience because you have to replay them very often.

Escort missions could also be a nightmare: The friendly AI can't hold their own and need constant babysitting, yet immediately yell at you should you ever fall behind yourself.

Furthermore, the story is rather bland. It is just enough as a framework for the missions. There is a lot at stake, but it doesn't feel like it. You foil the terrorists’ plan in the first level. Then you destroy their military base. Then you destroy their secret hideout… Characters are Gruff McMilitary, Standard Female Love Interest, and Boss With Sunglasses. Clichéd characters in a clichéd story about super-spies and bio-terrorists. It is schlock. It could be fun, but it is dry and takes itself way too seriously.

The boss fight at the end is easily the most broken thing in the game. He spawns right next to you, has a grenade launcher that kills you with one hit, and he is impervious to all weapons. There is only one specific way to defeat him, but good luck figuring that out by yourself.

The Bottom Line
Based on what I read in reviews, my expectations were very high initially. Syphon Filter started out promising, with an action-packed first level, innovative mechanics, good level design, and great effects. The game made me want to keep playing.

Near the end, I realized I was using walk-throughs a lot and did not have a lot of fun playing the game anymore. There were just too many unfair situations and too many times retrying a particularly difficult checkpoint to finally get it right. Replay the same unfair sequence 20-30 times and it will stop being fun.

Still, as one of the early releases in this genre, the developers did a commendable job and I can certainly see why the game is sometimes considered a classic.

PlayStation · by Operation Hot Zone Kill (15) · 2022

Going viral on your part

The Good
There is an abundance of action and a fair share of puzzles wherever you go, with a nice arsenal of modern weapons, especially the air taser which makes the game perhaps a tad too easy. The auto-aim is particularly helpful against common enemies, but becomes pretty useless in the later levels with flak-armoured foes. Precision aiming is utilised well in the game, especially when you need to use it to find a boss' weakness. It's also good that you can aim and shoot while climbing rails.

The flavour text for the weapons and briefing are nice touches. The controls are tight and just right, so you can move and shoot without finding yourself being massacred. Even pauses to accept incoming transmission do not ruin the flow of the game. Music is well balanced and captures the mood of danger, stealth and urgency very well.

The Bad
The camera and player movement can be a little choppy sometimes, but not to an unbearable extent. The map isn't too useful with such a small scale and it's tricky to know where to go to complete the next objective without exploration, saved only by the short-ranged radar screen. Although there is adequate armour, there are no health pickups in case you get injured, which reduces survival rate, but it's not too bad. Overall there's nothing very wrong with the game.

The Bottom Line
Eidetic knew what they were doing in the game's development. It comes as a surprise that the game almost never came out, but what they learned from the making of Bubsy 3D made this game possible. It's nice to see some modern sci-fi. It's kind of a shame that the game didn't make its way to a PC platform, only re-releases on newer PlayStation platforms, but no proper HD remake. Next to Tomb Raider, this has to be one of the best third-person shooters before Ratchet & Clank made their entrance. This is a classic you simply cannot afford to forget.

PlayStation · by Kayburt (30533) · 2020

Trivia

German version

In the German version, the in-game blood was re-coloured green. In the pre-rendered cutscenes, it was removed.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Macintrash.

PlayStation 3, PSP added by Corn Popper. PS Vita added by GTramp. Android added by CrankyStorming. PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 added by firefang9212.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, DreinIX, Fred VT, Patrick Bregger.

Game added April 10, 2001. Last modified March 18, 2024.