Syphon Filter‘s balance of an intriguing storyline and thrilling mission-based gameplay rightfully earned the game lots of critical acclaim and a position on the 1999 bestsellers chart. Syphon Filter 2 introduces a new set of objectives requiring smarts, stealth, and a steady aim while running (and kneeling, crouching, walking, rolling, climbing, jumping) through multiple levels.
In the game, players assume the roles of secret agents Gabriel Logan and Lian Xing. Framed for a crime they did not commit, the two must race against the clock in order to prevent the sale of the Syphon Filter virus to a terrorist nation. Played from a third-person point of view, the story takes gamers from the streets of Moscow to the Agency’s secret Syphon Filter lab. Such a dangerous mission requires effective weapons and gadgets; naturally, the agency provides an arsenal of more than 25 enemy-stoppers, including a cross bow, a sniper rifle with a night-vision scope, tear gas, binoculars, and other goodies. New to the series is a two-player, split-screen mode featuring fast head-to-head combat action in 20 arenas. –Eric Twelker
Although it’s not nearly as well crafted as Metal Gear Solid, Syphon Filter 2 will definitely appeal to those looking for something more than your basic shoot-’em-up. The gritty espionage plot here is a continuation from the original game, with players once again controlling Gabe Logan and, for the first time, Lian Xing, two operatives on the lam from their former outfit, the Agency.
Syphon Filter 2 is broken up into missions bridged by cinematic story sequences; players must successfully complete each mission’s objectives in order to progress to the next one. While gameplay is rigidly linear, there’s great variety in the mission objectives, 3-D environments, and weapons/equipment of each mission.
Not a game for the easily frustrated, Syphon Filter 2 involves a lot of trial-and-error replay, along with the requisite cursing and throwing of the controller. While each mission objective is clearly stated, many of them aren’t as straightforward as one would think. A vague control scheme–your character can jump, but there’s no jump button–along with the fact that it’s really easy to die add more fuel to one’s ire. –Joe Hon
- Gritty espionage plot
- Variety of mission objectives, 3-D environments, weapons, and equipment Cons:
- Frustrating trial-and-error gameplay and vague control scheme
- Poorly designed two-player split-screen mode
From the Manufacturer
Exiled from the world’s most powerful secret organization Gabe Logan and Lian Xing are the world’s only hope of stopping the sale of the Syphon Filtervirus to the highest bidder. Utilizing the most deadly high-tech weaponry ever designed enter the tense world of stealth and intrigue where it’s not who you know but who’s on your side. Beware the enemy within.
The original Syphon Filter was a great game. It mixed genres very well, producing a more action-oriented experience than Metal Gear Solid and providing it from the behind-the-back perspective that powered games like Tomb Raider. Syphon Filter 2 picks up immediately after the first game left off, both in story and in execution. While some features have been added, the resulting game feels more like a hastily-produced mission pack than a true sequel. If you didn’t play the original game to its completion, the plotline of Syphon Filter 2 won’t really make any sense at all. The game assumes that you know the characters and the roles they played, and that you know that Gabe Logan, the hero from the first game, and his assistant, Lian Xing, have been sold out by the mysterious Agency, and it appears that the Agency is actually behind the Syphon Filter virus, which is currently running rampant throughout Lian Xing’s body. Luckily, after each prerendered story sequence, a brief screen of text explains the action so you at least know what you’re supposed to do in each level. The game uses a lot of video between levels, so much so that it takes up two discs, though this game isn’t really much longer than the first one. Syphon Filter vets should be able to blaze through the first disc in three or four hours. The mission design is a little bland. For the most part, it alternates between full-bore action missions and stealth-laced adventures, where you must restart the mission if you’re spotted by an enemy. This levels give the game an annoying trial-and-error feel. You’re forced to simply try a mission over and over again until you find the one correct path. In the early part of the game, you’ll switch between playing as Gabe and Lian, but this is mostly to keep the story moving, as the two characters play identically. This game adds a two-player deathmatch mode into the mix. You can select from many of the game’s different characters and scaled-down versions of the one-player game’s levels (some are locked at first), but the control, camera angles, and overall feel of Syphon Filter don’t lend themselves very well to a mulitplayer component. Playing the game with head shots turned on makes it even more ridiculous, since anyone with any sort of head shot skill can clean up with little effort. The control is largely the same as in the original game, but the analog portion has been refined. Gabe can now walk, making precision movement possible. Also, Gabe can jump over gaps. The jumping is handled automatically, so if you run at a jumpable gap, Gabe will leap over it with no input from the player. This can make some levels (the train level, for example, which features a lot of jumping) a real hassle. Graphically, Syphon Filter 2 remains unchanged from the original. It still looks good, but at the same time the style of the animation and textures looks a little stale. Also, the sound and music are similar in theme, but the voice-over work isn’t nearly as clean as the original’s was. Some of Gabe’s lines and vocal inflection really don’t fit the current situation, making it sound as if he were lounging by the pool instead of taking heavy fire from entrenched enemies. If you were a big fan of Syphon Filter, you may get a kick out of the sequel, but the lackluster mission design and super-convoluted story really cancel out the improvements to the game’s control. If you missed the first game, it’s a much better (and likely cheaper) game than Syphon Filter 2.–Jeff Gerstmann—Copyright © 1998 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited. — GameSpot Review