Logan just keeps on running.
Gabe Logan is back for his final adventure on the Playstation and frankly, I couldn't be happier that it's the last one. Don't get me wrong - the Syphon Filters are good, action-packed spy games. But like Kenny Rogers, at some point you gotta know when to hold 'em and especially know when to fold 'em.
This time Gabe and his allies must give closed-door congressional testimony about the activities of the Agency during the period when the Syphon Filter virus first emerged as a world threat. Unfortunately, because of events in the previous games, Gabe is alone and unable to even prove the existence of the Agency. Congressional inquiries and political posturing aside, organizations are at this moment maneuvering to secure Syphon Filter to use toward their own ends.
The game opens with Gabe giving testimony, denying he had any involvement with the assassination of a foreign diplomat during the Syphon Filter crisis. While testifying, the game gives a flashback, allowing you to play through the situation Gabe describes...in this case, assassinating the previously mentioned diplomat. Thus begins the game's first mission.
Once you complete this mission, it becomes clear that this is the same damn game we've been playing for three years now. Syphon Filter was the spy game for folks who didn't have the patience for Metal Gear Solid. Whereas MGS was like playing through a psychological espionage thriller, Syphon Filter played more like a hardcore episode of The A-Team. Just as much fun, just not as much thinking.
Once again the storyline is top-notch, with many levels being played flashback-style during the hearing. But as cool as this is, it only serves to remind you how dated the game is. As Gabe testifies about events that happened in a previous game, you play that level in the context of the testimonial. For example, Gabe tells congress about Rhoemer's assassination of a fellow agent, which we saw in the opening cinemas in the first game. Not only do we see it again, but this time we actively chase Rhoemer afterward.
At first this seems pretty cool, almost like a 'Syphon Filter: The Untold Story' project or something. Ultimately, though, you feel like you've done it before.
This feeling of deja vu isn't helped by the fact that the game looks precisely the same as the old games. Honestly, the only difference is Gabe's new haircut. Granted, it was no Solid Snake mullet, but the old 'doo had it's charm. The animations in the cut-scenes look a bit different as well, but I can't say they look better. Gabe still runs with that bowl-legged gait that screams "Gotta hustle!" and still uses the calm-under-pressure deadpan dialogue.
The sound effects are exceptional with realistic weapon sounds and ambient tracks. My only complaint about the sound is the fact you can't hear the frequent mission updates over the swell of the soundtrack.
Like other aspects of Syphon Filter 3, the gameplay itself remains unchanged. Sabotage, personnel extraction, assassination and general sneakiness are the parameters to ensure success. The same control scheme is used with no new actions or animations. It's still harder than necessary to change weapons in the middle of a firefight, but the variety of weapons available gives you incentive.
The feeling of tension and suspense the player gets while playing through the first two games is strangely absent here. Whereas before I would hug the walls and creep silently through corridors looking for the enemy, now I find myself calmly standing in the middle of a room nonchalantly picking off baddies. Maybe I'm a better player, maybe I'm jaded, or just maybe the game isn't as exciting anymore.
The boring head-to-head multiplayer is back with brand new ways to make your eyes roll back. It's only one on one, the areas are pretty small, the control isn't great and the split screen sucks. It's just a waste.
I understand the developers want Gabe to finish his first adventure on the PSX - Syphon Filter being a trilogy and all that - but this engine's time has passed. It winds up playing more like Max Payne on crack. This game is for hardcore fans of the series who have to see how the story ends. If you just want some run 'n' gun shooting action, play the first game again. You'll thank yourself.