Sony’s Bend Studio has been around for nearly 30 years. Though it originally developed software for the Apple Newton, it didn’t take long for the company to shift gears and make the jump into game design. Its first title, Bubsy 3D, released in 1996 exclusively on PlayStation. Since then, the studio has been committed to improving its artistic and technological prowess with each new project. The following are the best titles that the developer has crafted before its latest game, Days Gone, releases on April 26.
Bend Studio’s Best Games | Syphon Filter
Fans of the original PlayStation may have fond memories playing Syphon Filter, as it’s one of the console’s premiere tactical espionage titles. It still stands toe-to-toe with the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu thanks to its innovative stealth action gameplay. The title stars a special agent named Gabe Logan who’s instructed by the United States government to take down a German terrorist. The protagonist and his partner Lian Xing investigate the menace’s bombings in Washington D.C. and Kazakhstan, hoping to find clues to his motivations and a way to stop him.
Syphon Filter came close to being cancelled several times during development, as Bend Studio (then called Eidetic) believed it lacked the technical skills necessary to craft a realistic spy shooter. Despite the setbacks it faced, the game did manage to see the light of day in 1999 and was praised by critics for its attention to detail, sophisticated artificial intelligence, and the variety of weapons it allowed players to use.
Indeed, alternating between silent and explosive guns is fun when one unexpectedly finds him or herself surrounded by enemies in a tight corridor. It’s no surprise that the developer decided to produce more games in the series after the original released, as it honed in on a distinct gameplay style that no other franchise has successfully managed to replicate.
Bend Studio’s Best Games | Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Uncharted: Golden Abyss is one of the few PlayStation Vita titles that deliver on the handheld’s promise of home console experiences on the go. Set before the events of the first game in the franchise, Golden Abyss has players guide Nathan Drake through Panama’s dense rain forests in an effort to find the lost city of Quivira. The superb voice acting, narrative twists, and intense action that give the series its identity can all be found here, though the game does lack some of the cinematic polish that its PlayStation 3 peers enjoy.
Ultimately, Golden Abyss succeeds in showcasing the Vita’s impressive array of technological features, from its immersive touch components to its high graphical quality. While Bend designed the game for everyone to enjoy, it’s a must-play experience for Uncharted fans who wish to learn more about Drake’s past.
Bend Studio’s Best Games | Resistance: Retribution
Bend Studio excellently captured the Resistance series’ somber mood with Resistance: Retribution for the PlayStation Portable. Protagonist Jimmy Grayson murders his own brother at the outset after the latter is partially converted into an extraterrestrial Chimera. Jimmy abandons his comrades shortly thereafter, vowing to take down every Chimeran conversion center in Britain. As with other titles in the franchise, fans have access to an arsenal of human and alien weaponry. Like Resistance 3, Retribution forces them to constantly keep an eye on their health, as the life bar doesn’t replenish automatically.
The game’s neatest feature was its eight-player online multiplayer component, the likes of which consisted of modes like Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Free For All, and more before its servers were shut down. Infected mode is another cool innovation Bend included, which allowed players to experience an alternate version of the main campaign if they hook up their PlayStation Portable to a copy of Resistance 2 on PlayStation 3. Retribution feels like a game made by fans for other fans, as it’s not afraid to play around with the franchise’s established universe and examine a few what-if scenarios.
Bend Studio’s Best Games | Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
In Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, Gabe and his team are tasked with investigating a mysterious organization called Red Faction and its ties to Project Dark Mirror, a purported lethal nerve agent with the potential to kill millions. While the game’s seven-mission campaign can be hard to follow, one can’t help but awe at its impressive production values, especially given the PlayStation Portable’s technical limitations.
Unlike some entries on the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Dark Mirror chooses to focus on the franchise’s stealth-action roots. It gives fans access to a impressive arsenal of weapons and gadgets right away, allowing them to take down enemies quietly or with an all guns blazing approach. The game’s control scheme expertly translates moving and aiming mechanics so that each feels tight and fluid, especially in intense firefights.
On top of the gameplay polish, Bend allows up to eight fans the chance to participate in multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch and Rogue Agent, the latter of which challenges them to rack up as many kills as they can before they’re defeated. Dark Mirror offers a lot of content for a PlayStation Portable game. It stands as an example of Bend’s commitment to quality, no matter what machine the studio is developing for.
Bend Studio’s Best Games | Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow
Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow is the last game in Bend’s celebrated stealth-action franchise. Released in 2007 for PlayStation Portable and in 2010 for PlayStation 2, it sees mascot Gabe Logan return to settle a score with antagonist Ghassan al-Bitar, a terrorist leader whom he had almost managed to capture one year prior.
The United States, Russia, and China are at odds with one another, tasking their own operatives with tracking down Ghassan in an attempt to commandeer his weapons of mass destruction. This conflict leads many of Logan’s colleagues to accuse longtime partner Lian Xing of being a double agent, as she once worked for the Chinese Ministry of State Security. The narrative culminates in a tragic yet satisfying conclusion.
Logan’s Shadow improves on Dark Mirror‘s gameplay by introducing blind firing while behind cover, a grenade avoidance system, and the ability to attack foes while in water. The game’s action sequences, which include helicopter chases and APC shootouts, are broken up well with stages that force players to rely on stealth. Bend gave its beloved franchise a noteworthy sendoff with Logan’s Shadow, as no other entry balances action and stealth so nicely.
Days Gone is a significant departure from everything Bend Studio has made so far. It’s a new intellectual property for home consoles that incorporates driving mechanics, plenty of NPCs, and vast open world environments. Should the game be met with critical and fan acclaim, it could help rebrand the developer for the modern age. After all, Sony doesn’t have plans on making a successor to the PlayStation Portable and Vita anytime soon. Syphon Filter shouldn’t be left behind, however, as Mr. Logan and his team are long overdue for a comeback.