Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sony Bend.
Release Date: Out Now
When I first played Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror I was a little bewildered. Why does the main menu allow you to select ‘Single Player’ when there are no multiplayer options? After all, a game that’s for single-players only usually just lists the available modes or simply has the option to load a saved game or start a new one. When looking around on the Internet I found the reason. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror was originally a PSP title that had multiplayer options. If in the port to the PlayStation 2 the developers couldn’t take the time to adjust the menus, you know you have a sloppy port on your hands and in some respects that’s exactly what Syphon Filter is.
In Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror you play as Gabe Logan, a ‘commander of an agency that doesn’t officially exist.’ Gabe is a Precision Strike Operative who is charged with uncovering the latest threat to global security. That threat is a project known only as Dark Mirror. During the game you’ll visit locations such as Finland, Peru, Bosnia and Alaska as Gabe seeks to recover Project Dark Mirror. The storyline is pretty forgettable but in all fairness it’s one of those games where the focus is on the action and the weapons and gadgets at your disposal rather than the storyline that ties the whole thing together. Suffice to say that Gabe has his fair share of both weaponry and gadgets to deal with the hundreds of rather generic bad guys he (and on occasion a companion) has to deal with. Once you’ve finished the Story Mode you can replay the game’s missions in Mission Mode should you feel the need to.
There are a few signs that Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror was originally a PSP title. Graphically the game looks acceptable, but nothing more. At best you could call the character models mediocre and quite a few of the textures you’ll find on environmental objects look rather flat. In fairness however, the frame rate remains solid throughout and load times are quite quick. The controls feel fiddly requiring you to hold down the right directional button and then press the square, triangle, circle or X button to select your weapon (you’ll do a similar action to select your gadget using the left directional button), which feels plain awkward and doesn’t allow for fast weapon changes. The aiming is rather too forgiving. The AI is, for the most part, stupid. If you’re looking for anything resembling a challenge don’t bother with the default difficulty setting (Normal is the default but there are also Easy and Hard difficulty settings) as it’s far too easy to breeze through the missions.
So far then the game has been mildly disappointing. Unfortunately the final nail in the coffin as far as deaf gamers are concerned is that the game isn’t subtitled. You’ll be completely unaware of what’s being said in the game’s cutscenes. You’ll also be oblivious to all communications during the game (and there are quite a few). Vague objectives do appear on the lower part of the screen in text. You can recall these objectives along with mission descriptions and any notes but in all honesty this information is nowhere near as comprehensive as what you’re given verbally and there are times when you’ll be unsure what to do. Even the tutorials are not subtitled and are therefore worthless.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is a game that’s ultimately disappointing. During the transition from PSP to PS2 the multiplayer was cut and no real effort was made to make the game feel at home on the console. Graphical glitches, a control system that feels slightly off and AI that’s just not that bright all serve to make Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror a mildly disappointing experience. The lack of subtitles will be the straw that broke the camel’s back for most deaf gamers and there’s no denying that the game is needlessly frustrating for deaf gamers because of the lack of subtitles. In short only those who really want to play the game should persevere with a game that’s blatantly not deaf gamer friendly.