Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sony Bend.
Release Date: Out Now
Last year we reviewed the lamentable Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror for the PlayStation 2. The game was disappointing not only because it was lacklustre but also because it was pretty much useless for deaf gamers, due to the lack of subtitles, and only vague objectives were given in text. Even the game’s tutorial wasn’t subtitled. Here we have Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow for the PSP and it’s fair to say that in many ways, it’s a better game. Is Logan’s Shadow more deaf gamer friendly than the PlayStation 2 version of Dark Mirror? Let’s find out.
The game begins with Gabe, Commander of the IPCA (International Presidential Consulting Agency), being asked by Robert Cordell, the Deputy Director for the National Intelligence Oversight Committee, to board the U.S.S. Mt. St. Helens and secure the contents of cargo hold five. Something’s not right about the mission however, as Cordell is deliberately sketchy about the details. He is also rather evasive about answering questions about the mission. Perhaps against his better judgement, Gabe decides to accept the mission. From the beginning it becomes obvious that something is very wrong and that Cordell knows far more than he’s admitting to. To make matters worse it soon appears that Gabe’s long time assistant, Lian Xing could well be a double agent. In addition to the game’s Story Mode there is also a Mission Mode (where you can replay missions you’ve completed in Story Mode) and a variety of multiplayer games to play in both ad hoc and infrastructure modes for up to eight players.
Logan’s Shadow offers a good mix of stealth and action elements and on the whole it’s an enjoyable game that most will enjoy. There are times when it’s the best course of action to take your enemies by surprise and perform a stealth kill but most of the time you won’t have that luxury and will have to take out your enemies whilst making the best use of cover that’s at your disposal. Gabe has the ability to blind fire (that is to say that he can fire from cover by simply firing blindly at enemies without having to pop his head out from cover to aim accurately) which can help to halt the enemies in their tracks and give Gabe a few seconds to move about safely. Gabe now has the ability to swim and even has a variety of underwater weapons at his disposal. The game even includes some God of War style sequences, where you have to press the correct buttons at the right time to perform certain actions.
There are a couple of problems with Logan’s Shadow. The storyline is dull in all honesty and does nothing to enhance the game. Fortunately, most will play Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow for the quality of the action and its stealth elements rather than for the storyline so this isn’t a major problem. The ineffectiveness of the AI is a slightly bigger concern however. The AI enemies aren’t as quick to respond to your actions as they should be and don’t really put up much of a challenge. Quite a few enemies have that annoying capacity to take several shots to the body before finally falling over. When you first play the game you might also think that the controls are a problem. By default you’ll control your aim by pressing the triangle, circle, square and X buttons. This is a fiddly and sluggish method of aiming. Mercifully there are several better control schemes to choose from. It’s just a shame that the default one is the worst.
Graphically, Logan’s Shadow is actually pretty good. The character models are all good and the character animations are also as good as you could hope for in a PSP game. There are some pretty impressive lighting and smoke effects on display here and it is clear that the developers have really got to grips with what the PSP is capable of, as the frame rate is rock solid throughout. For the most part the load times aren’t too bad. There are a few that are a little patience testing but on the whole they are acceptable. The presentation of the game as a whole is rather pleasing.
The big question of course is whether or not the game’s developers actually took the time to consider deaf gamers this time around. On popping into the options menu I was pleased to find the option to enable subtitles. The first thing you’re going to want to do before playing through the single-player game is to take a look at the tutorials. Thankfully they aren’t a waste of time here, as they were in Dark Mirror for the PlayStation 2, as they are fully subtitled. The game’s cutscenes and in-game communications are subtitled too. The subtitles have the speaker’s name before the text so you’ll always know who is saying what. Mission briefings are in text. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time by pressing the start button. In fact Logan’s Shadow is actually quite good in its support for deaf gamers, which is quite an improvement upon the last Syphon Filter title that we reviewed.
It was very disappointing to see how Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror for the PlayStation 2 didn’t cater for deaf gamers at all. Thankfully Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow is much better in this respect and deaf gamers get to follow all of the dialogue this time around and are aware of what needs to be done in each of the game’s missions. The game isn’t perfect by any means. The storyline, lacklustre AI and a default control system (you probably going to want to pick the alternate ‘Classic’ control scheme rather that the awkward default one). Despite these problems, Logan’s Shadow is enjoyable and offers great value for money (it can be bought for £17.99 online) with a lengthy single-player game and multiplayer options. It’s also one of the better action games that you can currently purchase on the PSP.