Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

Key events

Sony announces budget US PSP packs

Sony announces budget US PSP packs

One final software push?

Sony is repackaging a number of first party PSP titles in the US at a budget price point.

As detailed on the PlayStation Blog, a range of Dual Packs go on sale this week for $14.99 (Ł9.40) a pop.

You can pick up Secret Agent Clank and Daxter; Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow and Killzone Liberation; and Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo.

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Syphon Filter 4 revealed for PS3?

Aims to "revolutionise" stealth gameplay.

Accidentally revealed PlayStation 3 game Syphon Filter 4 aims "revolutionise" stealth by using a brand new fancy-pants engine developed by Sony London.

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

You should get some Mr Sheen on that.

It is the late 1990s, and the world is head over heels in love with the bold new world of interactive entertainment opened up by Sony's chunky grey biscuit, the new-fangled "PlayStation". Most notably, everyone is frothing at the parts about a Japanese game called Metal Gear Solid, a sequel to some obscure MSX game, in which you don't just run around shooting people, you sneak around. And then shoot people. Or break their neck. You can even hide under cardboard boxes! It is the best game ever and everyone loves it.

As for me...yes, I admired Metal Gear as much as anyone, but the game I enjoyed more was Syphon Filter. Many thought me mad. Many probably still do. If Metal Gear was a blockbuster action movie directed by James Cameron, Syphon Filter was a direct-to-video Dolph Lundgren flick. What made it work was that it never felt like Syphon Filter was aiming any higher than that to begin with. It seemed quite comfortable with its B-list status and rather than trying to copy the more acclaimed and popular Metal Gear series (and later Splinter Cell) it was happy to deliver an engagingly corny story and just the right balance of tactical shooting and all-out run-and-gun nonsense.

As console generations rolled onwards, I was always worried that Syphon Filter was going to cave in and become a me-too title, abandoning the broad action strokes in favour of yet more creeping and neck-snapping. This worry flared up something rotten when Dark Mirror was announced as a flagship game for the PSP, the series most high profile release yet. Thankfully the stealth elements remained minimal, while instantly gratifying firefights remained high on the agenda. And the same is true of the PS2 port, although rather than being improved by the leap between handheld and joypad the game has actually diminished in key areas.

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Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror

Putting Snake and Fisher to shame.

Well, now we feel a little guilty. Firstly, we'd begun to think that Sony's gorgeous slab of PSP might not have been the future of handheld consoles after all. I mean, I'm still playing Lumines, Everybody's Golf and ahem, Midway Arcade Treasures, but ports of old PSone games and watered down multiformat titles just haven't done it for me. And then along comes Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, which you'd be forgiven for thinking might be a combination of the two, a watered down home console offering based on old PSone titles. But no, this is all built specifically for the PSP and it's good. Bloody hell, this is rather good indeed.

And there's the second reason why we feel so guilty - we'd all but lost touch with Gabe Logan and his Precision Strike gang. Like an old friend we'd failed to ring for a few years, we meant to drop him a line, but we've been hanging out with Snake and Fisher. I mean, we noticed Omega Strain on PS2 a couple of years back but, well, it wasn't very memorable was it? Sorry for not getting back in touch sooner. But it's good to see you, you look great. And if you don't mind me saying so, you feel great too. Been working out?

All of which vaguely homoerotic fan fiction is a clumsy way of saying Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is perhaps the best traditional action game on the PSP. It's not going to change the way we play videogames, but you'll likely enjoy playing every minute of it. And that's not something you can say about many games on any format.

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