The PSP has sadly been treated like the outcast of the family, receiving a few hand-me downs from its more established PS2 brother. However Syphon Filter is about to join in the growing trend to break the cycle of hand-me downs and has released an exclusive title to the PSP, Syphon Filter; Logan’s Shadow. It will be a refreshing release for both the series and the PSP handheld, which has far more potential than being used to play just PS2 ported games more conveniently.
Syphon Filter; Logan’s Shadow is again headed by Gabe Logan, an agent specialising in, and discreetly dealing with, top secret government missions. Logan’s Shadow sees Gabe initially tasked with securing the cargo of a naval ship which has been overtaken by Somalian terrorists. The attack of the naval ship is only the beginning of this epic tale of espionage and political agenda, however the true challenge will be the loyalty of some of his operatives, as he suspects a double agent is amongst them.
The story aside, Logan’s Shadow looks pretty impressive and probably breaks into one of the best looking games on the PSP. The movie-like clips are like something out of an animated movie. The general play, although not as impressive, still is pretty good on the smaller screen as well. You can see the detail through the behaviour of the surroundings you play across, from the rough seas to rugged terrain. You could almost say its reflective to what actually happens, for example reflections and life-like movements of objects.
Gameplay is also great and you can use a combination of both stealth, or for a more direct approach, run round guns blazing to complete missions. However if you want to entrench yourself in the story and the experience, then stealth is the way to go. The other upshot to going stealth is you will probably last longer too. It can be fun going in guns blazing, but Logan’s Shadow has some good gaming, so its worth playing it the way it is meant.
Some of the AI isn’t perfect either with some enemies taking cover, but not react ing when you're right in front of them. To their credit, they do have enough intelligence to take cover when you fire off some cover shots. Called blind fire, Gabe fires off a few random rounds, which then sends the enemies to cover. This works well during battle, as you can move strategically through the battle grounds knowing where each one is placed, knocking them off one by one, and without getting too many people shooting at you.
The controls though take a little gloss off the gaming experience, but this is more to do with the PSP having only one analogue stick. You have three different control schemes to choose, which, in a nut shell, sees the core buttons used like an analogue stick to control Gabe’s direction or movement. Having had a go at all three the preference would probably have to be the default. The default sees the sole analogue stick used for movement, while the core 4 buttons used for pointing Gabe in the direction required i.e. triangle = up, x = down, circle = right and square = left.
Its not a perfect control system, but does the job. You do have a great auto locking feature, which helps ease the pain of having to use the buttons to aim. This feature is handy when used from cover, where you can lock onto the target, then pop out for some quick shots on the unsuspecting enemies. Once you get more into the game you’ll find, or we did anyway, that this feature actually takes some of the pressure off the awkward control system.
Logan’s Shadow sees the introduction of timed button combinations, something taken from and worked well for God of War. It’s used at various times in Logan’s Shadow, but it sometimes felt like a pointless exercise. Like connecting crane, it’s a generic process which could have easily been done with a small cut scene. For the kill movement though, it works alright, but is probably less annoying because it serves more of a purpose and looks better than connecting a crane say.With all its pro’s and con’s, it fair to say that Logan’s Shadow is a great game. It ignores the lack of functions of the PSP, namely the analogue stick, and throws in some handy features to help ease the pain and improve the gaming experience. Syphon Filter has been around a while now, but Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow is bound to stir a bit of interest among the new and avid followers of the series.