Originally created 12/03/01

'Syphon Filter 3' new for PS2

If your PlayStation has been collecting dust while you drool over one of the new superpower consoles, it's time to blow off the cobwebs one more time.

When a new Syphon Filter is released, it's a cause for celebration. "Syphon Filter 3" might have you wondering why Sony needed the PS2.

"SF3" is the latest - and probably last - episode in the adventures of super spy Gabe Logan and sidekick Lian Xing. The two are again locked in a seemingly endless battle with the mysterious Agency over the lethal bacteria dubbed Syphon Filter.

Most of what you find is familiar - the controls, the format, the graphics. But they are woven into yet another engrossing chapter in the battle to end the threat of the lethal illness and solve the riddle of the Agency once and for all.

After introductory scenes that get you used once again to handling the game's weapons and tactics, developer Eidetic turns to flashbacks to tell the story.

The flashbacks, which come during testimony before a Senate committee trying to frame Gabe for the virus, actually turn "SF3" into a prequel to the first Syphon Filter title.

As Gabe, Lian and spy buddy Lawrence Mujari tell their story, you get to play out their adventures. In mission after mission, you sneak through buildings and jungles, rescue allies and blow away hordes of enemy soldiers and operatives as you work toward a big finish in Washington.

Mujari is a playable character for the first time.

At the start of each mission, you receive a set of objectives, and an excellent map feature in most cases will highlight where you need to go to accomplish them. Those objectives often change in mid-mission, sending you scurrying in different directions, guns blazing.

As always, those guns and other hardware are a high point of the game. Sniping is a key to success, with one-bullet head-shots often the difference between success and discovery.

Luckily for you, your enemies are rather stupid. You can blast one soldier, and the one right next to him will just stand there looking around like a dunce instead of ducking behind a rock and shooting back.

There's a two-player deathmatch and five mini-games included, which just add to the value of the "SF3" package. The mini-games include "Demolition," in which you disarm a number of bombs before they explode, and "Assassin," which lets you practice your sniping.

Graphics get a B. They are typically PlayStation, and what once would have been hot is now passe. They're decent, with many tasty details, but they suffer some in comparison to the latest console fare. Camera angles are excellent.

Control gets a B. It's easy to get the characters to do what you want, the weapons are accurate and targeting is smooth.

Sound is another B. The music enhances the sneaking-and-snooping experience and the sound effects are excellent.

The PlayStation isn't totally dead, especially with the newish PSOne and the fact the PS2 will play most PlayStation titles. If "Syphon Filter 3" is the PlayStation's last hurrah, it's going out with a bang.

"Syphon Filter 3" is rated M, for ages 17 and older.


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