Syphon Filter Dark Mirror – PSP Preview
By: Andy Levine

When the original Syphon Filter first made its way to the original Playstation several years back it shocked the gaming industry by putting its own little twist on the popular shooter genre. Since then the series has made several more appearances on PS1 and PS2, but none of these titles had the same impact as the original. Now, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror hopes to change this by bringing Gabe Logan’s next espionage adventure to the PSP.

Dark Mirror allows the gamer to control a super agent spy known as Gabe Logan who advocates various groups such as the Red Section. Because he faces a seemingly endless amount of mercenaries on his missions, he makes sure to bring the right equipment. For the more stealthy gamers, guns like silenced pistols and Dragunov SVD sniper rifles will allow you to remain virtually undetected, while there are also plenty of SMGs and other goodies like an M4 for those who enjoy rushing the front gates and shooting the place up. Depending on the way you play the game, the mission will play differently every time. For instance, in the first level in the demo a sniper is keeping watching over an oil refinery while a bunch of foot soldiers also keep guard. If Logan can remain incognito, he can take out the sniper with one quick shot to the head. By doing this, the sniper will be unable to set off the alarm and warn others of your presence, and as long as you remain under the radar your enemies won’t even know you exist. On the other hand, if you burst into the refinery locked and loaded you can expect to be faced with a lot of foot to foot combat.

Like any spy, Logan obviously comes equipped with a bunch of cool gadgets that can make his missions a lot easier. One such device, known as the rapid traversal line, allows him to slide down wires suspended in the air, therefore allowing him to travel from building to building without having to even touch the ground. The goggles menu can be accessed by pressing left on the D-pad, and in it you can equip various types of headgear. The thermal goggles allow you to see where enemies are by measuring heat levels, while the infrared ones can show traps, environmental hazards, and other obstacles. In addition, most of the weapons can be modified as well. The MB150 sniper rifle can use standard rounds if you simply want to take someone out, but it can also fire darts. One type of dart will instantly knock enemies out, while another one acts as a remote detonator. A powerful Taser can stun enemies temporarily, and then a final blow with the butt of your gun can keep them out for a long time. Basically, Dark Mirror is going to be much more than your average third person shooter.

The biggest challenge with creating shooter games on the PSP is the fact that controlling it can be a pain. A few other titles, like Coded Arms and SOCOM, managed to do an alright job in this respect partially due to lock-on type systems. In Dark Mirror, the lock-on crosshair is a dotted circle that becomes smaller as a more precise shot can be made. In addition, by holding down the left shoulder button you can aim manually. This system actually works out well because you can man the controls just in case the lock-on targeting decides to get stuck on some inanimate objects. Zooming in with snipers is also easy, and it’s nice to know that you can walk around while zoomed in order to keep up with moving targets. While aiming isn’t as simple as it would be with a dual analog setup, Dark Mirror does a great job at working with the PSP’s hardware. Locking on to hordes of enemies and mowing them all down is loads of fun, and zooming in and having an enemy spurt blood from his head is a truly rewarding experience. At times the interface felt a little clunky and the gameplay seemed to drag a bit, but for the most part the gameplay was smooth.

Overall, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror is going to be another worthy title in the slew of games that are going to be released in the next month. A strong single player campaign with an in-depth story will satisfy anyone’s spy desires, and there’s even going to be an infrastructure multiplayer mode! Diehard fans of the series are surely going to love this title, and even people totally unfamiliar with Logan are going to be able to appreciate this espionage thriller.