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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

SCEA

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2004

 

 

- Online play

- Character customization

- Lots of unlockables

 

 

- Re-spawning enemies

- Auto aiming proves to be frustrating

- Characters and environments lack detail

- Poor single player mode

- Stealth doesn’t work so well

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (PS2)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2 - Sons of Liberty (PS2)

Review: Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow (XB)

 

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Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain

Score: 6.9 / 10

 

It seems like most of the old PS One hits have made re-appearances in one form or another on the PS2.  PaRappa the Rapper, Spyro the Dragon, Hot Shots Golf, Twisted Metal, and Metal Gear Solid to name a few and now Syphon Filter: Omega Strain (SFOS) can be added to the list.

 

syphon filter the omega strain review          syphon filter the omega strain review

 

Unlike previous games in the series, you don’t assume the role of Agent Gabe Logan. This time around Gabe Logan is calling the shots as head of the International Presidential Consulting Agency, which deals with terrorist threats around the globe. Instead you play a rookie field agent that you create at the beginning of the game. The game features a pretty solid array of options for customizing your own agent. You can adjust the gender, face shape, hairstyle, and even facial hair. (The adjust your weapons load-out before each mission.)

 

SFOS’s storyline is based heavily around biological terrorism. It’s your job to find the deadly Omega Strain virus before terrorists can unleash a horrendous attack on a civilian population. The game features seventeen objective-based missions (in hostile urban environments to dense jungles) for the single player mode and there are nine missions reserved for online play. Each one of the seventeen missions has primary goals, which must be achieved to pass the mission. There are also a number of secondary goals, which if achieved, can unlock new weapons and four solo-missions designated for the in-game characters.

 

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At the beginning of the single player mode you have the option of either jumping automatically into the first level or going through basic training. You’ll save yourself a lot of pain by doing the training mission first. The training mode takes you through the tools of the trade such as weapon use, running and walking, interacting with different objects, and the use of NVG’s (night vision goggles).

 

For the most part, SFOS uses an auto-lock targeting system. The R1 button on the controller 

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is used for locking onto targets and the square button is used to shoot. You can also shoot at enemies through the first person mode, by pressing the L1 button. The only drawback to the first person mode is that you must be stationary while shooting. Movement while shooting is very important in SFOS. Using the L2 and R2 buttons you can strafe left or right while engaging an enemy. This proves to be rather useful for dodging enemy fire, but it tends to reduce accuracy.

 

One of SFOS’s biggest gameplay grievances comes from its aiming system. The targeting system really needed more work. You can lock onto targets that your character cannot even see (usually enemies on top of buildings). At times you’ll become rather frustrated by how many bullets it takes to drop an enemy at close range.

 

The single player game grows old rather quickly and proves to be both frustrating and monotonous. The good news is that if you are finding a single player mission to be tiring, you can jump online with a few friends. (Any missions beaten in the multiplayer mode are considered beaten in the single player mode.)

 

Compared to the online cooperative mode, playing the missions solo will take you a lot longer to beat. You’ll usually be running back and fourth searching for your objectives. One of the strangest design decisions was re-spawning enemies. You’ll encounter re-spawning enemies in both the single player and cooperative play. I found myself on several occasions running through the same area in a level, only to come across groups of enemies I thought dead. The re-spawning enemies prove to be rather taxing on your ammo and health and seems to be an artificial way to extend both challenge and play time.

 

syphon filter the omega strain review          syphon filter the omega strain review

 

The developers also tried to incorporate some stealth into the game. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sneak up behind an enemy and kill him. There is also a crouched walk, which reduces the chances of your agent being discovered. Overall, the stealth aspect of the game isn’t as honed since you’ll be too busy engaged in frantic firefights to worry about using stealth.

 

SFOS features one online mode: co-operative play. The game really emphasizes teamwork. Team communication is extremely important and thanks to the use of the headset, it's also easy as most players you’ll come across online will have a USB headset for voice chat. The cooperative play is a nice change from the old adversarial modes found in most other online games, but you'll still have to grapple with respawning enemies.

 

The online lobby is quite different from most other games. Rather than listing all the available games with a certain region (ex. US East or US West), the game lists all available servers per level. You may occasionally run into the problem of not finding any servers for a designated level.

 

In the end, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain proves to be a disappointment. The game lacks polish thanks to enemies that never stay dead and a lock-on method that is only so-so. The single player is something you can afford to miss but if you’re tired of SOCOM 2 (who is?) or are looking for a fresh new type of online game, then you should give SFOS a shot.

 

- Siddharth Masand

(June 20, 2004)

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