Review by elai1108

"A Game of Unfulfilled Potential"

Picked up the game yesterday at a local Gamestop. Here are some initial impressions after the first hour of play.

Gameplay (7/10)

This is probably the most important department, and SC disappoints. It was clear from the start that developers had trouble mapping all the controls for Fisher onto the PSP due to the absence of a second analog stick, as well as the two fewer shoulder buttons (L2/R2). Movement is severely hampered by this physical limitation. You cannot rotate the camera while moving, which severely limits your ability to get a feel for your surroundings. In order to rotate the camera, you must come to a complete stop, hold the “O” button, and pan using the analog stick. This isn't bad, just feels klunky when compared to SOCOM or Syphon Filter.

On the positive side, Fisher has all of the classic moves from jumping, rolling, split jump, SWAT move, and more. I haven't tried all the moves but most seem to be there. Knife attack is also included. Also, there are no maps for you to follow, which forces you to run around quite a bit especially in dark areas.

Graphics (6/10)

The graphics were also disappointing, seeing how Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (SC:DM) was able to leverage the PSP so effectively. In the initial levels, the environment is really, really dark, so dark that it forces you to use the night vision goggles, which is fine except this view is extremely grainy (almost PS1 quality!) and does not enhance your vision much at all. Even at the highest brightness setting (PSP, not game; game does not provide brightness adjustment), it is STILL very dark. I cannot imagine playing this game in a bright room. I was in a relatively dark room, and had issues seeing most elements without using NV goggles.

There is noticeable tearing of the graphical elements such as walls; if Fisher moves too close to a wall, sometimes you can see right through it. In certain positions, you can even see through the back of Fisher's head and see his eyes! This was quite a surprise.

Story (?)

Story in SC series has never been all that important or logical. This one is a bit different in that it takes place in the past when Fisher was a Navy Seal. I have not completed enough of the game to see the rest of the story line just yet.

Sound (7/10)

There was little music in the levels I have played so far. The sound volume seemed to be a bit low. The enemies whistle the same tunes that were heard in SC Chaos Theory or Pandora Tomorrow, which irritated me. I know this is a pseudo port to the PSP, but some new tunes would have been a nice change.

Replayability/Online (6/10)

As far as I am aware, there are no unlockables such as SC:DM offers, which limits replayability. There are 3 “bonus missions” in the main menu, but I have not tried these yet; these may require completion of standard missions first. Multiplayer is limited to ad-hoc only, and I do not expect to find much fun in this mode due to the quirkiness of the controls.

Final Score (7/10)

To sum up, this title failed to meet its potential. The SC series had set a high bar for the gaming industry, but this title failed miserably to meet its own standards. Do not get me wrong; there is much fun to be had here, despite the fact that the game feels rushed to market, is very much unpolished, and includes so many annoyances discussed previously. When compared to other action/shooter PSP titles in the market today, such as SOCOM and Syphon Filter, it simply does not compete. The absence of a playable demo also reinforced my original suspicion that this title was not quite ready for prime time.

Buy or Rent? First time fans should definitely opt for Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror instead. Long-time fans and/or SF:DM owners may consider renting first (if you can find it), or buying/selling after beating it/reaching end of patience with the bugs.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/06


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