Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain

Overview

Most of us remember the first Syphon Filter game for the PlayStation; by far the best game of the series. Initially labeled as a Metal Gear Solid clone, Syphon Filter placed more emphasis on the action rather than the former’s cinematic presentation. The game produced some of the best third person action the console had to offer. The series continued but unfortunately in a downward spiral as the games started to become uninspired and repetitive. Now after a long layover the series is back with Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain for the PlayStation 2.

Gameplay

In the three previous titles for the Syphon Filter series you played as Secret Agent Gabe Logan, a pretty typical agent that followed the normal agent trend. Some may be disappointed to know that you no longer will be playing as Mr. Gabe Logan but instead you will be playing as a no-no recruit working for Gabe Logan’s secret anti-terrorist organization; the IPCA. I know some of you are probably thinking how could they get rid of Gabe, he seemed to fit the role pretty well. I am here to tell you that even though I would have much rather played as Gabe the ability to create your own agent was just as fun.

You start the game by creating your player by picking through a pretty bland character design mode where the options are pretty limited. What really upset me was the lack of Eye Toy support for the create-a-player features. When I look at how SCEA is really trying to push there little black camera; I would have loved to put my face in an action title.

Once you have created your character; you are then sent to a pretty basic training level that does a great job of trying to bore you to tears. We all know that training levels aren’t fun; but this one just goes above and beyond not being fun.

Following the brief yet tiring tutorial mode you are given seventeen missions to run through that all having to deal with mysterious virus outbreak. What you will find in every single mission you work through is that each level has an onslaught of objectives; which will change frequently throughout levels. Once you complete one mission more will come at you more will be there to follow. The one feature I did like is that you really don’t know what is to come next; you could be trying to find some secret piece of paper and then all of a sudden be in a gunfight with ten to twenty guards. This really keeps you on your toes throughout the game, which indeed is a huge compliment to the developers.

As many of you know, this Syphon Filter was not about the single player mode but instead Omega Strain has gotten most of its hype for its online compatibility. The online mode works exactly like the single player mode does except instead of going through the missions by yourself you get to go through with a group of people. This concept on paper sounds like it really become a fun nicely paced third person shooter online mode, but unfortunately it doesn’t work as well as most would have hoped. Teamwork should be key in a game such as Omega Strain but as I have encountered through my online play that is the last thing on everyone’s mind. The reason for this is that the level design really doesn’t require you to stay together and work as a team, so that gives everyone the idea to just go do there own thing and hope everyone else figures out something to do for themselves.

The online mode is fun but there are also some problems that can’t go unnoticed. Through my time playing online I was intrigued by the fact that since the game was broadband only, so there was little to no lag while playing. On the bad side was that there were some glitches that won’t go unnoticed. Overall though the online mode is decent but not as satisfying as people had hoped, it just doesn’t have all the necessary tools to truly make you excited to go online and play. Instead you will come to realize that the idea was there but the execution was not.

Graphics

When I look back on the Syphon Filter games of the past I remember that all three of them were pretty strong in the graphics department. They all had pretty rich environments with strong character models that weren’t perfect but very solid. Now that the series has jumped from PlayStation to the PlayStation 2 how do the graphics fair?

Well unfortunately the graphics don’t meet the standards set by the previous games of the series. The environments on one hand are not as detailed and colorful as we have seen in recent action titles. Most of the levels are pretty bland and become quite repetitive. On the flip side the character models are a mixed bag of good and average. Your created player has quite a bit of character and detail but all of the enemies are disappointingly boring and uninspired.

The graphics of Omega Strain isn’t something that hurts the game tremendously but it also doesn’t pick up any of the slack for the average gameplay.

Fun Factor

Syphon Filter: Omega Strain does have its moments throughout the game that do keep you interested. I personally did have some fun with both the single and online modes of the game. Now this is not to say that I loved them but I did have times while playing that I though the game was quite fun. There are quite a few weapons to choose from which always helps to mix things up and makes killing the enemies that much more enjoyable.

Overall

Syphon Filter: Omega Strain is one of those games that did not live up to the hype that its fan base put out for it. I am not saying that the game is bad, but it was just a disappointment to see the game not reach its full potential. So for those of you die hard Syphon Filter fans out there who are wondering if you should even bother with Omega Strain I would say it’s a judgment call on how bad you want an average third person action game. For everyone else I would not recommend purchasing it but it would make a great rental.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.