Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain Review


Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain is one game with two personalities Ė one online and one single-player, one not too bad and one not so good. What makes for good cooperative multiplayer missions can make for an overly difficult and frustrating single player game. Syphon Filter plays like it was designed with the multiplayer game in mind, so if you donít have a broadband connection and plan on taking the game online you may want to give some thought as to whether or not Syphon Filter would be a game that youíd enjoy before going out and buying it. How will you know if itís for you? Thatís what Iím here for so please read onÖ

Screenshots
An IPCA agent in the field.

In Syphon Filter you are a newly recruited agent of a secret agency known as the IPCA. A mysterious new virus, the Omega Strain, has been unleashed by an unknown terrorist group and it is up to you to stop the outbreak and find its source. To do so youíll need to travel the world beginning from Carthage, Michigan where you first encounter the outbreak. There are 17 missions in all which is certainly a lot, but when you take into account the facts that each mission will present you with additional objectives as you play and that each level is quite large in size and you end up with plenty to keep you busy for quite a while.

This gameplay is further extended by the fact that the game is pretty difficult. First of all some of the objectives can be confusing or nebulous, so it will take some trial and error and backtracking before youíre even sure what youíre supposed to be doing. Next we have the random deaths that will get you when you donít know they are coming, like in the gameís first level where terrorist bombers can kill you instantly if you make the mistake of walking in front of a storefront packed with C4 that theyíre detonating. The next factor making life difficult for players is the enemiesí nasty habit of endlessly respawning - itís hard to save Carthage, Michigan when the enemy sends in more terrorists than the population of Detroit. Lastly there is a problem with the decided lack of ammunition. Once you locate all of the very limited ammo caches in a level youíll have to rely on dead terrorists for your supplies. Since you need to kill those terrorists to get the supplies, youíll be in a constant deficit ammunition situation. Basically expect to get killed many times before completing a level Ė at least you donít have to restart from the beginning each time.

Syphon Filter is played from a third person perspective. Youíre not able to jump, but you can use the buttons to strafe, roll, and crawl as you are moving around. These maneuvers are actually pretty critical as moving and rolling around is vital to avoiding being shot. Since you are often out of ammo and canít fire back, expect to do a lot of dodging and rolling as your enemies respawn with full ammo clips. When shooting back you have the option of switching to a first person view to aim or using a target lock button. The first person view will allow you to save ammo by lining up head shots, but the control is not entirely smooth or precise. The target lock works better, but youíll burn through your precious ammo a lot faster. Interacting with objects, searching corpses, and similar actions is done by pressing the triangle button when directly in front of the object. The hotspots are all a little too touchy though, so youíll have to line yourself up just right to enable the action. Overall the control is slightly off and unresponsive, so you wonít always move up to the spot youíre aiming for anyway.