A long time ago a reader requested that I review the original Syphon Filter game. Being familiar with the second one and having a couple for the ps2, still unplayed, I thought that was a grand idea. I decided I would go through the entire series.
Well, that reader is since long gone, vanishing into the webscape, as most do – coming and going, commenting and interacting and then quietly exiting. Yet, I remain, still continuing Gabe Logan’s early 2000’s exploits.
How fitting for a retro video game site. A dash of nostalgia, a sprinkle of melancholy and a load of jagged jaws, government conspiracies and sexy spy-dom. So let’s get to it.
Oh, in the event you have missed the first two Syphon Filter write ups and are interested, here you go:
Also I must add – the Syphon Filter series on the PS1 is just, unbelievably, painstakingly difficult. To the point where I have had to use cheats on the past game (SF2) to get past a certain spot – otherwise I’d still be stuck and none of this would exist. 🤷🏻♂️
From what I can tell – there are no such cheats for Syphon Filter 3 – so as my best friend would say in his best Bear Grylls accent, “So now you’re really fooked”.
Interestingly enough, the game was originally slated to be released on September 25th 2001 but due to the September 11th attacks Sony pushed back the release until November 6th 2001. Sony also changed the North American cover art from Gabe and Lian in a shootout in front of an American flag to just a closeup of each of the characters.
Rather than an actual sequel Syphon Filter 3 acts more as a prequel that fills in some of the holes and events that lead up to the first game.
The story itself, begins with Gabe and Lian at Teresa Lipan’s funeral. Lian is racked with guilt. The scene then cuts to Gabe, Lian and Lipan’s close friend Dr. Lawrence Mujari testifying to congress about their involvement with The Agency. With the exception of the prologue (that has Gabe asassinating what looks like some high ranking official) the story is told through flashbacks during their testimony.
The plot is pretty neat at first glance. It’s a cinematic thriller, not really seen in gaming at the time but it doesn’t take too long to see just how big of a cluster fuck this whole trilogy has blown up into.
I love the idea of the main characters being on trial. I love the idea of a prequel of sorts. Explaining how Lian and Gabe met. Her being a young agent for the Chinese Secret Service and running into an army ranger named Gabe Logan in Soviet occupied Afghanistan in the 80’s.
It’s interesting to see the actual Costa Rican mission play out that was only spoken about in the original Syphon Filter but it also seems to fall into the same trap most NetfIix shows do nowadays. Instead of making their main characters more dynamic – they just add more characters and SF3 adds a lot.
There is another part worth mentioning that makes me laugh every time I think about it. While you are on trial for treason, Gabe Logan inexplicably makes his way to Dublin, Ireland to work with Mi6 to just casually stop another shipment of the virus, Syphon Filter. Apparently a special agent that possibly has betrayed his country isn’t any sort of flight risk??
Gabe clearly has a good lawyer.
Anyways, at this point in the series there has been pretty much no improvement whatsoever. Controls or gameplay wise. The graphics look sharper. The voice acting is a bit better but it’s clear Bend Studio had absolutely no intention of rocking the boat. Opting to not fix what isn’t broken even if it leads to a stale, boring experience with a laughable plot line.
It was touted as the last great storyline of the PS1 – and while it’s no means terrible, great is not the first word I would have chose either.
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