I was completely surprised when this popped up in my mail, presumably from my Playstation Underground or G.A.P. memberships. I hadn't even heard of its existence, but I was happy to load it up.
It's a very odd demo in that there are no instructions whatsoever, printed or otherwise. The game loads up, asks you to press start, and then begins an intro cutscene followed by what would appear to be the first mission of the new game. No access to a tutorial - perhaps the game was only sent to people who registered the previous game.
The level begins with a short on-the-rails shooting segment. Gabe is tasked with taking out missile launchers on a hijacked naval ship, and his helicopter circles above until he has either completed the task or the copter is shot down.
After destroying the missile threat, Gabe is dropped down on the deck and the gameplay is very similar to Dark Mirror. Using cover, dropping bad guys, finding secret evidence and navigating through the level to reach a designated point or accomplish a specific goal. Some of the new things evident in the demo:
- blind fire. Much like you could shoot without looking in kill.switch, Gabe can poke his arm out above his cover without risking his life and spray some bullets around. After only one trip through the demo, I can't say if this is for anything more than show.
- button pressing events. Similar to God of War's boss battles and door opening, some tasks can only be completed by pressing one of the face buttons at the appropriate time. In this case Gabe has to connect a cable to some clutter on the deck so that the helicopter can lift it out of his way. Some button mashing is also needed to pry open a duct cover.
Some of things on the packaging that I have not seen in the demo:
- human shields. Supposedly Gabe will be able to grab a bad guy and use him as cover. I didn't have the opportunity to do this during my playthrough, but it is possible it could be done. I'm guessing it works with a context-sensitive button press.
- underwater levels. In the finished game there will be levels where Gabe will spend at least part of his time swimming.
Graphics look about the same, although they appear to have added some more physics to the objects such as barrels which have exploded and are lying about the deck. Unrealistic physics, if you ask me, because the barrels would go flying if you just bumped into them.
As far as the story goes, not much is given away. I have played every Syphon Filter game except for The Omega Strain, and I have always found the stories to be overly complex, with too many characters. At the beginning of the demo Gabe recognizes the ringleader of the pirates who have taken over the aforementioned ship and mentions that they have some "unfinished business". I could look it up on the Web, but I didn't immediately recognize if this was a character who had actually appeared in the SF universe before or he had just been made up for this game.
I'll probably play through the demo again to do a little more exploring and see if I can trigger the human shield event. At the moment it looks like anyone who enjoyed Dark Mirror will have fun with the sequel.
By the way, you can request a demo and see a trailer with a lot more plot info here
EDIT: One other thing - playing the demo requires you to upgrade your PSP to software version 3.4. I don't do homebrew so I went along with it, but I know that's a no-no for some.