Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow Review

The first installment of the Syphon Filter series to be put on the PSP, Dark Mirror, was very fun.  Continuing from the end of the first game, Logan’s Shadow puts players against terrorist forces once more.  Use the many different weapons and tools you have access to in order to survive long enough to figure out who knows the truth behind the game’s events.

For players new to the series it should not take long to get up to speed with the tutorial levels.  For those who have played the previous game, the tutorials are close to identical to the ones in Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror.

With a story written by Greg Rucka, and a musical score by composer Azam Ali, the action is set against a nice backdrop of narrative and sound.

The graphics in Logan’s Shadow are very well done.  There is a good deal of detail in the different weapons and tools, and a nice variety of enemy types to fight.

Gabe fights his opponents across a variety of terrains.  From a damaged Navy ship, to fighting through the streets and buildings of a city, to the interiors of bunkers and a dam, players should not be bored with the arenas they spend their time exploring.

There are some ghosting issues that are highlighted by the predominance of dark enviroments in the game.  This is mitigated by the fact that the player will spend a great of their time using one of the three different vision enhancements to study their surroundings.

The game also has some nice fog effects and underwater effects.  The aforementioned vision modes are also well done.  The infrared mode was particularly well done.  Being able to spot enemies through walls is very helpful!

The weapon sounds in the game are excellent.  From the muted sound of the silenced weapons, to the powerful roar of the light machine guns and .357 magnum pistol, and all of the weapons in between, the sounds do not disappoint.

The opposition does do some talking as the player works through the levels.  Usually they are speaking their native language, which is helpfully subtitled, and the player can gain some valuable information by listening to the conversations.  In general the voice acting is well done.

Then there is the music.  The game’s missions take the player to several different regions in the world.  Each area has its own theme, and they are very well done.  The music does not overwhelm while fighting and working through the levels, but, it does add to the immersion.

Playing a first person/third person shooter on the PSP requires some adjustments from the start. 

The default setup for Logan’s Shadow is movement on the analog nub, aiming done with the face buttons, L button aims, R button fires weapons/throws grenades.  The player uses the D-pad to select/activate the different vision modes, select weapons and their firing rate, crouch/stand, and climb or interact with various objects in the game world.

This is the setup that I used in my time with the game, and, on the whole it worked well.  There were a few times that I struggled to coordinate movement and targeting together, particularly when trying to maneuver for a melee attack.

There are a number of other control schemes to choose from, and, the option to turn on auto-targeting if the player so desires.  There are sliders for X/Y sensitivity along with an acceleration slider.  All of these options should allow players to find a setup that is comfortable.

In the end the player is still hampered somewhat by not having dual analogs available, but, the controls should not get in the way overly much.

The player is taking on the role of an elite special ops team member.  As such the player has a wide variety of tools to use in overcoming their enemies, and completing the mission objectives.

While the levels are, for the most part, fairly linear, the player can choose to approach them with several different tactics. 

If one prefers the stealthy approach, expert use of the silenced weapons, knife, taser, gas darts, taser darts, grappling, etc. will allow the player to achieve the objectives with minimal firefights.

On the other hand if one favors a more direct confrontation there are numerous weapons ranging from pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, light machine guns, grenades, etc. to choose from while gunning the opposition down.

Another option that can be helpul is using the environment to take out enemies.  This can range from shooting explosive items that are near opponents, to eletrocution.

Regardless of the players basic choice of tactics one thing that all players will use is cover.  It is possible to ‘snap’ to walls/columns/barriers and gain some protection from enemy fire while lining up a nice head shot.  It is also possible to blind-fire over/around cover in order to suppress opponents who might try to rush.  Using cover is also critical to allowing time to line up carefully aimed shots on the very heavily armored enemies that are encountered.

Another option that everyone will make great use of are the different vision modes.  The EDSU (allows you to see electric pathways etc.) is invaluable for figuring out where to go, and avoiding traps.  The infrared is very useful for see enemies through walls and highlighting important objects.  The night vision is useful where one would expect it to be.

One weapon that deserves a special note is the sniper rifle.  It is extremely versatile in the game.  The player has the choice of basic 6mm rounds for general sniping duties and three different darts.  The darts come in explosive, gas, and taser varieties.  Proper use of these darts can make a huge difference in how a situation plays out.

New to the series are the mini-games.  At various points in the game the player is required to input the proper button sequence to accomplish their tasks, such as hooking up a winch from a helicopter to remove an obstacle.

Also making an appearance are underwater sections and appropriate weapons, such as bolt guns.  It can be initially disorienting fighting and moving underwater.  There were a number of times that it took a bit to actually figure out where the enemies were in relation to the player.

Gabe does not work entirely alone in the game.  There are several sections where he teams up with others to accomplish objectives, along with a few escort sections.  At one point the player actually takes control of another character and provides some cover fire for Gabe.

The enemy AI is decent.  It will try to flank you given the opportunity, rush you if allowed the chance, and generally not be too stupid.  The AI is not inhumanly accurate, if the player is taking a lot of damage it is the result of putting oneself in a bad position, or missing the fact that opponents have appeared behind him/her.  The enemy will try to avoid getting shot, but, does get stuck in patterns of ‘step out shoot, hide, step out shoot’ that can easily be exploited.

The main story mode of the game takes approximately 10 hours or so to complete the 6 missions (each comprised of 3-5 individual sections) on normal.  Not a bad length for a game of this type.  For those that want and expect more, however, there are other options to get more out of the game.

Once a story mode section is completed, the option to replay it in mission mode is unlocked.  When playing in mission mode one selects the specific section to play, the difficulty, and the specific loadout of weapons and tools to take along.  The game also gives a list of stats such as knife kills/headshots/special weapons used/etc., for each section and overall.  By using specific tactics a larger variety of weapons and tools are unlocked to take in mission mode.

Along with the story mode missions one can unlock several bonus missions by achieving certain goals in the game.  These missions are varied and allow the player to take the role of other characters in the game besides Gabe.

The game also includes an online multiplayer mode, which I was not able to try out, for those who enjoy competing with other humans. 

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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