March 6th, 2009
“The Underseige of Video Games” – Daniel Johnson
Syphon Filter:Logan’s Shadow is a typical video game sequel, sourcing heavily from the original while tightening the screws of an already solid base. It’s for this reason that there isn’t particularly much that I have to say about this game which you probably don’t already know from my previous articles. Still, I want to talk about it – after all I’m a series fan. Although some of my writings in the past may have lent more closely to reviews than so called critique, I don’t (intentionally) do game reviews here, which is why I want to be a little more progressive and actually review this game in the same way music is reviewed; song by song. In this case, I’ll be discussing Syphon Filter:Logan’s Shadow as a series of interlocking missions, rather than a complete package. Such a style, where the basics come assumed, perhaps might make the review more favourable towards people that are familiar with the original title – or so I hope. Let’s see how it goes.
Pirates of Somalia
Logan’s Shadow surprisingly begins with a fixed positioned, gun turret scene preluding Gabe’s helicopter descent on board the U.S.S. Mt. St. Helens. As the title suggests, the navy ship has been over run by Somalian pirates after the mysterious contents in hold 5. The introduction movie is sure to set the scene for another typically uninteresting action movie script, this time the emphasis is on the history and partnership of Lian Xing as well as a “pencil neck” politician Cordell – he must have no first name. The narrative ensues in cliched fashion, there’s a few kickers but even for fans like me it isn’t much, that’s all I’ll say about the narrative for now.
Quick time events are subtly introduced as a first for the series. They operate when prompted to open tight doors and other such tasks that can’t be done with the standard skill set, as such the context you’re given for using them justifies their inclusion, rather than seeming like a faddish addition sporadically sprung on you at the worst of times.
Otherwise, the ship is a typical climb-to-the-top mission. The barrels in the game also seem to have been blessed with the gift of euphoria physics.
You start off in the ship’s hull (some nice colours and lighting inside) and then move outside to the central part of the ship to catch a crane ride across to the other side. The music really starts to kick in once the fire fight gets under way, similar to the other titles, it’s very appropriate espionage music with beautiful undertones and exciting high points.
Teresa messaged me a second time to alert me of what I was suppose to be doing after spending too long surveying the environment. Seems like a nice way to keep players on the right track. There was a cart pushing sequence mid-way during the mission which didn’t make a lot of sense considering Gabe could easily climb over the trolley.
Unsurprisingly the female chopper pilot introduced in the first mission dies. More reason for Logan to get angry at his enemies I suppose.
You’re in the water this time by the side of the ship, ready to test out Logan’s Shadow‘s new swimming and diving mechanics. Wisely, this mission relies only on your treading water for the most part with one exception there is no need to dive underwater at all.
Being surrounded by water, the game begins to show off some of the new effects. The water for one looks fantastically liquidy and only continues to impress you move back inside the now damaged ship, pushing bloom, filters and a culmination of other effects in your face. Looking out from underneath the water the game binds blurred visuals with filtered sound and spread of bullets darting the water to create a convincing water environment. The water itself almost looks like full motion video, rendered in game.
Bullets stir up the water surface, terrorists can actually move into the water, swim towards you and shoot from underneath the surface. Their diversity is balanced nicely with your own electrical darts pulsate outwards when activated in water, covering significant surface area. The medium of water has extended the darts prior use, it’s a logical and clever way to add on layers to pre-existing mechanics by tying it together with the natural environment.
Besides that, this mission is fairly short. You just need to blow up a few small boats anchored around the navy ship and then make your way back inside the hull.
Sea of Darkness
This level is one of the significantly larger stages in Logan’s Shadow – includes a boss battle at the end too. You begin in the cargo holds, this time Gabe can jump into a button mashing sequence to open cargo doors, the level design of the first floor lacks direction, it fails to lead you in the right direction making it easy to get lost. Furthermore the cargo holds are tangled with trolleys and doors which can be lifted and pushed. Plenty of hidden evidence tuck away in the rummage though.
The environments have a great blend of vibrant yellows and greens, giving the whole first area a very atmospheric sort of feel This is rammed up when you transit into the lower claustrophobic corridors where water is flooding in as high as your knees, steam pipes exploding and gun shots everywhere. Again, it’s a snow dome of visual effects, that in turn the environment into a hazardous playground.
By now it’s kicked in how the use of water has diversified the gameplay from the Dark Mirror formula. There’s also a greater inclusion of environmental variables, gas tanks which send fire raging before they explode, even the subtle environmental kills like banging someone’s head against a crate. So far it looks like there is a good deal of variation to distinguish Logan’s Shadow from its former.
Wow, still have five more episodes to go. I never intended to drone on so much about these two games. Oh well, there’s hardly enough video games coverage that looks at a single game for more than an article or two, so I guess my super analysis is quite distinguished then, is it not? I like writing like this anyways, allows me to get into all the undisscussed nooks and crannies.