10/9 – Syphon Filter

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

The first generation of 3D consoles was the wild west for gaming. People tried countless ideas to make games work in a 3D space. Some of these ideas stuck, like Z-Targeting from Zelda or the fixed camera angles of Resident Evil. Some, not so much. After making one of the worst examples of 3D gaming, Bubsy 3D, a game we’ll definitely talk about another day, Eidetic went back to the drawing board. Expectations were low for their second outing but Eidetic proved they could learn from their mistakes when they released the first entry in what would become one of the hallmark franchises of the Sony Playstation. Today’s game is Syphon Filter. Originally released in North America and Europe in 1999.

Syphon Filter focuses on special agents Gabe Logan and Lian Xing (pronounced lee-ON Shing) as they are tasked with investigating a number of biological weapon attacks centered around a terrorist named Erich Rhoemer. Over the course of the game, players discover a virus known as the Syphon Filter which can be programmed to attack specific DNA, making it ideal as a biological weapon. It also becomes clear that the lines between good and bad aren’t quite as solid as they first appear.

The game is mostly played as a third-person shooter with a significant focus on stealth gameplay. Syphon Filter isn’t as slow as games like Tenchu or Splinter Cell but charging in without a plan will still get you killed quickly. A radar shows the player the general lay of the land, pointing out enemies, weapons and objectives to let players strategize before entering a room. Players can use a number of real-life weapons such as a Glock 17 or a Dragunov SVD sniper rifle, although many of the names were changed to avoid copyright infringement. 

Despite developers actually citing Goldeneye 007 as their biggest influence, it’s hard to ignore the many similarities to Metal Gear Solid in both plot and gameplay. Despite the comparisons, critics and fans both found a lot to love in Syphon Filter. The graphics and plot were praised but many critics focused in on the AI which was remarkable for the time by not giving enemies pre-planned routes, instead allowing them to change things up over multiple playthroughs. Enemies would also respond to events occurring around them, such as the deaths of their teammates. Syphon Filter would go on to receive 2 sequels on the Playstation, one on the PS2 and two for the handheld PSP. The last game in the franchise came in 2007 and the series has remained dormant ever since. While a sequel may seem far from reach, Eidetic, now known as SIE Bend Studio, has not stopped making games, most recently releasing Days Gone on the Playstation 4. Numerous easter eggs in that game and some recent trademark renewals have helped keep hope alive that someday, Gabe and Lian may make a comeback. When the time is right.

Thanks so much for listening! If you want more Video Game of the Day, check out our website videogameoftheday.com and come hang out with us on Twitter @vg_oftheday. I’d love to hear about what you all are playing. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!