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Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (PlayStation 2) artwork

Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (PlayStation 2) review

"Bio-terrorism is an ugly scar on the face of humanity. Secret wars are waged all over the world to contain and defuse any situation before it leaks out into the public. Itís your job to keep the innocent civilians safeóthose civilians who will probably never thank you, appreciate you or even know who you are. For the longest time, it was up to Gabe Logan to stem the countless outbreaks that threatened the very fabric of society. Gabe, however, is no longer just a one-man anti-terrorism unit. Fol..."

Bio-terrorism is an ugly scar on the face of humanity. Secret wars are waged all over the world to contain and defuse any situation before it leaks out into the public. Itís your job to keep the innocent civilians safeóthose civilians who will probably never thank you, appreciate you or even know who you are. For the longest time, it was up to Gabe Logan to stem the countless outbreaks that threatened the very fabric of society. Gabe, however, is no longer just a one-man anti-terrorism unit. Following a betrayal within his own ranks heís taken it upon himself to reorganize the I.P.C.A. and step it up a notch. With the latest virus, Syphon Filter: Omega Strain, in danger of plaguing the land Logan has decided to pass the torch to you.

This story line could be outdated. Hell, Iíve battled the Syphon Filter virus twice already and one more strain didnít seem all that exciting. So I rented it, despite the fact I thought the story would be geriatric, because there were a few things I was dying to check out. I brought it back three days earlier than needed, turned around and flat out bought it I enjoyed it so much, story and all. The intrigue and atmosphere are set up in the first few seconds of the opening scene. You get a feel for how dangerous this new strain is and swell with pride as the great Gabe Logan reminds you the whole world is dependent upon your skills.

While the cut-scenes and array of characters make this storyline somewhat new, the real joy is actually stepping into the role of several different agents. After each area, if you meet every objective, you earn a special mission. This allows you to ďrecallĒ some of the higher-ranking officers glory days. The CGI sequence starts you out with agents such as Stone, Lian and Gabe talking about one of their many missions. After the sequence is over, you take on their role and begin re-enacting the flash back. They even provide you with a voice-over; sometimes stating where you need to go next and other times narrating what youíve just done. While there are very few of these missions it still provides you with a much-needed break from your agents tasks.

I say ďyour agentsĒ because you technically donít have a name. At least, not yet. Thatís another exciting thing about Syphon Filterís newest sequel, the create-a-character aspect. For the most part itís self-explanatory but needless to say you can change almost everything, even the logos on your shirt. Itís the amount of choices that make this an entertaining and daunting task and with so many different aspects getting unlocked after each mission it may be a while before you find the perfect look for your agent.

So after your done dolling yourself up, itís time to actually step out on the field. The training mission provides you with some much-needed info on the tasks at hand--from rolling and targeting, to carrying dead bodies and freed hostages. Hope you pick things up quick, because from there on out itís going to need to be instinct. This game is fast-paced to say the least. Sorry, itís ďyank your hair, running around like a jack rabbit on crack while maintaining a sense of concentration to spit bullets at your enemy so you can still do your dutyĒ paced. So running in this game is iminent. However, running in circles is not. The targeting system is tighter then a noose around a lynched fat man, making missed or wasted shots a thing of the past. Barreling down the streets and popping off rounds at anything that dares stick its head out has never been easier. Pushing and holding R1 locks onto any target, surrounding them in a colored circle. If the circle is green it means youíve got a clean shot, if itís yellow you may have a hard time hitting something and red means youíre obstructed. All of itís automatic so donít be afraid of charging down a corridor with your guns blazing. Your agent turns, adjusts and strafes with a quality befitting a pro. As soon as one terrorist falls down dead, you immediately lock onto the next one, allowing you to keep moving without having to readjust. Running targets are harder to hit, so keep those heels pounding.

But if you want to slow it down and take a more stealthy approach, Omega Strain allows you to do that as well. While pushing R1 may lead you into an automatic targeting, L1 is going to glide your vision down the scope of your rifle. Sneaking around corners, creeping up or finding a safe perch to snipe someone can be just as fun as maniacal machine gun games. Some weapons have night vision or even thermo-scope, making it simple to hide in a dark corner and gut enemies who arenít even paying attention. Headshots still make this game what it is, especially if youíre dealing with a flak jacket.

Even running through towns and capping terrorist can get dull, so Omega Strain has added a few more elements to make sure you never, ever get bored. The different objectives in each level provide a decent amount of entertainment, sometimes itís ďgung ho, say hello to my little friend, nobody gets out aliveĒ gun battles and other times you find yourself disguised, sneaking around and silently snapping peopleís necks. But even better is all the unlockable content. There are over a hundred different weapons and gadgets as well as a mass of new clothes for you to receive as you climb the ranks.

The rest of the game glides right alongside the fabulous mechanics. The voices are clear and though there isnít any real music to speak of, occasionally you get new Intel coming through your head set to break up the otherwise dull silence. Every weapon has a different sound, as if itís important but itís a nice detail. Graphic wise this game is only fair. Theyíre clean and precise, but in the cut-scenes everyone kind of has a big head. Outside of the CGIís theyíre decent. Your character moves and turns without looking funny, and itís always cool to see those terrorists drop from a bullet hole in the head. The graphics and the sound, however, donít merge well together. Sony needs to find a way to link the movement of the mouth and the actual voice together. Disney does it, why canít they?

As a cross between ďState Of EmergencyĒ and ďMetal GearĒ Omega Strain is the most entertaining, pulse hammering third person shooter money can buy, thus proving why this franchise has excelled. A brilliant targeting system that's matched with an insane create a mode all shoved into a neurotic, panic-stricken pace makes for a winner in my book. With everything needed for its genre and so much more, Omega Strain tazers your nerves, your sanity and the competition.

True's avatar
Community review by True (July 31, 2005)

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