Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
The action-star of every PlayStation platform so far finally comes to PSP to save the world from international villains.
He's been saving the world from international terrorism since the PS one days and now Secret Agent Gabe Logan is set to bring his own kick-ass brand of heroism to PSP in an all-new adventure.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror follows Gabe and his colleague Lian Xing as they span the globe searching out the nefarious Red Section group and their plans for the mysterious Dark Mirror project.
In a series of lone missions, Gabe (or Lian Xing occasionally) must utilise tactics, cool espionage gadgets and an array of deadly weapons to get in, get the job done and get out again.
SF:DM is very definitely an action game, but it's not all-out war as with SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo, and while caution, cover and tactics are important, this is not a stealth game like Splinter Cell: Essentials. Gabe's antics sit somewhere in the middle - tactical action - with a healthy dose of From Russia With Love's secret agent panache thrown in for good measure.
Such style is evident from the outset, with some excellent CGI cut scenes and some stirring Hitchcock-esque music (ear-catching for this genre of game) so you know you're in for a treat even before the game begins in earnest.
When is does, the quality continues with some highly detailed graphics, good (if slightly clichéd) voice acting and some equipment that Q would be proud of.
As well as a flashlight, Gabe has a set of goggles with three vision modes. The first, EDSU (Electronic Device Sensing Utility) is primarily here to offer a helping hand if you're stuck, as it shows up objects that can be interacted with, such as hidden switches or not-so hidden doors. Night Vision does exactly what it says on the tin but perhaps the most useful is Infrared or heat vision. As well as helping see enemies in smoky environments it also gives you a limited ability to see through walls. Very handy indeed when entering a new location or trying to cover a buddy crawling through a roof space above you.
While most of the weapons will be familiar to any videogame warrior - silenced pistols, sub-machine guns and assault rifles of varying kinds - Gabe's sniper rifle offers some of the most fatal fun to be had. As well as standard bullets, the rifle comes loaded with electric stun darts, area-effect gas darts and when you absolutely, positively have to kill every bad guy in the room, hi-explosive rounds. Now while this might be a direct effort to challenge Splinter Cell's fun spy arsenal, there's no doubting Gabe's versions work very well and fit perfectly with the fast-paced styling of the game.
While snap-to-wall cover is nothing new (Solid Snake has been doing it for years), in SF:DM it's smoothly implemented especially when shooting and, when you factor in a great "cover-and-move" AI, it might be life-saving.
In addition to the highly addictive, "just-one-more-go" single player game, SF: DM allows you to take on your friends via Ad Hoc and Infrastructure Wirelessmodes. Four five versus five gameplay modes await including Team Deathmatch, Rogue Agent and Objective.
With the third-person shooter genre becoming a very busy place to be - SOCOM, 50 Cent, Splinter Cell, Monster Hunter, From Russia with Love, Dead to Rights, etc. - it's refreshing to find a new recruit that fits together so well and delivers some of the best action, espionage and multiplayer fun we're yet to see on PSP.