Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
A PSP game comes to PS2, but does it work?
Whilst many sat around decrying the PSP as a machine with a catalogue solely consisting of PS2 ports, something stealthy and strange was happening - the games that were actually being made as PSP exclusives were ending up on the console's fatter, older dad. To the educated mind, it looked bloody pointless. On the evidence of Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, it is. Though not entirely.
Here we have Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, which was released on Sony's handheld quite a while ago to a pretty good reception - it was a return to form for a solid series and marked a game made for the PSP specifically being released for once. An event, no less. The four PSP owners in the country banded together and did a jig for joy, replacing their usual jig-of-sorrow they had been taking part in over the previous year or so. It was a good time to be alive, I'm sure you'll all agree.
And now the game that broke down international boundaries, the game that brought races together under the banner of unity and the game that made people think the PSP was actually worthwhile for once has come to the PS2. And the whole world collectively shrugs their shoulders and lets out a collective: "huh?" It just seems a little... Well, pointless is the word.
The game is good - it really is. On PSP. On the PS2 version, for some strange reason, it just doesn't seem to work. The game feels stiff, there's no flow to proceedings and it's very easy. It's not nice to be shown the limitations of what you once thought was the example of how to do games on a handheld - the negatives that have been hidden so well on the handheld come crashing to the fore in the home. The controls are the main issue - with the nub and face buttons it worked perfectly. It was a revelation. But with the more standard double-analogue-stick setup it just doesn't work as well, with the aforementioned stiffness making aiming a chore on the fly and making the entire experience feel like it's being run through a comedy quick-drying cartoon cement filter.
Now I want to like this - I genuinely love it on PSP, and feel it's a fabulous game. And I never use the word fabulous. Taking Gabe Logan through his stride once more in the world of "IT REALLY WASN'T AN MGS RIP OFF, WE SWEAR!" is an experience that always fills me with joy. But aside from being an utterly pointless conversion for the home system, it just doesn't work as well as it should. That's not to say it's completely broken - it's more than playable, it just feels wrong after playing the PSP version so much. But is it unfair to give the game stick for not living up to its handheld origins, especially when only the four owners of the PSP played the original? I'd go with yes. It's a lazy port, and one that doesn't take advantage of the individual console it's on, like it did with the PSP version. It's half-arsed and a severe let-down.
I suppose you have to mention the looks of the thing too - surprisingly, it looks like a PSP game made to fit a whole screen. The rough edges have clearly been cleaned up, to the point where things look sterile, smooth and square. It's not a good look. Sound is what you'd expect - functional. Gabe still has the voice of a constipated and rugged old man, mind.
It is still a good game - the laziness and limitations brought to the wire don't help things in the slightest though, and stop a genuinely good game from being just that. It is weighed down by its origins and it makes the whole thing seem thoroughly pointless. The omission of the online mode - a fantastic distraction on the PSP version - just serves to show how limited this home version is, and hinders things even more if you've played the original.