Wow! The Original “Syphon Filter” Almost Never Happened

Hey, fellow gamers! Remember when Metal Gear Solid came out on the PlayStation in 1998? I loved playing through that game over the course of an entire week, infiltrating Shadow Moses Island, getting awesome gadgets and weapons, playing the excellent boss battles (especially that whacked-out Psycho Mantis fight), and being enthralled by the story.

Hey, Metal Gear fans! Remember when Syphon Filter came out on the PlayStation in 1999? Remember how some of us went Metal Gear fanboy on it and called it a Metal Gear ripoff and never played it (*raise hand* guilty)? Well, a few years later I was able to buy the game and play it, and it was a very enjoyable tactile-shooting experience. On the PlayStation Blog, John Carver (creative director at Bend Studio, makers of Uncharted: Golden Abyss) discussed certain aspects of how Syphon Filter became a game, comparisons to Metal Gear Solid, and the hardships of creating such a huge game.  


When asked whether or not Syphon Filter was a response to Metal Gear Solid, Carver said:

Metal Gear Solid actually had nothing to do with the genesis of Syphon Filter. We had been in development for quite a while before we had even heard of it. The idea originally came from a producer at Sony’s (then) 989 Studios who had written a one page synopsis that he called “Syphon Filter” which had zero meaning, i.e. there was no plot, no character, and no story, just an idea for settings, mechanics and gameplay. From the beginning it was to be a “stealth action” game (in the days before there was such a genre) that focused heavily on weapons, gadgets and stealth. Our goal was to make the player feel like a super spy. Our lead designer back then was pretty heavily influenced by Nintendo’s GoldenEye, which was probably the closest you could come to finding a game like Syphon in those days.”


John later discussed some of the hardships that came along with creating and developing a big game like Syphon Filter:

The first Syphon Filter went through a few rough patches and came close to being canceled several times as we missed deadlines, revamped mechanics, swapped levels around, changed the story, and generally tried to figure out what the heck we were doing. Our producer at 989, Connie Booth, and her boss Kelly Flock, were great though showing great faith in this new “spy genre” game. Our team ended up working in crunch mode for about a year as we tried to get the game up to everyone’s standards.”

At the end of the day, Syphon Filter did see release and a became a very popular franchise in the days of the original PlayStation. However, the series began to wane in the PlayStation 2 era, despite the solid releases of Dark Mirror and Logan’s Shadow on the PlayStation Portable. There has not been a new Syphon Filter game since 2007, and even though rumors of Syphon Filter 4 were circulating earlier this year, nothing was made official. But hey, at least you can play the games in the series on your shiny PlayStation Vita. YAY! YAY for GAMES!!

[Thanks PlayStation Blog]


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