The Original Syphon Filter Was Heavily Inspired by GoldenEye
Posted by Sammy Barker
If you play Syphon Filter today, you may wonder what all the fuss was about. But back in 1999 – when the PSone title first released – it was ground-breaking. Not only did the first-party title depict a more contemporary plot (featuring spies, shady terrorist networks, and programmable viruses), but it also took a more realistic approach to combat. Enemies would dash behind cover, and drop after a single bullet to the face. According to creative director John Garvin, the release was heavily inspired by Nintendo's GoldenEye because it was “probably the closest you could come to finding a game like Syphon Filter in those days”.
“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,” he recalled in a PlayStation Blog interview about the development of the classic. “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.”
As such, the 007 influences were only natural. But for Garvin personally, he looked at the movies of the time – and, of course, the exceptional Half-Life. “A lot of games these days are going for a dark, gritty, monochromatic look, but the games I remember playing in the late 1990s were all pretty colourful and weren’t all that realistic,” he continued. “Look at screens from Unreal, Turok 2, or Rainbow Six, which were realistic but had a palette that seemed all over the place. I remember being really inspired by Saving Private Ryan – which came out in 1998 I think – and Half-Life.”
In all, a total of 13 people worked on Syphon Filter – a far-cry from the 600 people that put together Resident Evil 6 recently. That said, Garvin doesn't want the game to be remembered for its headcount – but more the ideas it spawned. “As anyone in game development knows it’s really hard to be original, to come up with new ideas, new mechanics and new ways of playing,” he concluded. “Syphon did all that and spawned a genre; so many games came out after us and were variations on the theme. In many ways, we were there first.”
We reckon it’s about time Gabe Logan and crew made a comeback, don’t you?