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Video Game: Syphon Filter

Syphon Filter is a third person shooter and stealth based game series focusing on the adventures of Gabriel "Gabe" Logan, who begins the story as an agency operative, until turning rogue, and eventually after exposing the misdeeds of said agency, forms his own, known as the International Presidential Consulting Agency (IPCA). Syphon Filter itself is a fatal virus, akin to FOXDIE, which can be made to target specific ethnicities. Throughout the first four games, one is trying to stop its distribution.

There are six games in the series:

  • Syphon Filter - The Agency is tracking the terrorist Erich Rhoemer who is in possession of a dangerous bio weapon known as Syphon Filter. They don't need to look far because Rhoemer just launched a massive attack on the nation's capital!
  • Syphon Filter 2 - Gabe and Lian stopped Rhoemer's evil plan but their troubles aren't over. The Agency kidnapped Lian and Gabe is in hot pursuit but his chase hits a snag when his plane is shot down over the Rockies.
  • Syphon Filter 3 - Gabe and his allies are interrogated by a closed Congressional hearing about their exploits and the truth about Syphon Filter.
  • Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain
  • Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror
  • Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow

In all of the above games, sans The Omega Strain, Gabe is usually the player character.


The series shows examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Mara Aramov changed from a redhead to a blonde in 2 (as well as changing her hairstyle), and she kept her blonde hair in the flashbacks in 3.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Starting in 2, you could traverse these. Bizarrely enough, you moved faster in them.
  • A.K.A.-47: Most of the guns in the first two games.
  • The Alcatraz: Aljir Prison in 2. It even has a shower scene.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Earning ranks in The Omega Strain gives you new pants, shirts, hats, vests, and shoes to wear.
  • Anyone Can Die: In Logan's Shadow, Alima Haddad, Lawrence Mujari, and possibly Teresa Lipan and Gabe.
    • Happened to Teresa in 2, but she got better.
  • Artifact Title: Syphon Filter itself as the virus was dealt with in The Omega Strain. Dark Mirror and Logan's Shadow deals with new threats.
  • Bad Ass Normal: Gabe, Mara, Lian, Teresa and Mujari in his prime.
  • Berserk Button: If Gabe's friends or innocent people are hurt or killed in his presence, he will end the person that did it.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: See Driven to Suicide.
  • BFG: Anton Girdeux and Red Jack's flamethrower, which are enormous backpack-powered things. Much like in real life.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Vince Hadden.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In 2. The Agency's leaders are dead and their conspiracy is exposed but there are others who still want to possess Syphon Filter. Also, Teresa "dies".
  • Blatant Lies: From 3:
    Hadden: Have you ever assassinated a world leader?
    Gabe: No. Never.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Found armor essentially acts as a second health meter.
  • Boom, Headshot: A one hit kill that also applies to the player character in 2 and 3.
  • Chase Scene: Several. Ranging from a helicopter constantly hunting Gabe, to having to chase an informant through the Moscow streets.
  • Clear My Name: The third game is more or less everyone who was associated with Gabe testifying on his behalf.
  • Cold War: All the levels in Kazakhstan in the first game, Russian levels in the second game, the premise of the fourth game involving Chechnyan terrorists with a nuke in Ukraine.
  • Conspiracy Redemption: From the Agency to the IPCA.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The mission in the first game where Gabe had to pursue and capture Mara through D.C.'s subway tunnels while avoiding the occasional train.
  • Critical Existence Failure: You can get shot several times without it slowing your character down appreciably, although it does deplete your armor, and your "health" stat is very, very low. All that aside, if you get somewhere near an open flame in any way at any time, you're going up like a Roman candle.
  • Crosshair Aware: The games will notify you when snipers have you lined up for a headshot.
  • Dance Party Ending: Unlockable in 2.
  • Darker and Edgier: Logan's Shadow, which is arguably the darkest game in the series. In it, the ICPA is shut down by corrupt corporate executive Robert Cordell, the big bad of the game, Ghassan Al Bitar, is a Middle Eastern terrorist formally affiliated with al-Qaeda, Gabe is sent on a botched mission by Cordell, Lian is accused of treason by Cordell, and Gabe's and Teresa's possible death at the end. Ironically, this game has a Teen rating as opposed to the other games that got a Mature rating.
  • Dead Man Switch: Dillon Morgan has one that will blow up the Expo Center unless you defuse the bombs first in 2.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In the first game, Gabe and Lian Xing are part of a covert government agency known as the Agency.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Steven Archer in 2.
  • The Dragon: Mara was this for many bad guys. Also Unit One a.k.a., Jason Chance.
  • Driven to Suicide: Shen Rei does this in order to avoid being captured by the Chinese CSS agent, Trinidad.
  • Elite Mooks: The aptly named Pharcom Elite Guards.
    • The Agency's Emergency Defense Squad, which wears full body armor suits that can only be penetrated by grenades.
    • Archer's RET troops who only go for head shots if the game is played on Hard.
  • Enemy Civil War: Pharcom Elite vs. Rhoemer's goons in the first game.
  • Escort Mission: Many times.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Why Mara turned against Rhoemer.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Cars always explode spectacularly when they crash, and even a few shots to a parked car makes it go boom.
  • Everyone Can See It: See Oblivious to Love.
  • Evil Laugh: The first three games ended with Mara laughing.
  • Faking the Dead: Teresa in 2 and Addison Hargrove in Dark Mirror.
  • Five-Token Band: From the PS1 trilogy:
    • Gabe (Caucasian American).
    • Lian (Asian).
    • Mujari (African).
    • Teresa (Native American).
    • Maggie Powers (British).
  • Flak Jacket: Your only armor in the game, and it is a huge life saver.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: The first game had the boss battle against Girdeux. The man was wearing body armor that made him Immune to Bullets and Gabe can't use his explosive weapons without triggering the nearby bomb. However, Girdeux was also using a flamethrower and had a huge tank of fuel strapped to his back. Multiple well-aimed shots to his fuel tank later, and Girdeux was toast.
  • Follow the Leader: Some felt that the first Syphon Filter was poor man's GoldenEye 007 or Metal Gear Solid. While there are some similarities, the first game stood well on its own and eventually became popular in its own right as the series went on.
  • Foreshadowing: In 2, if Chance is fighting by your side and you die, he and the Agency mooks will stop shooting at each other.
    • In The Omega Strain, Imani Gray tells you to pick up a body and move it around during the training mission, saying that you may have to do it out in the field. Guess who's body you'll be lugging around later on?
  • For the Evulz: Rhoemer.
    Rhoemer: The missile was my idea. Markinson came here to stop it but he was too late. As are you.
    Gabe: Who's the target, Rhoemer?
    Rhoemer: Does it matter?
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Encountered by Lian in 3's Australia missions. They essentially CBDC agents who wear blue.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Agency, and its conspiracy redemption successor, the IPCA, are of the first type. Also, MI6, SVR, MSS, and various other real life agencies are portrayed as the second type.
  • Gun Porn: There are over 60 weapons to use and unlock in The Omega Strain.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Mara (sort of) in the first couple games. One mission you're chasing her through a subway tunnel, later she's helping to air drop you into the very definitely final dungeon.
    • In 3, she was shot in the head by Gabe since she was part of the evil plan instigators. However, in the ending, it is revealed that she survived. She would appear in The Omega Strain.
      • In The Omega Strain, it is implied that she was killed by Gary "Stone" Stoneman. This was confirmed in Dark Mirror.
    • Dr. Elsa Weissinger, who starts as antagonist in 2, while a flashback in 3 shows her as an ally. The Omega Strain had her as an ally, before she swaps back to the antagonist side. A part of The Omega Strain's ending has her state via note that she enjoys destroying anything she creates, so this could be justified.
  • Heroic Mime: Aside from grunts of pain, the player character doesn't speak a single word in The Omega Strain.
  • How We Got Here: 3 begins like this.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The enemies you encounter in the first level of the original game are terrible shots, incapable of hitting you even when you're standing two feet away, often for several seconds. This is averted as the game goes on, however, as enemies become better shots.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Lian throughout 2.
  • Indy Ploy: This will happen if you were supposed to land in the Arizona desert and wind up getting shot down over the Colorado Rockies.
  • Infinite Flashlight: Although the in-game description in Syphon Filter states it's rated for 300 hours of use, the game takes an average of twenty to thirty hours to complete.
  • In Medias Res: The series began in this way, with no thorough explanations of any character or event preceding Gabe's pursuit of Rhoemer.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Gabe's outfit in the Pharcom Expo Center in 2. The two player vs. mode in 2 and 3 even call him "Ninja Gabe."
  • Joke Character: Characters in the 2 player vs. mode in 2 and 3 include a corpse, a Syphon Filter victim, and random civilians.
  • Kill Her Already: Mara in the first three games.
    • Averted with Dark Mirror, where the player as Stone kills her and Dr. Weissinger after witnessing a lesbian make out session in their private villa.
    • Chance had his helmet off in the cutscene before the final battle in 2 (and he wasn't shown putting it back on either).
    • Same with Rhoemer in 3, but granted, Gabe was trying to aim for his head.
  • Kill It with Fire: Girdeux. Cue karmic death.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the Senate Building level of 3, you can hear two mooks talking about a "spy game" coming out the year after.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: It's revealed in the ending of Dark Mirror that Gabe is indeed the father of Addison's daughter, Blake.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Agency was controlled by a shadowy consortium. You never really know who or what is leading them, except for fighting a few in Ireland and Australia.
  • Melodrama: Elements of this start creeping in as Gabe and Lian's backstories in Dark Mirror and Logan's Shadow are revealed.
  • The Men in Black: The Agency.
  • The Mole: Chance in 2.
    • Nigel Cummings in 3. Edward Benton in 1 should count, but then again, the whole Agency is evil.
  • Neck Snap: Stone can use it in his bonus mission in The Omega Strain, and the player character can as well after the mission's completion.
  • New Old Flame: Addison for Gabe in Dark Mirror and Shen for Lian in Logan's Shadow.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The shock troops in 2 wore full body armor, and could only be killed with high explosives. The final boss, Chance, wears a Mk II version of the armor, which is also explosive (but not helicopter-blade) resistant. And it doesn't seem to weigh them down.
    • Girdeux also wore armor comparable to the shock troops, and was only defeated by his flamethrower exploding.
  • Nintendo Hard: Most of the games are fairly tough, but 2 in particular is brutal.
    • In the first three games, there is a code that will unlock the Hard Difficulty. Harder Than Hard, that is.
    • In The Omega Strain, every level can be nightmarishly difficult: to unlock the best guns, abilities, and ranks, the player has to complete all the objectives on every mission while on a time limit. To do this requires memorizing when and where everything happens, and praying that they don't get screwed by soldiers who magically appear out of thin air, extremely weak people you have to escort, or a completely random glitch. With very little margin for error, players should expect to replay almost every level several times, or in some of the tougher ones, dozens of times.
  • No Escape but Down: Many times.
  • No-Gear Level
  • No One Could Survive That: In 2, Gabe dives head first off a cliff of unknown height, then later off a significantly high bridge onto a moving train.
    • He's survived falling off high places and explosions without explaining why.
    • The bomb that wrecks a good part of D.C.'s subway system is the worst offender. Gabe was literally right next to the bomb as it went off, and doesn't get a scratch.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Freedom Memorial level in 1 reappears in 2 (via a cheat code) as a secret level where you can watch the game's cutscenes.
  • Not So Different: Gabe vs. Singularity in Dark Mirror.
  • Oblivious to Love: In Logan's Shadow, Teresa reveals to Gabe that Lian is in love with him. She also reveals that he was the only one who didn't notice.
  • Once an Episode: Every game from the original trilogy ended with Mara's laugh.
  • One-Book Author: John Chacon voiced Gabe in the first three games. By all accounts, he hasn't done anything since.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Possibly implied in Logan's Shadow's epilogue.
  • The Plague: Stopping the pandemic is the ultimate optional goal in The Omega Strain, involving the collection of a number of plot coupons which provide characters insight into the Syphon Filter virus.
  • Red Shirt Army: The CBDC agents in 1, the GIs in 2 and the MI6 agents in 3.
  • Regional Riff: In The Omega Strain, each region uses a certain ethnic style of music, such as mandolins in Italy, Arabic instruments and vocals in Yemen, Mongolian-type music in Kyrgyzstan, and traditional Japanese instruments in Tokyo.
  • Remixed Level: The D.C. subway, Rhoemer's base, Rhoemer's warehouses, Pharcom Expo Center, Aljir Prison, Agency Bio Lab.
  • Respawning Enemies: Known to the fans as "Magic Guards".
  • Retcon: Teresa was obviously killed off for real at the end of 2, complete with a funeral. However, in 3, possibly due to fan outcries, they changed the story so that she only faked her death.
  • Right Wing Militia Fanatic: Averted. Teresa recounts how she, as an ATF sniper, came to assist FBI agents against a militia. It turned out that the FBI agents were actually rogue NSA agents. They were killing everybody (militia or otherwise) in order to get their hands on a satellite data that was in the militia's compound. This incident is where she first met Gabe.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • 1: Mara is revealed to be working for the Agency.
    • 2: Mara and Hadden were watching Teresa's "funeral" and decides to have Gabe and friends testify before Congress.
    • 3: Mara recovers a single shipment of Syphon Filter from the wreckage of the SS Lorelei.
    • The Omega Strain: Stone was sent to kill Mara.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The first Rhoemer's Base mission is easier if done with stealth but the next mission says Gabe tripped the silent alarm.
  • Shout-Out: After Gabe saves the hostage in the first mission of 3, he says "Come with me if you want to live".
  • Slow Doors: The last level of the first game has one. Now, if you're quick enough, you can make it under before it's halfway closed and you need to use the unnecessary combat roll button, but let's be honest, you're not going to do that, are you?
  • Split Screen: Mostly in The Omega Strain.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: This literally happened to Girdeux. The Agency kept his corpse in their bio lab in 2.
    • Imani in The Omega Strain. You spend an entire mission retrieving her corpse and whatever it was she was working on.
  • Super Window Jump: Gabe jumps through a glass ceiling in the first game's Expo Center mission. He also does it in Rhoemer's Stronghold.
  • Tank Goodness: The T-62 in 3.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the first three games, if the player character is killed, enemies will continue to shoot at the body.
  • Time Bomb: The terrorists in the first game loved using them. The first level was a race to disarm one. It ends badly, and you have to fight out of the wrecked subway.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The final battle of Logan's Shadow plays like a Rail Shooter. There, you fight Bitar in an attempt to destroy his doomsday devices on a hydraulic lift.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Averted. The roll is very necessary and even allows you to dodge some bullets.
  • Unwinnable by Design: While it's certainly possible to finish The Omega Strain, if you want to get all the weapons, all the ranks, and get the best ending, you need to play the game both off-line, and online to complete certain objectives and criteria (such as completing team-based objectives you can't get in single-player mode). However, with the online servers now shut down, it's impossible to fully complete the game and unlock all the goodies.
  • Van in Black: The Agency's vans in 2.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The air taser in the first game delivered fairly horrific deaths to those unfortunate enough to be struck with it. And they screamed the whole time. And burst into flames. Also, you have this weapon from the start, it never runs out of uses, and it's considered a silent weapon, making it one of the most useful things you carry.
    • It was fun watching goons squirm using the taser.
    • Try tasering your allies. Their screams can be quite amusing.
      • Then there's the M-90 Grenade Launcher, which for some bizarre reason, still informed you of when you lined up a headshot in first-person aiming mode. Not that you needed it since it's exactly what it says on the tin.
    • Tired of lugging Imani's corpse around? At the end of the level, just dump it in the filthy jungle river, and leave it to rot!
  • Western Terrorists: The PS1 trilogy, which mostly focused on a German terrorist and his Eastern European allies trying to spread the Syphon Filter virus, and it turned out that the Agency was in on it. Averted in the later games.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Before the final boss fight in 2, Gabe and Chance will engage in a circling monologue in which Chance calls Gabe out for killing hundreds of agents who were just doing their job.
  • Where It All Began: The PS1 trilogy begins and ends in Washington, D.C.
  • With This Herring: For a secret government agency engaged in counter-terrorism, the weapons you start out with are kinda shitty. The exception is the air taser.
  • Yakuza: Present in the third game's first level and The Omega Strain.
  • You Have Failed Me / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness

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alternative title(s): Syphon Filter
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