PlayStation Perspective #1: Is Syphon Filter Dead?
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Sony owns a dozen studios, and most of these development houses have a set identity. Naughty Dog is known for perhaps the most polished triple-A titles in all of console gaming. Guerrilla is Sony’s go-to first-person shooter dev. Polyphony Digital and Evolution Studios make racing games, Sony Santa Monica focuses on God of War and Sony San Diego has an indisputable sports pedigree.
And then there’s Sony Bend, the respected Oregon-based team best-known for Syphon Filter. Mystery surrounds Bend – the studio heads aren’t vocal and you don’t hear much about what they’re doing – and something I’ve pondered since the release of their two Uncharted games on Vita is what could possibly be next for Sony’s quietest developer.
Mystery surrounds Bend…
I say two Uncharted games, of course, because not only did Bend deliver the excellent Vita launch game Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but it also collaborated with One Loop Games to create the completely random (but surprisingly good) Vita-exclusive customizable card game Uncharted: Fight For Fortune. And it makes the most sense to assume that Sony Bend will revisit the franchise yet again with a proper follow-up to Golden Abyss that further explores ancillary stories in Nathan Drake’s universe.
For starters, Sony Bend Senior Game Designer Ronald Allen gave a talk at this year’s GDC where he went over all of the lessons Bend learned while making Vita games. These guys understand Vita better than anyone else in Sony’s first-party stable, and it showed during his presentation. It’s hard to believe that Bend would study the Vita this closely and not have another game lined up for the handheld. Seriously, just click that link and see how deep members of the studio went to understand the psychology of a Vita gamer.
Back in November of 2012, Bend also posted job listings seeking to “create AAA content for Sony’s powerful new hardware,” noting that the developer had only “scratched the surface on what the Vita can do” with its inaugural game. This is only another sign that Sony has Bend focusing on Vita.
But then there are some signs that point in a different direction, towards PlayStation 4. Bend’s own website uses some of the same verbiage from November’s job listings, but in a different context, seeking “help to create AAA content for Sony’s powerful new hardware” that could also point to its upcoming console. And it’s important to remember that Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida told IGN that every studio Sony owns is working on PlayStation 4.
…see how deep members of the studio went to understand the psychology of a Vita gamer.
Still, even if Bend is moving on to PS4, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have another team toiling away on Vita. Keep in mind that Uncharted: Golden Abyss is undoubtedly one of the best-selling retail Vita games yet released for the handheld (if not the best-selling), and if there was a single Vita game in Sony’s stable that would receive a sequel, it’s that one. Not creating a sequel of some sort to Golden Abyss would waste the time Bend spent creating and tweaking a great engine, beautiful assets and invaluable know-how.
Then again, Golden Abyss doesn’t represent the first time Sony’s put Bend on a project derived from a series it initially didn’t have anything to do with. After walking away from the Syphon Filter series following the creation of seven consecutive games over an eight year period, Sony Bend created the surprisingly solid PSP third-person shooter Resistance: Retribution. There, Bend did justice to Insomniac’s creation just as it did justice to Naughty Dog’s some years later on Vita, but it’s almost certain that the Resistance series is no more.
But let’s not forget about Syphon Filter, either.
After Nihilistic Software mercilessly killed the franchise with the Vita game Resistance: Burning Skies, Insomniac founder Ted Price confirmed that Insomniac wouldn’t be going back to it. Sony later confirmed that, as the owner of the Resistance name, it has ”no definitive plans” to continue with it.
But let’s not forget about Syphon Filter, either. Rumors of a new Syphon Filter have swirled around the Internet since the last game in the series, Combat Ops, launched on PSP in 2007. In 2009, we heard that Syphon Filter may come to PS3. Years later, we heard that Syphon Filter would come to Vita. We even heard that a new Syphon Filter was set to be revealed alongside God of War IV (which we assume ended up being God of War: Ascension). Obviously, that never happened. In terms of solid information about the continuation of Gabe Logan’s story, all has been quiet for over six years.
Does Syphon Filter need to be revived? Maybe. The best-selling games in the series were on the original PlayStation, and Dark Mirror and Logan’s Shadow were both ported from PSP to PS2, almost surely a sign of trying to find a new market following soft initial sales. Similar to Medievil, hardcore PlayStation fans may have to deal with the fact that Syphon Filter is dead (even if Logan’s Shadow ended on a still-unresolved cliffhanger). But I wouldn’t rule out a reboot at some point in the future.
Either way, I can’t help but come back to Uncharted. If I were a betting man, I’d wager we’ll get another Uncharted game on Vita from Bend.
Future editions of PlayStation Perspective will field questions and comments from previous editions’ comment sections. So be sure to participate in the comments below. Let me know what you think Bend may be working on, and ask any other PlayStation-related question you’d like. You may make it into a future PlayStation Perspective.
Colin Moriarty is IGN’s Senior Editor. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN and learn just how sad the life of a New York Islanders and New York Jets fan can be.