Filter takes over

Rating: NNNNNVideo games, at least around these parts, are purely entertainment. Addiction's for suckers. To be brutally honest, I'd often.

Rating: NNNNN

Video games, at least around these parts, are purely entertainment. Addiction’s for suckers. To be brutally honest, I’d often rather read a book, weed the garden or sleep than burn four hours playing Bonestorm, at least until I got Syphon Filter 2.

The premise is simple, hackneyed even. You are two secret agents, husky-voiced Gabe Logan and wily Lian Xing, who have to save the world from the deadly Syphon Filter virus. The action shifts from a mountain range to the roof of a speeding train to the ventilation ducts of a New York research lab.

Sounds easy? Right.

Addictive plot

Eye-popping graphics and the opening sequence and between-scene interludes that are more like feature films are nice, but the real appeal is the insanely addictive plot. It might take you three days to figure out how to defuse the bombs beneath the suspension bridge, but so what? Friends, family and the outdoor world will have to wait.

It took me almost three weeks to play Syphon Filter 2 from start to finish, and I honestly have no idea where that time went. Life was rearranged to make way for quality playing time. A “quick play” would turn into a four-hour marathon, with meals, work and regular social interaction left in its wake. When I finished, it was like I’d run the Ironman race. I was relieved, but I also couldn’t quite believe it was over.

It wasn’t just me. Upon completion — finish Syphon Filter 2 and you’ll never want to see the game again — I passed the two-disc set along to a friend who at first foolishly doubted the draw of the game. Two days later, he was calling me at midnight for hints and clues.

You’ve been warned.

SYPHON FILTER 2, for Sony PlayStation. $80. Rating: NNNN

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