Review: Syndicate

Back in 1993 Syndicate was a critically acclaimed isometric real time tactical game created by Bullfrog. Now the year is 2012 and like some other old IPs it’s been rebooted, but not in its original form. It is now a first person shooter developed by Starbreeze.

In this reboot you play as Miles Kilo, an agent of Eurocorp, one of several syndicates (corperations) that now control the majority of the global population via microchips inserted in to their heads. As an agent for Eurocorp your role is corporate espionage. This includes stealing data from other syndicates by brutally removing the chip from head of their top scientists, to eliminating defecting Eurocorp employees to keep them from revealing company secrets.

To help you accomplish these tasks you have help of the new prototype 6.1 chip in your cranium. This chip gives you access to the DART overlay as well as three applications you will use though out the game. When toggled, the DART overlay slows down time and gives you a damage buff as well as damage resistance. You are also able to see targets though cover as long as they have been in your field of view.

As for the applications you have access to. The first is backfire, using this will cause your selected targets weapons to backfire causing them to stumble backwards and for a short while take double damage.The next is suicide, using this will cause the selected target to pull out a grenade and kill himself and anyone else in the blast radius. This is extremely useful when large groups of enemies are bearing down on you. Finally there is pursued, my personal favourite. This causes an enemy target to draw his weapon on his own team. Once the room is clear, he will then turn the gun on himself and blow his brains out. These applications have a cool down period and are recharged with adrenalin which is earned by killing enemies; the more you kill in quick succession, the more adrenalin you earn.

Along with these applications and the DART overlay, the game has a variety of weapons at your disposal, most of which are in every other FPS on the market, although Syndicate does add a new feature to some of these. This comes as a second scope on some guns. Using the primary fire mode on the assault rifle, you will look down the main scope – this puts the gun in semi-automatic mode but allows your bullets to penetrate cover. The secondary fire mode tilts the gun slightly revealing red dot scope which makes the gun fully automatic but the bullets are less powerful. The same scope system is on the game’s sniper rifle, giving you an accurate one shot kill at short range when needed. The game does have a few unique weapons, a rocket launcher that fires a small barrage of homing rockets and a assault rifle that allows you to lock on to targets and have your bullets track them no matter what direction you shoot in.

The game has a nice variety of enemy types too from standard cannon fodder grunts to bigger enemies that require their armour to be hacked before you can cause them any damage. These require you to change up your tactics during the game and keep the combat feeling fresh yet frantic. There are also boss encounters; here you will fighting other top agents from the various syndicates. I found these to be the weakest part of the game – you are unable to use any of your applications against these agents and no real skill is needed. I found myself activating my DART overlay, unloading a mass of bullets in to their face then hiding until my DART had recharged and repeating until the agents were dead.

From the corporate skyscrapers to the rundown underworld, Syndicate is a great looking game. The office buildings and surrounded areas look sterile, clean and well kept with lots of glass and pale colours making up the majority of the colour palette whilst the slums of the world look dark and grimy. In either area of the world the lighting looks great and helps to add to the overall atmosphere of the game.

Once you have finished the campaign, there is Syndicates co-op mode. This mode can be played with 2-4 players and has nine levels. I would recommend playing this mode with four players though as the levels don’t scale too well in difficulty and with less players you can easily take quite a battering. Here you play as one of four agents from an up and coming Syndicate and although there is a little story to this mode once you are in game, you won’t worry to much about it.  As with most multiplayer shooters Syndicate has you gaining XP to level up and earning upgrade points for pretty much everything. Weapon upgrade points let you unlock items to research like better scopes and larger magazine clips, once unlocked you then have to earn the set amount of XP to fully research the item before you can use it. The same goes for application upgrades, if you want to use squad heal or backfire, you need to unlock it and research it before equipping it.

From the time I have spent with the co-op I have had great fun with it. Whether I chose to take a guns blazing approach or a more supportive roll hanging back and healing I found every match left me with that “just one more” thought in my head.

It’s good to see that Starbreeze has put the same amount of effort into the campaign as well as the multiplayer. I found both to keep me engaged and had a loads of fun with them both of them. The campaign will keep you busy for around 6-7 hours on the normal difficulty but the co-op will keep you coming back for more if it gets its claws in to you (like it did me) leaving you with an endless amount of fun.

Reviewed on PS3


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