|ESRB rating: M
release date: Feb 21, 12
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Syndicate is a game from Starbreeze Studios and Electronic Arts and it encompasses FPS action, a science-fiction tale and cooperative multiplayer. Others might be inclined to think of a different 'Syndicate' game. The one Peter Molyneux and the gang over at Bullfrog Productions released in 1993. Back in those days, Syndicate emerged on the Amiga and PC and it felt like a fresh breeze. The game's art style and sci-fi theme, heavily influenced by Ridley Scott's movie Blade Runner, made for an excellent background. Players were thrown into a world dominated by powerful corporations that were at war. In short, it was a perfect fictional setting for a challenging strategy game. Additionally, it came from the people who created Populous 1 and 2. The sequel, Syndicate Wars (1996) was good too and we were hoping to see a third installment after that. Sadly, it never arrived. All we got were a few mysterious statements (years later) from Peter Molyneux about how he'd like to go back to that franchise and possibly make a new game. That day never arrived either. What we got instead, was a shooter set against the same sci-fi backdrop. But we gave these guys the benefit of the doubt. After all, we did enjoy those Riddick games.
Syndicate takes us to the not-so-distant future. A mega-corporation called Eurocorp has been created as a result of the world's largest corporate amalgamation. In 2025, this influential corporation manufactured the DART chip, which is utilized as a neural chip implant, giving its user the ability to access the dataverse and render most electronic devices obsolete. Now, the world is ruled by the mega-corporations, such as the aforementioned, Eurocorp. These corporations -- referred to as Syndicates -- use their highly trained enforcers known as Agents to defend the company and steal secrets from rivaling corporations. Yes, the world's in a terrific mess, particularly when you consider the fact that there's a whole bunch of people who aren't prepared to accept this technology.
That's a ridiculously huge screen.
Blood everywhere. My kinda party!
Hm, well, the plot may sound familiar, especially to those who recently played Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Without getting into a pointless debate who came up with the story first, it needs to be stressed that Deus Ex: HR is, in fact, a different type of game, with emphasis on character development, NPC interaction and RPG elements. Also, unlike Starbreeze's shooter, Human Revolution actually has a story. Syndicate, on the other hand, does very little to elaborate on characters and the world they live in. It just pushes you from one fast-paced shootout to another.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's all about shooting. You have a choice to carry two weapons at a time; mostly handguns, shotguns and different types of rifles. Since we're talking weapons, there are a few cool additions here, such as the EMW-56 gauss gun, which fires electromagnetic bullets that can shoot around corners (mighty handy in tight spots).
This game forces you to shoot, run, duck and find cover fast. Enemy AI is bloody relentless. You peek around a corner and you'll probably end up dead in two seconds unless you seek out a better position. That's why it's important to fire like crazy the moment enemy soldiers are in your sights, because they are shielded and won't go down easy. Some foes are even tougher. You'll have to penetrate several layers of shield before you cause any actual damage to their health. The fact that enemies are a bit tougher than you'd expect can only be described as an advantage in this game. It increases the challenge and forces you to think quickly, while finding the best spot to counter foes that often attack in waves. The interesting bit is that you are also able to disable or weaken opponents by hacking them so to speak. This procedure is referred to as "breaching" and can create some exciting moments during combat, especially when the enemy starts using their own 'breach' tactics. For example, in one situation you can "breach" enemy missiles fired at you, but the enemy can "breach" them as well, so it becomes a hacking race and the missile hits who ever loses.
6.8 Above Average
Challenging firefights, a few cool weapons and some attempts to add a unique flavor to FPS combat, solid multiplayer co-op experience;
Little to keep you engaged in the single-player campaign, good voice talents wasted on a game with a flimsy story.