It's OK to Like the New Syndicate

Cooperative play in EA's new first-person shooter may win over even its biggest naysayers.

En route to a recent Syndicate event at Electronic Arts' HQ, I wasn't sure what to think. I hadn't seen the new Syndicate before, and as a longtime fan of the original Amiga strategy game, I think it's fair to say that I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of revisiting its dystopian world in a first-person shooter. But after spending an hour with the game across three co-op missions, my thoughts were not of the original Syndicate and of how badly I'd still like to see a true continuation of the series, but rather of how much fun I'd just had and how much I'm now looking forward to getting my hands on Starbreeze's game next month.

I'll be keeping an eye out for reviews of Syndicate next month, not because I expect it to evoke memories of the game I enjoyed during my formative years. Rather, because it has the potential to be an action-packed and entertaining shooter that--based on my exclusively cooperative experience with it--I'll enjoy with friends. Perhaps more of the folks being vocal about their disappointment following the game's announcement would be looking forward to it if they could get past the title--particularly given the developer's track record. Maybe if Syndicate had a different title, forums and comments sections wouldn't be filled with remarks like:

"Making syndicate a shooter, this is awful."

"As a shooter?!? Ugh. Dead on arrival, EA."

"i really was a fan of the syndicate series loved to play all parts so im definately [sic] wont get this one!!!"

Failing that, perhaps folks will be won over by the consumer demo that's coming at the end of January. The demo will incorporate the first of the three missions that I played at EA, which, incidentally, is the only one that I'm cleared to talk about until sometime next month. I don't want to get hung up on the specifics of the nondisclosure agreement, though, because while the scenery and the objectives in the three levels were different, the levels were near identical mechanically.

As I sat down to play Syndicate, the first choice presented was selecting a defensive, offensive, or support agent. I ended up opting for the latter because, after taking a quick look at their respective default loadouts, I decided I'd rather have a sniper rifle as my primary weapon than a shotgun or machine gun. Zooming in on enemies and quickly taking headshots with some subtle snap-on targeting assistance, I was pleased with my choice. Hanging toward the back of our foursome, I not only picked off enemies from a safe distance, but was also ideally placed to heal my fellow agents by simply holding down the "breach" button when prompted to do so. (My secondary weapon, incidentally, was a pistol with an impressive rate of fire that made it fun to use when enemies got too close for comfort.)

Anytime an agent in front of me had a health bar that was less than full, there I was, topping them up with the L2 button on my PlayStation 3 controller. Different classes of agents have different repertoires of breach abilities (damage-over-time attacks and squad heals, for example) at their disposal, but all have the ability to heal other agents and, when necessary, to disable the otherwise impenetrable armors on some enemies by holding down the same button. Agents cannot, however, heal themselves, so it's a bad idea to stray too far from your co-op buddies.

Click on image to check out five new Syndicate screenshots.

My experience playing through that co-op level--set in Western Europe--wasn't wholly unlike playing through a small dungeon in a massively multiplayer online game. We didn't have clearly defined tank, healer, or DPS roles, but we were relying on each other for heals (and for resurrection-equivalent breaches when the heals failed) at all times, and we were mowing down dozens of vanilla enemies between more meaningful and challenging encounters with minibosses. There was no loot, but we were free to swap out our weapons for those that enemies had left behind at any time, and when those minibosses went down, we could extract the chips from their heads and use them to upgrade our own chips between missions. At that time we could also queue up various weapons and weapon accessories for research, all of which had point costs associated with them; score enough points with your persistent agent during a mission, and there might be a new gun or hair trigger waiting for you at the end.

After finishing the Western Europe mission, I couldn't wait to get into the other two, and after making it through those, I wished I could have taken a copy of Syndicate away with me. Did I leave EA feeling like my memories of Syndicate are being betrayed somehow? Or that as a matter of principle there's no way I'll ever play the finished game? No way. I left EA that day eager to experiment with more of the game's weapons, trying to figure out which of my friends will play through the co-op missions with me next month, and wondering if it was me or one of the other agents who had somehow managed to cut an enemy clean in half at one point.

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132 comments
Lotus-Edge
Lotus-Edge

Bloody hell, the number of trolls here is staggering.... So, since you, and I'm talking to you trolls here, don't like the game and GS are giving it positive PREVIEWS your next logical step is to accuse them of being paid off??? I remember when trolls actual tried, and had original thoughts....

Lotus-Edge
Lotus-Edge

Looks interesting. If there's enough actual content for it, unlike that utter disappointment Asura's Wrath, I may just get this....

yakmoto
yakmoto

Looks like... the total opposite of Syndicate... reminds me the time where they transform Command and Conquer (red alert?) to FPS... I really dont know why the didnt pick another name... or create a total new Syndicate game... we dont see game´s like that any more

medellon
medellon

i just hope i still have the option to play by myself and not be forced to play with other people because i like to avoid the idiots who dont know what they are doing or they join my game just to do stupid stuff and not actually play the game

commonperson
commonperson

Reading the reactions to this post it reminds me of how close minded, norrow focus and downright pathetic gamers are at times. Yes, I'd LOVE to see a remake of the game I enjoyed in late grade school and early high school. That'd be AWESOME but just because some one is doing something different with it does not make it bad. Until we see beyond the demo it'll be hard to tell but based on a small amount of input the nerds are raging at the gate. Let's make this clear, most of us on here are not important. The reality is a game will be successful or fail based on the qaulity of product not how much some false sense of entitlement fuels the inner furnace that is your self rightousness. I was playing Syndicate on my old PC back when I was a ball of hair and pimples. I remember it fondly, if this game is bad I will be sorely disapointed but just because EA are making it doesn't mean you get to ascribe bribery and hate to the game. Judge it on it's merits, not memories, not your idea that you're the best game designer in town (trust me if you were you'd be doing GAME DESIGN not posting on forum comments sections.) Grow up people, it's crap like this that makes the hobby look like it's populated by morons.

commonperson
commonperson

@Lunatir are you deficient in some way? It's a PREVIEW, that's what PREVIEWS are for they tell you what a person thinks (they like it or don't) and you draw an opinion based on that. I suggest you go back and study up on critical thinking and discussion before you start trolling around the internet next time.

Barighm
Barighm

I actually played Syndicate and I can tell you now its a generic and forgettable team based shooter. The major twist is a crappy gimmick that basically boils down to "Press LB to open door/heal team mate/turn off turret/turn off UBER BOSS WHO KILLS ALL!'s armor". In other words, you don't just shooter stuff, you have to press LB first, THEN shoot it.

Lanatir
Lanatir

Wow, that must have been a big paycheck that u got from EA for writing this piece of crap. First of all you aint gonna tell me what is ok to like or not, i can decide that all by myself. Second of all, EA is doing nothing but trying to lure Syndicate Veterans into buying another retarded shooter. As if there isnt enough of those already. But i guess they had someone develop a generic shooter and decided 'oh, lets just name it Syndicate, maybe we can fool some idiots into buying it when we pay off enough gaming websites.' Shame on you.

rooh_mon
rooh_mon

This absolutely reeks of EA marketing. I have never seen such a biased pro game piece on this site before this. How much money did you take for this Gamespot? fun

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Man, 2012 must be the year of unbridled nerdling rage. Yeah, EA (and most other publishers) are idiots to think there is such a thing as an obsolete genre. Yeah, they are trading on a name that evokes loyalty and nostalgia in the "hardcore" while ignoring the essence of *why* the game was so popular. Fine. Everybody gets that. Regardless of anybody's deep seeded feelings of betrayal and "shooter fatigue", this game IS coming out, Starbreeze makes good games and (here we go... nerd rage incoming) it probably is an excellent, thoughtful and well-executed game. I'm also betting, like XCom, they might ultimately give us what we want - a pure, third person strategy offshoot - if: a.) XCom's strategy game is a success and b.) this Syndicate game is successful enough to pay for it.

Stardust7
Stardust7

The name of this game should be.. "call of sindicate"

Curarai
Curarai

@max_1111 I only copied and pasted to show that I took the time to check and add weight to my point. As for your Hyperbole argument, your comment was sarcasm at best. Also risque doesn't suit as hyperbole as it has a distinct defenition and doesn't fit. Where risky,dangerous,perilous,deadly or hazadrous suits better as I said. PS I'm not really busting your chops. I just felt the comments sections dealing with these type of arguments could do with something other than the same repetitive arguments over and over again.

renegade_magnum
renegade_magnum

If it's OK to like it...Is it also OK to hate the new Syndicate?

startman_1999
startman_1999

Well, if they say it's ok to like it then I'm sold.. * rolls eyes *

raptures330
raptures330

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

max_1111
max_1111

@Curarai Congratulations you english major you. Say, while you're copying and pasting stuff from an online dictionary perhaps you should look up the word hyperbole.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@knifey, Fair enough, it's all personal preference. :) I don't listen to dubstep at all either, I just enjoyed the nod towards the original track - maybe my enjoyment is more based on the nostalgia anyway. :D

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

Justin Calvert, you're telling us it's okay to like Syndicate? Come on, dude. Those of us who do not like it do not like it because it is a COMPLETELY different genre than the originals. That is what caused people to play and enjoy the originals for it's gameplay, not the setting. It was the same garbage 2K threw on us with XCOM. I didn't play XCOM because there were stupid aliens in it, I played it because the gameplay was great (though this was before they unveiled their second XCOM game that's closer to the original). I bet EA could rename everything in the game to have no reference to Syndicate and wouldn't matter at all. So, Mr. Calvert, don't tell me what I should or should not like.

lee0577
lee0577

As well, WHO the hell is this guy to tell me what is ok and not ok to like? How about gamespot actually support their readers ( people who pay there jobs) for a change instead of blatantly taking money of mega corporations? The vast majority of people have been against this abomination from the very beginning and EA have come to realise this. This is a damage limitation exercise and nothing else but to think gamespot have now been bought off as well is disgusting.

jimmyccckotb
jimmyccckotb

The Entertainment Software Association, the association behind E3, supports SOPA, which will censor the internet. If they support SOPA, then gamers can't support E3. Please spread this message to every comments section and send it around, demanding that Gamespot does not attend or cover E3 unless the ESA changes their stance on the bill.

lee0577
lee0577

This absolutely reeks of EA marketing. I have never seen such a biased pro game piece on this site before this. How much money did you take for this Gamespot?

megakick
megakick

Looks like a cool FPS but why use the Syndicate name? Too lazy to make new IP?

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

its not ok, because its not Syndicate, its just another fps. What really gets me is that the syndicates have personality, they talk like normal people, they talk in a 'cool' way, they have control over there brain WTF, the original games the syndicates are normal people who have been kidnapped and turned into a cyborg killing machine with there minds wiped. their like terminators / universal soldiers...all they know is to follow orders, they dont talk back etc etc etc, in trailers and other footage i've seen of this 'new' version. you more or less sign up to be a syndicate, its like a job a police force for companies, WHAT.... This game should of been 'if you wanted to do something different' a squad based 3rd person shooter, with decent squad mechanics. At first i was like ok this could be gd 'from the 1st trailer' i was still let down from it being a fps, but with more footage and news i see the more and more this moves away from the original concept of syndicate........ RIP Syndicate & Syndicate Wars............

Cirkelinespark
Cirkelinespark

No it is certainly not OK to like the new syndicate!

Gadeos
Gadeos

Hmm... the thing about EA is that they don't usually work on good enemy AI. I mean, playing MW3 was cool because of the story, but the only thing that makes a chellenge is when you go on the hardest difficulty setting and a single bullet may kill you, period. Enemies don't go around and ambush you, they don't change shooting spots. They're more like shooting dummies. I remember playing the first F.E.A.R... oh man, enemies were awesome!!! I felt like playing against online users... just sort of, OK? not the same. Anyway, EA is kind of good when it comes to multiplayer experience (although Battlefield 3 is way better than MW3), but I hope this FPS comes with good AI for enemies

Tidal_Abyss
Tidal_Abyss

If it's so good, why didn't ea just make it a new, fresh title?- instead of mutilating an old classic? There was no need to do that. Personally, I'd rather see another strategy game released than yet another....fps.... so tired and played out, but they'll keep selling them until they start losing money on them.* Video above- overly excessive hud. Footage seemed run of the mill, unimpressive.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@Banefire76 [quote][i]"Are legitimately upset fans of FF if you don't agree with it. Haven't you ever loved a game that got reviewed poorly by some site or magazine? I suppose they took a bribe from a competitor? Yesterday I read a user posted review of XIII-2 on GameFaqs rated 9/10. So did he get paid for that too? Did IGN get paid to give Skyward Sword a 10 or did they just give it to the most hardcore Zelda fan they had in their staff? I suppose Microsoft paid GameSpot to give Uncharted 3 a 9/10 (which some fans considered low and said was "WRONG"?) Sigh. Sales have nothing to do with it either. Some guy at some magazine gave some game a high score, meanwhile it sells poorly and not everyone liked it. This isn't proof that anyone took a bribe. Its proof that people have their own opinions, and proof that Square-Enix have lost the plot when it comes to making quality RPGs.

k4duty
k4duty

Looks good to me :)

shanethewolf
shanethewolf

It looked promising in the first previews, but the videos here make it look like a generic FPS with way too much hud crap on screen.

kosh1979
kosh1979

I think we had enough with great past games that are evolved into something else... Some were great of what they was and they have basis to be continued or remade and not being mutated... See Brotherhood of Steel, X-com etc etc...

WindsweptSpy
WindsweptSpy

If you're as awful as the guy in the first video then I don't understand how you would think sniping is "fun".

BenFireFox
BenFireFox

doesnt look as bad but i think it would get me more if it had another name -.-

leop4rd
leop4rd

looks pretty sweet tbh, like a more accessible version of deus ex with similar mechanics to FEAR. maybe making it a fps is better anyways, might give them incentive to release an original syndicate-type game on arcade/steam and (w.e the ps3 version of those is).

Banefire76
Banefire76

@Lhomity You are right to ask for proof. http://www.pcworld.com/article/246928/final_fantasy_xiii2_breaks_half_a_million_sales_in_japan.html "Final Fantasy XIII-2...already received a perfect score from both Famitsu and Dengeki magazines (though both magazines gave its predecessor similarly high marks). Famitsu gave it a 39/40, and Dengeki claimed giving the game a numerical score would do it a disservice, such was its greatness. It should be noted that publisher Square-Enix paid for tons of ads in both magazines leading up to the game's release. In contrast, the user reviews at Japanese website PlayStation MK2 currently average out to about a C grade" So there you go, is it just a rumour? Are legitimately upset fans of FF wrong with thier reviews of FF13? Because Famitsu was, which is evidenced by the large loss of sales with FF13-2. If it was so great, why didnt at least 1.5 million Japanese gamers buy it instead of just 500,000? And representatives of that 500,000 fans have given the game a C ranking. Are they wrong? If corporations had thier way SOPA would be passed and all games released by the big corporations like EA would get perfect 10's i can guarantee you that. I come to Gamespot to hear from Reviewers like Kevin Van Ord because i can trust that he will give an objective and educated review. But Gamespot is a company owned by another bigger company and like it or not, integrity is a difficult thing to keep when jobs and money are involved.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

its a fps, in an already overflowing market of FPS games... itl prolly be alright, but i get the feeling some suit in EA thought the RTS was too difficult to grasp/market/sell so they decided to make an fps... ...really feels like a corporate one-size-fits-all move... also co-op in fps games has been around for awhile now nothin revolutionary, duke nukem 3d anyone!? ...we should turn forza motorsport into a transformer FPS game too...while were at it im pretty sure Zangief has some spetsnaz training. and ken is prolly a member of seal team 6....

Curarai
Curarai

@max_1111 risque - suggestive of sexual impropriety; "a blue movie"; "blue jokes"; "he skips asterisks and gives you the gamy details"; "a juicy scandal"; "a naughty wink"; "naughty words"; "racy anecdotes"; "a risque story"; "spicy gossip If it was a Dead or Alive or Soul Calibur game you were referring to it would make more sense. Risky would have suited better.

sheepdk
sheepdk

God, why do all the people who test these things suck at gaming It should be a given that you called in someone who could actually shoot for testing a shooter

Lhomity
Lhomity

@knifey Rumor and speculation about Jeff Gerstmann's firing again? Oh boy, I must have time traveled back to 2007. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Syndicate reboot, or anything taking place on GameSpot in 2012. This is just some people refusing to accept that the game could possibly be good in any way whatsoever; having already made their minds up that its complete garbage without having played it, basing that solely on the fact its a first-person-shooter, and resorting to accusing a writer of taking bribes rather than keeping an open mind.

max_1111
max_1111

@Curarai Eeeeh no. I'm thinkin' it's you who needs to look it up.

knifey
knifey

@Lhomity: people do get paid to do positive reviews a guy got fired from gamespot for giving a popular game a bad score because he personally disliked it even though they paid him to give it a good review so he lost his job

Lhomity
Lhomity

@Banefire76 I won't deny it probably does happen somewhere, but making baseless allegations is pointless. Prove it. No, really. Its easy to say dude is getting paid to write positive articles and reviews just because you don't agree with them, but unless you provide proof, its nothing more than the bitter ramblings of a disgruntled gamer. Heck, I hated FF XIII. Worst in the series imo, but I couldn't care less if a Japanese magazine writer gave it a perfect score. The Japanese gaming market and expectations of fans there differs greatly to western markets like Europe and the US. Also, as is always the case with reviews (clearly something many people forget), they are entirely matters of opinion. Why do people get this idea that articles and reviews are some kind of official statement that should print facts and tell readers exactly what they want to hear? The point of writing a review is for one person to express his or her own opinion and it doesn't matter if you don't agree with it. Write your own reviews. At the end of the day, dude makes a living playing video games, talking and writing about them, and sharing his opinions about it. A few million gamers want to be just like him.

knifey
knifey

@moonlightwolf01: wait what? you could hardly call fallout 3 a bad game? are you kidding me? I HATED fallout 3 and new vegas they completely killed the series for me I tried to forget they were fallout games and enjoy them but in the end I could not

Curarai
Curarai

Max_1111 Look up the meaning of risque. Wait for the demo or the game and then judge the product. It was always unlikely that they were going to make a game similar to the original.

knifey
knifey

@daemoroth: Yes I actually have played the original quite extensively actually I just really hate dubstep as a whole and don't see it as true music while the original music actually had it's place musically speaking of course

Banefire76
Banefire76

@Lhomity If you think for a second that Game Review Magazines and websites cannot be "paid" for more favourable reviews than you need to research a bit more. And i noticed you mentioned Square-Enix. Japanese review mag Famitsu gave outstanding scores to the Abomination FFXIII after they received ungodly amounts of advertising money from SE for thier mag. Famitsu likewise gave a perfect score to FFXIII-2 after being "paid off" by Square-Enix and its sales were atrocious in comparison to the sales made by all the other FF games (japanese gamers dont trust SE to deliver anymore)and the average player review score is a C !!("Playstation MK2" site) Yet did Gamespot even mention that? No! they accepted the advertising money from SE and ahve called its woeful sales a "success", not so when looked at in context with FF previous sales - I mean even FFXIII sold 1.5 million in its first week (FF's lowest sales up to that point) and FFXIII-2 only sold 500,000!! And it got a perfect score at Famitsu?????? Whatever.

max_1111
max_1111

@Lhomity [quote]They're trying something new...[/quote] HAHAHAHAHA What?!?! Really? Oooooh.. they're making another first person shooter..... Wow.. how ground-breaking and risque of them...

Lhomity
Lhomity

I'm already planning to import this title, since its already been refused classification in Australia (Sigh)... I don't particularly care that its not anything like the old syndicate. That's like complaining that Skyward sword isn't a top-down 8-bit NES game. They're trying something new to reboot Syndicate; a series that died many a year ago, and I think it's pretty exciting.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@nastyhotpocket Funny how you say that when most ads lately (including today) are The Darkness II (2kgames) and FF XIII-2 (Square-Enix), not EA at all. Haters gon' hate though.

Sauroy
Sauroy

Why is the person playing missing so much?...Do you do it on purpose? Or does he generally suck?

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

Got to admit that although I am still sceptical, this does look pretty fun, the lack of automatic health regen sets it apart from COD as do the other abilities. I know its a shooter and that's irritating but we haven't had a bad run in terms of remakes. You could hardly call Fallout 3 a bad game so we aught to at least give this one a chance. won't be a day 1 purchase for me but I'll take a look at the review and if it comes out well I'll pick this up in a sale.