Syndicate First Look Preview - Breaching the Mind

The human mind is an open book as we dive into Syndicate's futuristic world of corporate espionage.

The new Syndicate game takes us inside West Meld Solutions headquarters, where two minimum-wage security guards interrogate a middle-aged man in a suit. They don't see the figure moving behind the one-way mirror. Suddenly, one of the guards begins to spasm and draws his weapon with trembling fingers. His mind reels in protest, but his body won't respond. BAM! His fellow security guard is dead. BAM! The man in the suit is dead. BAM! The force of the bullet driving up from under the guard's chin sends him flying back through the mirror.

Calm and collected, we move our agent over the dead body, through the broken window, and continue with our mission. This was our first hands-on session with Syndicate at the Electronic Arts inaugural Vegas Game Show.

Released back in 1993, the first Syndicate was an isometric, real-time strategy game from Bullfrog Productions (Populous). Now, roughly 18 years later, developers Electronic Arts and Starbreeze Studios (The Darkness) are finally bringing this cyberpunk series back, albeit in a controversial new form. Joining the ranks of XCOM and Fallout 3, the new Syndicate takes the form of a first-person shooter with role-playing elements.

"Business is war," explains the game's tagline. The harsh reality of the year 2069 is that, without proper government oversight, three massive corporations have grown to monopolize the entire planet. Well, almost the entire planet. The North American market is still up for grabs and has subsequently erupted into a corporate battlefield. But this war isn't fought with tanks and jets; instead, elite agents carry out assassinations and corporate espionage to help ensure their employer's dominance. Morality is outdated and "civilian causalities are a nonissue."

In the game, we took on the role of Miles Kilo, Eurocorp's latest prototype agent, on a mission to kill our way into a rival corporation. After influencing security guards, we set upon our mission of recovering a special computer chip implanted in the brain of West Meld executive Gary Chang. Of course, Chang wasn't about to give it up willingly; he even goes so far as to threaten blowing his own head off when confronted. We went ahead and saved him the trouble by putting a bullet in his chest. Producing what appeared to be a piece of demonic dental equipment, we drilled into the former executive's head and ripped the chip free.

The dart vision ability will let you see through walls and spot weaknesses in enemies.

Such a little thing had a big payoff. First, it let us purchase our first character upgrade from a list of 17 possible bonuses, ranging from weapon damage to reload speed improvements. Second, it let us access the backfire, persuade, and suicide abilities, called breach abilities. Breaching a target is similar in concept to hacking: You get inside and make it do something it doesn't want to do. Backfire causes an enemy's weapon to backfire in his hands, causing damage and knocking him back. Persuade forces an enemy to join your side as an ally for a brief time. And suicide, as you may recall, commands an enemy to take his own life, either with a bullet to the head or a grenade in the hand.

Breaching a target was as simple as looking at it and tapping a button. A bar over the target would then quickly fill up, though we could be interrupted if we took damage (thankfully, once you've spotted the target, breaching works through walls). The bar also had a small white section. If we tapped the same button again while the meter was in this section, we would be awarded some extra adrenaline, which was the currency that powered our breach abilities. Otherwise, we earned adrenaline by killing enemies.

And there were plenty of enemies to kill once we exited Chang's office. About a dozen security guards had piled into a medical testing room lined with CT scanners, as well as one ceiling-mounted machine-gun turret. Here, we learned that we could breach elements in the environment. While breaching a human mind costs adrenaline, doing it to a machine was free, though each breach had a fixed result. Breaching the scanners, for instance, caused them to retract and deny the enemy cover, while doing the same to the turret made it fire on our enemies.

After the firefight, we encountered a scientist testing a gun that could curve bullets midair. One quick snap of the scientist's neck later, and the gun was ours. Armed with this new weapon, we were presented with a puzzle that required us to use it in conjunction with breach. There were two locked doors separated by a transparent, bulletproof wall. To shoot the lock off of the far door, we first had to breach a nearby pipeline. This caused the pipe to spray a freezing solution all over the window. Weakened by the power of cold, the window easily broke under the force of our bullets as they twisted their way down to the door's lock.

Like many modern shooters, Syndicate has a regenerating health system.

Similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the gunplay felt heavy and deliberate. However, our character did not snap to cover; instead, he could crouch behind a crate or pillar and tilt his gun to the side or above to fire. While it had little application in the narrow hallways we explored, sprinting, sliding, and shin-kicking enemies was also an option. When asked about the viability of this technique, the developers hinted that future stages will be more open to accommodate greater mobility. While it may not be what we expected, there's some sick satisfaction to be had with the game's breach abilities.

Syndicate will be released on February 21, 2012 in North America and February 24 in Europe on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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Discussion

186 comments
Kathos
Kathos

Why bother calling it Syndicate if its not even the same game? It's just going to be some chit clone of Deus Ex or something crappy like that. Another reason why EA is trash.

Devilmann711
Devilmann711

Well id does not look like EA is trying to capture any of the old audience by releasing a FPS.....I am disappointed.

Carton_of_milk
Carton_of_milk

Well...thanks EA or taking one of my favorite game of all time and which I'd been hoping for years would be remade (or revived) and turning it into yet another FPS. Yeah yeah I read about the original elements, persuasion and breach and all but still. First of all if you were NOT gonna make a strategy game like the original, at the very least a open world cyberpunk game would have been great. And I mean an actual city, not like what they call a cities in Deux EX but are actually mainly corridors. Well i'll always have the memories of the original game to cherish i guess (like that one mission where you had to kill some guy's wife to scare him into not betraying the corporation, or that one where you had to kill a politician in a police convoy, those were great and i still, almost 20 years later, remember how I took on those missions...this was sch a great game and in some respects, ahead of it's time ).

RuinHD
RuinHD

there will never be a modern game like breakdown... but this game does have style though.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

I'm a huge fan of classic computer games: Fallout (my number one favorite game EVAR), Ultima, Wing Commander, X-Com, Eldar Scrolls, Starcraft, etc. but I've never heard of Syndicate... hm. I kinda feel left out. Anyone know where I can find a copy. For my opinion on modernization for games, yah I liked Fallout 3, I loved Oblivion, and Starcraft 2 is beast, but on the opposite spectrum, Xcom is a flat out betrayal of the series, and other games such as Wing Commander and Ultima are never even thought to be relaunched! WTF?! I want my classic games back. Why is it that classic games when remade are either Game of the Year material or flat out terrible. I need some middle ground in these reboots!... also, yah if someone could link me a page for Syndicate that'd be greeeaaat...

raydrone
raydrone

Man I dunno about others...ths definitely looks a badass game

dyurth
dyurth

Good questions, shame about the answers.

thebigfatkill
thebigfatkill

The irony here being playing a character fighting against corporate corruption and greed as EA, too afraid to stay faithful to the original, blends this game into the endless sea of FPS to boost corporate profits. This will sell. However, that doesn't change the fact that EA is about the bottom line and does not give a damn about preserving the identity of the original. EA, your copy and paste approach will only get you so far when gamers start to realize your strong-arm tactics and deep pockets are prioritized for shareholder profit motivation. These deceptive tactics will come back and bite you like a self-fulfilling prophecy with your own agents turning on you one day.

slainbaby
slainbaby

This game looks awesome. That is all.

megatronx2
megatronx2

@sinex1983 Sure i buy things, but i hate this word. For me this word means that all life is centered around buying things.

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

The FPS direction makes sense to me... I mean, you didn't drive to work in a Model-T did you? When are they going to let us know about the online multi-player perk system and zombie mode?

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

Now I'm looking towards Cartel: the only benefit of this so-called 'Syndicate' was revealing how many people wished for a true return of the game in the sense of gameplay so that smaller studios can find financing to cover the demand with spiritual successors.

supertom221
supertom221

"Joining the ranks of XCOM and Fallout 3, the new Syndicate takes the form of a first-person shooter with role-playing elements." Wrong. Fallout 3 is an RPG with first person shooter elements. Syndicate is the opposite. The moment I saw the guy jump from the Cjopper I thought JENSEN. Zero originality here.

Ivano_S
Ivano_S

This interview could have lasted 30 seconds. The interviewed guy just had to say "Guys, it's a freakin0 FPS with a cool story, nothing more, nothing less. It's nothing revolutionary and to say the total truth, it's even a step backwards in game design. It goes on on rails, so no kind of liberty or freedom given to the players, because we want to deliver a cool story in our way, not the player's wa. It has a cool story, though". That's it. I agree with GOGOGOGURT: he avoided questions quite well.

jmace1
jmace1

Thank Maxwell Mcgee for asking difficult and direct questions to the developers. Rarely have I seen such a straight forward approach.

Naimscool
Naimscool

I'm feeling the vide of this game, reminds me alot of the movie "Equilibrium" with Christian Bale, hope it's as good as it looks.

OGKNav
OGKNav

Omfg another person on earth who played Syndicate Wars. "PERSUADATRON"

GOGOGOGURT
GOGOGOGURT

He avoided the questions quite well...

chickennoris
chickennoris

syndicate wars was and still one of my favourite games if i want to see a new syndicate i would like to see it as gta games or fallout otherwise the game will fail

Furbyballistik
Furbyballistik

seeing through walls. bullets bending around corners to hit their targer....resistance much?

theslimdavylp
theslimdavylp

FPS RPG!? Sweeeet, I think we need some more games in that genre

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I really hope there is an organic feel to the 'World', e.g. Transport systems, vehicles etc.

chimpdaddy
chimpdaddy

the way he answered those questions all i can say is nathan camarillio would be proud, from what i could hear was the same hype rubbish nathan gave trying to hype crysis 2 when it turned out to be a dissapointing sequel rather than it should of been its own game, very doubious about this now, hate the fact he doesnt know about the game like nathan but is just remembering a summarize of what the devs have written

RedReckoning
RedReckoning

Do you have the choice to play with a stealth style, or are you forced to just confront with gunfire?

Toplinkar
Toplinkar

How many special abilities (Such as the mind control and seeing trhough walls) is Syndicate going to have and what makes it unlike the first person shooters?

Tinkertown
Tinkertown

Same old same old. Come on I thought we were supposed to be playing on next gen consoles, pretty sure I was doing this a few years ago.

Pyromk1
Pyromk1

what brilliantly deflected questions. A politician would be proud of such expertly answered questions. It worries me that he referred to players as consumers throughout the interview. It looks polished but despite the wealth of ideas the IP provides doesn't seem to be offering anything new to an already packed genre

syam32245340
syam32245340

And I thought it was ninja-style action based -_-"

megakick
megakick

Can't be any worse then Shadowrun for XBOX 360. The game was rush no climbing animation.

Geist22
Geist22

A bit disappointed like everyone else who loved Syndicate and Syndicate Wars, but it looks good so I'll give it a chance. Above all I hope they keep it consistent with the setting/atmosphere of the old games. These guys you kill are not humans, but androids and robots. Important places are guarded by other agents which have no free will or conscience and are remote controlled. "Real" humans are rare, and those few that exist have a chip in their back of their neck that prevents them from doing unlawful things or noticing the gunfights right around them. And that agent is not you. You are controlling him from your ship. If you give him the order to run into a building filled with enemies and self-destruct, he does it without asking. Agents are an expensive, yet expendable ressource.

ADDADAC
ADDADAC

What's next? A sequel to full throtle being made into a 3rd person cover based shooter?

NDegree
NDegree

I never played the first 2 original Syndicate but I am looking forward to this. I believe that the game is in good hands. Starbreeze Studios already gave us 2 of the great games like ''The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay'' & ''The Darkness''. So I have faith in them. Also the people whom comparing this game with ''Deus Ex: Human Revolution'' are stupid. Sure! the game looked & felt kind of ''Deus Ex: HR'' but it's not like that Starbreeze start there development right after release of ''Deus Ex: HR'' or year before. They are actually working on Syndicate, more then 2 years. So comparing is pointless

malad
malad

FTW. Games you may like... Windows 95 (PC) :)

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

@bloody-hell so you thought that even my pessimistic 6 hour game play estimate was too optimistic.....I have corrected for that naivete and it wont happen again.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@stan_boyd, the difference between this and Fallout 3, is with Fallout 3 they basically tried to change the perspective to first person, while keeping most of the original 'gameplay' (VATS, Pipboy, etc.). Imagine if they created Fallout 3 as a basic, linear, no open world FPS, removed VATS, the skills, everything that made Fallout, Fallout. That's what's happening here from what we've seen. You're not even playing as the 'corporation' any more, you're just the drone. Milking your controlled zones for money to pump into your research to get new weapons and upgrades? Nope, you pick up new weapons. Upgrading your agents/acquiring new agents to replace your losses? Nada. Having said that (I cannot believe I'm saying this), I do hope it succeeds, purely because I pray that they decide to make a more fleshed-out sequel. And that can only happen if the first one is a financial success. So yeah, I might buy this and shove it in my collection unopened and continue the prayers.

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

Yet another FPS with a male lead only, no thanks. Nothing new. Oh well, yet another game to not bother with, just like Deus EX,Gears Of War, COD, Halo, X-Com... Very disappointed in seeing the same tired ideas still being churned out without any effort made for new ideas and new creative ways of thinking. Another round of ho hum.

mrbojangles25
mrbojangles25

seems like EA's answer to Deus Ex 3...either way, I am excited. Yes, an isometric tactical RTS would have been nice, but shooters are fun too

it009x9281
it009x9281

I really hope this game flops cos it sounds really rubbish nothing like the original.

Omnislash_
Omnislash_

What is this "fever" all of the sudden with FPS games? Suddenly every game released for PS3 is a FPS... Why continue to mix genres with a formula that is clearly overused? The answer is simple: people keep buying these games, so it's all that matters. I'm not saying they're bad games, but I really miss a good classic action game / RPG. I played the old Syndicate games but I think I'll pass on this one.

Kratos_Kills
Kratos_Kills

Syndicate was really amazing game and had special to me but when I look at this... its disappointing. Some people may enjoyed new Fallout but I didnt even try it, fps is not for me, I play it rarely nowadays. I dont enjoy making everyting FPS...

lofwyr2012
lofwyr2012

Finally got round to watching the trailer after reading a lot of the comments here, some of them pretty vitriolic. I'm old enough to have fond memories of both Syndicate (Inc american Revolt) and Syndicate Wars on Amiga and PC. Sure I'm a bit miffed that it's and FPS instead of an RTS but having watched the trailer I'm stoked. As a lover of cyberpunk this looks great and it's gone from oh god no to on my watch list. It just looks like a whole lot of fun. Sure It might not be Syndicate of old but I'm prepared to judge it on it's own merits. As an aside: I got a the feeling from the female voice over in the trailer that the agent is being controlled/monitored remotely like the original. This made me very happy.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

Unlike the majority, I am gonna give it a chance. When I first heard about the massive changes they were doing to Fallout when Bethesda took over I was appalled at first. Then I played it at a friends house one day and went out and bought it the next. Sure change can suck, but then again everyone keeps complaining about how CoD hasn't changed at all. Maybe this game will suck, but who knows perhaps if you give it a rent when it comes out maybe you will enjoy it. The trailer looks good and I bet if it didn't have the name syndicate it wouldn't be getting all this hate.

Echose7en86
Echose7en86

looking good it kinder reminds me of pefect dark

Krinnium
Krinnium

woot. another linear first person shooter with light RPG elements. awesome. hopefully this one at least is fun to play...

gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

Damn it... another classic franchise turned into a largely non-thinking FPS. The only thing this has in common with Syndicate is the name and the artwork... sort of. I'm feeling the Red Mist coming on here!

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

Hellooo Gamespot, it's not "coming back after 18 years". Imagine your sibling went missing. 18 years later, a totally different person comes, saying that he is your sibling, showing your sibling's ID. Is he your sibling? Of course not!

awyoung
awyoung

Two things: 1) Why does he say "so..." before each instance of him avoiding the question + lying? 2) Why was one of the most innovative, fun games of all time replaced with a first person shooter? Where's all the hypnotizing/"persuading" a huge army of pedestrians to become your followers to run around picking up guns and killing your enemies for you? Where's pissing off hover car police on the street? This is really disappointing. I was so looking forward to a syndicate remake and I've been super let down.