Syndicate's cooperative play is undeniably thrilling. Too bad the single-player campaign doesn't reach the same heights.
- Fantastic, nail-biting cooperative play
- Aggressive AI keeps the pressure on
- Online progression system gives you reasons to return
- Smooth animations and dazzling visuals
- Gunplay and hacking lead to thrills.
- Weak storytelling wastes the cool setting
- Mediocre, poorly-paced campaign
- Ridiculously oversaturated lighting effects impede gameplay.
If you're a fan of 1993's beloved strategy game Syndicate, you might see the new series reboot as heresy. But if you've dismissed the new Syndicate because you think it sullies the franchise, you're doing yourself a disservice. That's because 2012's Syndicate is a really good first-person shooter with a palpable science-fiction vibe and rousing cooperative play. If you're looking for a first-class way to play an online game with three good friends, here's your destination. Just be sure you come to Syndicate for the co-op rather than the intermittently entertaining but messy single-player campaign, which prizes form over function.
But such form it is: Syndicate is slick, moody, and in total command of its near-future vision. You are a digitally enhanced agent of a megacorporation fighting for domination, and every aspect of the presentation reinforces this notion. In a rainy courtyard shoot-out under the rising skyscrapers of New York City, you're struck by the hazy blue lighting and how it contrasts with the craggy industrial pipes and pillars that surround you. Elsewhere, walls of text scroll down transparent green computer terminals, and countless objects are identified in your heads-up display. The atmosphere is both gorgeous and emotionally disconnected. This is the future, cool and indifferent, and Syndicate does an impressive job of transporting you there.
If only this attention to detail were applied to the rest of the campaign, which is characterized by momentary thrills broken up by pointless puzzle-solving and stretches of nothing that grind the pace to a halt. Consider this scenario: For narrative reasons, you find yourself strapped into a fancy machine--the kind that appears in so many science fiction games. Developer Starbreeze squeezes out as many minutes as it can out of this unskippable scene (not to mention, the ones leading up to it). You take drowsy steps into the device. You watch as straps bind your wrists in place. You look around as the machine ever-so-slowly rises into the air and then ever-so-slowly examines your innards. Every whirr and every click is belabored.
Such pace-killing moments are common. Syndicate moves forward in fits and starts, grinding to a halt just when it seems things might finally get awesome. Quiet moments can build tension in games that tell great stories or at least deliver effective payoffs, but Syndicate isn't such a game. You know that you are Miles Kilo, a EuroCorp agent with a special augmentation chip that gives you superhuman abilities. You meet comrades like Lily Drawl and Jack Denham, and you are told of EuroCorp and competing syndicates, but you are never given a reason to care. What does EuroCorp actually do? What makes it different from other corporations? What are the real stakes in this corporate war?
Syndicate does a poor job of answering such important questions. In place of true world development, it dumps thousands of words of text into an infobank, where you can read character profiles and various propaganda. The game doesn't tell a story so much as it shoves an encyclopedia at you and expects you to do the legwork. Compare this approach to last year's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which used similar devices to expand its proper narrative, not to replace it. By the time Syndicate makes some last-ditch attempts to elicit emotion in this apathetic climate, it's too late. If a game never bothers to flesh out its characters, then you can't be expected to care about their pasts or futures.
Had Syndicate's campaign focused purely on the action, it would have made a much better impression. When things take off, they can really get your pulse pounding, though such moments don't last very long--at least, not until the final chapters. But when the shooting intensifies, the exciting single-player shooter hiding finally breaks free. Taking aim and shooting feels as satisfying as you'd like. A steady frame rate and sleek animations do their part to keep the action feeling fluid, and you feel a sense of weight when jumping or sliding into a cover spot. You might feel a bit of Killzone 3 in that feeling of heft. Perhaps not coincidentally, Syndicate employs a Killzone-esque first-person cover system. This is no cover shooter, however: persevering enemies approach from multiple angles and keep you moving. If you're used to predictable shooting galleries, in which foes enter from obvious entry points and seem content in their roles as bullet fodder, then Syndicate will represent a refreshing change.
Of course, as a future supersoldier, you don't just get guns: you get a few handy applications to keep the challenge from being overwhelming. It all starts with the suicide app. With the press of a key, your target is overcome by mental anguish before grabbing a grenade and expiring in particularly explosive fashion. Then there is the backfire app, which flings a merc to the ground, where he's temporarily vulnerable. The persuade application tops off your repertoire, turning your chosen enemy into an ally until he turns his gun on himself.
That all sounds deliciously gory, though in practice, you're not focused on the splattering of brains: you've already moved on to your next target. Some of those targets may require breaching, which is to say, hacking your target's chip. Powerful enemies require you to breach their armor before they can be harmed, which requires holding a key for several precious seconds. When such a foe is playing lone gunman, this isn't so bad. When he's accompanied by a few comrades, things get a lot more intense. If the action seems too much, you can activate your tactical overlay. Doing so slows down time and highlights every nearby enemy, even those behind walls. And with the right weapon, you can even snipe targets protected by cover.
just finished the game, and its a decent game w/ really nice environment design setting.... enjoy the single play alot...
i dont know whats up with all the negativity I thought it was a descent game.. Whenever i hear that a game is a remake from an old game i never expect it to be the same, and why would you? things have changed way to much to keep that same feel of a classic.. the online is great but yes the campaign is poor and the lighting is just terrible!
Why does every....game.....remake HAVE to be a damn FPS? It's getting ridiculous in epic proportions. Why the heck couldn't they just rehash a gorgeous game in the same vein with some updated graphics, gameplay etc. So it can appeal to a bunch of 12 year old kids? Disappointed. Another classic blasted. Sorry Bullfrog, your honored has been tainted.
WTF is with the bloom filter??? It's like running through a 1970's chocolate ad thank god they didnt find the star burst filter!
I don't know why everybody is hating this game, but i think it wasn't so bad. Ok, I got it with 50% discount, not worth full price.
@tableto haha, yeah i just bought it for 1/4 the original price. i knew i would not be paying full price for this and i was right, people paid $60 for this?! They got ripped off. The lighting effects are too over the top and the dark areas are too dark! I played it for about 1 hour and got sick of it. Now it's in the gather dust collection to be revisited from time to time when i'm in the mode for gun fighting... Sigh... Back to Skyrim...
well the game is pretty good...really enjoyed it...but yes, the lighting effects are too much...almost blinded by it during gameplay....
As soon as I read that the single player campaign was not great I struggled to complete reading the review. Not buying this. 1993 version was superb, looks like another wasted opportunity. Again. @Skakruk - were you drunk when you wrote all that crap? ;-)
Well I got the game and quite honestly I loved it. I made me want to touch the old game again because its completely different and I remember it fondly but then I realised that its best the leave past to the past. If I pick the game up now, the same thing happens as every golden game memory. Gets pooped over since the games are boring as hell nowadays. Ive done this to many good games from the past. Gotta stop doing it and just enjoy what I can get now with an open mind.
@iluvOP I know what you mean. Reliving the past with current eyes is difficult with gaming. Doom, Wolfenstein, Simcity, Xcom, etc were epic games of the time with many a sleepness night, but when you got back and play you're like "ho hum". However, they did pave the way for the amazing stuff we have today, and it does have it place in the annals of history.
i just replayed bioshock and tried to play the second one but first there was games for windows live crap - and i didn't know it!!! why, in the God's name, why it takes me 10 minutes to start the game if it should start in 1 minute !!! why I can't save if I'm not logged in online ?? in a single player game !!!! why some ass company have to know that i bought it - and why it restricts me to play it if i"m not online ??? why ??? that were the most sadly spent 19.90 $ in my life... i fu**d myself up. I had my heart went down in thought that they can do that sh*t again and crap the bioshock infinite but then i realized the Levine is the man, that won't let that happen. I hope...
again let me post this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1ZtBCpo0eU. man, after rage crap - i'm waking at nights sometimes thinking - here's id fell to console drug and made rage - not too bad but not standing up to the standards of PC game that they themselves established.. it looks like everyone at the industry are lowering their standards and trying not stand out from the crowd with talent but with sales count. creating a great game is not a priority anymore. just to make sales and multiplayer. that's it.
too bad that EA policy of creating crap of great premises is ruining what could be otherwise good game... it's like they intentionally taking good titles of the past and making crap out of it. i cannot believe that starbreeze made it on purpose. that happened cos EA f***s sat on their heads each time they wanted to do something good. i wonder what will they sh*t next.
I had an idea for some DLC I'd like to see for this. There's a Half-life mode called Natural Selection - http://www.unknownworlds.com/ns/about/ - which is described as a combination of FPS and RTS; one player is the Commander, who has a top-down view of the level while the rest of the team plays in first person. If you could do the same kind of thing in Syndicate's game engine, you could have a team of 4 agents with a 5th player able to scroll around the map and help give the team situational awareness. What I was thinking was "What would the original Syndicate be like if you replaced the AI agents with human players?"
it was a complete let down..my eyes were hurting because of the excessive light,the storyline was "wtf happened?" and the end was bad no final boss fight no soldiers to kill u just crawl to the last boss.Avoid it.. save u money for ME 3.
@Calilis Well you where a terrorist afterall. Sure they call them agents, but you blew up civilians at a millitairy parade just to kill a commander with planting bombs on the road and press the button to explode them as soon as the armored vehicle drove over them. Awesome experience xD First game i played where you wheren't a hero, you where just a bad @ss motherlover! Blowing everyone up just to reach your goal. And who didn't loved the rocket in that game?
@flesh19no the original syndicate games were hard and a bit frustrating, but absolutely unique... sometimes I still play them just to watch all hell brake loose in a future urban environment full of people... @dutchgamer83 in less politically correct times, running into parades with flamethrowers, missile launchers and uzis spraying was seen as just a bit of fun... in syndicate wars they made it especially satisfying to level buildings! ;) it was a cyberpunk experience no gamer could miss!
When Deus Ex Human Revolution appeared, this game should have been scrapped and forgotten. It looks like poor early development preview in comparison to DE:HR. There is less of everything: hacking, augmentations, weapons, inventory, world, plot, visuals. May be the AI is better but I'm not a fan of plain shooters. And this game is just one more stupid boring plain FPS.
I agree with everyone who want the old style sydicate. We've got enough FPS's Hopefull Xcom Enemy Unkown will do well.
the bloom is killing you, u need sunglasses to play a damn game the campaign is short the idea is nice but the way it was put in practice sux the testers and QC should have at least told the dev how horrible looks they should have let you at least have more options in video menu if you wanted ti disable some things anyway i bet i will not even finish it till me3 comes out, thank good it was a present and i didn't had to waste money on it :|
The funny thing is, I remembered Syndicate as one THE badass game I played when I was young. So I bought it on GOG.com now recently, but I was surprise how fast I got tired of it, and then I remembered: I got tired of it very early too when I was. I just didnt remembered it until I played it now. I think Syndicate is one of those game your remembered well since it was so different, but it had / has very repetetive gameplay and the researching for new stuff stops very quickly and basically all the missions are the same. An overhyped game when I think of it.
Well let us wait and see if this sells well or is the market for FPSs finally starting to get saturated. Bioware may have made a fun game but it is not Syndicate. Syndicate was all about being the mastermind and not the cannon fodder. So this game misses the point entirely.
@traykey1 it's not that bad you say, give it a chance. i don't think it's an insult to the original, u r wrong body!
Here's the beef, original Syndicate fans wanted a Syndicate game.. but what they get now is a syndicate-ish flavoured FPS. And it seemed to fail at single-player side as well, reading the review I can only think that this game was meant as multiplayer first, single-player second. Syndicate games were never about fast action and quick trigger, they have always been about careful planning and controlling. To reply to the Starbreeze director McEwan comments about the original Syndicates as "old games" .... Hasn't time moved on? FYI the first FPS came out even before Syndicate.. so which one is the older one?
@cyberarmy Theres an english version of Cannon Fodder 3 on Gamersgate. Also Google for a game called "Cartel", it is the true spiritual successor to the original Syndicate games. Not another FPS cashing in on a brand name.
@dutchgamer83 Those were the days mate, those were the days... Well they can always make it turn-based for easy consol handling :) I will not complain about it if that come true. Not even a word. @xxxxTRISTAMxxxx Im still amazed by it. Bioware indeed done a nice job there, maybe a little bit tweak and 1/2 more battle mods.
@Gelugon_baat Why the die hard syndicate fans aren't bashing this game? Well the average age of the visitors here is as old as the original Syndicate game ;) Okay maybe they where 2 or 3, but the game is very old. I loved the game and its a shame they made it another FPS. But as someone mentioned thats because of today's generation they want FPS games. A isometric point of view with 4 people to controle will be to hard for console gamers to handle (due the lack of a mouse) and the mainstream gamer will be to confused if you control more then 1 person in real time and can't shoot from a first person view. But you won't see many fans bash it cause its a old game, things changed and it probally wouldn't work, though i would love to see the orriginal syndicate with today's graphics (especially the mission where you had to blow up a parade!).
All i was trying to say another classic IP turned into a generic FPS with level up style multiplay... And we have already dozens of FPS jerking around. At least new Cannon Fodder looks nice, eventough its only in Russian...
@abfackeln I agree with you mate, R.I.P. Syndicate. And they say new Syndicate's co-op is blast and challenging. Too bad because Mass Effect 3's co-op is addictive with tons of variety. And it is very challenging too, difficulty is well aranged, you need good communication with your team and everybody must play at their limits past bronze. Actually i cant believe im saying all this, 1 month ago i was one of the head naysayers about ME3's multiplay and im now addicted to it :(
I was never a huge fan of the original Syndicate games, but I have to say I'm a little bit upset at the route this one took. The problem is that there aren't many games like the original Syndicate, and this was a chance for a new game of that genre, instead it took the same route as so many other games, the FPS. That's not to say that it's a bad game because of it, but there are so many FPS's to choose from, I'm not sure what would separate this one from so many others. At least if they had kept the original gameplay, that could have been a different experience, and one that many strategy game players would have appreciated. I am a huge fan of the X-Com game though, so I just hope they don't screw that one up.
So Gamespot really thinks that campaigns of Call of Duty are with far better story... This is stupid.. And yes, I was playing Syndicate way back, but I'll give this one a shot.