Let us talk about Syndicate. What, you’ve never heard of this series? Well, you should be ashamed! I mean, seriously, you must be the biggest idiot known to man! Okay, I admit, I didn’t know about Syndicate either. I then decided to do some research and find out for myself about this series. The first game released in 1993 was an isometric shooter with some real-time tactics mixed in, made by a company called Bullfrog Productions. It was well received even though its violence brought up some controversy, since back then you really couldn’t have a violent game and not be known for its violent parts (looking at you, Mortal Kombat). It was critically acclaimed at the time for its top-notch presentation (for back then, of course) and adult story with themes of violence and drugs. An expansion was made for the game, and then a sequel called Syndicate Wars was released in 1997 for the PC and Playstation 1. After that though, the series died off when others rose to power. In 2006, the producer of the original series wanted to go back and make a new one, but from what I could tell, it was a bit of a stretch to make a sequel or a reboot for a series that did well when it was released, but was now forgotten by gamers and time. Now we come to Starbreeze Studios who worked on the first Darkness game for the PS3 and 360 along with the Chronicles of Riddick video game, which was highly praised for being one of the best movie-licensed games of all time. They are here now here to show us the reboot of the series simply known as Syndicate! While this could be a good thing to bring back a franchise that was long forgotten by the gaming mass, this could also be a total and utter disaster. For example, Shadowrun, a point-and-click RPG was a cult favorite gem of a game. Then, in the 2000’s, a company decided to bring it back as a multiplayer-centric-shooter. The result of all this? The game bombed and was considered to be utter garbage, and the result of that was FASA Studio, the developers’ company, shutting down, and the servers for the game not even staying up for an entire year. So, how does this game turn out? Let us find out.
The year is 2069 where a huge company called Eurocorp has made a very powerful chip called the Dart chip that can enhance the human body and have huge corporations rule over everyone instead of the government. How that works, I don’t know. You play as a silent main hero named Miles Kilo who has just been given the new Dark 6 prototype chip and is sent off on a mission to stop a rival company. Of course, this is not as clear as day, and there are backstabbing, twists and turns, and it is up to you to stop whatever the heck is going on. To be honest, the problems of the game start here with the story. It is really generic, very predictable, and to me, not very enjoyable. There are some interesting things here and there, but the overall experience has been seen before, and is almost like Deus Ex Human Revolution.
The gameplay is not of the original isometric third-person shooting of the past, but is now reborn in a first-person shooter. The aiming mechanics are pretty typical. You use Iron Sights to better your aim and you can only carry two guns with you at a time. The mechanics come into play with your new Dart chip that is in your head. There are some cool mechanics here, like you can hack into an enemy’s mind and have him kill himself, make enemy guns backfire and stun them, and even put one under your control to attack the other enemies in the room and then kill himself. You can also hack turrets to attack the enemy, destroy the armor off of stronger enemies and bosses, and activate machines to make things happen depending on what the situation is. There is also a slowdown mode where you can do more damage and see enemies behind walls. This is usually pretty useful when you need to scope the area out, but you will normally use this mechanic to shoot enemies who are hiding behind smoke or the game’s bloom effect on the graphics. The boss fights are pretty typical, you’ve got the fast guy, you’ve got the strong guy who uses a gun that has bullets that can go around corners, and another guy who uses a missile launcher. The boss I liked the most was the one who used missiles against you and you had to quickly redirect them back at the boss. The weapons range from the typical machine gun, shotgun, and assault rifle, with a few cool guns like a laser cannon, chain gun, flamethrower, and the already mentioned gun that has bullets that can go around corners. The single player is decent and will take you about 5-6 hours to complete. The multiplayer is surprisingly different. It plays more like a squad-based shooter like Binary Domain or the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3. You play as different classed characters and you take on different missions and get rewarded with points depending on how many enemies you kill, how many teammates you heal, and you get the idea. Overall, I kind of wish the single player was more like its multiplayer, and was a squad-based shooter instead of a rather generic first-person shooter.
The graphics are nice and get the job done. They have a very clean corporate look to them, which I guess fits the whole corporate feel of the game and the corporations that you are usually put into. The voice acting is decent, with voices that usually fit the person they are put with and it gets the job somewhat done in keeping you interested in the story. The music is basic techno and sounds like beta songs from a Daft Punk tribute band. I guess, to be more honest, the whole presentation of this game is just okay, it isn’t super amazing, but it isn’t super terrible either.
Here we are with the complaints I have with this game. The entire game as a whole is very generic and not very inspiring. Again, I have seen these themes and settings before in films and other games and implemented better. It feels like the whole look and feel of the game is stuck in some kind of book of clichés on how to make a science fiction shooter. I doubt this was the developers’ true intent, and I know I am being a tad harsh, but I had some hope for this game being unique and not be one of the shooters that come out and is not that good. The boss fights are not that fun either besides the one with the rockets. They remind me of the boss fights in The Darkness 2, but are not handled as well. The biggest offense I take with this game however is that it was boring. When I think of a shooter like Killzone 3, Mass Effect 3, and Vanquish, I think of something extremely fast-paced and exciting, but this game overall was very boring and underwhelming. There were just no wow moments for me and I was almost done with the game before I gave up, due to being bored of playing it. I think what is to blame is that it’s very linear, short, and the story is not very entertaining. Again, I know this probably wasn’t their intent and I doubt any company that wants to come up with a story wants it to be bad, but I just couldn’t get myself to finish the game. No game should be boring, and especially a shooter shouldn’t be boring.
Overall, this is probably the most disappointing game I have played so far this year of 2012. I don’t know if it is the worst game of the year since we are still in this year of games with only a few bad games out as of right now. I just wish this game was, to be honest, thought out more. I wish it was more like a squad-based shooter like its multiplayer mixed in with some actual tactics and maybe some of that fancy Mirror’s Edge wall-running and not so much set up like a generic shooter. The trailers made it look fast-paced and intense, but for me, it just doesn’t live up to any hype it had going for it. I have played much worse games like X-Men Destiny, but I can’t recommend this game if you have not played it yet. It might be a bad game, but again it isn’t the worst, and I know about shooters that have had much worse releases, like Brink and Mindjack, which are worse shooters games. Let us hope the shooters get better in the future, and they should be since Mass Effect 3, Darkness 2, and Binary Domain have shown that shooters can be good. We can hope for that right?
This game gets a 4 out of 10