By Sam Coles:
In late 2011 EA games announced that there are going to reboot the hit table top RPG Syndicate, however it wasn’t going to be an RPG it was instead going to be a first person shooter, which were very popular at the time. This angered a lot of people because before this game there hasn’t been a Syndicate game since early 90’s. Does this make the game bad? No, although it is a tad uninspired with a few interesting mechanics.
Stop me if this sounds like Deus Ex Human Revolution, the game takes place in a dystopian future where most people in society are augmented with chips implanted in their bodies, which give them special abilities. Businesses are in constant battle to become the dominant supplier of said chips, where they employ agents to sabotage their competitor’s operations. You play as an agent named Kilo who is tasked to take down other businesses by any means possible, however Kilo starts to see flashes of his past as his memory was wiped when he was taken as a child to be trained as an agent. The story is somewhat interesting as you get further into the game, however the protagonist is a mute and it’s hard to feel for him when he doesn’t say a word, now I’m not saying silent characters are necessarily bad, but it if they have a complex past you can’t really convey that with a mute.
How does the gameplay fair? Well think of it as your typical corridor shooter with a sprinkle of Dues Ex Human Revolution but with streamlined mechanics. You have standard shootouts with your action hero goons that run at you with no regard of human life. You have a vast of array of weapons starting with your standard, say it with me now pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and SMGs. However when you get further into the game you get access to more exotic weapons like my favourite the Gauss Rifle which can lock onto enemies and shoot around corners, which is great for taking down enemies who like sitting in cover for long periods of time.
What’s unique about this game is that when you kill certain targets you can extract their chips that are embedded in their bodies; these can be used to upgrade your powers. You have three powers to use in gunfights you have backfire which jams guns which I don’t use often, suicide which makes enemies pull out a grenade and explode it great for dealing with crowds and finally betrayal which makes the enemy fight alongside you. These powers are mostly situational as most combat scenarios can be solved with a quick bullet to the cranium.
Visually the game looks fantastic, with some great effects when you’re walking through the neon lit streets at night with beautiful rain effects which show up on your screen. The only problem I have with the visuals is that the bloom effects can get a bit ridiculous in some areas where it almost blinds me, this was an issue during 2012 they over did bloom effects. The game does struggle to run at 30 frames per second which is its target frame rate, but it starts to drop in the more busy sections maybe it’s because I’m playing it on the PS3 as that system is known for bad multiplatform releases, or maybe the game is not optimised properly.
Syndicate is a game that tries to be Dues Ex, but is held back by linear gameplay and uninspired powers it’s not a bad game, but it is really uninspired and it is also really short, I managed to finish it in 4 hours. It’s cheap so if you really want to pick it up it’s not going to break the bank.