The new Syndicate isn’t an instant success. Luckily the makers put down a first person shooter that has some qualities we like a lot. Unfortunately – especially for veterans of the original game like yours truly – this game is too far away from the first Syndicate and won’t ever make “classic” status.
In 1993 Syndicate was a revolution, not only thanks to its original gameplay, but most of all due to the futuristic sci-fi atmosphere, the grimm and explosive action, and the memorable weapons. The setting has largely been maintained and makes for one of the game’s strongholds. The atmosphere is created by beautiful graphics with a lot of attention to detail (from the head-up display to how neon lights reflect on futuristic buildings), the credible animations, but also by Starbreeze taking the time to immerse you in this world.
Your name is Miles Kilo, an agent at EuroCorp who has a so-called “Augmentation” chip implemnted which gives you special abilities and skills. This comes in handy as other large conglomerates (Syndicates in the game), and as such competitors of EuroCorp, all fight for power and don’t do this in a friendly way. What disappoints is that the makers try to tell the story in a subtle way and hold back too much, leaving you to do all the work. You need to search for texts on computers and in files and read them all to truly find out what’s going on. This way of storytelling isn’t too bad if you want to go deeper or get more background, but it is if the makers don’t clearly explain what’s going on in the main game.
The result for me was that I concentrated on the gameplay and took little notice of the story. A missed opportunity as it would have only benefited the atmosphere and given purpose to the many shooting aside from taking down everything that appears in your visor. Luckily this shooting is more than enjoyable. An original feature is that you can do more than just making your guns blaze. Thanks to augmentations you can for instance brainwash an opponent and have him attack his own team until he gets a bullet in his head. Suicide seems to be a handy app in the future as you can also pursuade enemies to hold onto a grenade while the pin has been removed.
If this sounds too easy, fear not. You often first have to mentally invade your opponents, something that take the necessary time. And that time is often very valuable with so much hectic action going on that you’ll often go back to the tactical mode in which seconds go a tad slower. The action also places you right in the game, the shooter feeling is very tight thanks to a realistic speed (you never get the feeling you’re floating) and the AI makes that it’s more than just duck & cover gameplay. Enemies go looking for you so you can’t keep hiding in a safespot. Enjoyment for shooter fans who like a challenge, especially towards the end of the game.
Unfortunately the makers wanted to bring some variation by throwing in a puzzle now and then and as said you do need to have some patience before the game really gets going. The first and especially the middle part of the game therefore disappoint a bit.
For those who have friends, no worries as you probably already heard that the co-op (with up to four players) is quite a bit better than the singleplayer campaign. The reason is that the gameplay and combination between the weapons arsenal and the abilities truly come to their right here. There’s also a bit of tactics when choosing your abilities and a bit of RPG as you for instance can upgrade slots, weapons and apps as well as unlock new ones. On top of that you really have to work together to survive the cleverly designed levels and bullet rains while trying to fulfill the varied objectives. As so often with multiplayer you’ll experience the best adventures here thanks to a tight balance between strong opponents and the possibilities of your team, like curing and helping fallen comrads.
Syndicate is a game with a lot of good, but also some disappointing points. The singleplayer campaign is held up by the shooter qualities – but then mostly towards the end – while the story really disappoints seeing the quality of the classic original. The co-op is original and challenging, but then the question is raised where that’s enough of a reason to purchase this one. Also take in mind that you’ll always have to be with four. Only for shooter fans with friends, so to speak, or for those who can get it at bargain price.