Syndicate is a futuristic first-person shooter developed by EA Games and Starbreeze Studios. The game is set in the year 2069, and the power of governments has been overruled by the influence of a few massive global corporations; or syndicates. You control an Agent of the Eurocorp syndicate, equipped with the organisations new Dart 6 Chip technology. The game is being sold as a reboot of the classic 1993 Bullfrog Syndicate series.
The single-player campaign begins with a tutorial level, but one which jumps you straight into the action. The player is instantly put into an active scenario which initially seems like an exciting idea. Unfortunately it is not entirely clear what the scenario is, however as a tutorial level this does not affect the game all too much overall. The tutorial may have been easier to learn from however in a more relaxed scenario since the fast pace can distract from the actual learning process as a whole. Following this you jump into your first mission, still learning some of what the game entails and what your character is capable of. In particular, this is where you learn about the chip-enhanced game play which has been the unique selling point that the marketing for this game has focussed on.
The Dart-6 Chip that your character is equipped with can be utilised in several ways within the game to dispatch and locate enemies, simply gain the upper hand in a combat situation, or to complete a mission in general. The player can activate the chip in order to visualise the virtual world, identifying anything in the local environment with an electronic signature or containing a chip itself. This activation only lasts for a limited time, but also slows down time slightly, making it easier to carry out a normally difficult task. The player has abilities which allow them to control their surroundings, for example hacking security machinery to fight their enemies. There are also abilities that can be used directly against an enemy such as suicide or backfire, which causes a weapons malfunction temporary startling the target. These features are what makes this game unique to other first-person shooters on the games market, however they can seem to quickly become repetitive. The fact that they are necessary to complete some mission task does make them seem somewhat more of a necessity than an added experience for the game.
Further to the chip which you can use in the game, your character may also carry with them two weapons at any one time. Some of these are standard weapons which closely resemble modern day ones, for example handguns, sniper rifles and grenades. Some futuristic weaponry is also involved in the game though, such as an assault rifle which can lock onto targets and shoot round obstructions. The variations in weaponry styles gives the player an opportunity to play with classic weapons that they are used to alongside new ones which can add to their experience. Although this is not a unique or original idea, it is one which has worked well for many first-person shooters in the past, and does so for Syndicate too.
The storyline of Syndicate is an intriguing one even before you are playing the game itself. Part of this may be down to the fact that it is easily imaginable, and in the future potentially real. The idea of being able to access the Internet using only your mind is an innovative and current idea rather than the mythical focuses of many modern video games. This is an idea which the player can connect with, as is the idea of technology companies at war. Although we do not currently have a literal war between Syndicates there are massive ongoing battles that can be seen around us. All of this allows for the player to imagine the world of the game as if it were reality. Seemingly however, this is not what the developers had in mind when they put the game together. The actual storyline of the game is a very linear one; the situations put before the player are often not optional and require little thought to complete, simply a trigger finger. Although the gun fights in the game are realistic and often tense and exciting, it is possible that some players will find that too much of a focus has been placed on how you fire your gun rather than why you are firing it. Furthermore, unusual “boss fights” seem to have been placed in the game; an idea usually left to the role-playing genre to handle. This may not be what players would expect from the descriptions of Syndicate that they may have read prior to purchase.
In terms of graphics the game has a mixture of positive and negative factors. The key characters of the game look like fairly realistic human beings and have clearly been carefully developed. Likewise, the scenery from a distance and large objects look as realistic as you might expect. It is when you look in to the finer details in the game that you see where the time was not spent on detail. In the modern industry where the perfection of fine graphics is a key issue, this seems like somewhat sloppy work. It does not affect the overall game play, but does make you wonder where the effort went instead. One other issue with graphics is lighting. In some cases in the game the sudden changes or the glare from a light source can obstruct the players vision in game. Things can temporarily appear a blur which although is not a fatal problem is distracting, confusing and slightly annoying. Depending on the level to which you scrutinise graphics in your games, you may or may not have an issue with Syndicate. The sound effects in the game are very good however. The guns sound realistic as do explosions, and for the most part voices and environment sounds are also very good. The only sound issue which may annoy some players is the voice in the virtual training sessions which occasionally pop up during play to teach the player new abilities. This is possibly one for personal opinions, but a cleaner voice might have been nicer.
Overall, for a game with such potential to be a great all round experience, Syndicate has fallen below the standard it very much set for itself in its marketing and build up. This does not mean that the game is a bad one, but the element of story has been given less attention, seemingly to make way for a focus on the combat experiences. The multiplayer experience is exciting and makes for a strong team based strategy simulation. The lack of player versus player combat may disappoint some players. The main story itself is a good single player experience for anyone who wants to test their one-man-army skills in a variety of different situations, but for those expecting a pure story-focused experience it may not be quite what you expected as this somewhat takes on a background role. It is worth playing into the story to see if you enjoy it but don’t expect an overly fast-paced start.
- Graphics – Good, but more effort could have been made with finer details.
- Sounds – Very good, almost no significant issues in general terms.
- GamePlay – Exciting and fast paced, however linear and combat focused.
- Final Thoughts – Syndicate is well worth trying but for gamers looking for a strong story a few may be disappointed. For lovers of standard first-person shooters with a strong combat experience, you may be onto a winner.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.