Blending a fast-paced, futuristic action shooter with manipulative chip breaching gameplay, Starbreeze AB and Electronic Arts have set out to recreate a classic for today’s robust FPS market. While Syndicate certainly has its moments of excitement, ultimately a rather forgettable single-player campaign is thankfully saved by the games team-based online cooperative experience.
From the outskirts Syndicate is themed by an imaginative futuristic reality where everything is digitally connected. From objects throughout the environment to the countless enemies forbidding your progress this is the definitive definition of the digital age. The world of Syndicate is ruled by behemoth size corporations who exact their highly trained operatives on this digital battlefield of chess where acquiring the most advanced technology is the name of the game.
The time is 2069 and you are Miles Kilo, an inexperienced agent working for Eurocorp, the company responsible for the development of the highly advanced DART 6 chip which enables you the ability to hack other chips as well as utilize a form of augmented vision allowing you to briefly slow down time and see through your environment.
During your journey, Kilo is reintroduced to his origins causing him to question his agencies orders and agenda which are weaved into a generic story of betrayal. While on the surface the story of Syndicate offers an attractive plot, as players continue down this rabbit hole of technological intrigue, all too quickly players might find that there truly isn’t anything of much interest to hold on to as memorable. In addition, Miles Kilo while an extremely capable Eurocorp operative, never seems to grab your attention with his colorful personality or lack there of. Similar to shooters of last-gen classics, the hopes of a great time are solely relied on by pulling the trigger with a new added mixture of chip breaching gameplay.
Bright lighting with vibrant colorful hues decorate this graphical canvas. Syndicate is indeed the most blinding visual experience due to the games overtly bright lighting. Around almost every corner you will find yourself squinting from the extremely well lit environments. Despite this, thankfully this doesn’t distract you from lining up those much needed kill shots. Starbreeze has certainly crafted a believable futuristic universe engrossing players into a post-modern world where streets are absent and vehicles have taken to the skies along a controlled and systematic process.
From New York, China and the sea bases of the Atlantic players are pulled into this form of Blade Runner overtone that spills into each new locale. While the game does look good at a glance, careful examination reveals some rather consistent and muddy textures however, when putting it all together it hard not to stare at the on-screen action once the bullets start flying.
Aside from your sheer ability to engage most enemies with your advanced skills in weaponry, the DART 6 chip is your most coveted asset. Adding to the games shooter experience, Starbreeze has implemented a form of hacking mechanic called breaching by way your DART 6 chip which enables players to advance their campaign progress by activating elevator levers, dis-engage hostile bots, as well as brutally manipulate enemies on the fly during heated firefights adding more shock value to the exchange.
Kilo is giving three breaching options used for counter acting enemies which come in the form of suicides, enemy persuasions creating temporary allies as well as a weapon backfire breach which when executed corrected can kills multiple enemies. In hopes of adding more to the conventional shooter experience, while these breaching kill maneuvers are a nice added touch, they quickly become just another option of attack instead of a truly conceptualized innovation to separate Syndicate from the FPS pack.
Throughout, players are confronted by boss battles which are differentiated by enemies who display different abilities due to their chip technology. Upon defeating an enemy Kilo then extracts his enemies chip enabling him to upgrade. Unfortunately, defeating a boss and adding your chip upgrade just isn’t exciting. It would have been great if players were actually able to adopt the attributes of the bosses, instead a predetermined set of traditional enhancements took the place of the much needed over the top innovation the game desperately needs.
Eventually the Syndicate campaign is unable to hide its shortcomings which reveals a half-realized plot and gameplay which tread too closely to the same old shooter exchange with just a different face lift. The campaign truly has great potential and unfortunately the game has been manufactured in hopes of grabbing the attention of a market that is currently vacant of any new AAA shooter that could certainly draw attention from this half-baked shooter.
Saving the campaign and adding much replay value to the Syndicate experience, the online cooperative mode is a welcome addition that invites up to four players to tackle the games objective team based mode across nine missions which only share the campaigns identifiable locations. While the co-op mode plays out relatively similar to what we’ve come to expect from this experience, this four player cooperative exchange politely forces players to work together allowing players to heal each other while in the line of sight and advance through enemy invested locations only when your team has made it to the centralized locations.
Not hampered by a make-shift plot, the co-op mode is playable via the games normal, hard and unlockable expert difficulty with a scoring system and unlock tree adding a wealth of options keeping you coming back for more.
In the end there really is much to appreciate about Syndicate as the high-octane gunplay and slightly augmented gameplay abilities adds a fresh new mechanic to the genre. Nevertheless, it’s clear Syndicate does have an identity crisis with the powers that be opting to play it too safe with this current iteration. Syndicate indeed has a bold vision that once placed in the right capable development hands could possibly re-imagine this current affair into a serious genre defining moment.