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Syndicate (2012) (PC) artwork

Syndicate (2012) (PC) review


"When all is said and done, one can' t feel but disappointed with Syndicate. It tried to do a lot of things, and for that congratulations are in order, but in most things it tries, it fails."



Like many of my fellow dinosaurs, I was fairy skeptical of the new Syndicate game. In the early nineties Bullfrog made a really interesting title in which you could control a team of technologically enhanced agents who could, without mercy, mow down everything that stood in the way of the mighty corporations, be it with pistols, snipers or a well placed grenade or two. It was one of the first titles that I remember having a fully interactive map, meaning that most of the stuff you could see on the screen could very well be blown sky high.

So, how is the new Syndicate, some odd fifteen years later? Very average, I'm afraid.

The first thing I noticed was that you were not in charge of a group of agents that did your bidding, but rather of a single man whose only connection to the silent killers from the previous installments is the taste in same clothing, that being the obligatory black leather coat.



Agent Miles Kiko is the protagonist of the new Syndicate title and that is pretty much all you can say about him. The man has no personality, no voice to speak of or traits that would make you care even a bit about what happens to him. Even when some poorly conceived backstory makes its way on the screen, it's by far too late. He is just there. An agent with a new chip in his head that does nasty jobs for a corporation that made him.

Through his travels, Miles will meet other characters. The pretty and brilliant doctor Lily that made a new version of the chip for agents, a mysterious leader of the Eurocorp corporation Jack, and the psychotic agent hailing from New Jersey (figures) that doesn't really care if civilians are left alive or not, Merit.

Miles is a an experimental agent, thanks largely in due to the above mentioned chip that makes him more of a Superman then a glorified cop because it offers superhuman strength, precision and agility, the possibility of healing his own wounds with time, and most importantly, the ability to slow time around him, made famous by the awful, awful Matrix movies. All of these abilities Miles can upgrade during the game by extracting chips from hostile agents and adding their technology to his own. So you can basically make Miles even faster, bulletproof, or far more skilled when wielding weapons.



His enemies are mostly composed out of security forces from enemy corporations, and against them Miles can use a variety of murder tools. Of course, more often then not, those means would come in the form of a gun of some sort, but Miles can use his chip to aid him as well. Besides offering him the ability to slow time around him, it can also influence his enemies in different ways. Three ways, to be more exact.

One of the options is to use the power of the chip to overload other, inferior ones. When that happens, Miles can force the enemy to activate a failsafe of their own chips and basically explode, taking out the victim and everyone unfortunate enough around him. The other option is to temporarily destroy the weapon systems that the hostile forces are using which makes them vulnerable just long enough for Miles to either unload a clip of bullets into their poor, defenseless bodies or to run over there and snap their necks. The third option is to use the chip to make the enemy fight for Miles for a short amount of time which will, in worst case scenario serve as a handy diversion.

Considering the range of his abilities, it's no wonder that he is sent on important tasks that mostly concern "neutralising" leaders of other corporations to increase Eurocorp' s monoply and decrease the competition. In its very short lifespan (some odd six or so hours if you screw around) the main campaign will try in its own clumsy way to present a whole web of intrigue and various backstabbing that lies within this brutal coroporative world of tomorrow.



Syndicate was made by Startbreeze studios that found it necessary to alter the world Bullfrog set so long ago. While we played God in all of his merciless glory that directed the acts of his agents from an isometric point of view, in this new age it seems that was not acceptable enough so we got, yet another first person shooter.

One of the worst things about this title by far is the absurd amount of linearity that seeps into every pore of it's existence. Miles is seemingly led on some metaphorical railroad from room to room without any possibility of exploring his own world. Every situation is handled in an identical way with a few exceptions that are merely cosmetic in nature, the combinations of enemies are always the same and the tactics they use are identical. Which leads me to the following.

Starbreeze mentioned in their interviews that they might have made Syndicate too difficult for today' s gaming population, and I agree. It can be very hard but for all the wrong reasons that will make your average gamer scream in impotent rage and simply quit playing, and not motivate him to try again. The enemies act more like lemmings, scurrying in front of your sights just to be mowed down and sent to idiot Heaven, and yet they are precise enough to hit you ANYWHERE you stand. Even around the corner, you are not safe from their dreaded boomerang bullets (?).



Even from a technical side, I can only say it's a melting pot of good and bad. The graphics are pretty impressive and present the class differences between the rich and poor well in this world. When Miles was trotting around various corporations, there was no trash to be seen, but a few missions later when he is taken down to the "real world" you can see how the future really looks like. Bleak and dark with hobo' s around every corner.

Also worthy of mention is the audio side of things, which is well done. While music is non existent in your explorations, the moment an action part begins, things start to change. An explosion of frenetic, adrenalin pumped beats start motivating you to actually give it your best to win, to survive even if you don't give a crap about Miles. The voice acting is also top notch with some awesome Holywood talent, such as the lovely Rosario Dawson which you might remember from the great Sin City movie. Brian Cox, is not even necessary to introduce, since you probably saw him in at least one movie in your life, be it as the bastard Agamemnon in the movie Troy, or the equally vile William Stryker in X-Men 2.

When all is said and done, one can' t feel but disappointed with Syndicate. It tried to do a lot of things, and for that congratulations are in order, but in most things it tries, it fails.

Let' s hope that Starbreeze will learn from its mistakes and keep the virtues it obviously has, so that the future Syndicate sequels turn out great, because with its pedigree, it deserves nothing less.

Rating: 6/10

darketernal's avatar
Community review by darketernal (March 05, 2012)

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Masters posted March 05, 2012:

Wow, blast from the past! Welcome back dude. I'll actually read the review in a sec.
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bloomer posted March 05, 2012:

Good review. And yeah, the game sounds duddy. I mean, the orig was lots of fun in lots of ways, but the most important part of it to me was the feeling of being a ruthless God. Being disconnected from these inhuman killing machines and directing them to do your bidding, and watching the turmoil from afar. Going to a 1 character 1st-person game from that... on paper, it sounds like conceptually the dumbest possible move to make.
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Masters posted March 05, 2012:

Yup, good review. I was interested in this game initially, but now I'm not so sure...
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darketernal posted March 06, 2012:

It seems the world needs yet another first person shooter. Like it's said in a review, it does a few things right, but for every step forward it takes two steps back.

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