These three applications are recharged by killing enemies (USB 3.0 would have probably been more practical) but your recharging fourth function is the killer app. With the press of a button you're chucked into a slow-mo overlay where you deal more (and take less) damage, as well as having all enemies on the screen (including ones behind objects and walls) light up in a tell-tale hue. Bag multiple kills quickly and you'll trigger a Rampage, which ups your damage even further alongside giving you hefty score bonuses.

Such options are mixed with the game's bevy of spray-and-prey automatic weaponry to ensure that gunfights play out with an abundance of peppery bullets, and your typical arsenal of shotguns and assault rifles is rounded out by the odd bit of futuristic weaponry and the hyper-violent glee derived from an insane minigun that can shred enemies to ribbons.

This novel combination of guns and suicide-inducing brain applications should lift Syndicate above its peers, but after inventing these mechanics it's clear (much like with the game's plot and setting) Starbreeze doesn't really know what to do. You should feel like a cybernetic predator, but too many encounters play out with you shooting people (in the conventional manner) and occasionally causing some chap to blow his brains out. Almost all inventive use of your powers is reserved for cutscene and set-piece, which is a real shame, and the game too routinely wheels out miserable, repetitive and frustrating boss encounters. It's a missed opportunity.

Elsewhere there's a four-player co-op mode that pledges to re-imagine missions from the original Syndicate, but these nine missions on offer only seem to share geographical location, unless I've completely forgotten that the original Syndicate was a watered down version of Left 4 Dead.

It's a four-player co-op mode, then, and it's pretty much what you've come to expect from these modes. Events play out with only the loosest of contexts, and revolve around moving from point A to B, and then occasionally lugging an Important Object from point B to A while shooting a whole load of people. The actual co-op mechanic, as in what Starbreeze has done to ensure players stick together, is that you can immediately heal your extremely fragile colleagues at any time provided you have line of sight, which actually works quite well - you're simply not powerful enough to jog off on your own, but a pair of players can push into an area if the other duo is keeping their health bars stacked to the nines.

Co-op is good in the way that most co-op modes are good - it's a perfectly pleasant social experience with friends - and the game comes complete with the typical breadcrumb trail of persistent unlocks and upgrades, alongside the same technowizard mind tricks from the single-player campaign albeit with the slow-mo effect. It's a mode that functions rather than thrills.

There's a lot to like about Syndicate's mechanics and recoil-rich gunplay, and your cache of cybernetic powers elevates the game above most rote corridor shooters. But Syndicate doesn't know what it wants to be at its core, and its dry protagonist blasts through hyper-violent environments with no motivation or desire. Syndicate's callous world of corporate dominance feels more pressing than ever in 2012, but Starbreeze lacks the confidence to execute on this chilling vision of the future.

Version Tested: PlayStation 3

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5 Comments

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TomPearson's Avatar

TomPearson

I've had a bit of fun with this recently too, but from Martin has been saying, the ending is pretty lol.
Posted 09:19 on 22 February 2012
BC_Animus's Avatar

BC_Animus

Heh, I went to cancel my pre-order for the game after reading this, but looks like it's shipped already. Ah well.

The whole chips upgrade thing and the remote-controlling of enemy agents I saw in the trailers was what sold me to it actually, so it's disappointing to hear that it plays like a mostly conventional shooter. I love these cyberpunky settings in my shooters though, so I'm still kinda looking forward to it.
Posted 03:47 on 22 February 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Still picking it up on friday for the xbox.

Anyone want to join "Hadoken Inc" for global domination?
Posted 23:52 on 21 February 2012
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker

WTF? LOL

Great review Martin. I think I might just put this on the backburner for now.
Posted 21:30 on 21 February 2012
s_h_a_d_o's Avatar

s_h_a_d_o

Hmm... I'm disappointed to hear the story isn't up to scratch - I expected more from Richard Morgan (especially given his exploration of similar themes in his 2004 novel "Market Forces"). I've always thought his science-fiction a prime candidate for video-game treatment, but his direct involvement hasn't as yet been an overwhelming success (he was the primary creator of the narrative for Crysis 2 as well) - perhaps he has yet to pair with exactly the right development/publishing teams, in order to facilitate greater creative license and input.
Posted 20:15 on 21 February 2012

Game Stats

Syndicate
7
Out of 10
Syndicate
  • Co-op mode is a laugh
  • Shooting is fun
  • Not enough variety
  • Story is bobbins
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 24/02/2012
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Starbreeze
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 11,338 93
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