Syndicate Video Game Review

Syndicate is a reboot of the original isometric tactical series of the same name (a series I’ve never played before) and now brought to us as a futuristic first person shooter with some style. Style isn’t everything though and unfortunately the story seems to be the worst offender. Read on for the rest of the review…

Short nitty-gritty plot description from the Official Website is as follows: Syndicate is a re-imagination of the classic 1993 Syndicate game – a cyber punk FPS set in a dystopian world where large Syndicates rule and Business is War.

Syndicate’s story is full of corporate espionage, back stabbings and kidnappings. That might sound good at first, but once you get through the six hour campaign, you’ll begin to realize not much has happened. The back bone of the story is a kidnapping in which you’re tasked in bringing a person home. That’s pretty much the drift of the story. You’ll be dealing with some twists here and there, but with most plot threads not really explained, you won’t really care why stuff is happening and how it will end and trust me the ending is lackluster and sudden.  

Thankfully the game play makes up for the lacklustre story. Syndicate is full of a variety of different weapons, you have your usual machine games all the way up to a gauss rifle which shoots a electric field that eventually burst people into flames. Each weapon comes with a secondary fire (e.g. ammo piercing bullets, tracking bullets which will bend around corners) which can help immensely during combat. Trust me you’ll need all the help you can get due to all the enemies in the game being bullet sponges. You’ll literally empty an entire clip into a man and he’ll still be standing there. I can’t count how times I was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t kill them with 20 shots to the chest and head, but they could kill me with a few shots. However, to even the field is your special DART abilities. These consist of backfire, shorting out an enemies weapon; persuade, convincing them to work with you and finally, suicide, which sends out a blast radius that can hurt or even kill other people. These abilities can’t be spammed though, as after you use them you need to wait for them to charge up again. You can however charge them quicker by killings lots of enemies in a row. Another neat feature is the DART overlay system, which allows you to see enemies through thin walls, slow down time and if you choose a specific upgrade ability, even regenerate health (highly recommended). Throughout the game, you’ll extract chips from people which will give you skill points, which you can spend on abilities such as health, amount of ammo carried and upgrading the DART features as I mentioned previously. Boss battles do come up quite frequently as you progress in the game and they usually boil down to finding a certain weakness, exploiting it and then blasting them in the face with a ton of bullets.

The game certainly looks flashy and futuristic. If I had to compare it to any game, the obvious answer would be Deus Ex: Human Revolution (a fantastic game). Character models are detailed, but lack variety. Enemies all look the same, save for a few “special” bad guys. Syndicate is however found guilty of using a ton of light blooms. I guess in the future everything will glow with the power of the sun. However, even though the game won’t be winning any graphic awards, it’s most definitely not a bad looking game. Also, it should be noted that as I got near the end of the game, the
frame rate started to take some major hits. This was reviewed on a PS3 build, so I’m not sure the 360 version has the same issues.

OH GOD!! MY EYES!!! The goggles, they do nothing!

Syndicate’s music is excellent. The theme song by Skrillex is catchy, upbeat and gets your blood pumping. The first boss battle is made better by this excellent techno song. As for the rest of the music, it keeps the pace fast and makes snapping a few necks all the better. The sound on the guns are loud and varied. You won’t be writing home about them, but you’ll be able to tell when certain bad guys are using different weapons such as the gauss rifle. The voice acting is above par, with Brain Cox lending his voice as Jack Denham, CEO of EuroCorp, being the highlight. Of course, as it is with most games nowadays, your character doesn’t say a word (don’t you just hate that?)

Syndicate doesn’t feature a typical multiplayer outing. Instead of your normal death match and capture the flag, you’re presented with a healthy dose of co-op. I played through a few levels with some random strangers and had a great time. Save for a few game drops due to bad connections, the experience was fun and any faults with enemy difficultly was made better when playing with three other friends.

Syndicate comes at a time when the market is flooded with first person shooters. You can’t look in a store without seeing a ton of Call of Battlefield: Medal of Recons littering the shelves (these games being a dirty guilty pleasure of mine). With the gameplay being as good as it is, if the storyline was better we might’ve had a hit on our hands. Unfortunately, what we got was a fun six hour experience that you’ll soon forget about once the next big title comes out. I recommend picking the game up on the cheap and experiencing it for yourself. Even better if you have three other friends, as the coop will keep you entertained a lot longer than the single player ever will.   

Story – 1/5 – A plot that doesn’t try to strive for anything else but generic. Sadly, forgettable.

Gameplay – 3.5/5 – A bunch of weapons and neat special ablities make up for any story problems. Difficulty can be problem with the bad guys soaking up a ton of bullets before dying. Also, the boss battles are your run of the mill find weakness and exploit. 

Graphics – 3/5 –  Nice looking environments that are littered with blinding light blooms. Character models are a little bland and not varied enough. The overall style of the game is however presented nicely.   

Sound – 4/5 – The theme song is fantastic. Skrillex did a great job with that song. The weapon sounds are varied. Voice acting is above par. Who doesn’t love Brain Cox’s sweet soothing voice?

Overall (not an average) – 3/5 – Gameplay is where it’s at in this game. Fun weapons and great special abilities. Storyline brings the score down, but the coop offering makes up for most faults. Recommend picking it up and playing with some friends. 

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