Syndicate is a reboot/reimagining of the classic PC hit. In the future, governments have collapsed and corporations, called Syndicates, have taken over the world. Everyone is implanted with chips and monitored. Those who refuse are cast into the lower levels of the city, the slums, and outcast. You are Agent Miles Kilo, an enforcer who works for the EuroCorp Syndicate. When your boss has you assassinate a key scientist of a rival Syndicate, everything goes to hell. But really, who cares about the story? This is an FPS! Let’s get to the shooting!
Syndicate is a very generic FPS with a few cool (though not original) features. You play as a high-tech military soldier shooting up other high-tech military soldiers. Pistols, assault rifles, and shotguns make up the bulk of your “tools-of-destruction.” All of them feel solid and hearty in your glove covered hands; however, they’re all weak even against the lowest of enemies. On Normal it takes way too many bullets to put one down (I don’t think I’m that bad of a shot). A couple of times I even ran out of ammo in mid-battle, however there was plenty scattered around so I was never really empty.
Along with shooting you have access to a few tactical disarming moves (homage to the original game perhaps). The chip inside your head can overload the chip in the head of others and stun them, commit suicide, or even cause them to kill their own comrades. It’s neat but requires a charge period (by killing enemies) to prevent you from over spamming it. You can also slow down time, a la Max Payne and take out enemies and even see them through walls. All of this works out well and creates a very competent and generally entertaining game. There are a few bumps in the road however that keep it from rising above the average scale.
Most of Syndicate takes place in high tech futuristic buildings and offices. Although it looks good it’s nothing you haven’t seen before in other games, like Half-Life, Doom 3, and F.E.A.R. A few levels take place down in the slums; again, nothing you haven’t seen before. Also, the entire way through you will be fighting endless waves of faceless human soldiers. No cyborgs (beyond a few small drones), no aliens, no zombies, no dead 12-year-old girls. It gets dull and repetitive very quick.
For some supposed artistic reason, the developers decided to over-crank the light bloom effects to 11. Light sources shine like crazy. That in turn causes a reflection on the side of your visor. What you ultimately end up with is a mix of ghostly colors spread across your FOV. It’s very distracting and makes it hard to see threats. There is also no way to turn this effect off.
Another technical problem I had was that reloading your weapon while sprinting is impossible. Maybe that’s the case in real life but this is a video game where I play as an enhanced super soldier. In the middle of some intense gunfights getting to cover is as equally important as it is changing clips (especially during boss fights). In game you stop running completely and go into the reload animation or vice versa. Either way, your gun never reloads unless it’s gone through the entire animation. That means if you hit the sprint button while reloading, you’re going to have to hit the reload button again after you’ve finished sprinting and rewatch that reload animation from the beginning. Why is this so complicated? I should be able to reload on the fly as easily as I pass gas (oh, but I guess you didn’t need to know that, did you).
Syndicate is a decent shooter so long as you are ok with shooting. There are no puzzles, no backtracking, and no RPG elements (though you can upgrade a few skills at certain points in the game). You can complete the single-player campaign in roughly 6-8 hours. There is a co-op and multiplayer mode as well but I didn’t bother playing it. If you’re a fan of first-person-shooters and must play every FPS on the planet before you die, then Syndicate is a must buy! If first-person-shooters really aren’t your thang then you’re better off looking somewhere else to get your FPS fix; this game isn’t going to change your impression of them.
You can buy Syndicate today on Amazon!