Format: 360, PS3, PC
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
ESRB Rating: M
Syndicate is unique. Weird, but unique, For someone who is not a fan of first-person shooters, I really liked this game. I do have a few criticisms, but not enough to steer me, or anyone else for that fact, away from this very interesting game.
Syndicate is set in 2069. Corporations (called syndicates) have taken over everything. Everything has been revolutionized into a digital medium, with access restricted to those with the adequate chip implantation. Syndicates have banked on the demand of these chips, since they supply everything a person could need; education, entertainment, medical needs, etc. But there is a catch: the syndicates control you, and they have unrestricted access to your mind. Is it worth it?
This game presents this somewhat believable scenario in a very convincing way. The dialogue is realistic and natural-sounding, with familiar voices such as Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Deathproof) Brian Cox (X-Men Wolverine, The Bourne Trilogy) and Michael Wincott (Halo 2, the Crow). Bad voice acting can ruin a game for me, so I was happy to see the realistic dialogue and emotions put into Syndicate. The story is mediocre, but I don't consider it bad. Just overdone a bit.
The controls are basic, similar to any FPS. There are a few unique button actions, such as the Dart Overlay. Pressing R2 (I played on the PS3) turns on a chip function that allows you to see nearby enemies in a heat-sensor sort of way, even through walls and blockades. Movement is a bit clunky, with a slight delay in button actions. The sensitivity also takes getting used to since the movement sticks are sensitive. Upgrading your character is typical, but fair and balanced. Boss battles, however, are frustrating and repetitive. Be prepared for a few controller-throwing moments if you aren't patients. There are also several collectible items that help enhance the gameplay experience with improved story information and expanded character information.
Combat is good or bad, depending on your style of gaming. Shooting is similar to Borderlands, with a good kickback and a little instability. This can be frustrating at times, but I adjusted quickly. It's realistic, which I also tend to favor, but some like a stable gun. One thing I really, really liked was how the game uses your internal chip to point out nearby things, such as ammo and civilians. In a dark game like this, targets are important for finding ammo that gets flung far away in battle, or distinguishing who is good and bad. The ammo count is also positioned clearly on your gun, which takes away and screen blockage or interference. Your chip also allows you to kill enemies nearby without ever touching them. Basically, you can grief enemies from afar by forcing them to commit suicide or kill others nearby.
I'm a big fan of the "teal and orange" trend. While it can be overdone (and it is: See Transformers, G.I. Joe, Bourne movies, anything by Michael Bay basically), Syndicate does it right. The colors are bright, but not too bright that they are distracting. Faces are clear and mouth movements match words for the most part. Enemies and targets are clearly marked. Doors and pathways, however, can be confusing and hard to notice.
Syndicate is a really good game. So good, that I want to play through it again. The collection aspect alone makes this detailed game worth playing. Don't be turned off by the clunky controls and boss battles, this game is worth a playthrough or two. While the story may seem generic or overdone, I was impressed enough with the unique gameplay to enjoy Syndicate despite its pitfalls.
Final Score: 8.75/10