Syndicate is the latest in a long line of quality first person shooters that will be forgotten for not being a big enough deal like Rage and Bulletstorm before. Which is a shame, because Syndicate has quit the pedigree: it is both the revival of a classic, somewhat forgotten franchise and one of the best coop FPS games in a while.
If you haven’t been keeping score, the first Syndicate was an isometric RTS that came out for the PC in 1993. So the leap to this new game is a big one. What remains of the original series is its setting: a gritty cyberpunk future where the world is run by corporations. Miles Kilo is an agent of Eurocorp who has been given the company’s sweetest new digital implants, designed by scientist Lily Drawl (Rosario Dawson). Eurocorp’s CEO, played by Brian Cox, sends Kilo on some corporate espionage missions, which all quickly turn into bloodbaths.
The cinematics in Syndicate are generally pretty cool, the game does a great job of making Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox look like they do in real life, which is surprisingly uncommon in games. But the game basically comes down to heavily scripted corridor shooting, something that has to be done absolutely amazingly to be exciting in this day and age. This game doesn’t get there, and the campaign isn’t particularly long either. To borrow the title of this blog, it was mildly pleasing.
What did seem great was the online multiplayer. You get to level up, choose gear, upgrade things and all the other stuff that seems necessary to the online shooting experience nowadays. Players can even start their own corporations and hire people, a neat way to bring clans into the game. It all boils down to objective-based cooperative missions, which deliver on the promise of games like Resistance 2 and Brink. Teamwork is paramount, as players can follow the roles typically associated with MMOs in combat. I was all about healing and hacking my team, it helped me get into it faster than many multiplayer FPS games.
Oh yeah, hacking. So implants aren’t just glorified Google Goggles, providing a neat HUD. They actually let you hack into computers in the environment, and even in other people’s brains. So you can, for example, reprogram somebody to make him turn on his allies, then commit suicide when they’re all dead. It’s pretty brutal. Perhaps what’s most brutal is when Kilo finds someone with a useful chip in their brain, when he will proceed to use a special tool to yank it out of their head. Indeed, this game earns its M rating.
So I had a good time with Syndicate. The singleplayer wasn’t much, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The multiplayer is real cool, I wish more people were into it. It’s so integral to the experience, EA doesn’t even require an online pass to play. But Syndicate’s already been out for a few months and it seems that everyone has already forgotten about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few more months, the servers are quiet. Such a shame.