Syndicate VIDEOGAME REVIEW
Attack of the Sighbermen
Handguns were standard issue for all Syndicate scientists.
UK Release Date: 24 February
Price: £49.99 Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Also available on PS3 and PC
Before Peter Molyneux was making big-headed children sick on rollercoasters in Theme Park and farting in the faces of guffawing townsfolk in Fable II, he and Bullfrog Productions created an isometric tactical shooter that’s still regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. Syndicate was the story of a futuristic corporate war fought not on the stock market but on the streets, and now nearly 20 years later EA have seen fit to revive the classic brand.
Although fans’ alarm bells started ringing as soon as the reimagination was confirmed to be an “unfaithful” first-person shooter, initial omens were good as the new series custodians – acclaimed developers Starbreeze (who created the original Darkness and the Chronicles Of Riddick games) – had never made a bad FPS.
In Syndicate’s opening hour there’s really nothing to suggest that might change. You play as a corporate puppet with an electronic chip in your mind capable of interacting with faraway objects and digesting tomes of information in an instant. The majority of hostile corporation’s security forces, too, have chips inside their mind, and these can be used to your advantage: overloaded to force soldiers into pulling grenade pins and committing suicide, for instance.
Not everybody’s chipped-up, but as this is a shooter you have plenty of tools to handle them. While turrets can be reprogrammed to take your side and mechanical objects can be moved remotely to uncover hiding enemies, you’ll be gathering up an arsenal of weapons capable of firing homing bullets around walls or – more simply – that will punch straight through obstacles.
But all these winning attributes are squandered by pure mess. There’s plenty to like about Syndicate’s surface aesthetic, but you needn’t look too closely to see enemies behaving erratically. Your own interactions with the world are also rather jarring – you’ll bash through doors and walls without any meaningful impact whatsoever, as if the animations were unfinished. And to top it all off, for all of Syndicate’s early promise the game soon devolves into nothing but a fairly run-of-the-mill corridor shooter.
Some additional four-player online co-op missions based on objectives from the original game are a nice touch for the fans. But it’s too little, too late, as most of those who held Syndicate dear to their hearts will have lost interest long before jumping online.