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About me: My name is Ben Nacca and I specialise in game reviews. Check here for the reviews in their natural format at www.lanraiders.co.uk Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BenNacca

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Review: Syndicate


Fantastic environments  |  Addictive co - op  |  Nice variety of weapons/abilities  |  Gore

Campaign short in length  |  Silent protagonists  |  Stability issues

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:




Value for Money

Difficulty & Complexity

LongevityGood longevity

MultiplayerExcellent multiplayer functions

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Tested and reviewed based on the Xbox 360 version.

Review by Ben Nacca

(Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BenNacca )

XBL GT: Darkeyes1991 PSN ID: Darkeyes2k11

Decades into the near future in around 50 years or so, it really isn’t too farfetched to believe that corporations will be the power of nations, companies like Apple and Microsoft who contribute heavily to industry are powerful at the moment. Throw in corporate espionage and a huge budget to help with this and you pretty much end up where Syndicate is. Starbreeze Studios’ reimagining envisages a future where deception, espionage and infiltration are as regular as clockwork with corporations that have become the law themselves.

The essential plot of Syndicate to sum it up broadly is to stay ahead of the game. Making sure the technology developed is kept from other companies and therefore, in a world set in 2069 which is littered with seedy, crooked business men vying for power, you need to protect these technological developments. Starbreeze’s offering here though is far more than just a rehash of previous efforts or a poorly put together, run-of-the-mill shooter that we see so often these days. Syndicate, in fact, is rather quite marvellous.

Now the premise of the story seems intriguing and although it does grab you, the general story is very predictable as a whole and takes a back seat to visuals and gameplay for the most part. In a world that has exceeded a population of 15 billion and with over half of these “chipped” for their own enhancement, companies like EuroCorp have operatives that can “breach” such chipped citizens. You are an elite agent for EuroCorp, Kilo. You’re a prototype of a new generation and you’re always acting in the company’s best interests. As mentioned, there is a plot but the world is so vivid and inviting that it is strangely better to focus on the gameplay than having to deal with an intricate plot too.

Corporate America. Skyscrapers and futuristic vistas that look like the product of The Fifth Element and Mass Effect spawning various locations in Syndicate. The very setting is obviously futuristic and being set in 2069, this only lets the art designers run wild and it works perfectly. The palette takes tones of Deus Ex with the golds and darks but introduces vibrant and colourful palettes at times when appropriate. The result is gorgeous and far exceeded my expectations of this game. The environments are interesting and engaging, not to mention detailed with objects which just further add to the realism. It’s a technological playground with plenty of neon lights and fancy things in the environment that make all manner of noises that just ooze Sci-Fi. Welcome to Geek Heaven. Even the tutorials are a computer program of sorts, so you are thrown into cyberspace to practice your abilities. You certainly don’t lose out on immersion.

Character models are detailed well too and seem believable and realistic. The voice actors help to portray the personality and Brian Cox (The Bourne Trilogy) does a fantastic job as Jack Denham, EuroCorp CEO. What really lets the side down is the silent protagonist. It shouldn’t be happening in games in this era anymore. People can’t connect or relate to someone who has no viewpoint or care in the world.

So what makes Syndicate stand out in terms of gameplay? We have already mentioned it is far from your run-of-the-mill shooter bracket and the DART system is why. As part of the story, the chip Kilo has in him is a DART 6 chip and it allows you to turn on the DART overlay. It lets you track enemies through walls, find targets to breach and even acts as a slow mo of sorts which actually works. Shifting the palette to all blues and oranges with grid tendencies which are reminiscent of Tron, it works rather well. Throw in the breach features and you have a fun and engaging way to dispense of enemies.

In single player, you have 3 abilities. These are breaches that allow you to manipulate the chip inside the enemy’s heads to your advantage. By killing successively and quickly, you can recharge these abilities. The Suicide breach turns your target into a walking bomb. The chip inside him will explode and cause nearby enemies to die or be knocked over as well if close enough. The second breach is Backfire which throws enemies back and onto the floor. Persuade is the final one that takes your target and convinces him to fight for your side. When they are all dead, he will then turn the gun on himself and do your work for you. At first, 3 sounded rather limited in terms of options and variability but it remains engaging and crucial right till the end of the game. It is what sets Syndicate apart from the rest.

Speaking of variety, the weapons in the game are interesting and most importantly, fun too. You have your standard pistol, assault rifle, SMG, sniper rifle and shotgun but it is the extras that crank up the fun. Miniguns which need no introduction are moments of extreme devastation and the Swarm Launcher is particularly volatile as it locks on and fires multiple rockets at the unfortunate foe. The Gauss Gun also has a lock on feature and lets you shoot round corners or over cover as the weapon homes in on enemies. Finally, the laser-powered Coil Rifle sets alight and destroys anything in its path. Sure to be a fan favourite and a big help in boss battles.

Using these weapons would be nowhere near as enjoyable or satisfying if the red mist wasn’t present. The game is brutal. Heads shatter from headshots and a rifle makes it non-existent. Bodies riddled with an SMG show blood flying in the air and sums up Syndicate as a very visceral experience. The melee or takedowns as they should be called are a selection of neck breaks, stomps and even forcing their pistol on themselves and pulling the trigger. It adds to the gritty, futuristic mood that there is nothing that can get in the way.

The whole campaign experience lasts a mere 6 hours if you just play through it though on Hard difficulty or finding all the collectables will push this up to around 8-12 hours. It doesn’t end there though. Perhaps the saving grace of Syndicate is the 4 player co-operative experience that features 9 maps with various options, skill trees and difficulties. You could probably blast through them all in 3-4 hours with a full squad but there are a lot of options to indulge in. There are far more abilities and breaches to upgrade and invest in the co-op mode and with the ability to upgrade weapons, it is something that could take hours if you were so inclined.

The competitive edge of the online portion of Syndicate also shines through, with everyone vying to extract the chip first to get the points and while each member can play on a different difficulty making the experience different for the individual, it spurs players on to create and mould the character that can withstand an onslaught on Expert difficulty. The incredibly intelligent A.I. is what really adds life as they become ever more relentless as the difficulty rises and makes for a fun and unique challenge.

The biggest problem with Syndicate is the stability. It crashed twice during the campaign for no real reason, no huge boss or graphical prowess that the console failed to handle…it just froze both times. While online suffered the same but the loss of the co-op progress is much more severe, especially if the host is hit and the whole party is kicked. It is a shame but something most likely fixed through a patch fairly soon.

Other small gripes include the lack of directions. Occasionally there are objective markers but there are points where the game opens up and you are not sure where to go or what you’re actually doing there in the first place. Also, finding out how to use grenades by pressing various buttons is not the best method – it isn’t even listed in the options under “control layout”. It’s similar to Crysis 2 if you’re interested, just hold Y rather than double tap it. I’m saving you lots of frustration, trust me.

Visuals 9/10

With characters that look great and realistic, environments that are breathtaking and a world that is so immersive and engaging, Syndicate is a joy to behold. Let down only by the occasional freezing issues here and there.

Audio 8/10

Voice work is fantastic and captures the mood perfectly. The soundtrack is really good and those who feared the Dub step of the trailer would be a permanent feature of the game can relax. The music is perfect with the tone of the game and the Dub step is used sparingly with a certain boss fight which works really well. Silent protagonist and the music disappearing sometimes lets the score down.

Gameplay 9/10

The DART system makes Syndicate an involving and fun to play FPS. The controls are slick and Kilo handles like Crysis 2 which is welcoming. Variety of weapons and methods of disposing enemies ensures the campaign does not drag and there are generally no complaints here.

Delivery 8/10

The campaign, although short, is concise and thought proving although the focus will largely be on the gameplay. The co-op mode is a grand addition and what saves this score from being anything below a 4. The depth and customisation is sublime. Just a shame there is a lack of direction in the campaign (help markers/direction markers) and some things left unexplained in terms of controls.

Summary 8.5/10

On paper, Syndicate will last you around 12 hours and you would have to question purchasing it but with a co-op mode that is worth delving into and for those who like their trophies or achievements, this will have far more hours invested in it. Starbreeze Studios have once again proven their quality with this stellar offering to the First Person Shooter market.

This guide is the property of Ben Nacca and is for the sole use of www.lanraiders.co.uk, www.dailyecho.co.uk and www.ciao.co.uk. No copying to other websites or other mediums without written permission first.
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Comments about this review »

YoshiCheesePuff 26.02.2012 17:05

Excellent review, sounds great!

MrBrightside1987 23.02.2012 22:22

Excellent review hoping to get this tomorrow :)

bryspy 23.02.2012 21:09

Very well reviewed! ;~)

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Syndicate (Xbox 360)

Syndicate is the re-imagination of a cult classic franchise from 1993 - a unique action ... more

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Product details

Long Name Syndicate
EAN 5030930099527
Publisher Electronic Arts (EA)
Genre Shooter
Platform Xbox 360
Release Date 24.02.2012
Age 18+
Manufacturer Electronic Arts

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This review of Syndicate (Xbox 360) has been rated:

"very helpful" by (48%):

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  2. lorrainek90
  3. mojo-mojo

and 7 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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