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Syndicate Hands-On: The Suicide Rate Is About To Skyrocket

Remember how you were all ready to hate Syndicate for not being an isometric strategy game? You might want to reconsider.

Just another company man.

Hey guys, what do you want out of a Syndicate reboot? OK, fair enough, it's a loaded question, but it's been hard to ignore the rising voices of those who are, shall we say, less than satisfied with the news that Starbreeze has been working away at a first-person shooter that will bear the Syndicate name. It all feels like a replay of the recent XCOM hubbub, where longtime fans of a strategy game stood up and said something like "a first-person shooter? Great, we really need more of those."

So here's the potentially crazy twist. I got to play a brief chunk of Starbreeze's Syndicate recently, and it has tons of potential. The quick mission I embarked on--which showed off the basic powers at your disposal, a couple of weapons, and a few puzzle-type situations--might only be looking to capture the basic spirit of Bullfrog's classic, but if it pans out, it might also make for a great shooter with a skill tree. I was pretty taken aback by what I saw and played.

Syndicate is set in a chipped future, where most every human and plenty of inanimate objects contain embedded chips that, in the right hands, enhance humans. In the hands of an evil corporation bent on taking out their rivals at any cost, though, they can be subverted to do all sorts of nasty business. In the game, you'll play as an agent named Miles Kilo, a prototype that has the ability to hack nearby chips, allowing you to carry out said nasty business on behalf of your bosses. Kilo, raised by the corporation, is totally controlled by his chip and, at the beginning of the game, has no real moral compass. This will allow, or perhaps even demand that you behave in a ruthless manner. And, based a brief conversation I had with someone associated with the game, you probably don't need to be a genius to guess how this plot's major story beats go.

But enough about that. Manipulating, or "breaching" the world is your main way of interacting with things. In some cases, you'll need to turn on a vision mode to find a breachable object, which opens a secure door. There's no hacking minigame here, you're simply holding down a button until a meter fills up. The demo, which has you seeking out a member of a rival corporation, who is in possession of a chip that you need, opens with a moment that you'll see in the game' s trailer. You happen upon an interrogation room and are, in a tutorial-like fashion, commanded to breach one of the two authorities inside the room. This causes him to grab his head in pain and go into suicide mode. He quickly pulls out a pistol, guns down his associate, shoots the guy they're apparently interrogating, and then, just for the heck of it, he stuffs the barrel of the pistol into his mouth and finishes the job. The force from that blast sends the body crashing through the window between you and the room, giving you access to the next area.

But the abilities aren't strictly for scripted moments or opening doors. After acquiring the chip you're searching for--another bloody moment involving a guy that seemingly can't wait to off himself--you gain access to the three basic powers. Suicide works as advertised, causing any enemy to flip out and kill himself. If you're lucky, he'll choose to use a grenade, which might take out other nearby targets. The backfire ability appears to cause gun malfunctions, and it essentially knocks your target down for a bit, giving you time to react. Persuade flips the alignment of the targeted enemy, causing him to shoot at his own guys for a bit. Each power has its own meter, and the meters are charged by adrenaline, meaning that you'll fill them up by killing enemies the old fashioned way.

The vision mode is called "DART." That probably stands for something.

You start the mission with a pistol, and some augmented reality HUD elements put ammo counters right next to the pistol. When running and holding the pistol, Kilo cocks the gun slightly diagonally, letting you run and fire wildly as you are doing so. It looks pretty awesome. I was also told that you can slide and shoot at the same time, but didn't see this in action. The other weapon was a gauss rifle that lets you hold the left trigger to lock onto targets. Once you're locked on, you can step around a corner and fire. The bullets will curve to find their target. This is useful for flushing out enemies that are behind cover, and is especially useful when you combine it with the game's vision mode, which reveals enemies that are behind walls. The gun is also used for a bit of puzzle-solving, as one sequence requires you to lock onto a door's vulnerable side and blast it open.

Along the way, you'll earn experience points that funnel into a skill tree. The usual assortment of number tweaks for health, recharge time, and so on appear to be present, though your three powers will also develop, too. Doing things like gunning down several enemies in a row will give you a little XP bonus.

It's stylish, though its high-tech look is sure to draw some initial comparisons to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It's a sensible comparison, but even though these are both first-person shooters with RPG elements and a futuristic, cyber sort of theme, the brief bit of Syndicate I played didn't feel too similar. Syndicate appears to be leaning more on its fast action and shooting than Deus Ex usually does. We'll have to hold tight and see how the rest of it turns out, but the sort of crazy part about all this is that we won't be waiting that long. Alongside the game's first trailer, EA announced that the game is due in February 2012. That's pretty soon.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Jeff
Just another company man.

Hey guys, what do you want out of a Syndicate reboot? OK, fair enough, it's a loaded question, but it's been hard to ignore the rising voices of those who are, shall we say, less than satisfied with the news that Starbreeze has been working away at a first-person shooter that will bear the Syndicate name. It all feels like a replay of the recent XCOM hubbub, where longtime fans of a strategy game stood up and said something like "a first-person shooter? Great, we really need more of those."

So here's the potentially crazy twist. I got to play a brief chunk of Starbreeze's Syndicate recently, and it has tons of potential. The quick mission I embarked on--which showed off the basic powers at your disposal, a couple of weapons, and a few puzzle-type situations--might only be looking to capture the basic spirit of Bullfrog's classic, but if it pans out, it might also make for a great shooter with a skill tree. I was pretty taken aback by what I saw and played.

Syndicate is set in a chipped future, where most every human and plenty of inanimate objects contain embedded chips that, in the right hands, enhance humans. In the hands of an evil corporation bent on taking out their rivals at any cost, though, they can be subverted to do all sorts of nasty business. In the game, you'll play as an agent named Miles Kilo, a prototype that has the ability to hack nearby chips, allowing you to carry out said nasty business on behalf of your bosses. Kilo, raised by the corporation, is totally controlled by his chip and, at the beginning of the game, has no real moral compass. This will allow, or perhaps even demand that you behave in a ruthless manner. And, based a brief conversation I had with someone associated with the game, you probably don't need to be a genius to guess how this plot's major story beats go.

But enough about that. Manipulating, or "breaching" the world is your main way of interacting with things. In some cases, you'll need to turn on a vision mode to find a breachable object, which opens a secure door. There's no hacking minigame here, you're simply holding down a button until a meter fills up. The demo, which has you seeking out a member of a rival corporation, who is in possession of a chip that you need, opens with a moment that you'll see in the game' s trailer. You happen upon an interrogation room and are, in a tutorial-like fashion, commanded to breach one of the two authorities inside the room. This causes him to grab his head in pain and go into suicide mode. He quickly pulls out a pistol, guns down his associate, shoots the guy they're apparently interrogating, and then, just for the heck of it, he stuffs the barrel of the pistol into his mouth and finishes the job. The force from that blast sends the body crashing through the window between you and the room, giving you access to the next area.

But the abilities aren't strictly for scripted moments or opening doors. After acquiring the chip you're searching for--another bloody moment involving a guy that seemingly can't wait to off himself--you gain access to the three basic powers. Suicide works as advertised, causing any enemy to flip out and kill himself. If you're lucky, he'll choose to use a grenade, which might take out other nearby targets. The backfire ability appears to cause gun malfunctions, and it essentially knocks your target down for a bit, giving you time to react. Persuade flips the alignment of the targeted enemy, causing him to shoot at his own guys for a bit. Each power has its own meter, and the meters are charged by adrenaline, meaning that you'll fill them up by killing enemies the old fashioned way.

The vision mode is called "DART." That probably stands for something.

You start the mission with a pistol, and some augmented reality HUD elements put ammo counters right next to the pistol. When running and holding the pistol, Kilo cocks the gun slightly diagonally, letting you run and fire wildly as you are doing so. It looks pretty awesome. I was also told that you can slide and shoot at the same time, but didn't see this in action. The other weapon was a gauss rifle that lets you hold the left trigger to lock onto targets. Once you're locked on, you can step around a corner and fire. The bullets will curve to find their target. This is useful for flushing out enemies that are behind cover, and is especially useful when you combine it with the game's vision mode, which reveals enemies that are behind walls. The gun is also used for a bit of puzzle-solving, as one sequence requires you to lock onto a door's vulnerable side and blast it open.

Along the way, you'll earn experience points that funnel into a skill tree. The usual assortment of number tweaks for health, recharge time, and so on appear to be present, though your three powers will also develop, too. Doing things like gunning down several enemies in a row will give you a little XP bonus.

It's stylish, though its high-tech look is sure to draw some initial comparisons to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It's a sensible comparison, but even though these are both first-person shooters with RPG elements and a futuristic, cyber sort of theme, the brief bit of Syndicate I played didn't feel too similar. Syndicate appears to be leaning more on its fast action and shooting than Deus Ex usually does. We'll have to hold tight and see how the rest of it turns out, but the sort of crazy part about all this is that we won't be waiting that long. Alongside the game's first trailer, EA announced that the game is due in February 2012. That's pretty soon.

Staff
Posted by MonstroUK

Razor Wire!

Posted by HermanToothrot

Huh... Color me pleasantly surprised. DE:HR with better shooting sounds great.

Posted by SomeJerk

I say, of course there's a lot of shooting, it's fucking Syndicate. Fuck the haters and their childish ways. I was there for the original Syndicate and I will be right here when this game comes, gonna buy it and play it and hopefully feel it's worthy of the Syndicate title.

Posted by Jeffk38uk

The hacking of people as an actual gameplay element sounds pretty cool really.

Posted by Minlow

Oh fuck, this coupled with that trailer means I am back on the Starbreeze train.

Posted by MEATBALL

The way EA are rushing this out there sort of concerns me. After all these years do they simply have a turd in their hands that they're trying to very quickly dispose of? It'll be interesting to see if they ramp up the marketing closer to release or give it the Shadows of the Damned/Alice treatment (not to say those were bad games, I thoroughly enjoyed both).

That said, between the trailer and these impressions it's sounding like a fairly promising game.

Posted by SlashDance

All games should be announced this way.

"Hey guys check this new thing ! By the way you can play it in less than 6 months !"

Posted by Mr_Spinnington

well time to kill myself

Posted by stalefishies

Seems neat enough, but I really wanted more RPG emphasis out of Deus Ex: HR rather than less.
 
Also, that is totally a way better headline than Hands-On: Syndicate.

Posted by Babylonian

Ahahaha, the subhead had me expecting this to be the most negative preview in the history of Giant Bomb. Sounds interesting and surprisingly brutal!

Posted by sirdesmond

Actually sounds pretty awesome. I am now interested.

Posted by Jimbo

I don't know... this reeks of Invisible War to me. The protagonist looks like he walked straight off the IW cover too, with his Xtreme hair and sideways gun bullshit.

Posted by DefAde

Loved Sydicate back on the Amiga... Love the recent Deus Ex... Hopefully gonna love this too

Posted by Vexxan

Hack people?

Sold.

Posted by chilibean_3

Wow, February. That's kinda very soon. I like the idea of releasing pretty soon after announcement.

Posted by Rowr

Well yeh its starbreeze, starbreeze are fucking awesome.

But i still want isometric syndicate.

Posted by spartan1017

I did not expect Deus Ex HR 2 to be coming out this quick. Those guys are fast.

Posted by niamahai

D.A.R.T
Direct Attack Retina Targeting

Posted by DystopiaX

Nice to hear they're bringing something new to the party and not just making another shooter clone.

Posted by MeatSim

Who knew assisted suicide could be so much fun.

Posted by Lonely_Misanthrope

So you probably get to be a rogue agent fighting the mean 'ol mega-corporation? Bite me Starbreeze, part of what was so great about the original series was that you were the mega-corporation.

Posted by Delta_Ass

This is great news for Syndicate devotees, Jeff. Given how much you tend to dislike FPSs, it's impressive how Starbreeze managed to change your mind.

Posted by GozerTC

@Rowr said:

Well yeh its starbreeze, starbreeze are fucking awesome.

But i still want isometric syndicate.

This pretty much sums up my opinion. Along with the original article:

"a first-person shooter? Great, we really need more of those.
Posted by baron_calamity

I'm coming around to this game. I'll probably give it a chance.

Posted by thetrin

Yeah, I'm not sure I liie the hackneyed "fight the power" twist to Syndicate. Syndicate's appeal was in BEING the power.

Posted by AssInAss

@Rowr said:

Well yeh its starbreeze, starbreeze are fucking awesome.

But i still want isometric syndicate.

Paradox's Cartel: This game is for all the Syndicate fans who want an isometric spiritual successor.

Starbreeze's Syndicate: This game is for all of us who never played the old games.

Win-win situation, don't you think?

Posted by Crash_Happy

I'm still all ready to hate it, otherwise this wouldn't be the internet. I'll hold off on the rage for now I guess.

Posted by Nocall

"a first-person shooter? Great, we really need more of those."

Still sums up the feelings automatically conjured whenever I see anything about Syndicate. I'll probably buy the game and love it, I'm sure, but it still bothers me that it's called Syndicate. It's weird that the name is all that actually annoys me--but it really does. It really does. /shrug

Posted by RecallBerserk

@AssInAss said:

Paradox's Cartel: This game is for all the Syndicate fans who want an isometric spiritual successor.

Starbreeze's Syndicate: This game is for all of us who never played the old games.

Win-win situation, don't you think?

Thanks, I knew nothing of Cartel until just right now :)

Posted by Tennmuerti

@Delta_Ass said:

This is great news for Syndicate devotees, Jeff. Given how much you tend to dislike FPSs, it's impressive how Starbreeze managed to change your mind.

hahahahaha!

oh you're good

Posted by kitsune_conundrum

I consider these kinds of games spin-offs rather than actual sequels since they are nothing alike and they tend to just inhabit the same universe. Even if its a decent shooter, is it Syndicate?

Heck, at first I thought this was Deus Ex.

Posted by kitsune_conundrum

and the black and gold doesnt help.

Posted by myslead

XCOM looks alright to be honest... maybe Syndicate will be as good too...

Posted by darkjester74

Sounds awesome! =D

Posted by Enigma777

Looking forward to it.

Posted by Undeadpool

@myslead said:

XCOM looks alright to be honest... maybe Syndicate will be as good too...

Glad I wasn't the only one who thinks that.

Posted by prestonhedges

See, Syndicate keeps sounding better and better whereas everything that comes out about XCOM is like some huge elaborate troll against PC gamers.

Posted by Kazona

Oh joy another shooter. Is that all the big games are capable of these days ?

Posted by TekZero

Not expecting much from this. I'm tired of games that are merely a series of button prompts.

Posted by chilibean_3

As someone who sucks at RTS style games and doesn't enjoy them because of that, I'm all for the change in formats. But I totally get why some dudes had their reactions. This seem like it has potential.

Posted by TadThuggish

I AM MAD ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by ajamafalous

HACK THE PLANET

Posted by ultimatepunchrod

this sounds awesome. it hardly ever works out that i can see the reveal trailer and read a preview in the same day. thanks GB

Posted by Shaanyboi

Wait... are you saying people on the internet were overreacting without any semblence of objective opinion or impressions? NO WAY

Posted by Ravenlight

@Babylonian said:

the subhead had me expecting this to be the most negative preview in the history of Giant Bomb.

Glad I wasn't the only one under that impression. Color me pleasantly surprised how this is turning out.

Posted by GreggD

@Lonely_Misanthrope said:

So you probably get to be a rogue agent fighting the mean 'ol mega-corporation? Bite me Starbreeze, part of what was so great about the original series was that you were the mega-corporation.

Jeez, people will complain about anything with this game.

Posted by prestonhedges

@GreggD said:

@Lonely_Misanthrope said:

So you probably get to be a rogue agent fighting the mean 'ol mega-corporation? Bite me Starbreeze, part of what was so great about the original series was that you were the mega-corporation.

Jeez, people will complain about anything with this game.

The "lone rogue agent fighting against the man" is kind of an annoying cliche at this point. Though I don't think anyone knows if that's the case here.

Posted by ryanwho

Cool so Mindjack. Mindjack turned out awsome.

Posted by James_ex_machina

The trailer got my full attention. Definitely looks more like a shooter the DEHR

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