Developed by Starbreeze and published by EA, Syndicate is a fast-paced first-person shooter, taking place in the same dystopian cyberpunk future originally conceived by Bullfrog in their 1993 isometric real-time tactical game by the same name. Set in 2069 (as opposed to the 2096 of the Bullfrog release), the campaign is seen through the eyes of Miles Kilo.
Despite favourable reviews, EA announced that Syndicate had failed to meet expectations commercially and did not turn a profit.
Syndicate takes place in a future where corporations (also referred to as Syndicates) have grown tremendously powerful, replacing the governments of the world. They lean heavily on advancing the capabilities of the DART chip, a microchip implanted in the skull of 57% of the world population that allows enhanced interactivity with the surrounding world. Each corporation has weaponized the chip, allowing for enhanced senses and physical abilities, as well as the ability to hack in to other chips to varying degrees with diverse effects.
Experimental versions of these chips are placed in 'Agents', assets utilized by the corporations to further their agendas through a mix of subterfuge, sabotage and aggression. With each company trying to gain the upper hand over their competition, corporate espionage runs rampant, paranoia is innate, and tensions have reached a boiling point between the three largest Syndicates of the world: EuroCorp, Aspari, and Cayman Global.
The campaign follows the story of Agent Miles Kilo, primary test subject for Dr. Lily Drawl's (voiced by Rosario Dawson) prototype DART-6 chip, his partner Agent Jules Merit (voiced by Michael Wincott), CEO of EuroCorp Jack Denham (voiced by Brian Cox), and the fall of EuroCorp.
Syndicate's gameplay focuses on combining shooting and melee executions with skillful use of the DART chip's abilities. The single player campaign and the multiplayer co-operative mode share many fundamentals, but end up playing fairly differently. In both modes, your use of applications are limited by your ability to produce adrenaline. Scoring and chaining together kills, completing objectives and performing "breach spikes", essentially an active reload, will all produce adrenaline, recharging your applications.
The campaign provides access to four key abilities:
- DART Overlay: Slows down time and highlights targets in the environment, even behind cover. With upgrades, it can mitigate damage, increase health regeneration, and increase damage output.
- Backfire App: This application causes the gun of an enemy to misfire, initially affecting two targets, but can be upgraded to three. Those effected suffer a small amount of damage from the initial blast and are susceptible to increase damage.
- Suicide App: This application disrupts DART chips' regular functions, causing the effected target to pull out a grenade and commit suicide.
- Persuade App: A throwback of sorts to the original Syndicate, this application causes a target to switch sides and fight alongside you. In the event that all enemies are eliminated, the target will turn the gun on themselves.
The ability to "breach", or hack, in to enemy chips and the environment around you plays an integral part in gameplay as well. Several enemies will sport armor types that negate all damage until they are hacked, and often times progress through a level will be hindered until a computer terminal, control switch, etc. is hacked to open up the pathway.
The game also consists of a four player cooperative mode that follows the loose story of up and coming Syndicate, Wulf Western and it's agents: Akuma, Thalos, Fall and Darius. Players are able to create different loadouts, making weapon and application combinations that all them to potentially fill a team archetype, e.g. Tank, Healer, etc. Because the multiplayer is not competitive based, there is no Online Pass required by EA to access the multiplayer content.
The co-operative mode in Syndicate is designed for 4 players but skilled players can tackle the missions solo or in pairs and still have great success in earning experience. Any experience earned will be lost if a player does not finish a given mission so be sure to keep that in mind if you need to leave a game in progress. The experience earned goes towards player rank, weapon upgrades and application research. Each rank provides points which can be spent in a skill tree to increase the attributes of the player, such as faster breach speed, increased health, the ability to equip two applications at once and even temporary invulnerability when near death.
Each mission can be played on one of three difficulties: Normal, Hard and Expert with each jump providing stronger enemy types and more of them to deal with. Usually this includes more of the armored enemies that usually require focused teamwork to take down. During the higher difficulties it will be more likely that a player is put into a downed state and thus will need a "reboot". During the initial downed phase a player may move around, albeit very slowly, and attempt to get close to an active player to be "rebooted". If any more damage is sustained the player will drop to their knees and a longer reboot will be needed.
Two main types of mission objectives are employed in co-op. One will require you to perform combat sweeps of a given area / facility and eliminate any hostiles found within. The second will task you with retrieving items of value / interest and delivering them safely to a waiting dropship.
After a mission is beaten on a specific difficulty the player will earn application research tokens which allow for the improvement of the abilities that can be equipped before entering a mission. Each application can be improved 4 times from the base effect. The player can choose which upgrade will receive priority if mulitple research projects are unlocked and a single project can be queued to earn experience after the main designation is complete. If the designated and queued research finish during a mission then any further unlocked projects will receive research in a sequential fashion until a priority is chosen by the player.
The armored enemies carry powerful weapons and are immune to most forms of damage until their armor is breached or bypassed by the player agents. Once a breach occurs a layer of the armor is weakened and the players have a set amount of time to destroy it and damage the health of the enemy. The strongest type of enemy has 3 layers to breach and on the third breach they are disabled allowing the players to remove their chips.
Removing a chip from a downed elite soldier will unlock blueprint tokens that will allow players to unlock upgrade paths for weapons and start to designate earned experience towards unlocking the upgrades. Experience continues to accrue towards ranks but now also goes towards unlocking scopes, silencers and other upgrades for each weapon in the game. This research can be designated and queued in an identical fashion to application research.
The player can edit and save 3 distinct loadouts consisting of a main weapon, sidearm and one (or two) applications. The weapons available are of a limited selection and many must be found within missions. Any upgrades applied to these retrieved weapons will apply upon picking them up during the mission. The dropped weapons can include a Thermite gun ( flamethrower ), Rocket launcher, Minigun and more. The more powerful weapons can not be refilled at the ammo crates that dot the mission layout.
The applications that can be taken into the co-op mode are generally unique to the co-op apart from Backfire, which appears in the main campaign. There are 12 applications in total:
- Backfire: Hacks enemy weapons and makes their ammo explode, forcing them to the ground and making them more vulnerable to damage for a time.
- Focus Target: Highlights a target and increases damage done on the hacked target by a given amount.
- Battery: Recharges fellow agents applications a given amount but can not be used to refill another application of Battery.
- Focus Breach: Decreases breach time for all fellow agents.
- E-Drain: Damages enemies and converts that damage into health for the player.
- C2C Pulse: Healing waves pulse from the player, healing anyone near to them by a given amount.
- Reboot: Allows a player to revive themselves from a downed state.
- Damage Link: Increases weapon damage of all players for a time.
- Shielding: Provides a temporary shield to all players that absorbs a set amount of damage.
- EMP: Releases an EMP charge around the player that can stun enemies and disable turrets and UAVs.
- Squad Heal: Heals all players by a set amount.
- Virus: Infects enemies with a damage over time effect that can even penetrate armored enemies without breaching first.
Before entering any mission a player may form or join a player created Syndicate. This is the clan system of the game and brings bonuses to the player in the form of increased experience from healing and rebooting fellow Syndicate members during missions.
The game ships with 9 maps, that are billed as "reimaginings" of some the original Syndicate's mission: Western Europe, Mozambique, Atlantic Accelerator, Colorado, China, Scandinavia, Northern Territories, Argentina and New England.
EA's Jeff Gamon has stated that,
"Fans of the franchise will recognize many weapons and environments in the game, but in a whole new way. The game also provides a separate and deep 4-player co-op mode featuring missions from the original cult classic, which adds another layer of depth to the overall experience."
PC System Requirements
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo (E4600) at 2.4 Ghz or equivalent (Athlon 64 X2) processor||Core 2 Quad Q6400 2.13GHz or Athlon II X3 440|
|Video Card||ATI Radeon HD 4650 or NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (min. 512mb RAM) or better||GeForce GT 545 DDR5 or Radeon HD 4850|
|OS||Windows XP with SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7||Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7|
|HDD||10.5 GB||12 GB|
|Memory||2 GB Windows 7 & Windows XP (3 GB with Windows Vista)||4 GB|