not2nerdydotdom's Syndicate (Xbox 360) review

Syndicate Review by Andrew Bohnenberger

Syndicate Review
By: Andrew Bohnenberger

Syndicate is a Sci-Fi first person shooter developed by Starbreeze studios and published by Electronic Arts. Syndicate was released on February 21, 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. Syndicate is a reboot of the original 1993 strategy game developed by Bullfrog studios. Does Syndicate have what it takes to capture the magic of the original while being able to adapt with the times?
Syndicate takes place in a future dystopian cyber punk world where there are no governments and mega corporations called Syndicates rule the world. Syndicates are able to the rule the world because of this technology called DART chips. DART chips are embedded in a human skull allowing the users of these chips to perceive environmental information in real time and breach other users chips as well as other chip based electronic applications. The game revolves around the largest corporation in the world Eurocorp and its bio engineered Agents who protect the interests of Eurocorp. In the game you play as a character named Miles Kilo who is an agent for Eurocorp that has been installed with the latest technology from the corporation, the DART 6 chip. The story is a roller coaster ride that revolves around corporate espionage with rival corporations and the struggles between a terrorists group who do not support the chip technology created by the Syndicates. This game had excellent voice acting thanks in part to big Hollywood names like Rosario Dawson portraying a Eurocorp scientist Lily Drawl and Brian Cox who plays the the CEO of Eurocorp Jack Denham. I really enjoyed the surprise twists in the story, the moral implications of a world ruled by technology, and the class struggles between the segments of the population that are chipped and unchipped.
Syndicate takes place in a gritty futuristic dystopian cyber punk world and the graphics do an excellent job in demonstrating that setting to the player. Syndicate has fantastic lighting effects and gorgeous high res textures. I loved the variety in environments from the clean pristine corporate buildings of the Syndicates to the dirty desolate city slums of the unchipped populations. The graphics and environments really helped me to stay immersed in the game which allowed me to believe this could be a not to distant future world.
Syndicate while at glance may look like your standard futuristic sci fi shooter differentiates itself with the breaching mechanic introduced in the game. The breaching mechanic allows players to hack enemy chips in the game in three different ways. The first breach is suicide which forces enemies to kill themselves and other enemies around them by exploding their own grenades. The second breach is persuade which allows you to hack enemies in order to have them become your ally temporarily killing their own counterparts until they eventually take a gun to their head taking their own life. The third and last breach mechanic called Backfire which allows you to temporarily stun enemies by blowing up their weapons. The breach mechanic was also used to hack turrets in order to use them against enemies and interact with the environment. My favorite use of the mechanic was when you breached a elevator shaft to collapse on a enemy stuck in an elevator. Another use of the mechanic was when objects that you used for control cover would be buried into the floor by enemies breaching them and you would need to breach the object in order to raise it out of the floor. Another mechanic was the ability to enter x-ray vision which allows you to see enemies behind cover and slow down time. Besides the breaching mechanic the game features your standard assortment of assault rifles, shotguns, sub machine guns, and sniper rifles. A few of the standouts include a laser rifle, the gauss gun which allows you to lock on to targets and shoot bullets behind cover, a mini gun turret, a shotgun with a red dot sight, a homing rocket launcher, and an assault rifle with a red dot scope that that you would tilt to the side rather than your standard iron sight lock on. All the guns handled great with the precision you would find if you are familiar with the lock to target system found in Call of Duty. I really enjoyed the HUD elements on the guns that showed how much ammo left in the clip as well as the ability for each gun to have an alternate fire. My only complaint would be that I would have rather have had the ability to carry multiple guns in radial menu like Resistance 3 than only being able to carry two guns at a time. I also disliked that there was not a dedicated button for grenades and you had to hold down the button to change weapons in order to use them. This limited your ability to throw grenades while using a gun. Although I did like the ability to disarm enemy grenades with your breach mechanic which I find to be a better solution than your standard ability to throw them back like in other first person shooters. The game also featured a leveling systems for role playing nerds like myself but I was disappointed in the lack of depth compared to games with similar concepts like Deus Ex. Each time you completed a mission you were given the opportunity to chip rip an individual giving you a single research point. With those research points you could decrease the cool downs for your abilities, reduce damage taken, or upgrade weapon abilities like reduced recoil or more ammo capacity. Surprisingly my major complaint with the game is the one I leveraged against a similar title set in a cyberpunk futuristic world. The boss fights in this game where unnecessary and completely unbalanced. What differed in Syndicates case was at least the breach mechanics you learned in the game were crucial to defeating the bosses. The problems with in the boss fights was that the game removed certain mechanics in order to artificially make the game more challenging. Some bosses had you only using your breaching mechanics while some removed most or all of your breaching mechanics. This had the game boil down to your standard shooter boss battle where you run behind cover, poke out and shoot, then rinse, and repeat. The last boss was especially frustrating as it took me nearly two hours and half hours to beat in such a short single player campaign.
The game features a five to six hour single player campaign as well as nine four player co-op maps. The standout to the game to me was the co-op mode as it required you to work together in order to overcome the challenges in each map. The nine maps are directly taken from segments in the game which allowed you to have great variety in locations. The co-op mode removed the two breach mechanics of suicide and persuade and instead replaced you will the ability to revive and heal teammates as well as an EMP breach mechanic which disabled electronic devices. Like the single player campaign you would have to work together to fight enemies who had devices that blocked your breaching mechanics or turrets that you would need to breach in order to disable their shields. I felt the boss battles where more balanced in the co-op mode since both you and the bosses could revive your their teammates. The focus on working together in order to survive all these different elements allowed for some high intensity situations. Also the ability to retry at a save point if all your teammates died was time saver that reduced frustration I found in playing these types of modes in other games. The co-op mode also featured a leveling system similar to the single player game but also allowed to you to create different loadouts for classes and pick from four character sets. You leveled up by killing enemies, healing teammates, and using the different breaching mechanics. I loved that the game allowed you to gain points by doing things other than killing enemies which created a competitive element with your co-op teammates to gain higher scores than each other on each map. The ability to upgrade weapons and abilities would create that replay value needed for some players interested in tackling these maps on a higher difficulty. My only complaint with the mode would be some technical issues that dropped me from games, occasional freezing at loading menus, and a bug that made leave the menu in order to access levels I had already unlocked.
I think that Syndicate is a good game if you like sci fiction stories similar to games like Deus Ex or movies like the Matrix, Equilibrium , or Blade Runner. I found myself really immersed in this world and the characters. The co-op mode is unique experience unmatched in the market. Unfortunately thanks to balance issues in the single player campaign and the technical difficulties in the co -op mode, these shortcomings keep Syndicate from being a great game to only a good one.
Score: 85%
Rent: The single player campaign can be beaten in five to six hours and the nine maps in the co-op mode can be beaten in around 3 hours. If the game comes down in price and more maps are added as DLC I think it would be a definite buy but thanks to no online pass, renting this game allows you to have the best bang for your buck.

Edited by not2nerdydotdom

Not2NerdyEnt Syndicate Campaign Walkthrough

Not2NerdyEnt Syndicate Co-op Walkthrough

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