Syndicate – Preview

I’ll hold up my hands right at the start by saying that I know nothing about Syndicate. I didn’t play the original, I have no idea what it was about or why it’s considered a great game. All I know is that this is a newly announced title from Starbreeze Studios. To be honest, that’s all I need to know because it’s excellent. I recently had a chance to get hands on with the game, which involved both single and multiplayer missions. Set in the future, the world is controlled in separate regions by corporations known as Syndicates. These Syndicates offer people the chance of a whole new level of interaction with the digital world by way of a neural chip called the ‘Dart 6′. The basis for the game is that you play as Agent Miles Kilo who works for Eurocorp who are at war with the competition, vying for total market dominance.

The single player mission was to extract a chip from a male inside a building I’d been dropped off at, which forms an early level in the game. I had a fellow agent with me who advised me that “civilian casualties were a non issue.” Didn’t know who the hell he was, but he was dancing to a tune I liked the sound of. He followed his own advice shortly after landing, killing three people before I’d have a chance to get my bearings, and once he’d drifted off somewhere I got to work exploring the level.

What I played was fairly linear, but it had a very Deus Ex feel to it; I say that coming off the back of finishing Human Revolution. It lacked the obvious nods to the Renaissance, but had a very cyberpunk feel to it – this isn’t a bad thing, but it certainly feels similar, although, from what I can tell, that’s where the similarities end. Syndicate is certainly a shooter at heart, whereas anyone who’s played Deus Ex and been caught in open combat will tell you it certainly isn’t. Syndicate is a shooter, but with a difference. While you can have conventional gunfights, it’s more enjoyable and lucrative to use your neural chip to influence the world around you – something that is referred to as ‘breaching.’ This can involve simple things from activating machines to moving cover to help you or hinder the opposition. It can also do something complex, such as get an enemy to turn their weapons on their friends or themselves  (funny as hell to watch, I can tell you). The combat is fun and you can generally approach it at a pace you want, whether it is bursting in, guns blazing, popping people’s brains like melons, or sitting back and getting environmental with it all, controlling turrets, enemies and their cover.

After moving through a couple of open areas I found the target who promptly blew his own brains out in an attempt to stop me accessing his chip. Initially I thought I’d failed but it appears he missed the chip. Bet he feels silly now. Moments later the chip was in my possession, as was the ability to upgrade. Here I was presented with a multitude of options to upgrade, including increasing usage of the Dart 6, new abilities, improving the current ones or making physical changes to my character.  Speaking of physical changes, the movement in Syndicate is excellent. It sounds like a strange thing to comment on, but I’ve been waiting for a game to do this for a while. Imagine Mirror’s Edge’s movement, with decent combat. Yes, stop dribbling. Brink tried it but didn’t quite pull it off; this game does. It feels great, natural and very fitting for the world.

With the CEO guy dead, alarms started sounding and I began a hasty exit, but it was here that I faced opposition en mass. I was following the same path I’d used to get in, but they were already set up behind cover, turrets activated, poised and ready to kill. What sets this apart from other games is just how powerful you can feel. First person shooters don’t routinely empower you to the point where you feel invincible – that would remove the challenge and it would become boring very quickly.  Although I certainly wasn’t invincible, I was powerful, even at this stage. I wished so many times in Deus Ex that as this super powered agent of death I could actually take some damage. Even with all the combat modifications maxed out Adam Jensen is woefully weak. Miles Kilo does not suffer from such problems.

As I rounded the corner bullets began firing, causing me to duck into cover that I activated by breaching a nearby machine. Cool and calm as a cucumber, I breached the big guy at the back of the room who, after screaming like a loon for a few seconds, started taking apart his former colleagues. I then breached the nearest two using a move called ‘Backfire’ which essentially causes their guns to explode, knocking them to the floor. I was not even breaking a sweat. More cover was moved, this time exposing four more guys. I breached the turret, which shot at the exposed enemies. I popped two more in the head with pistol. A deranged, psychopathic former employee turned mindless drone finally gets killed. I’m sure the morning papers will read that he finally couldn’t take the strain of his wife having an affair with a colleague any longer and he went mad with jealously, shooting up the place. So sad. The final survivor was punched to the floor and then got to eat my size twelve boots. It was all over in under two minutes. It was like conducting an exquisite piece of music; if it goes wrong it will sound awful, but if you get it right it’s a thing of utter beauty. Remember the flawless nature of that scene from the Matrix. That was me. Except I didn’t need Carrie-Anne Moss. Or a shotgun.

My single player experience finished by getting to my escape chopper, only to see it crash into the side of the building I was trying to escape from. Things were hardly going to plan but the fade to black meant I didn’t have to worry for now. Having loved the single player I hopped straight onto the multiplayer for some four player co-op. Imagine the empowering feeling I’ve previously described multiplied by four and you’re halfway to understanding how excellent Syndicate is.  Four player co-op sees players taking on various objectives in order to complete the mission and working together is an absolute requirement. The opposition is both varied and large in number; the standard grunt can be taken out with any weapon, no problem, while others require a layer of thinking  and team work. Certain enemies require players to strip a layer of armour by breaching them and they will either take damage at a reduced rate or not at all without that all important breach. This then becomes a cat and mouse game of staying in cover and breaching, then attacking and then retreating. Some of these specific enemies dish out a ton of punishment and soak loads up. You’ve been warned.

Overall, Syndicate maybe criticised by long time fans for the fact that it’s not what it once was. For everyone else it’s an opportunity to experience a rich new world that is, hopefully, bringing something else to the already crowded first person shooter table. It would be almost pointless to try and compete with Battlefield and Call Of Duty, it’s not that type of game and it would be a worse title for doing so. It’s still got a long way to go, but this one should certainly be on your radar.

Last five articles by Chris



  1. Richie richie says:

    Sounds kind of interesting but nowhere near as majestic as the original.

    Still, the combat might be fun.

  2. Pete Pete says:

    I can’t believe Chris hasn’t appeared to have read the article by Danny Dyer ;)

  3. Chris Chris says:

    I’m confused Pete! I have read it just recently? Well about 2 days ago. I wrote this about 2 weeks ago though…

  4. Pete Pete says:

    Ahhhh that makes sense! :) it was Richie’s finest hour! ;)

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