Business is war’ proclaims the new Syndicate.
Remember that fad a while back, where
people bought up the rights to use the names of Commodore, Acorn, and such
like, and started producing new computers using these brand names? That’s just
what Syndicate feels like. For in the same way that the new Commodore and Acorn
machines had next to nothing in common with the computers that once bore the
same names, so the new Syndicate feels a long way removed from the isometric
mix of strategy and action of old.
Syndicate is one of the most
appreciated games of 2012
Taking a non-FPS franchise and turning it
into a first-person shooter isn’t new, of course. Command & Conquer even
had a go once, with Renegade being the instantly forgettable result. In the
case of Syndicate? Well, it’s all but instantly forgettable too, feeling like
it’s been pieced together from well-established pieces, before being given a
decent, modern-day polish. It’s a different genre and fell from Syndicate and Syndicate
Wars of old, and has nothing like the scale and breaking of ground of either.
So what is it? Well, not a disaster, for
starters. It’s a functional game, set in a future where big, nasty companies
have taken control. Your role in this muddle is as one of those prototype
agents that videogames like to throw out from time to time, one who is capable
of being upgraded via special chips. These chips bring with them skills, most
of which can be deployed by holding down the E button. In fact, by the end of a
few hours in the company of Syndicate, I swear the E button on my keyboard was
wearing away, such was the game’s insistence on me hitting it.
Visually interesting, and featuring an
almost-obligatory female robotic voice, Syndicate is a game that ultimately
stumbles when the action kicks in. It’s never dull to play, but rarely do you
actually feel that you’re in the middle of something. Sure, there are some fun
shootouts, it’s quite challenging in places, and the weaponry is reasonably
varied. But it’s got few tangible surprises in its proverbial locker, and, even
accepting the decent enemy AI, it’s a long, long way from the excitement that
the original Syndicate games managed to generate. It’s almost as if
similarities between old and new are coincidental, and little else.
The irony of the game, one seemingly
brimming with future tech and ideas, is that it feels old-fashioned. Deus Ex:
Human Revolution has certainly done it no favours, managing to incorporate a
lot of the ideas at work here in a far more convincing and interesting, way.
Syndicate can’t compete with it, bluntly, nor does it ever show any signs of
being able to. A pity. Perhaps EA should have just released the game for a
rebadged Commodore or something instead?
Manufacturer: electronic Arts
Required spec: 2.4GHz processor, 2GB RAM
(3GB with Windows Vista), 11GB HDD space, good DirectX 9 graphics card, DVD
A game that trades off the name of an old
one, while adding little new