Well you wait for a game wherein the destruction of mankind lies in technological advancements gone horribly wrong and robots with slightly sadomasochistic tendencies and then all of a sudden two are released in the same week!
This week sees the arrival of two of the latest in future-based shooters, Syndicate and Binary Domain. Well that’s one for today and then one for tomorrow then!
Syndicate is the first game to step up to my proverbial chopping block over the next two days, a sci-fi shooter set in the future when people are fonder of chips than a drunken, confused Glaswegian on a Saturday night…Well I suppose that’s just a Glaswegian on well, a Saturday?
Syndicate was created by Starbreeze studios, with a storyline influenced and set in the world created by writer, Richard Morgan. Instantly this game set off warning bells when I first began reading up on it. Starbreeze studios, I thought, the guys behind the previous Darkness game, which stirred up the closest thing I have to emotions through their great method of storytelling and immersive gameplay, however, I was also reminded of the other, more infamous and tedious Riddick games, which also began to stir up my equivalent of emotions, those however being anger, malice and a sense of disgust.
In the future, the world is ruled by corporations rather than governments and democracy, with technological advancements such as chips which enable complete interfacing with electronics being surgically implanted into the fan boys and groupies of each conglomerate. This means that a new type of security is needed to protect different company assets and this is where you come in.
Playing as Miles Kilo, evidently named after a unit of weight to portray his solid and forceful nature, rather than his addiction to pukka pies, you blast, maim and hack your way through competing companies whilst protecting your own and collecting rival technology.
Well, Syndicate is actually not too bad to play, with a pretty enjoyable control system and some well textured, clean environments; it defiantly makes a change from the grotty and run down Earth shown in games such as Gears of War and Resistance, however, something just seems to be missing. The game seems rushed in a way, with several aspects, such as the close range combat system, feeling unfinished and far too much of a game breaker. When in close combat, instead of the typical punch or melee attack, you simply press in a thumb stick and milligram snaps a neck quicker than a famished Susan Boyle in a petting zoo, yet, unlike the aforementioned yodeller, it lacks any real sense of weight or force, instead simply seeming like a bit of an aggressive massage.
Another example of this can be seen through your DART overlay device. The DART chip in your brain enables you to effectively slow down time by increasing your own reflexes and senses, also allowing you to see enemies through walls and cover. It just seems a bit pointless to view the world in the normal vision mode when such a powerful tool is at your disposal and despite the energy drain causing you to occasionally switch back, I found myself practically living in DART mode, viewing the world as a cybernetic pigeon at around a quarter of the usual speed.
Despite this, the game also encompasses some great and interesting ideas, for example, you can utilise your hacking abilities to force other, implanted foes to experience weapon malfunctions and even cause them to destroy their own forces before having their own lead-based snack, which does create a certain feeling of enjoyment, and I say at the risk of appearing to have psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies. There’s always a certain degree of satisfaction at watching two friends violently maiming one another whilst imagining them to be the Chuckle brothers, imagining Barry, tearfully bringing a pistol up to his own shrivelled face before uttering his final “To me” and destroying the United Kingdom pantomime industry once and for all.
EA’s presence, much like those of a blind child on Christmas Eve, can also be felt, through their insistence for every game they publish to have a multiplayer or co-op mode, however, there’s a lack of an online code system? Clearly, the department that handles sucking the life from the pre-owned market was out on their annual teambuilding exercise on the lead up to the release date. This mode sees players team up in groups of four, competing amongst each other for points and upgrades whilst working as a team to heal and resupply each other. Each map is small, but does prove challenging when working with a random team, however, with only four players allowed in one game, it makes competing with friends very difficult and nigh on impossible.
All in all, Syndicate isn’t too bad a game, yet it simply seems rushed. With a lot of good ideas, it had the potential to really be a hard-hitting sci-fi rollercoaster ride, but without the correct sense of direction and finesse, it simply winds up being a whirl on the giant teacups, exciting for a few minutes, that is before you catch sight of your disappointed friends and the team of law enforcement officers waiting for you to dizzily tumble into the back of their panda car.