Wot I Think: Syndicate (Singleplayer)

Hello, I am this videogame's alloted personality

I’ve been playing EA and Starbreeze’s contentious FPS reboot of the legendary Syndicate. I’ve only done a little dabbling in co-op, a report on which I will present very soon (so far: better than singleplayer, but very much in the unlock/ranking modern multiplayer idiom). You can find my rather more positive thoughts on the co-op mode here, but below is my take on the campaign mode, and the tale of the hysterically-named Eurocorp Agent MILES KILO.


1) Whether Syndicate is a decent first-person shooter or not.

2) Whether Syndicate 2012 is anything like Syndicate 1993.

3) The coffee I’m currently drinking.

1) Syndicate is Deus Ex: Human Revolution without the stealth, hacking or conversation. It takes the concept of being a hard-as-nails cyborg enforcer in a near-future world dominated by sinister corporations and leaves you free to indulge in the power fantasy, rather than worrying about what the right thing to do is, how to build the most efficient character spec and whether you’ve found all the side-missions. You’re a walking war machine, so go wage war.

Primarily this is in the form of shooting enemy soldiers in the head with a small but ultimately ludicrously powerful array of guns. A very simplistic cover system and recharging health are your major allies here, but the key difference from other shooters is your Breach powers. There are three of these, although two are pointlessly deactivated for a long stretch mid-game. Also, their effects are largely pretty similar, so it’s really a matter of which one has finished recharging rather than applying any strategy. Backfire causes a spot of damage, makes an enemy fall out of cover and makes them temporarily extra-vulnerable to your bullets. Suicide makes a single enemy execute himself, but if he’s in a group he’ll do it with a grenade. It’s funny the first time. Persuade turns a single enemy to your side for a short while, but if there are no other enemies around he’ll commit suicide.

All of these happen by pressing and holding E. All of these result in there being one or two fewer enemies in front of you. It’s smartly blended with the shooting, in that it becomes an intuitive and effective additional layer of mob management, but it is always the same. As is the infrequently-visited upgrade tree, which offers only faint choice between more health and more damage. On top of that, the game is sternly determined to deny such fun whenever a boss or miniboss appears, something which becomes an aggravatingly frequent occurrence in the later stages of the game. These fellows are silently immune to your Breach powers, but invariably you’ll use exactly the same E-and-hold mechanic to temporarily deactivate their energy-shield then attempt to whittle away their big fat health bar before they drop their annoyingly over-powered special attack on you.

Syndicate comes across like Human Revolution’s half-wit cousin even at the best of times, but even more so at the worst of times – these godawful boss fights. The difficulty doesn’t so much spike as transform into a thousand-foot tall stalactite of infuriating, grinding cruelty. They’re certainly not impossible, although I did abandon the game what appears to be minutes before the end because I couldn’t face a fortieth miserable attempt at vanquishing my sucker-punching nemesis, but they are this amount of fun: 0. Like Human Revolution they render your special abilities useless, and like Human Revolution they destroy the sense that you’re a superhuman whirlwind of destruction. Instead you’re a guy who hides behind pillars, swearing and frantically wishing your health would recharge a whole lot more quickly.

That aside, Syndicate is a competent enough if forgettable and often boring shooter. There are flashes of real excitement, when it grants you the space and the headcount to decimate a room full of goons with a combination of ultra-guns and mind control and thus like Sir Bad of Ass, bad-ass ruler of Badassia. But then it’ll collapse into ten minutes of making some lifts go up and down, hammering F to slowly open some doors and listening to boring people say boring things.

General technical things: it looks ‘fine’, if occasionally blighted by low-res textures, but somehow even manages to make Blade Runner-esque future cities and secret towns built on an artifical island completely unmemorable. Occasionally it attempts Japanese-infused urban areas, but you’re locked into such a restrictive series of small alleys that there’s no hope of believing it’s a place that actually exists. Oh, and I found the locked, limited FOV rather unpleasant at times, and had to play sat as far back from my monitor as I could. I hope someone manages to hack that.

The one thing Syndicate begins to get right is being a power fantasy, but it’s dramatically outdone even in that by the recent Darkness II. That may be even more dribbly of plot and frequently leans towards obnoxiousness, but it is consistently an opportunity to totally indulge yourself in superpowered, semi-customisable excessiveness. Syndicate, meanwhile, is guilty of that most dispiriting of crimes: overwhelming ordinariness.

2) A boring fact for you: a grumpy twitter post I made yesterday reading “they could release a My Little Pony Game called Syndicate and it’d still be more like Syndicate than Syndicate” received probably the most retweets I’ve ever had. The internet sure does get behind someone having a moan. In amongst the storm of repeats were a few people opining that my 140 characters of open pith were unfair.

They’re not entirely wrong, though it depends on the My Little Pony game. If it was squad-based game set in large, civilian-packed environments and documented a turf war between Ponies (presumably fought by throwing berries at each other or offering stern lessons on treating people nicely), it would certainly be a lot more like Syndicate than a first-person shooter with gigantic guns, infuriating boss fights, an underbaked psychic-hacking mechanic and a plot cobbled unegagingly together from over-familiar bits of The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, Robocop and Half-Life 2.

If Syndicate was made because the devs/publishers felt the original Syndicate provided a fertile world to tell stories in, and offer an ‘intimate and close-up perspective’ or whatever marketing codswallop was offered for pulling the ‘oh, just make it into a shooting game’ lever, then it makes no sense that they’ve ignored most of the theme in addition to the genre. The game tells you that in the future, warring corporations basically run the world and are cruel, oppressive bastards with loads of money, technology and weapons. Great! Time to go out and be a cruel, oppressive bastard with loads of money, technology and weapons!

There is none of that, outside of endless text-screens of background info gained from tediously collecting hidden items. Instead it’s purely about running through a load of warehouses and corridors and office complexes and headshot some generi-soldiers again and again and again, before (and minor SPOILERS, if you really are so dim that you didn’t immediately guess where Syndicate’s plot was going to go) having a change of heart and shooting some different generi-soldiers again and again and again instead.

Alright, there is generally a very small scattering of unarmed civilians dropped into the corners of Syndicate’s locked door-infected small spaces and you can kill them without consequence, but I suspect that, like me, you’ll find this to be a particularly apathetic breed of sadism. They cower on sight, and if you can bothered to divert from your soldier-slaying to go kill them, they fall over. You might as well go kick a cardboard box. There’s no sense that this is a society, Orwellian or otherwise: it’s just enclosed spaces with a few cowering NPCs dropped in here and there. You will not feel like a tool of oppression, the right arm of cruel corporate control: you’ll just feel like N.E. Action Hero. Inches Centi or Yards Metre or Miles Kilo or whatever it is your silent, faceless non-entity of a character is called is deliberately designed to have no personality, as he is a reprogrammed Agent of Eurocorp who’s supposed to just robotically follow orders, but there is an enormous and deflating difference between telling such a slave where to go and being inside the empty head of said slave. In Syndicate ’93, you’re a knowing and driven overlord, calculating your own method of achieving an ultimate objective. In Syndicate 2012, you’re a walking gun who follows preset waypoints until he gets to the cutscene.

No strategy. No subversive sadism. No roleplaying. No inhabiting the dark powermonger fantasy. No sense of world. No stomach to stick to its ‘you are the bad guy’ concept. Just a man with gun running through a series of doors. A My Little Pony game would at least be about something.

3) Small, cheap cup, slightly acrid, milk tastes a bit funny. ‘Salright though. Had better, had worse, wouldn’t buy again.

Syndicate is out now.


  1. Ett_1762 says:

    Oh well… would have been nice…

    • ThTa says:

      The co-op’s kinda fun, though. So, maybe…?


      Not worth your cash in any way, not when there’s so many other, much better games that have come out recently and will come out in the near future. And when you can just ignore its existence and the way it pisses on its legacy. You might want to pick it up with some friends when it’s 5 bucks on Steam Origin, but I reckon there’s plenty of other fun co-op games, then. (Such as Borderlands 2)

    • President Weasel says:

      surely you mean…

      What a shame.

      But then, this story has always been headed to this exact point, (like some sort of linear corridor shooter) ever since an exec decided it would be a good idea to dig up the mouldering corpse of this beloved franchise and sodomise it.

    • Nallen says:

      I didn’t ask for this.

    • jonfitt says:

      Its vision (of the future) is not augmented.

    • DuddBudda says:

      Yeah, RIP

    • Shih Tzu says:

      A bomb! (We hope?)

    • dontnormally says:

      There is… another.
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I got bitched at vociferously on here when this was announced saying it’s be a cheap cash-in on a classic name and rubbish. Took so much shit from people on here for it.

      Well to those who gave me shit all I can say is HAVE FUN WITH YOUR GAME, idiots.

      If you’ve not learned how this industry works by now, you’ll be a fool ’til you die.

    • Lionmaruu says:

      I hate cheap coffee!

    • DrGonzo says:

      BONEDWARF if you can’t see the difference between commenting about a game you’ve played and hated and complaining about a trailer to something you’ve never tried then you are a bigger moron than your comments give you credit.

    • MajorManiac says:

      @ Bonedwarf & DrGonzo:

      Yeah. Its usually safer to complain about the quality of the trailer itself. Just like movies, some have great trailers and turn out to be awful, and some others can have terrible trailers but turn out to be brilliant.

      I absolutely saw this coming. The co-op trailer made the game look awful. However its easy to make a prediction sound like a belief in the written word. So if I say:

      “Based on the trailer, I think this game will be terrible” – Good. As this is my prediction.

      “This game will be terrible” – Bad. As I’d be saying the game is terrible without actual proof. I’d have to be omniscient for this statement to be true.

      And that is how you avoid a grilling.

  2. newprince says:

    I clicked on 3. Why did I click on 3?

    • caddyB says:

      More interested in coffee than the game like I am?

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Because reading about an average cup of coffee is more interesting than than a generic, boring, uninspiring game like Syndicate.

      On the topic of Syndicate though, did anyoneexpect it to be decent? Because really, it had “meh” written all over it from the start.

      What Starbreaze didn’t take into account was that Deus Ex had a good reception because Square Enix actually put some effort into it, unlike this which seems like a half-hearted attempt at phoning it in.

    • Sarlix says:

      I clicked on three also. I thought it was going to be like one of those choose your own adventure, books. Sadly it just took me further down the review page. Not exactly the coffee filled adventure I had hoped for.


    • Neurotic says:

      3 is the summary of 1 and 2, in my view.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I’ve also clicked on 3, I wasn’t satisfied with the answer though. I would like at least 2 paragraphs about the coffee.

    • Persus-9 says:

      I found the most disappointing thing about the review was that it didn’t say what sort of coffee it was. The review isn’t really useful to me as a buyers guide or of much interest really if it doesn’t at least say the sort of coffee or perhaps the establishment from which it was bought. I get the impression it was pre-made coffee from a shop but I’m not sure even of that and that sort of uncertainity is something I don’t think I should be feeling at the end of a good coffee review.

    • President Weasel says:

      Now that’s actually a valid point. I approve of Alec’s decision to stay away from the “out of ten” system of coffee reviewing, but to be remotely useful for us we do need to know what coffee he is reviewing.

      For shame, Alec Meer. For shame.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      He didn’t even mention what platform the coffee was on.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      He should have had a cup of tea.

    • HothMonster says:

      Does the coffee require an always on internet connection? Would co-op of the coffee diminish or increase your enjoyment of the coffee?

      So many questions.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      For the last coffee I had, I used up all three activations right away (it was a busy day at work). I had to wait a month to get back to it, and by then it had developed little white and green things. And then they wouldn’t even let me trade it in!

      At least the “cream & sugar” DLC was free.

    • Hematite says:

      Sounds like a coffee from a greasy tuck shop – they’re the ones that have cheap paper cups. It would be sour because the coffee is old or ground too coarse to pack properly in the espresso machine and they don’t really care about the coffee part of their business. If it’s a cappuccino or latte the milk probably tastes funny because it was heated over 70 degrees – it gets that boiled milk flavour like creme brulee only rubbish.

      Better than Syndicate from what I hear.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Agree on all points, was far more intrigued by the idea of coffee then anything this game has to offer. This remains even more true after backing up and reading the review.

    • Lionmaruu says:

      I was told that the coffee is going pretty well on metacritic. the reviewer was a bit too harsh.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      @Shih Tzu, Ha ha! Awesome post.

  3. RF says:

    Damn, this is the sourest review I’ve ever seen from RPS.

    I LIKE it.

  4. Cinnamon says:

    You should drink tea instead. It’s better for you.

  5. killias2 says:

    I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. People were apparently all excited about Starbreeze developing it, but it looks like that amounted to nothing at all. I’ll stay far away from this and hope that Paradox’s Cartel manages to get something right.

  6. caddyB says:

    I read that last one as Gayman Global. Much lulz were had.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Good god so did I! I didn’t even know it was Cayman until you said that…

    • Bhazor says:

      Our company’s driving ethos is simple.
      A gayman in every home and a lesbian in every garage.

    • Terragot says:

      Nice to see syndicate is pushing the medium forward by embracing homosexuality as a brand, like music and tv.

    • marcusfell says:


  7. DickSocrates says:

    But Jeff Gerstmann gave it 5/5! (Something even more mysterious than his firing from Gamespot as any time I’ve heard him speak about the game, even he doesn’t seem that enthusiastic.)

    • Cinnamon says:

      Has he ever sounded enthusiastic about anything? American game reviewers give xbox mp shooting game top marks though, hardly a surprising news.

    • OldJimKenobi says:

      DId you listen to the quick-look or podcast this werk? He sounded plenty enthused in both.

      Also Trackmaina 2. If you’re a fan of GiantBomb you will immediatly understand when I say that when you mention his name and being enthused. He may give a fair amount of high marks to shooters (many of which deserve the praise) but hes given plenty low marks too, but just because we americans have a propensity for shooters doesnt mean we cant like other things

    • Buemba says:

      As much as I like Giantbomb I realized a long time ago that my opinion on FPSs simply doesn’t match Jeff’s at all. I’d never take buying advice from someone who doesn’t like Half-Life or No One Lives Forever and loved Modern Warfare 2.

      That’s what I like about them, though. Because of their podcast, quick looks and previous reviews I know enough about the staff’s tastes to figure out whether or not I should pay attention when one of them recommends a game.

    • timmyvos says:

      He doesn’t like NOLF? That should be a crime against humanity!

  8. mamret says:

    So if I get this right you don’t recommend the coffee, yes?

  9. quaunaut says:

    A game that lets you be the bad guy, and drops the ball on it. I want a game that does that but doesn’t fuck around, instead making you really sick of yourself. Make the combat fun enough, and combine that with the unsettling ‘evil’ nature of what you’re doing, and it’d be like reverse Fallout(ugh combat, fun concept).

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      The original AvP made me feel really great about being a vicious xenomorph preying on little children cowering in cubicles whimpering while I hissed menacingly at them.

    • LTK says:

      If you want to feel like a heartless bastard, consider your (encouraged) behavior in Skyrim, and how many inhabited caves, camps, forts and ruins you entered uninvited and subsequently eradicated the inhabitants of, most of whom were merely wild beasts, or anarchists who were mostly minding their own business. I’d feel pretty bad.

    • godwin says:

      Kane and Lynch, perhaps?

    • Vartesz says:

      Play FarCry 2. Don’t ask. Just do it.

    • diamondmx says:

      Gathering Eve from the little Sisters made you feel quite evil.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Skyrim makes me feel like I am playing a high-fantasy serial killer simulator. The violence is just so…senseless and without purpose. I mean, even in Saints Row III the violence is so over the top silly – and so expected – that you really cannot take it seriously.
      But the frequency and magnitude of rewards in Skyrim for obtaining items through the slaughter of innocent people who were minding their own business – as someone else pointed out so accurately – was simply astounding.
      I thought Skyrim was going to be a role playing game. Instead, it ended up being a mass murder simulator with disturbingly rich rewards and a complete lack of purpose.

    • caddyB says:

      Skyrim is a great game, but there isn’t much roleplaying in it. Like you said ,it’s about killing stuff and getting loot.

      I like how “roleplay” means “choose how to kill everything” these days.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Skyrim is a great game. As an open world adventure game sans plot, that rewards the curious through exploration – if you ignore the plot (what there is of it) – Skyrim is just fine. I enjoy rolling down-on-their-luck typs adventurer characters, installing mods like Hypothermia, and just surviving in the big, brutal, cold world. I scale down loot, make rare stuff and gold harder to get, improve enemy AI and in general turn the game into an adventure-survival escapade.
      But the vanilla affair, its writing and enemy AI? Ugh, no thanks.
      Skyrim is at its best when you ignore what it wants to be and play it for it is. Unfortunately, it was sold under the false premise of being a role playing game. More’s the pity, many people believe it is one.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Quaunaut: yes, go play Far Cry 2. It’s the best attempt to tackle that theme seriously in any game I’ve played lately. And the combat is a lot of fun.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      @Blackcompany That says more about you than about Skyrim or any other TES or even open-world game. I never murder civilians in those.

    • jrodman says:

      Yes, but I typically murder all the “non-civillians”.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Innocents? What makes a character innocent in video game worlds such as Skyrim? What makes it “wrong” to kill a character in a big, open world?
      Apparently, the answer is: They’re in a town.
      Take those bandits in fort gremoor, I believe it is. Never did me any wrong. Even warned me when I got too close. Asked me to just go away, leave em in peace. Was me who pushed my luck and got too close; me who was the aggressor. And I could have killed em everyone without penalty.
      Meanwhile, in the city, a Battle-Born kidnapped a Greymane family member. Was gonna have him killed. I thwarted the plot and the penalty for those known wrongdoers?
      A Greymane recruited thugs to beat me up along the road in another game. Hired a whole group. When I returned to town to mete out my punishment, guess what I found? That’s right, this “innocent” was protected by Essential status due to a later quest, I guess, and I could not touch them.
      Bethesda has taken guilt and innocence and thrown them out. Completely defenestrated the concept. In its place, they have “inhub” and “notinhub.”
      anyone inhub (a town) is safe. Regardless of their actions or perceived alignment, they are probably off limits. Most of those “notinhub” are “fair game” regardless of their warnings, their desire to be left to their own devices.
      So when we talk about “killing innocents” in a Bethesda game I think we need to ask ourselves: What constitutes innocence in this world? What constitutes guilt?
      Frankly I feel far worse about the guy in the Northwester Ice Cave and the group of armed recluses in the fort, than I will when I slaughter the damned families of Whiterun once I uncheck that damned “inhub/I-am-safe” box in the Creation Kit.
      I thought – I was told – Skyrim was a role playing game. I was sold this game on the grounds it was “Bethesda’s most believable world yet.”
      Turns out, that was something of an exaggeration.

  10. fuggles says:

    Disappointing as I really liked the Riddick games and Syndicate. I shall resume my vigil for Syndicate Wars on Gog then.

  11. Unaco says:

    Shame. Was hoping this might have held up as a decent Single Player shooter experience. Disappointing.

    • LTK says:

      Frankly, I knew that possibility was out of the window the moment I saw the first gameplay trailer.

  12. Bob says:

    There was a time when I enjoyed my shooters. Borderlands and a belated playing of FEAR are the only two that have entertained me hour after hour in the last couple of years. I think I’ll wait until it’s super cheap at a sale before purchasing..

  13. TheMrSolaris says:

    This is one of those games where I wish there was a fast-forward button, much like the one that Jennifer Hepler would like to see in games because I did enjoy the game for its dystopian story written by Richard Morgan (link to en.wikipedia.org)

    Not so much for the nonstop combat.

  14. Daniel Klein says:

    So 7/10 then?

  15. mooken says:

    I desperately want this Squad-Based My Little Pony game. Please take my monies. X-Com, please add a mod-kit.

    • TeraTelnet says:

      Agreed completely.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I will buy this, but only if I get to raid Smurf villages with my ponies…

    • Mad Hamish says:

      What about raiding that smurf village with Care Bears mounted on My Little Ponies? Mount & Blade style.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You are now imagining Twilight teleporting behind enemy lines to deliver a surprise stern lecture and frustrated sigh.

      (Should have expected cavalry to perform flanking maneuvers, really.)

    • Icarus says:

      I would play the shit out of this hypothetical game.

    • ffordesoon says:


    • Bhazor says:

      Have you seen the number of fan games being made for MLP? An Ace Phoenix game, a Touhou fangame, TWO JRPGs, a fighting game, a frickin’ mmo and yes at least two hentai games (one of which involves fisting Dashie. GOTY I tell you.)

      Honestly, a squad based tactics game must only be a few months away from announcement.

      Also Twilight doing recon? Unlikely. She’d be the heavy artillery. Fluttershy is the one who can silently snap a bears neck.

  16. Sarlix says:

    I have to say that ear examination looks a bit invasive.

  17. Anthile says:

    I never asked for this.

  18. Blackcompany says:

    On behalf of gamers everywhere (or a goodly portion of us, I would be willing to bet) Thank You. Let me say it once more:
    Thank. You.
    For expressing in uncompromising language the degree to which we are fed up with uninspired, tunnel-crawling man-shooters with no plot and no inspired mechanics: Thank You. For not pulling your punches: Thank you. For letting the world know how you feel about having to review yet another of these almost-the-same-game titles: Thank You.
    Now, if only developers would start listening…heads up, many of us really are ready for something new.

    • hosndosn says:

      It means nothing to publishers as long as it sells. That’s the thing, though: Reviews, criticism and awards have always been a weak but at least resilient counter-measure. It’s only gaming where they usually synch with sales. There is some motivation to get a creative work out that is both a critical and a commercial success. I believe sites like RPS, game critics in general have a bit of a responsibility to provide that different POV, to criticize a game for being uninspired or wasting an opportunity, even if it’s quick “fun” for the average player (who probably never even played Syndicate 1993 or even get the reference).

      Kudos for taking off the gloves and calling out a certainly well-polished game for being uninspired and putting that beyond its technical soundness. Even if it means siding with the dirty masses of Hepler-hating, boycott-blowing nerds that I can see one wouldn’t want to associate with when running a respectable games journalism site. Sometimes they’re right. And I believe they wouldn’t be quite as obnoxious if sites with a little more weight would tackle these issues in a better written way for them instead of asking everyone to just give EA’s latest marketing monster “a chance” it never deserved.

    • Vandelay says:

      Metacritic scores:

      Syndicate – 75%
      The latest Nick Cage film – 32%

      Most games review sites seem to be happy with mediocrity or, at best, score it too highly. It is always refreshing to see the writers of RPS tell it exactly how it is.

  19. JackDandy says:

    EA should learn their lesson from this.

    • OldJimKenobi says:

      They should learn a lesson from one person’s opinion?

    • Ephaelon says:

      RPS hivemind. We are legion.

    • JackDandy says:

      Last time I checked, the general consensus of the internet is that this is mediocre as all heck.

    • jonfitt says:

      for we are many.

    • Stevostin says:

      EA will learn its leasson from sales figures. At least they do. We, hardcore internet gamer, rarely do. I wouldn’t be surprise to see SW sell pretty well ultimately.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The lesson being that if you want to revitalise an old ip, you should do it the My Little Pony way.

  20. Nallen says:

    I think what’s sad about when old games are reinvented badly is not that it has any impact on the old game you used to love, it’s that it completely removes the possibility of it being reinvented well.

    • Skabooga says:

      It would be interesting if developers started remaking bad games from the past. You know, give them a second chance and all that. Although, I suppose they wouldn’t have much (positive) name recognition.

    • killias2 says:

      I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Heck, even before the crap XCOM was released, they announced a proper reboot. Not to mention the fact that there are other “reinventions” (aka clones) available.

      I still think there’s a chance of a real Syndicate some day. Even if it doesn’t come, Paradox has Cartel, which is apparently a Syndicate-clone. There’s hope yet.

    • Chris D says:

      How about Dawn of War 2 as a modern successor to Syndicate? Different setting, sure (Equally grim though) but you’re in control of a squad of four with weapons you can choose to suit the situation.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The question there is, though: what does the bad game bring to the table? Unless it’s a something like a solid story mired in dreadful mechanics, what is there to give a second chance?

      ‘Cause I doubt anyone wants Lula 3D: as reimagined by Obsidian.

    • Skabooga says:

      @LionsPhil: Well, it is a pretty stupid idea to remake a bad game, I’ll grant you that, but it might at least be interesting. Sorting out what the major failings of the first game were and finding which parts could be salvaged or were genuinely good, finding the potential under all the errors.

      In reality, this is already done for good games: sequels, or unrelated games in the same genre, try to take the good and leave the bad of their predecessors. The idea of taking something bad and making something good out of it tickles me, for whatever reason.

      For example, Limbo of the Lost, that lawsuit-inducing, illogical-puzzle-containing, unfathomable-story-telling game, is by all accounts terrible, but for me it has a certain je ne sais quoi about it, that, if transferred to a better game, could be an enjoyable and unique experience.

      But maybe I’m just crazy.

    • bill says:

      @Chris D:
      The way i remember playing syndicate, I’d say that Overlord is pretty close… with the minions replacing my endless hoards of brainwashed cannon-fodder civilians.

      Actually, a mildy Overlord-style syndicate game might be ok.

  21. d00d3n says:

    Review is too harsh. Even as a huge fan of the past Starbreeze games who was disappointed with the game, I have to disagree with the extremely negative sentiment. The game still has the Starbreeze oomph factor with an unmatched sense of being physically present in the world, great visual design and game systems that feel good to use.
    The disappointment here is really the loss of the overreaching and ambition the developer has been known for. A Starbreeze fps without a conversation system, without optional areas, without stealth, without multiple paths and without a hub world? Can only be disappointing considering the pedigree of the developer.

  22. Ruffian says:

    No surprises here. I think we all knew it was gonna be a DX clone without the heart, or brain. Definitely skipping this turd. Also, the inches centi bit, really gave me a laugh.

    • Blackcompany says:

      So its like DXHR as designed by the Scarecrow and the Tin Man?

    • Inigo says:

      DXHR with Fear Gas would actually be pretty interesti- oh. Oh right.

  23. Inigo says:

    I suddenly have the urge to pay Tara Strong to repeatedly say the words “SELECTED. MINIGUN. UZI. PERSUADERTRON” in a flat monotone.

  24. diamondmx says:

    Wow. I really wasn’t expecting it to be dismal. I mean, it looks like a sure bet, thematically, conceptually… even a little bit of effort would make a pretty compelling experience.

    But this sounds just pathetically half-arsed.

    Thanks RPS, you saved me from giving Origin my money. This was the game that was about to push me over the edge.

  25. Inigo says:

    I still liked that other Agent a whole lot more in the trailer when it looked like he was giving the receptionist a cheerful wave after killing two security guards.

  26. Dervish says:

    I’m more interested in this game after hearing there are bosses that aren’t complete pushovers. A constant “sense that you’re a superhuman whirlwind of destruction” is the sense that a game is too easy.

  27. Jamesworkshop says:

    I wonder if the same fate will befall the X-com FPS, I never had any faith that this game would be good, but X-com maybe a 30% chance of being any good

    • DocSeuss says:

      Considering that XCOM is being made by 2K Marin, how could it be anything other than excellent?

  28. kibble-n-bullets says:

    I clicked on the coffee link. Then I clicked on the first link and some command prompt type page came up. Then I got frightened and ran away.

  29. Inigo says:

    I giggled at the end, but then I noticed it said Cayman.

  30. InternetBatman says:

    I would play the hell out of the My Little Pony game.

  31. Khemm says:

    So essentially, another “Fallout 3” scenario, great game beloved by many which received the “first person ADHD treatment”. Predicatable.

    Great review, by the way. Love the options!

    • Thants says:

      No, not really. Fallout 3 was as much of an RPG as the first two, despite being in first person. And I wouldn’t call it ADHD.

    • Khemm says:

      No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t even in the same galaxy when it comes to quality of Fallout 1 and 2. The gameplay was created with FPS fans in mind, console gamers wouldn’t touch it otherwise.

  32. Beelzebud says:

    If only people hadn’t treated Bethesda with kid’s gloves when they turned Fallout 3 into a first person shooter.

  33. medwards says:

    So, it turns out the writer is Richard Morgan who wrote such gems as Altered Carbon. I’m kind of disappointed because I had high hopes that you basically got to be the character in that novel and he kind of just goes around murdering people in generally awesome situations.

    • bagga says:

      Well, he also wrote Market Forces, which is probably the worst book I’ve ever read.

  34. Sunjammer says:

    Oh look at me, I’m a sarcastic disinterested gaming hipster having more fun tearing a game apart with nothing but subjective boredom than offer anything of actual usefulness.

    What a crap review, in every way. Just a boring read with little to say other than that you’re bored with life and maybe needs to take a break.

    The game is not bad. Every gun it gives you feels and looks fantastic to use, the cover system is intuitive and easy to get around without having you snap to cover in any which way, and the world they’ve made, well, if you’re going to praise the original Syndicate and piss all over this one, your aesthetic ideals are hopelessly skewed.

    The only, ONLY sin this game commits is to be modest in its ambition.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Aw look at you, packing in all the insults there but not reading even a single thing. You’re a cutey!

    • Sunjammer says:

      Nonsense, I read all of it and gnashed my teeth most of the way through. You make every obvious RPS-ey My My This Game Has Much Too Few Colors and Also It Was Not What I Wanted Thus It Is Bad complaint.

      If this site is guilty of one specific thing it’s the inability to appreciate a mainstream product for what it is. Your anguished cries for this thing to be More Like Syndicate are particularly grating. I came through the door with an open mind, and found an FPS that is as rock solid as any I’ve played in years, to the point where you can have a legitimately good time playing it on the highest difficulty setting; I haven’t played one of those since the original FEAR, yet here we have one, but OH POO IT IS LINEAR AND NOT THE SYNDICATE I WANTED.

      What exactly would BE like Syndicate, mr man, because I played that original to death and there were plenty enough in this one that reminded me of that one. It appears we remember different things; I remembered ruthlessness and ridiculous guns, and this game has both in abundance.

      It’s just such spoiled nonsense. For what Syndicate offers, which is a totally linear sci fi manshoot with mostly traditional weaponry, it is as good as they come, and better than most. Complaining about how the world doesn’t feel alive is the most moot comment imaginable in a game where the focus is squarely on putting bullets inside of things.

    • Bhazor says:

      “Best game since FEAR” Well there’s damning with faint praise.

      A solid shooter is indistinguishable from a mediocre shooter. To badly misquote international playboy Kieron Gillen “70% is what a shooter gets just for turning up on time”.

      Not being aggresively bad should not be grounds for high praise.

    • The Tupper says:

      ‘Hipster’ is not a term I readily associate with RPS journos.

    • Sarlix says:

      ‘TheTupper’ is not a term I readily associate with a respectable gentleman. It sounds like a venereal disease. “Oh no, I’ve got the tupper”

      On topic: Sunjammer – This is a Wot I think. A what he thought. And that’s what he thought. At least thats what I think. This isn’t Metacritic you know.

    • The Tupper says:

      Mr Sarlix:

      With prior attempts at civility having gone like spilled seed on the most acrid of loam I am left with little recourse but to reduce myself, however vexing it may be, to your level of rhetoric. In the interests of decorum, however, I would advise any members of the Fairer Sex who may have stumbled upon this electronic chronicle (perhaps whilst dusting their master’s apparatus) to avert their eyes:

      You, sir, are a blackguard. Yes, a BLACKGUARD I say! A rake of the lowest order! A veritable cur!

      And whilst, due to an uncharacteristic solecism, I reluctantly defer our previous intercourse (caused by a momentary distraction from Lapsworthy, my debentured gout scraper), I make one promise:

      I shall return!


    • Antsy says:

      Bravo! I tip my top hat to you Mr Tupper.

    • The Tupper says:


      How dare you. How DARE you!

      The very impertinence now reaches levels that even I, with ravaged experience of your mendacity, can hardly fathom! No doubt you make mendacious claim regarding my previous disclosure of a fondness for midnight swims and Grecian wrestling with young manservants, intending to colour such activities as something other than a wholesome desire to enjoy the fruits of youth.

      Why, I imagine it will not be long before you even have the audacity to suggest something untoward in the relationship between the good Mrs The Tupper and our extrinsic topiarist, Jamal!

      In order to thwart this anticipated attack, let me assure you in advance that the reciprocity of myself, Mrs The Tupper (and indeed our son, Yusuf) is beyond reproach.

      Begads, sir!


  35. Captain Hijinx says:

    As expected.

    A wasted opportunity.

  36. Gary W says:

    Waiting for the “Afghan Revolt” DLC.

  37. ArtyFishal says:

    It may be futile, but I’d urge people to disregard this review.

    This game is really fun. It nails what I want in an FPS: really good combat. This is the best FPS combat I’ve played since Crysis 2. It distinguishes itself through the weapons, interesting breaching abilities, and many boss fights. (Bosses! In an FPS! Yes!) Old school and kick ass, I hope there is a sequel that gives Starbreeze the resources to really go to town.

    It’s also genuinely challenging at the harder difficulty levels. This is a plus in my book.

    Co-op is amazing as well.

    My complaints: Great setting, but limited exploitation of it. Relentlessly grim story and world. This future is a little to distant to get attached to.

    As for Syndicate nostalgia: Go back and play that game, it really isn’t a deep RTS or very tactical. It’s a brutal, dystopic version of Canon Fodder with its distinguishing features being its shocking violence and cyberpunk setting. This game nails those features and is a worthy successor.

    • c-Row says:

      What I gathered from other reviews and videos is that it’s a solid shooter, but nothing outstanding. I guess I will still enjoy it more than all the CoD’s and Battefields of late.

      Also, +1 on your remarks about the original.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      RAGE also had standout shooting mechanics, but was that one worth paying $60 for too? Hell no.

      I prefer my games to have overall quality. From what I’ve seen of Syndicate, it’s lacking in a lot of areas.

  38. Vorrin says:

    wow, that second screenshot gives a new meaning to the word ‘hamfisted’, look at them porky roundy juicy fists

  39. Yosharian says:

    They (EA) don’t care, it’ll sell like hot cakes and they know it.

  40. MtotheThird says:

    Awww. :(

    From the gameplay videos and some of the comments I’d read, I was hoping for a competent shooter with a bit of Mirrors Edge and a lot of wub wub.

    I’d still like to see someone do a shooter that had good MEdge-style first person acrobatics.

  41. DocSeuss says:

    On one hand, Alec doesn’t like Alan Wake but likes Dear Esther, so I’m not sure I should trust him, because our tastes are quite different.

    On the other, Starbreeze, who has developed The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick.

    Wait, neither one of those is a bad thing.

    • NothingFunny says:

      Yeah I was expecting good things from Starbreeze, considering their track record.

  42. bhlaab says:

    1) Syndicate is Deus Ex: Human Revolution except completely different

  43. caddyB says:

    I like how he doesn’t like the game, but isn’t a dick about it. The reasons are clear, well thought and fair.

  44. Brun says:

    My friends have spent the last two days trying to convince me that Syndicate is actually a good game, and a lot of fun at that. They were absolutely incredulous at my reasons for not wanting to buy it.

    I weep for the future.

    • Gary W says:

      The solution: look for a nearby EA agent carrying a Persuadertron, and eliminate him.

    • DocSeuss says:

      Let me get this straight: your friends (and presumably you trust their opinions, because why else would you be their friend?) believe that this game, despite your expectations, is very good. You, who have not played it, do not believe it is any good, and believe this article backs you up. You’ve heard of confirmation bias, right?

    • Brun says:

      I believe that, while I have done a great deal to mature my friends’ taste in video games, they still get distracted by the odd mediocre shooter now and then.

      As for whether I’ve played it or not – I don’t think I need to. Unlike many people I know what I like, and based on both this review and the gameplay footage and screenshots, I know I will think it’s a bad game, regardless of any redeeming value that it might have that I could only see by playing it. The article only confirms what I suspected long before the game released.

  45. Enzo says:

    Like I said before, the singleplayer doesn’t matter in this game. It’s like singleplayer in BF3 or COD. Syndicate is all about the coop, which actually is a lot more like the old Syndicate. There’s research, a world map directly taken from the old game, upgrading your agent, mission from the old game, a team of four agents that are sometimes fighting with another agents. The coop in this game should really be a hit like L4D, except this one is better.

    • Enzo says:

      I also think that a lot of people remember Syndicate for being an amazing game or something. It wasn’t. It was an ok tactical action game, nothing more. This wasn’t X-com or anything like that, there’s no legacy to betray here.

    • bill says:

      it was an amazing tactical action game.

    • c-Row says:

      Just standing around in your starting zone, waiting for the enemy agents to rush over you – as they usually do on every map – isn’t tactical.

    • subedii says:

      Sorry Enzo, but I was only ever planning on getting this for the SP, and getting an awesome singleplayer game.

      I’ve just got too much other stuff going on multiplayer-wise to want one more MP game.

      And to be honest, They MADE the SP campaign, and they made it to be a core part of the release. It’s right to review it.

  46. Shooop says:

    Don’t forget the lens flare. The game won’t let you forget the lens flare. Ever.

    • cookie says:

      It was the bloom for me. YE GODS, THE BLOOM

      I was closing my eyes at the sheer power of some of the bloom.

      I wholeheartedly agree with Alec.

      The game isn’t bad. It’s just very half-arsed.

      I spent about 5 hours on it. I got up to the ‘choice’ moment and went…”Why should I make this choice, why do I give a rats ass about this character?”.

      A shallow game. Not a terrible game, just not a good game if you’re looking for something substantial.

  47. CaLe says:

    I like the world and I like the feel of the guns. I like the concept behind the brain chip hacking business too. It’s too bad it has no soul.

  48. jeep says:

    Syndicate is out now.

    the game being exclusive to origin should be a knock against it in your review imo

    same as with mass effect 3 and battlefield 3

    I buy stuff from all the download services but I really didn’t need another one, and none of us need ea vertically integrating while keeping the same crappy download-manually-install-and-restart dlc delivery process

    • Shooop says:

      Exclusive as in you can’t even get it from another store but activate it on Origin? Not even a physical copy? Must be downloaded from Origin only?

      Unless that’s the case, RPS never does that – they review the game alone and report on Origin being a steaming pile in separate articles.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      By exclusive to origin you mean origin is required and you can’t get it on steam. You can buy the game in store at other download places.

      I don’t like being forced to use clients to play games. But most of the games I buy are the disc version from a retailer and most of them still require Steam.

      I don’t see how requiring origin is any worse than requiring Steam or GFWL. If he mentioned it as a knock in his review, as you state. Then other games that require other services should be knocked down as well.

    • RobF says:

      “Only on Origin” may as well read “Does not exist” as far as I’m concerned.

      It’s like a big black void where games go to be ignored by me.

  49. Matzerath says:

    How much Keeffe?
    Miles O’Keeffe!

  50. KaptainKnails says:

    I came for a review of a cup of coffee. And I did not leave disappointed.

    • Sarlix says:

      Gosh, you must have low standards. The coffee review was terrible. The syndicate one though, pretty good.

      p.s You ever notice how people don’t use the word Gosh anymore?

    • The Tupper says:

      Mr dear Mr Sarlix:

      The word ‘gosh’ is a term used only by the feeble-minded and those of the very lowest breeding.

      If you require any further schooling in the finer arts of ejaculatory erudition, please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.



    • Sarlix says:

      Mister Tupper, you are like a thorn in my side, Sir. A stain on my Cravat. A crack in my Refractometer.

      After recent revelations about Sir Crispin I would have thought you would be content enough to enjoy your little ‘victory’ But this just goes to show what sort of class of person you are. Simian, quite simian.

      It amuses me to observe your own grammatical, mishap shall we call it? Using a honorific twice in the first line of your correspondence. No doubt you will endeavor to alter this and disavow any suggestion of its existence. Alas you cannot fool me, Tupper. You are the Moriarty to my Holmes. And henceforth any further provocations from you will result in my Burlington dueling pistols being dismounted from their display case and given a thorough oiling. That is to suggest violent actions on my behalf.

      Do not task me, Sir!