After an incredibly impressive debut, I was pretty psyched for Electronic Arts’ and Starbreeze’s new Syndicate game, a revival of the old cyberpunk-themed Bullfrog franchise that Peter Molyneux once lorded over. But upon downloading the demo, first impressions were not great. The intro movie is choppy and compressed to all hell (probably to keep the demo size within reasonable limits) and upon finding a match to fight in, the demo hard-locked the console. And yes, you had to sign a EA-provided EULA before playing the demo. Thankfully, things got better from there.
Syndicate is, and brace yourself, Modern Warfare 3 with a splash of Deus Ex. I’ve never owned a Starbreeze game before (The Chronicles of Riddick: Butcher Bay, The Darkness), but it’s obvious that these guys are really good at presentation (the interface in the shot above alone reminds me heavily of Bizarre Creation’s Blur). While most of the game feels like any fast-paced modern military shooter, there are a few more levels involved that the demo doesn’t waste any time elaborating on. Needless to say, your first run-throughs will be learning experiences. As you gain points, you can unlock new abilities via a grid-like talent tree. You have access to several classes to start, but I didn’t notice their skill differences.
The co-op mode, as presented in this demo, is essentially a four-player raid. You march through levels, gather up at specific points to advance, complete secondary objectives along the way, and play healers and DPS’s, leading to many cries for ‘reboot!’ when your party gets wiped. Communication is obviously encouraged, but was never excised while I played, aside from the communal kick option when a player couldn’t keep up.
The level presented is a flat gray and if the action weren’t so interesting and the chokepoints so well designed, it probably would’ve been a loss. There’s plenty of cover-to-cover moments while a special view on the right bumper allows you to scope baddies quicker. A score system pops up with points whenever you kill, heal, or complete special objectives with a running leaderboard keeping the competition tight and moment to moment.
Things are honestly looking good for Syndicate and while the demo could’ve presented things better, there’s still plenty of fun to be had here.