Syndicate is a creative first-person shooter that uses its futuristic setting and breaching abilities to create some memorable moments.
Set in the year 2069 where there’s 15 billion people and most of them have chip implants inside their heads, Syndicate puts you in the shoes of augmented agent Miles Kilo who finds himself in the middle of a war between corporations. Luckily, the one-man army has a chip implanted in his brain as well and access to some of the most advanced weapons.
Unlike its predecessor (the original Syndicate was a strategy game,) this is a tactical first-person shooter and this time around, you can jump, run, dash and hide behind covers instead of controlling a team of cyborgs in an isometric perspective. As you progress through the game, you gain access to different weapons, including a pistol, a machine gun, rocket launchers and some futuristic weapons like laser rifles that are useful to defeat enemies, as well as the bosses that have unique abilities.
Up until this point, Syndicate gives the impression of being a generic first-person shooter. Luckily, this is where the DART-6 chip comes into play: the implant grants you hacking and breaching abilities which highlights items, collectibles and enemies via a HUB. Additionally, the chip lets you hack enemies and control their actions so you can cause their weapons to malfunction, persuade them to fight for you and even cause enemies to kill themselves. As it’s usually the came with most modern shooters, there are some role-playing elements: there’s a skill tree where you can purchase passive abilities which reduce the damage taken, regenerates health, allows invulnerability, activates double ammunition and so on. Whenever a new power is introduced, you’re sent to virtual battlegrounds to test it. This is presented in the form of challenges where you need to make use of a specific ability to try and eliminate as many enemies as possible.
Most battles are electrifying not only because there are several guns and powers at your disposal, but also because the enemies put up a good fight when they come in hordes. The best part about the encounters is that you need to figure out how to use the tools at hand to bring down the enemies which adds a layer of complexity to the traditional first-person shooter formula. Some of the boss fights are quite inventive, since you need to combine your abilities with your weapons and in some specific cases, you don’t even need to shoot a bullet to defeat them which offers a nice pace of change and a challenge for pacifist players.
Apart from the main story, you can also play a cooperative mode where you need to complete a series of objectives with other players. Although your performance is graded individually and you receive skill points that you use to upgrade abilities or weapons, you’re always working towards the same goal. Personally, I found the experience of playing with random people not that satisfying because unless you’re all using voice chat, it’s almost impossible to organize strategies on the go. The ideal way of playing Syndicate’s coop mode is with a couple of friends who have microphones and are willing to work together.
In the end, Syndicate is a creative first-person shooter that uses its futuristic setting and dystopian universe to create some memorable moments. The cooperative mode can be uninspired and bland and you can finish the single-player campaign in an afternoon, but when you’re running and gunning, combining abilities in creative new ways and learning boss patterns, Syndicate is an eminently entertaining shooter.