Syndicate – Game Review (Leads to a bit of a Rant)

At the weekend I purchased the new Syndicate game for my Playstation 3, at the not inconsiderable cost of £40.

I have a few things to say about not only this game but a general trend that seems to be spreading over the computer games world.

But first, a review.

Syndicate is an FPS reimagining of a classic small unit strategy game.  This game, despite its name, is actually the 3rd in the series.  The original Syndicate found here:  was a squad based game that put you in command of a team of 4 Agents working for one of the Syndicates (mega corporations that now run the world).  Your job was to blow up other syndicates, steal stuff, brainwash civilians etc.  It was awesome.  There was an expansion for that game and eventually a sequel that expanded on the conflict and gave us a really interesting and kick ass world.

Then there was nothing for a long time.

At the end of last year an announcement trailer was put out for a New Syndicate game, it looked very stylised, had an awesome soundtrack provided by Skrillex and the story was written by Richard Morgan (who is an amazing author who I will talk about more in an upcoming post on books).  Despite my misgivings about the game moving from 3rd person squad based & tactical to 1st person FPS I was sold.

Last week it came out and I brought it.

So here are my thoughts…..

The game is quite pretty, not as striking as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but definitely true to its stylistic origins.  The guns are suitably groovy and possess multiple fire modes, this leads to the combat which is fun and quite well executed, although it doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a traditional FPS for a cover based shooter.  The breech combat hacks make for some interesting options in a fight and there is an upgrade path available to customise your abilities and add more funky stuff.

The boss fights are quite well executed; more Skrillex soundtrack mojo makes the boss fights feel properly action move badass.

The story is quite interesting but compared to Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes off as a bit lacklustre.

That said, now the bad, the game is far far too short, especially for its £40 price tag, I completed it the same day I purchased it.  I’m getting fed up of games doing this, if you are going charge me £40 for the game there should be a minimum of a weekends worth of playtime in it.

The problem with the extremely short nature of the story is that you only get to pick maybe ¼ of the available upgrades and I finished the game feeling both cheated and disappointed.

I got to the final scene in the game and was genuinely shocked when it ended, surely there was a whole other half of the game somewhere that took the story to its logical conclusion.  Yes there is a multiplayer but I don’t accept that as being an excuse for a 6-8 hour single player campaign, I can accept the single player being less polished and less of a focus for things like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 3 where they are all about the multiplayer, that is not the case here.

Basically it’s a really good half of a game and if the other half had actually been done then it would have been brilliant.

Graphics:             6/10       Quite pretty but not exceptional
Gameplay:          6/10       Fun but far too short
Value:                   3/10       £40 for a game I can finish in an afternoon is not good value.

Final Score 5/10

It’s definitely worth playing the game but I wouldn’t rush out and buy it immediately, either pick it up used or wait for it to appear in a sale somewhere.

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