Exploring Corporate Espionage with the Syndicate
Velocity Gamer has a lot of different personalities and if you’ve followed us for awhile, you’ll notice that certain writers here like certain games because we are gamers, first and foremost. If you’ve just started following Velocity Gamer, you’ll learn fast that I like first person shooters and that I talk/post about them A LOT.
It’s a disease, I suppose, frowned upon among indie devs (I can love your independent games too even with less explosions!). One of my first games included Goldeneye 64 and I guess that genre just stuck. There was something about putting myself into the shoes of a hero, anti-hero, menace, or soldier that was just damn fun. As long as I know what’s right in the real world, there’s no harm in having a little fun, as long as it stays in the room.
As most of you know, I post a lot of multiplayer news and it mostly pertains to my favorite genre, that being first person shooters! Playing through Call of Duty after Call of Duty, finally landing on Modern Warfare 3 and loving it, hasn’t kept me from getting worn out on first person shooters altogether and I might just hang up the towel, as far as buying them. Battlefield strikes me just as much but that’s mainly because I played both way too much and they’ve been around way too long in way too many iterations. So I started looking for something fresh, new, satisfying, and a new setting wouldn’t hurt.
I follow GiantBomb a lot, a popular video game site, and most of you that pay attention to video game journalism may recognize the name Jeff Gerstman. This isn’t an editorial to praise him, but to show you how Jeff helped me pick out a new game that adds much needed flair to the genre; I pay attention to the games he likes.
One of these games was the Syndicate, a spin-off/reboot from a 1993 real time strategy game that put you in control of cyborg agents. These cyborg agents worked for corporations, protecting their interests by whatever means necessary. The 2012 reboot turned the game into a first person shooter, adding more narrative with beautiful visuals, interesting mechanics, and satisfying gun play. This is just a short overview of the series and the new game; I won’t lecture you about Syndicate for the whole piece, I promise, stay with me.
Getting to the meat; Syndicate is a breath of fresh air from the multi-billion dollar first person shooter franchises we all know of today and I couldn’t be more happier. You’re still playing as a super-soldier of sorts; you kick ass and take names, with the twist being corporate espionage. The interesting thing about this game for me is the narrative and the mechanics that support it. If you were to tell me about this game without seeing any video on it, though, I don’t think you’d still have me after “corporate”.
You play as an agent implanted with a chip that lets you interface with electronics in the environment, be it enemies with chips implanted in them, doors, air bikes, etc… This adds a really cool layer of game play. Instead of just shooting willy nilly, I need to think a little before I rush in. I might have to hack an enemy’s shield before I can take his armor out and fend off hoards of enemies while doing it. The DART overlay highlights objects of interest in the environment and slows down time to aid me. Strategy meets with shooting which means thinking may be required before you go in guns ablazing.
Your HUD will prompt you for any interactions whether its hacking shields or a door. The player can also manipulate enemies and their equipment such as persuading or backfiring their guns. Your abilities may not always be available, though. Certain enemy types can block your chips effectiveness or lack of clean-up will keep your adrenaline low. The solution is shooting dudes, but they’re bad people, so it’s OK. After that, proceed with your regularly scheduled ass-kicking, whether its hand to hand combat or sniping fools. Spend points gained from stolen chips from the defeated and upgrade your agent with new abilities and other augments.
I can’t say Fresh enough. If you’ve played all the first person shooters that I have and then play this, you’d say the same. Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Battlefield, the list goes on. Sure, there are the James Bond and Brother’s in Arms games, but as far as the setting goes, the only differentiation comes from game play, which is, more or less, conventional. Not a bad thing! I’m just worn out of the conventional, and I’m only 21 years old! I love those games but I’d bet I wouldn’t get sick of them if we had more games like Syndicate to play with.
I’m not even done with this game but I can tell you that it might be a little tough to pull me away from it for a CoD or Battlefield session. The co-op component is intriguing and from what I’ve seen of it on Giantbomb, I’m probably going to fall in love with it just as I did when I picked up my first game in the genre. Syndicate will be my go to game when I just want to play something fun, because I’ll get that breath of fresh air no matter how many times I play it. Maybe I’ve just fallen for cyber-punk games all of a sudden or maybe I just needed a change of setting, but I’d like to think that I got some of you thinking about picking up Syndicate.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve played any game from the Syndicate series and let me know what you think of it. And if you’ve played the 2012 reboot that I’m playing now, let me know what you think of that game (especially if you like it and play co-op on the Xbox 360).
If you’d like to find out more about the game, check out an excellent review on it at OnlySP