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Syndicate review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £27
inc VAT

Nothing ground-breaking, but ticks most of the FPS boxes and the online co-op mode is fun

The original Syndicate was Bullfrog’s seminal isometric strategy game. Set in an urban nightmare where all-powerful corporations control the populace with the Chip, a brain implant that makes them docile and easy to manipulate, its dystopian future was realised with great attention to detail – right down to the Blade Runner-style animated billboards.

2012’s Syndicate, instead of being a lovingly-made remake with upgraded graphics and fixes for the original game’s laughably bad AI pathfinding, is instead a loosely-based reboot – a first-person-shooter with more than a hint of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.


You are a Syndicate agent, as in the original, with a chip plugged into your brain stem. This lets you interact with the outside world to an unprecedented degree, hacking everything from computer terminals and gas pipes to the brains of those around you. With the whole world networked to some degree, you can pretty much hack anything.

At first, the sheer sensory overload can be hard to deal with, as every object, from corpses to beer bottles, has a label and status from the chip readout floating in front of your eyes. You soon learn to tune out the noise, though, and concentrate on spotting the bright white outlines of objects that can be hacked. Obvious hacking targets such as doors and gun turrets will be familiar to anyone who has played Deus Ex, but you’ll also find yourself hacking cooling systems to raise vents that provide cover or persuading computerised valves to spray liquid nitrogen over temperature-sensitive glass.


For the most part, you’ll be using these remote-control abilities to give yourself the edge in combat. Your three main skills – Suicide, Backfire and Persuade – make the weapons in your enemies’ hands explode, force them to turn their guns on their comrades or even themselves. Each ability uses adrenaline, which is gained from killing enemies.

Combined with a limited-use overlay mode which slows time to a crawl and highlights enemies in ghostly orange, combat is generally satisfying, even though most of the time you’re just gunning down enemy grunts. Sometimes you’ll come across a particularly tough shielded enemy soldier or agent, and will need to quickly hack their shields down before filling them full of lead.


The variety of weapons on offer increases the fun factor, as even the standard assault rifle has a special high-power mode which can punch through light cover. Later on you’ll gain access to lasers flamethrowers and guns that can shoot round corners.

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