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Posted by on Jan 30, 2012

Preview: Syndicate – Bizznizz is war

Preview: Syndicate – Bizznizz is war

Syndicate is a franchise jealously guarded by the old school, when news of the reboot was released many (myself included) doubted it could possibly live up to the originals – well, yesterday I was proved wrong.

I’ve had several rounds now on different levels of Syndicate’s four player multiplayer which has become vastly more polished, I can say with great confidence that this will be Syndicate’s secret weapon. Aside from being an incredibly solid experience what it does best is recapture the essence of the original – and it does this with tactics and terror.

Sat there with my SteelSeries headphones on (too early to hint for these as a valentine’s day present?) I was reminded of the kind of chaos you’d hear on a Battlefield 3 match. Screams of terror from cowering guards, barked orders from your team and the thundering chatter of machine guns – Syndicate is an audio feast which is somewhat appropriate given how infamous its Skrillex penned trailer soundtrack has become.

Comparisons with Battlefield don’t end there however, each map on the multiplayer felt like a game of “rush” as your agents scrabbled to hold or destroy objectives, hacking door points to proceed further in the level or deactivate impassable gun turrets that threaten to cut you down to ribbons. These stages can’t be blundered through – the AI is way too smart for you, satisfyingly so as you increase your difficulty, speed runs will become the stuff of legend as you franticly try to counteract being flanked and struggle to “reboot” your team. It’s been a long time since I’ve been pinned behind cover in an FPS and hand to turn to the player next to me and ask him to bail me out – this is how intense an experience Syndicate is!

Run and gun battles are the order of the day but even with the best developed battle plans the enemy will constantly keep you on your feet, it’s unlikely that you’ll play out levels in the same way twice. This is especially true when the feared bosses come into play. For all the mercenary goons and hired thugs you’ll fight their ranks are bolstered by high ranking officers sporting advanced equipment (the nature of which is still under embargo, sorry), you’ll come to dread sightings of these, they evoke the classic fear of the “end of level boss” – each encounter is genuinely challenging they in turn bring out the best of the multiplayer experience, taking down each boss requires planning and communication, heroics will see you cut down and member short – the last thing your team needs! Upping the difficulty bolsters the enemy’s ranks with additional troop types (and a few surprises).

There are multiple ways to tackle these levels and a great many rewards to reap, including upgrades for your agent if you snag enough loot, all the more incentive to push on through the co-op. the sci-fi flourishes only accentuate what is already a slick and accomplished FPS. When I cast back my mind to the original 16bit my memories are of carefully setting up ambushes, watching everything come together with a cacophony of explosions and gunfire, I’d say 2012’s Syndicate carries on that grand tradition just fine.

A demo of Syndicate is available to play from tomorrow (31 January) – so make sure you check it out!

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