Syndicate (2012 video game)
|Writer(s)||Richard K. Morgan|
Syndicate is a first-person shooter video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is a reboot of the Syndicate series developed by Bullfrog Productions, changing the genre from a tactical shooter to a first-person shooter.
In the game, the player can carry two weapons and grenades. Due to the player character's DART 6 bio-chip (voiced by Kath Soucie), the player's vision gets extended by augmented reality, allowing him to see the digital world overlaid onto the real. Furthermore the chip allows access to the "Dartspace" data network which allows the player to see enemies through walls via their connection to the network and slows down time. The player also can hack into the minds of enemies through this data network, called "breaching", where players can force three options on the enemy; "Suicide" where the enemy kills themselves and damages nearby foes, "Persuade" where the enemy temporarily becomes the player's ally, or "Backfire" where the enemy's weapon blows up, stunning them.
A four-player co-operative mode has been confirmed, with a separate campaign based on missions from the original game. Syndicate will not use an online pass for the co-op modes. EA Partners executive producer Jeff Gamon stated that "If the game had included a competitive mode, it would have had an online pass. But because it didn't have competitive multiplayer and because we wanted as many people as possible to be playing co-op, we got away with it." He also stated that he wanted "as little resistance or barriers to entry as possible."
Multiplayer games take place in sequenced segments, with resupply points where the next segment begins. After completion, a player is promoted by experience points, which are received for kills, healing squadmates, and completing mission objectives. Certain enemies can also be "chip-ripped" to receive additional bonuses. Also acquired are research points, which can be applied to learn weapon upgrades, and programming changes to the Agent's individual powers.
In 2017, the Eurocorp mega-corporation is born after the world's largest corporations merge. In 2025, Eurocorp releases the DART chip, a neural implant that allows users to access the dataverse, making most electronic devices obsolete. As a result of the DART chip, the world is no longer ruled by governments, but by large mega-corporations known as "Syndicates". However, only half of this world's population embraces the chip, while the "unchipped" are abandoned and denied the same benefits afforded by their chipped counterparts. Furthermore, corporate espionage and corporate warfare for dominance between Syndicates becomes the norm, resulting in the creation of "Agents": bio-engineered enforcers augmented by a militarized version of the chip who protect the interests of their corporate masters.
In 2069, Agent Miles Kilo, EuroCorp's latest agent equipped with the new prototype DART 6 chip created by Eurocorp scientist Lily Drawl (voiced by Rosario Dawson). After a successful test run of the chip's abilities, EuroCorp CEO Jack Denham (voiced by Brian Cox) assigns him to kill Lily's counterpart at the rival Aspari syndicate. Accompanied by his mentor Agent Jules Merit (voiced by Michael Wincott), Kilo attacks the Los Angeles branch of Aspari and corners Chang, who shoots himself. Kilo then retrieves his chip. Kilo also learns from an encrypted conversation that Lily has been sharing information with Chang on creating the DART 6 chip. After fighting off the West Meld Solutions security forces and an Aspari agent, Kilo and Merit escape and return to Eurocorp's New York HQ, but Merit is seriously injured in the process.
Although shocked by Lily's betrayal, Denham decides to have Kilo and Merit keep Lily under surveillance as she is too valuable to simply eliminate. As they observe her in her apartment, Lily has an angry conversation with a person named Kris before she is suddenly kidnapped by the Cayman-Global syndicate. Kilo fights off the Cayman-Global forces and follows Lily's abductors by catching a ride on one of their transports to their floating base in the Atlantic Ocean. Kilo kills a major Cayman-Global agent and rescues Lily, and they learn the syndicate is preparing a war against Eurocorp.
Back in New York, Kilo and Lily land in the Downzone, where the unchipped lower class population lives. As the two of them split up and head towards Eurocorp HQ, Kilo is apparently betrayed by Lily, and is set into a trap with EMP mines, severely injuring him and disabling his chips. After his chips are back online, Kilo is given orders to either capture or kill Lily. After fighting off the Subverters, Kilo learns that their leader Kris, Lily's ex-boyfriend and colleague, is responsible for instigating a war between the Syndicates. Kris reveals that he started the war so he could hack into the Dataverse and kill the Syndicates and their chipped population as punishment for abandoning the unchipped. However, Lily is against the idea, and she wants to find a peaceful solution to make the Syndicates care about the un-chipped population. Eventually, Kilo fights Kris, which ends with Kris attempting to suicide bomb Kilo. Kilo apprehends Lily, and (depending on the player's choice) can kill her or let her go. If Kilo tries to kill her, a kill switch installed to prevent exactly that stops him, and if Kilo lets her go, he is stunned by a grenade, severely injuring him. Either way, Lily is captured, and a barely living Kilo is retrieved.
At Eurocorp New York HQ, Denham and Merit believe Kilo is brain-dead and send him to be rebooted while they plan to retrieve Lily's chip for any useful information on DART 6. Kilo soon begins to remember his secret past: he learns that Denham led a Eurocorp team to kill his parents and abduct him as a baby, as he had the perfect genes to become an Agent. Now knowing the truth, Kilo escapes from his restraints and rescues Lily. As Lily heals Kilo's injuries, she reveals that all of Eurocorp's agents like him and Merit were abducted as children because of their prospective genetic compatibility, and their memories were modified so that they would remain loyal to Eurocorp. Lily created the DART 6 chip in hopes of using it to make the Syndicates retain their humanity and care about both chipped and un-chipped civilians, the victims of their wars, but she realizes she was naive in thinking so.
Kilo and Lily head towards Denham's office to prevent him from activating the kill switch on their DART chips as Cayman-Global attacks Eurocorp's New York HQ. Kilo has to fight off both Eurocorp and Cayman-Global forces, as well as several Eurocorp agents. Once he reaches the top of the tower, Kilo is forced to fight Merit and two other agents, Agent Strong and Agent Webb, who are under Denham's orders to kill him. Kilo defeats the two agents and finally overpowers Merit, beating him to death. Kilo then heads towards Denham's office, only to find that Denham has activated his kill switch, which starts to affect Kilo's movements. As a weakened Kilo confronts Denham, Denham justifies abducting him when he was a child by claiming he gave him a better life in order to realize his full potential and how the Syndicates are making the world better. As the kill switch slowly takes over Kilo's body, Denham gloats on destroying the slums. However, Kilo manages to fight back against the kill switch order and corners Denham. Left with no escape, Denham lets himself fall over a ledge to his death. Lily arrives and reveals to Kilo that she lied about Denham being able to kill them, as she was using him to distract Denham in order to free both of them from Eurocorp's control. Now a free man and with Eurocorp in ruins, Kilo is given a pistol from Lily, who tells him it is now up to him to decide what he wants to do next.
- Miles Kilo is an agent working for Eurocorp. He is different from other agents, as he has no special abilities like other agents, such as accelerated speed or jumping, and projections, but because of this, his body works with the DART overlay and modifications better. Working with his mentor Merit, he is used by Eurocorp to stop rival syndicates from interfering with them. Near the end of the game, Miles discovers he (and all other syndicate agents) had his mind changed to make a false past for him, and learns Eurocorp killed his parents for him and his genes. In various intelligence items, it is learned that he is 19, but due to growth acceleration, his body and mind are at the age of 27.
- Jules Merit is a senior agent of Eurocorp. He supervises Kilo throughout his time with Eurocorp, and frequently goes on missions with him. In his file, it shows he is a borderline psychopath, and that is used by Eurocorp to map out his targets and missions. This can also be shown through his blatant disregard for civilian casualties at the near start of the game. Merit is injured from a chip feedback, and spends a large portion of the game recuperating. After Kilo is captured/recovered, he is sent to deal with Lily's uprising, and defeated by Kilo, who after confronting Merit in a fiery shoot out, beats him to death.
- Lily Drawl is a senior member of Eurocorp. Lily manages both Merit and Kilo, and is in charge of their welfare when the two are not on missions. Kilo and Eurocorp learn that Lily is a member of the Resistance against Eurocorp, and they plan what to do with her, but she is kidnapped before anything can happen. After being recovered, she sends Kilo to a different path than she is on, leading him into a trap, where he is nearly killed and she escapes. After finding her, Kilo and she are captured by Eurocorp, where Merit tortures her for a brief time. In the end, she and Kilo destroy Eurocorp, with their lives after that being ambiguous.
Syndicate has received generally positive reviews from critics. Giant Bomb awarded Syndicate 5/5 stars and praised the weaponry and interesting world, as well as its co-operative mode. IGN gave the game a 7.5 and praised the game's co-op, shooting, and "Breach" mechanics as fast-paced and original, while criticizing the single-player campaign for presenting interesting shooting scenarios juxtaposed with generic, repetitive, and aggravating boss-fights. GameTrailers gave it an 8.2, citing the gameplay as fun and innovative, but reacted negatively towards its predictable conclusion, and short six-hour campaign. Edge awarded the game a score of 6/10, criticising its generic mechanics, linear level structures, and conventional mission objectives. However, Edge concluded that despite this lack of "imagination and ambition", the game's shooting was still praiseworthy: "You'll do nothing that you haven't done before. You’re unlikely to have done it in this much style, though."
Many players have criticized the light bloom effect used in the game, occasionally obscuring the player's view during gameplay. Some unofficial solutions for the bloom effect problem involve using the developer console (on the PC version of the game) to manually adjust the game's graphics settings.
In an interview with Computer and Video Games, Frank Gibeau of EA, told the website that the Syndicate revival had not been as successful as had been hoped. "Syndicate was something that we took a risk on. It didn't pay off—it didn't work." In a recent interview with Edge, Mikael Nermark, CEO of Swedish video game developer Starbreeze Studios, stated that the game sold a total of 150,000 copies worldwide.
On 20 December 2011, it was reported that Syndicate has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board. The board was especially critical of what it considered as the game's excessive violence, pointing out explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, exposed flesh and bone from injuries, and copious blood spray. EA Australia has announced that they won't be appealing the decision or changing the game to meet the Board's concerns—in the process complaining about what it felt to be Australia's "arcane censorship on games"—and that Syndicate would be released on schedule and uncut in New Zealand with an adults-only rating.
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