In this sequel to the original “Syndicate”, Bullfrog Studios takes the fantastic William Gibson/Mario Puzo/Bladrunner sandwich it cooked up for the original game and serves it up in an immersive 3D environment…and manages to up the mayhem as well.
This time you’re given the option of choosing between the classic, corporate death brigade of the original and the fanatical Church of the New Epoch. One kills for money, and the other kills for its esoteric techno-religion……and money. Both offer different flavors of the same tools, weapons and tactics, and both adopt the formula of “four cloaked, cybernetically enhanced, juiced up kill clones running through the streets blowing up buildings and pedestrians” as a means to their socio-economic goals.
Brainwashing crowds of civilians into picking up weapons and causing mass havoc, only to distract the hordes of police in flying assault vehicles as you casually place C4 charges around the base of a corporate building to eradicate a pesky CEO, is an action you can take MULTIPLE TIMES throughout this game. In other words…best game ever.
Between accepting missions that send your minions out to assassinate, kidnap, steal and destroy, you’re managing a full R&D division, developing and reverse-engineering technologies such as new cybernetic enhancements, weapons and tools.
There are several levels of advancement for each cybernetic upgrade you can give your kill-goons. Leg enhancements for faster runners. Optic and Neural upgrades to make them better shots. Internal torso armor so they can take
a barrage of small arms fire from a police brigade and survive to return fire.
In addition to the cybernetic goodies you can add, each of your recruits also has particular tolerance levels set for several neuron-chemicals. You can up the juice to give a character a boost in speed or accuracy, but you’ll need to keep an eye on their levels to make sure they don’t grow a tolerance to the particular chemical, and thus crash when the level is normal.
As if having two warring factions running amok in Neuromancer-esque megalopolises wasn’t enough, Bullfrog has upped the aggression of the municipal police forces as well, and added a few well-armed, roving street gangs just to add a bit more chaos to any mission.
I loved the original “Syndicate” and it’s expansion “American Revolt”, but this fantastic sequel manages to outshine both of them. With a fully 3D environment and camera rotation, there are no more blind spots behind buildings or pillars. Character AI has been greatly improved. And there’s just not much that’s better than the complete havoc that one creates for a “Mission Complete” screen. Tons of fun!