Syndicate Review

By Ashley Woodcock, 6 years ago
After having a terrible battle with some of the buggy achievements from Crytek and EA's Crysis 2, I have to admit, the thought of even looking at Syndicate was not putting a smile on my face. I personally have a very healthy love-hate relationship going on with most EA-affiliated titles as most of us do, but I have to admit, Syndicate has made me a very happy man. After experiencing 32 hours worth of interesting campaign gameplay, and having a ton of fun with the game's pretty intense four-player co-op missions alongside Rustybroom, I don't want to hand this game back to DavieMarshall!

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Syndicate is a science fiction title which sees the player taking on the role of Agent Miles Kilo. The game is based in America and kicks off in the year 2069 where the world is no longer controlled by governments. Huge corporations known as "Syndicates" rule the population of America now, and Kilo works for one of these corporations known as Eurocorp. In 2025, Eurocorp releases the DART chip, "a neural chip implant that allows users to access the dataverse and makes most electronic devices obsolete". After this extremely advanced technology is unleashed upon the world, only around half of the world's population accept the new DART chip with open arms (or should I say open heads!). This resulted in the chipless half being "rendered obsolete, out of mind and out of sight", and forced to live in what has become the slums, known as the Downzone. With these massive corporations each holding tremendous value, agents are created, installed with more advanced chips than that of a standard citizen, to protect their Syndicate's interest by any means necessary. Kilo, who comes freshly implanted with the even more advanced prototype DART 6 chip, is at a higher level than most of his enemies and fellow agents and comes off as more of a Mace Windu-authority kind of guy.

After a successful test run of the newly installed chip, Eurocorp CEO, Jack Denham, sends Kilo and fellow Agent, Jules Merit, on a mission to eliminate an Aspari Corporation Scientist known as Gary Chang. Chang has developed a chip similar to the almighty DART 6, this serves as a huge threat to Eurocorp as rival corporation Aspari could get the upper-hand in DART chip research. Besides just eliminating targets such as Chang, other enemy Agents implanted with superior chips can be eliminated and also have their chips extracted straight from their heads.

Syndicate is a reboot of the series developed by Bullfrog Productions. Having not played any of the older titles from the series, this was a fresh trip into the world of Syndicate for me. The game offers a single-player campaign and up to four player co-op mode, I started straight with the campaign on normal difficulty.


The campaign is very impressive, the story is interesting and the action is full-on and fast-paced. Taking cover plays a very important role constantly throughout the game and doesn't take long to get used to. The cover system is very fluid, quick and easy to use.

The game offers a decent variety of weapons, including the likes of snipers, smgs, assault rifles, pistols, grenades and much more. The player gets to carry a main primary weapon and a pistol (swappable for another primary weapon), along with a couple of grenades (more frags can be carried in co-op). A good combo of different weapons made for some laughable kills during my co-op experience as soldiers had their heads shot off, necks broken and entire bodies gibbed by the very pleasing rocket launcher.

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The main feature of the title has to be the DART chip system, which allows Kilo to see through cover and execute DART commands, known as breaches, such as Suicide, Persuade and Backfire. These features systematically mess up the enemy's chip and influence them to perform the above actions. The DART overlay mode also slows down time in single-player, allowing for the player to take time for more precise shots or to make a quick getaway from a sticky situation. These features make for great tactical play during battles with the enemy and come to be very appreciated once the meter for the DART overlay mode runs out. The meter fills back up slowly each time after depletion but thankfully, the player can purchase upgrades to extend the period of time the mode can be used for, amongst other upgrades such as extra health or the ability to carry extra ammo. Points are awarded for kills, headshots, kill streaks and perfect breaches, and go towards the DART chip's abilities, as well as the overall score for each mission.

Co-op Mutiplayer:

No competitive multiplayer is to be found here, just the co-op multiplayer where up to four players can dive into the action together. In co-op, players can create their very own Syndicate and compete for top scores on the leaderboards against other Syndicates. The different Syndicates don't physically fight against each other, the competion takes place through points earned for each mission.

A decent amount of maps are available to choose from as each one offers different mission objectives for teams to complete. Some of the missions require all enemies to be eliminated, eventually leading on to very intense four vs. four battles against advanced enemy agents. Other missions come across as more of a Capture the Flag style mode, where agents need to find and extract a certain number of cases holding important items or information, all whilst taking on swarms of enemy soldiers. The co-op missions can actually be played solo, but I personally advise not going down this path. To be successful in these missions, heavy teamwork is required as teammates will constantly need to heal and revive each other.

Thanks to the DART system, players can heal each other from long ranges so long as a line of sight is available to the other teammate. Once a player goes down, they can walk extremely slowly to try and escape the line of fire. But in order to be revived, a fellow agent has to initiate a reboot within close range of the downed player. The cool thing with the reboot and what some players may not realise, is that once the reboot has been initiated, the reviving player can run off into cover and away from the player so long as the LB button is held down to keep the link going.


Enemies come in a few varieties and different numbers depending on the difficulty setting for each mission. The stronger enemies such as Sergeants and enemies wearing liquid or extra-layered armour suits require breaching before they can receive damage. Having played many of the co-op missions solo whilst hoping players would join, these tougher enemies can take some time to deal with. If more than one agent is breaching an enemy's armour then the time taken to breach is reduced significantly.

Upgrades are available as like in the campaign, for better and improved features towards health, DART overlay mode and player movements such as stamina and speed. Co-op mode also features an XP system allowing players to rank up and unlock research and blueprint tokens. These allow for upgrades to be purchased and unlocked through earning points towards each individual research and weapon blueprint. This adds an incentive to keep gamers playing and fight through missions to unlock goodies for their favourite weapons and DART applications such as Backfire. The DART system comes with different breach options in co-op, including shielding, EMP, Squad Heal and many more. With weapon and DART breach options available for the player, agents can choose a role that suits them. Classes can be saved and renamed and players get their own logo for other players to view in-game after joining a Syndicate.


Starting off on a normal playthrough of the campaign, the action is quiet gentle but still pretty intense. The controls are simple and easy to get used to and directions on basic manoeuvres are given throughout the first milestone (chapter) of the game. As Kilo eventually learns the DART abilities such as Persuade and Suicide, the game takes a break from the campaign action and the player is taken into a short tutorial level and given the chance to master the art of each DART breach. If not satisfied with your own performance whilst training with each breach, the option to restart the tutorial simulation is given before taking the exit.

Battling enemies is very enjoyable. Despite lacking just a bit more variety for enemies, the different ways to kill or influence their deaths kept me entertained. The simple method of just staying in cover and then shooting the hell out of the enemy at the right time soon has to change slightly. Enemies with impenetrable armour are soon met through the campaign, fully equipped with a decent shotgun or a minigun and a liquid form of armour meaning bullets are rendered useless and the DARTS breaching system has to come into play.

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Doing battle with the bosses was fun and challenging. One battle consisted of me running from cover to cover, at the same time using the DART system to raise servers and other obstacles for cover, whilst I had to constantly judge the best angles to pop out and unleash a clip for the boss.

I particularly enjoyed hacking turrets, successful hacks turned them into friendly killing machines, which annihilated any enemies within range. One turret, quite far into the campaign, can be breached and made to follow and defend you as you progress through the level. Unfortunately this was just a one-time appearance from the turret itself but I quite enjoyed having a little sidekick kicking ass while hovering alongside me. Besides a brief tag-team with fellow Eurocorp employee, Lily Drawl, Kilo is left to his own devices throughout most of the game. Agent Merit works with you for a lot of the campaign, but is always on his own route to the objective and communicating with you over the chip system.

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Cranking up the difficulty to hard, the game continued to be very enjoyable and fun, but at the same time the challenge of hard mode didn't make me want to throw my controller out of the window. Some first-person shooters, mainly looking towards the Call of Duty series, can be ridiculously punishing in their hardest difficulties, Syndicate hands out the punishment for the player in a unique kind of way. After finishing a playthrough of the campaign on normal, I couldn't help but notice how unfriendly the game seemed to be towards headshots. Taking into consideration that most of the enemies wear helmets, the amount of bullets an enemy could take to the head before dying was still a bit shocking sometimes. Once I started the campaign up on hard mode, the enemies seemed to take their beatings much quicker, especially with the way there heads blew clean off. The damage taken from enemy fire understandably increased but the number of enemies didn't seem to. I had to play a lot more tactical and be a bit more efficient with how I went about using my ammo for weapons, but the challenge was great fun.

The game operates with the well-known system of intense blood covering the outside of the screen upon taking too much damage. Death was something I could quickly get over though as the auto-saving checkpoints for the game were very friendly. The only downer to dying was having to watch some of the cut scenes again which were unskippable.

The co-op mode plays just a bit differently to the campaign. The action is more intense but still requires the same method of taking cover, breaching targets and sometimes scavenging for weapons. Being LIVE action and all, the DART overlay doesn't slow down time in co-op but still allows the player to see through walls and obstacles to identify previously spotted enemies. I had upgraded the assault rifle enough to be able to shoot and kill enemies through cover and walls whilst in DART overlay mode, which I have to say was pretty sweet.

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As players work their way through level's, a bit of friendly competition can take place as everyone's scores tally up, but points are not just awarded for kills and breaches this time around. Healing and reviving players awards points too and with the tons of enemies you'll face in the missions, everyone will be racking up the points from the offensive and defensive side of things. Expert mode for co-op is no joke, the enemies are tough as nails and fire accurately and constantly. The difficulty adds to the fun of the co-op mode as teams must keep tight formation and relentlessly cover and heal each other.

After finishing missions, a summary of the mission tallies up the amount of unlocks you have earned and how well the team members did for points. In the co-op menus, tokens can then be spent on upgrading the DART's breach abilities as well as research and weapon blueprints. Worldwide leaderboards are available to see how well you are doing against other Syndicates, and as an individual showcasing how much XP each player and the team has earned. Challenges can be completed as well for actions such as kills, executions and revives, these reward the player with extra points.

The co-op is fast, fun and pretty exciting. With the simple option to choose a map and its difficulty and quickly dive into the action with friends or randoms, the co-op mode is super easy to get into. Completing contracts, challenges and research made it very hard for me to turn the console off, as I just needed to unlock this accessory for that weapon, and finish some research off for this DART command. With your Syndicate or one that you're a part of, the dedicated can take it to other Syndicate's and grind away at pulling off the best scores possible for each map. This makes it all the more reason to send invites out to a few friends online and jump into some frantic co-op action.


Besides some nasty looking cartoonish style graphics from the litter underneath the chair that Kilo is strapped to at the start of the campaign, the graphics are pretty solid and the visuals are stunning. Sometimes the lights can be a bit too bright and blinding, and can be just as annoying as the laser and torchlights from the likes of Battlefield 3. Plenty of skyscrapers offer some wonderful scenic views of the world below, even the dilapidated and grimy streets of the Downzone look impressive. There was a slight issue with character movement and dropship movement during cutscenes that caught my eye, as the movement went a little choppy and then returned smooth again.

Overall the sites to see in the game are gorgeous and full of detail as you would expect from a futuristic science-fiction title. There's not too much to interact with outside of necessary interactions through the DART system, but the two sets of collectables in the game fill you in with extra info regarding characters and corporations.


As expected, the sound effects for this shooter can get pretty heavy and loud, and that's what we want! Personally, I don't play with any slick surround sound system so I couldn't really experience the true feeling of bullets whizzing past my head. As I was flying through the game, gunning down enemies and ripping some chips clean out of enemies skulls, the music seamlessly works into the action. Although working my way through a nightclub in one of the Milestones revealed some ear-killing crazy club music I wasn't impressed with, but that kind of stuff just ain't my cup of tea. The voice casting for the game is pretty slick as expected and fit the characters naturally.


Syndicate currently comes with 50 achievements worth 1000 Gamerscore and 2897 TA points, so that's not a shabby TA Ratio for the game. I'm currently working my way to unlocking all of the achievements which are not difficult at all to be honest, besides some of the co-op expert maps. The campaign achievements are simple and most will unlock through playthroughs on normal and hard. Although collectable achievements can be very daunting, the campaign related ones are very easy thanks to an excellent video posted up by With most of these achievements being time-consuming rather than difficult, much more time has to be spent working away on co-op mode. To unlock the CEO achievement, worth 100 GS, players need to level up their character to the max, unlock all research entries and complete all the challenges the co-op mode has to offer. Other achievements, including the already mentioned one, require being part of a Syndicate. Some of the achievements can be worked towards through campaign and co-op put together, such as breaching 873 grenades. Time consuming work, but with very good replay value through the co-op mode, boredom shouldn't kick in, if at all before these achievements are unlocked. Unfortunately there was a slight issue with a couple of achievements not unlocking when they were supposed to. The Revival Meeting and Syndicated achievement's both didn't unlock until my second attempt on each, which simply put, just shouldn't be unlocking that way at all.


Overall, Syndicate is definitely a game worth checking out, and I'm ashamed to say that if I had not been asked to do a review for this title, I would have happily not looked at the game twice. DON'T be the fool I could've been and give this game a go! The campaign is not painfully long and not too short, the visuals are sweet, the story is interesting and keeps you wanting more! The co-op is an absolute blast and very much alive with plenty of experienced and skilled players filling the lobbies up in no time.

Freezing issues during online co-op can be a major buzzkill. Some of the missions require a lot of patience and consistency, so to have the mission progress destroyed all with the freeze of the frames can be seriously heart breaking. A few of the achievements didn't unlock when they should have and with these issues in mind, I can't quite place the cherry on top of a well-developed cake. I know a lot of you out there won't want to feed the beast that can be EA, especially with their known achievement issues but trust me, this online pass-LESS title is certainly worth picking up.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The reviewer has spent 32 hours total playing the game, including completing the campaign on Normal and Hard difficulties, and having a whole lot of fun with the online multiplayer co-op.

Sorry for the slight delay in this review folks, we had a 'hiccup' in our post with EA. Not to worry though, they got it sorted for us in the end. To soften the blow a little, how about a competition to win our review copy?

Any comment posted in this thread will be automatically entered into the draw. This is a PAL copy of the game, so only PAL territories will be eligible to enter. Please make sure you've filled out your country info on TA. Any blank countries will be assumed to be NTSC.

Full rules here!

Rules and Regulations
- This competition is unavailable to TA Staff members
- Entry is via a comment to this thread
- The winner will be chosen at random by If winner is not in the PAL region we will check each user following this number until a match is found.
- Entries close in twenty four hours time
Winner Announcement

A quick update to this article to say congratulations to Ali060 - we'll be PMing you soon for you address and to get this game in the post to you!
Ashley Woodcock
Written by Ashley Woodcock
Assistant News Manager for TrueAchievements and member of the Newshounds team since 2010. Lover of completions, tough achievements, shooters, action, adventure and racing titles, hip-hop, Wu-Tang, NBA, and my Scooby. I can be found working on the never-ending backlog which you can see my progress on via my TA blog.