Monday, February 27, 2012

Syndicate Mini-Review

Things I like about it:
- The the cyberpunk setting. The game gives you tons of information (in the form of data, files, and propaganda) concerning the various syndicates, their agents, weapons, bio-upgrades, just tons of crap to read if you choose to do so. I have been because I like the setting of various syndicates rising to global dominance, overpowering even governments and forming corporate armies to wage war against one another.
- Nice art direction and music. Graphics overall look pretty great, the lighting is impressive and the framerate holds steadily at 30 FPS.
- The guns are fun to use and they all sound great. There were only a couple guns I genuinely didn't like.
- The breach abilities/dart overlay system are neat.
- In the single player campaign, you only have access to a small talent tree. In the co-op campaign, there's a large talent tree, rank ups, and weapons and abilities can be upgraded. Upgrading everything in the co-op campaign would take a while.
- Ability to select any level to play once you've cleared it. Shows your stats for the level and shows the info files/propaganda you've collected or that you're missing.
- A number of the guns have secondary firing modes, and they work great.
- The co-op campaign and single player campaigns are separate and completely different.
- The co-op levels are pretty well designed and a lot of fun with a competent group.
- Went through the single player twice (once on normal, once on hard). My hard run felt way easier; I didn't even notice much of an increase in difficulty outside of enemies hitting like trucks. I did the co-op campaign once on normal (the last level I did was basically just duoed with me and another guy), and I'm in the process oftrying to go through it solo on normal.
- On co-op, at least on the harder difficulties, situational awareness is really important, and you need to be ready to react at a given's notice. Be it for healing, activating an ability, breaching an enemy, etc. It's tense, but it feels great when it comes together.

Things I don't like:
- Single player campaign is absolutely too linear. You've got these great looking levels, but are shuffled along a one-way path the entire time. It sucks.
- Too much of a reliance on cinematic crap and not letting you be in control. Just kills the pacing.
- Single player campaign is fairly short. It took me around 10ish hours my first time, but I was going super slow, taking the time to explore the levels (not that there's much to explore) and read the stuff I mentioned above. About 5-7 hours when I went through it on hard.
- Enemies feel like bullet sponges at times. Bosses especially are. They take way too long to kill.
- The game should've had some sort of improved cover mechanic, probably. I was behind cover a fair bit (you can get ripped to shreds easily), and the way cover works in this game is wonky. And for some reason it's hard to tell at times when you're crouching or not. Might be a result of the awful FOV.
- Co-op isn't tuned to detect how many players are playing, and throws the same amount of enemies at you regardless of whether you're playing alone or with 4 people.
- Bosses/minibosses are terrible. Too many of the same general ones are repeated, too.
- Story was predictable, and the very last part of it felt really shoe-horned in. I doubt there's going to be a sequel, but there definitely could be one.
- You hear about all these different syndicates and locations, and you don't even get to visit many of them in the single player campaign. It's kind of a shame.
- Of course there's a sewer/underground level, and it lasts about 2 levels too long.
- A lot of the bloom lighting is used for stylistic effect, but it really is just annoying and blinding to look at most of the time.
- Checkpoints are too frequent. Very rarely do you ever feel like you lose any progress. I mean I like frequent checkpoints, and there have been two recent games that lacked them that pissed me off a number of times (Deus Ex and Rage), but these are really frequent. It's rare you'll lose more than 1-2 minutes of progress.
- Way, way too much "PRESS X REALLY FAST TO OPEN DOOR/VENT". Almost every door/vent you run across, you have to mash X to open. It's absolutely ridiculous.
- Lack of new game+ that carries over your talent tree in the single player campaign.
- I wish there were more abilities available to you in the single player campaign. The three you're given near the start (Suicide, Persuade and Backfire) are the same ones you use until the end.
- Only two guns can be used at any time + grenades, but the secondary fire modes offsets that a bit.
- Can't skip cutscenes.
- The health upgrade options available in the talent tree are near a requirement in both single player and co-op.
- The co-op campaign has 9ish levels that are unique to it. That pisses me off. Those levels should've been in the single player campaign, as well.
- Merit (a character) had some funny moments.

Despite all of those complaints, I still found it really fun, and that's what's most important to me. I want to give it a 7/10, but the flaws hold it back too much for that, so 6/10.

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