Bullfrog classic revived
OK, so Syndicate's plot won't win awards for originality, but how about its gameplay? Well, it certainly won't win any awards either, but at least it's original.
Splat's the way
To complement the decent, if unremarkable gunplay, your character is fitted with DART 6, a bleeding-edge cybernetic chip, granting bullet-time and thermal imaging, some passive modifiers and the ability to 'breach' machinery and other cyborgs.
Breaching is at the heart of gameplay. It can be used to hack doors and gun turrets, break the shields of tough enemies and even disarm rockets and grenades. But its most integral use are three special hacking powers used to inveigle or dominate enemy cyborg minds.
Cracked the droid
Backfire causes your opponents' weapons to overload, stunning them momentarily and dealing damage. Suicide forces an enemy to prime a grenade and kill himself and anyone in close proximity. And Persuade causes an enemy to fight on your side temporarily before turning the gun on himself.
As usual, there's a catch. The DART 6 chip is powered by adrenaline, which is raised (conveniently) by pulling off quick kill streaks. The more kills strung together, the more you can breach. It's a device which sounds intriguing enough. After all, we're used to such devices defining and driving unique gameplay.
But Syndicate fails to construct its gameplay around these mechanics. Its tricks never feel anything more than... well, tricks. Breaching always feels ancillary to combat, offering no true novelty and feeling little more than a mildly interesting grenade type, one whose scripted consequences soon become repetitive.