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Starbreeze

Turns out I'm still in love with Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Yet, the controls -- a scheme that's supposed to represent the bond between the siblings -- is as ineffective as ever. Again, I never got a consistent feel for how to operate the two in tandem. Everything would be fine for a moment until one veered into the wall, meaning I'd have to stop controlling one to focus on another and the whole harmony was ruined. I've felt this way the entire time, but it's such a testament to the rest of Brothers that a central mechanic can be this broken, yet the game is still superb. Brothers' relative ease softens the blow, but the vast majority of titles in this situation would be immediately relegated to a mediocre score and a short-lived legacy. Brothers has far exceeded that fate. With regard to improvements in this version, I'm not sure there are many. If memory serves correctly, I believe this re-release has a deeper palette of hues. Everything seems richer in color which enhances the experience. More notably, the Xbox One and PS4 re-release includes director's commentary, the soundtrack, and a gallery of concept art. Inessentials, but a nice addition for some people. [embed]305002:59971:0[/embed] The rub here is that nothing in the re-release is far and away better than the versions on legacy consoles or PC. That's sort of how it goes with games that launched later in the last-gen life-cycle -- there's a fair parity across those versions. Brothers doesn't feel like a game you need to play on current consoles. This investment is better reserved for those who missed it the first time 'round, or those who have a burning desire to shell out extra money in hopes that it encourages more titles like this to be made. For more in-depth analysis of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, read my review from the summer of 2013. If you need help with the game's Achievements or Trophies, check out my guide.
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Impressions of the re-release
I may not have picked it up in two years, but I still remember every second of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons. It's just that kind of game. It leaves you in a more fragile mindset than when you started. I don't care if that so...

Brothers photo
Brothers

Did you know the Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons kids have names?


Also, the game re-released today
Aug 12
// Brett Makedonski
It's been two years since I've played through Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, but that's going to change tonight. The game just re-released on Xbox One and PS4. I bet I find it just as emotionally evocative and generally fanta...
Johnnui photo
Johnnui

John Wick getting a VR shooter


Published by Payday developer
Aug 10
// Steven Hansen
If you didn't catch last year's John Wick, it's a pretty great flick, and a rare well-choreographed one (as far as American productions go). Its lead character has already crossed over into Starbreeze's Payday 2 (above); the ...
Payday 2 photo
Payday 2

Payday 2's next heist takes on Vegas


Insert some pun ending in Jailhouse Rock
Jun 12
// Joe Parlock
Don’t blink, or you might just miss Overkill release some new content for Payday 2. Whoops, there goes another... and another... Sod it, let’s just look at this newest one: The Golden Grin Casino. With swanky as ...

Brothers photo
Brothers

Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons looks set to wander to current consoles


Ratings boards strike again
Jun 01
// Brett Makedonski
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons was an emotional, memorable journey when it released two years ago. In fact, the twin-stick puzzler took a lot of people by surprise. As it turns out, it looks as if players will get to relive th...
Payday 2 Jacket DLC photo
Payday 2 Jacket DLC

Payday 2 welcomes Jacket from Hotline Miami to the crew


This can only end well
Feb 26
// Nic Rowen
You might not know this, but murderers love cross-brand synergy. That's why hot on the heels of some John Wick co-marketing, Payday 2 is getting a rash of neon-soaked DLC to celebrate the release of Hotline Miami 2. Remorsel...
Payday photo
Payday

Payday 2 director leaves Overkill Software


'It's all on good terms'
Jul 14
// Jordan Devore
Payday 2 game director David Goldfarb, formerly of DICE, has left Overkill Software to start a studio of his own, reports Polygon. It's here he'll be able to escape big-team, AAA development at long last. "It doesn't matter w...
Starbreeze photo
Starbreeze

Starbreeze's Storm pitched as 'Payday in space'


Well now we're talking
Jan 22
// Jordan Devore
Little is known about Starbreeze Studios' upcoming game Cold Mercury other than that it is (or was, as of 2012) going to be free to play. According to one of the company's investor reports, the game was eventually merged with...
Riddick photo
Riddick

So there's this new Riddick game for iOS...


Riddick: The Merc Files
Sep 18
// Jordan Devore
You might've heard about Riddick: The Merc Files, a new iOS game that was frightening to see crop up so close to the news that Vin Diesel, Tigon Studios, and some ex-Starbreeze developers are working on a Riddick game. These ...
Payday photo
Payday

Payday 2 has sold 1.58 million copies


80 percent of which happened through digital distribution
Sep 13
// Jordan Devore
Payday 2 is doing very well for itself. At retail, it broke into the NPD's top 10 for August 2013 but, here's the thing about that: the game's 1.58 million copies sold, according to Starbreeze, were 80 percent digital. Intere...
Starbreeze photo
Starbreeze

There's a third Riddick game in development


Vin Diesel is just the best
Sep 10
// Jordan Devore
As a fan of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, it's been a pleasant surprise to see another film based on that world and character come to fruition. I wasn't holding out for another videogame, however. While this is o...
Payday photo
Payday

Payday 2 is profitable and it's not even out yet


Owners of original game now have beta access
Aug 08
// Jordan Devore
Despite the fact that it hasn't even launched yet, Payday 2 is profitable. The cooperative heist game, which is currently playable in beta, hits Steam on Tuesday. "Starbreeze today has once again demonstrated that our strateg...
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Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons also coming to PS3, PC


Spread the brotherly love
Aug 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons just came out for Xbox Live Arcade to little marketing and fanfare this past week. We're here to remind you that's it pretty great though, and something worth adding to your XBLA collection. Or, ...

Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons Achievement Guide

Aug 07 // Brett Makedonski
Take a Break Kids usually play close to home. As it states in the description, this Achievement will pop outside the brothers' house which is in the Prologue. At the very beginning of the game, as you're carting the father to the doctor, stop immediately before the bridge and instead travel south on some stone steps. Run along the beach until you find a pile of rocks in front of the water. Interact with them as the little brother to begin skipping stones which will unlock the first Achievement. Wishing Well For your wish to come true, you need something to throw. At the start of Chapter 1, you can see a well off to the right and a girl playing with her ball in the distance. Go take her ball and throw it down that well, you giant jerkface. I can't believe you emotionally scarred that sweet, little girl for a measly 20 Gamerscore. Black Sheep It's a long walk. In Chapter 1, you'll come across a wheel that needs to be run on in order to lower a bridge. Run on it with the little brother, and send the big brother across to pick up a sheep. Carry that sheep back across and to the lower left where the bunnies are playing. Drop him in the coal, which will turn him black and unlock the Achievement. Bunny Buddies Are bunnies colorblind? Also in Chapter 1, at the exact same location as the Black Sheep Achievement, there's a white rabbit hopping among a group of black rabbits. Drop the white one in the coal to knock out this Achievement. Falling Star Patience is a virtue. As soon as you reach the cemetery near the beginning of Chapter 3, there will be a statue off to the right-hand side. Interact with it with the little brother for approximately six seconds. A star will go shooting across the sky, and the Achievement will unlock. A Sad Tune  Give something back which was believed to be lost. This one's pretty morbid. At the beginning of Chapter 4, the path forks. Off to the right side, there's a guy who's, well, he's not having a very good time. Climb up the tree with the older brother, and let him down. Then, venture around the right side of the tree and work your way around the ledge. Grab the music box and give it to him. He's probably still bummed out, but you did everything you could. Windpipe  Find the right tone. In Chapter 4, after raising the platform that the inventor's stranded on, there's a giant organ-type device in the upper-left part of his home. Turn the crank with the little brother and push the other part with the big brother until you hit the right tone. Love Birds  A caged heart cannot love. This is a two-parter. In Chapter 1, right before the wheel that leads to the sheep, there's a bird cage that needs to be opened. Do that, and free the bird. Then, in Chapter 4, immediately before the hang-glider, there's a telescope that's impossible to miss. Look in the telescope, and zoom in on the lower-right. There will be two birds chilling out on a branch, and the Achievement will pop. Call of the Giants  First take a deep breath. In Chapter 5, right before using the giant crossbow, go down the path to the right. Waiting there is a giant horn. The little brother is ineffectual, but the big brother has what it takes to make some noise. Behind the Curtain On your feet you could never get here. At the start of Chapter 6, you'll hop in a canoe. At the end of the first straightaway, there'll be a "unique" waterfall off to the right. Go through it to earn this Achievement. Turtle Soup Life, Drop, Slide, Plop! During Chapter 6, you'll come to an ice cavern which is home to a crying mama turtle. Off to the right are her babies, which have all found themselves in some sort of predicament. Pull one to the top of the giant slide and send him to his mother. There's another waiting to be slid down at the top of the slide. For the final turtle, the big brother will have to boost the little brother up. Once he's down, reunite him with his family. Whale Song Rest and smile, sing for a while. In Chapter 6, immediately after climbing out of the ice cave that houses the family of turtles, you'll come across a two-man saw. Run past it, climb up a ledge, and a bench will be waiting. Take a seat on the bench, and the whales below will put on a show for you.
Brothers tips photo
O Brothers, where art thou Gamerscore?
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is an anomaly when it comes to Achievements. Not a single one will be unlocked through normal gameplay. However, every last one takes only seconds to get and isn't dependent on anything othe...

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PayDay 2 launching August 13 on Steam


August 16 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Aug 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
It's time to pull off the ultimate heist as PayDay 2 arrives next week. It'll be out first on August 13 for Steam on PC, then August 16 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. To go along with that announcement is the latest trailer and batch of screens. Spoilers: In it we see people committing crimes. Whoa!

Review: Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

Aug 07 // Brett Makedonski
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PC)Developer: Starbreeze StudiosPublisher: 505 GamesReleased: August 7, 2013 (XBLA), TBA (PSN, PC) MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points, $14.99 Brothers follows, well, two brothers as they embark on a quest to cure their ailing father. Despite speaking in a language of gibberish, it's easy to pick up on each's character traits. The blue one is older, stronger, respectful, and more emotionally mature. The red one is younger, mischievous, and nimble. As expected, they play off one another, and the game does a good job depicting them as incomplete parts to a cohesive whole unit. The most easily recognizable theme of Brothers is the bond between siblings, and Starbreeze turned this into the core mechanic of the game. The left analog stick controls the movement of the blue brother, the right analog stick controls the movement of the red brother, and the respective triggers function as each's action button. The pared-down control scheme offers a level of simplicity that's rarely seen in videogames, which would be nice if it worked fluidly. Unfortunately, the dueling-stick approach never becomes consistently comfortable. It isn't bad when the brothers are moving side-by side, but it's difficult to replicate when they're further apart. Throughout the three to four hour game, moments of Zen-like unity occasionally occur, which are quickly erased when the camera swings around and you've unwittingly made one brother run into a wall. [embed]258764:49747:0[/embed] Surprisingly, the control issues aren't game-breaking. In fact, they're relatively easy to look past. They constantly walk the line between "kind of irksome" and "frustrating", but never really cross it. It's completely due to Brothers' structure that this is the case. A more challenging game might not get a pass, but Brothers makes it evident that it's not here to challenge you. Rather, Brothers almost always moves along at a relaxed pace. You'd be hard-pressed to qualify its puzzles as such, because nearly all of them have an immediately obvious solution that's easy to perform and difficult to screw up. It's less about skill, and more about carrying out the requisite actions to further the adventure. It's possible to die, but if it happens, you likely won't make the same mistake twice. There's a bit in chapter four where the brothers are tethered together by a rope and need to climb around the outside of a structure. As one brother hangs on, the other pendulums laterally to the next hold. It's an uncomplicated section, and most will instantly identify the required strategy. However, when it comes to implementation, it's tough to not feel a sort of guilty cleverness if you move through the area too fast, almost as if you're somehow outsmarting the game.  That's how Brothers lures you in -- with its accessibility. It provides comfort with its simple puzzles, radiantly beautiful backdrops, and charming musical score. It's truly immersive, especially in the first hour or so (I'm convinced that a heads-up display would provide no greater disservice to a game than to this one). Then, things go off the rails. For a game that sets the tone with such serenity and a lackadaisical carefree attitude, Brothers turns dark and it does so quickly. I don't wish to spoil a single instance, but Brothers certainly crescendos throughout the entire experience, as it all becomes progressively more bleak and somber. Everything from narrative points to set pieces to isolated incidents that you weren't even necessarily supposed to find, they all ooze a positively depressing aura that seemed impossible from the outset. All of this is made considerably more notable by the fact that Brothers is a love story, or, maybe more accurately, a collection of love stories. Regardless of how melancholy things may get, there's always a love-induced spirit overshadowing everything, for better and for worse. Whether it's a pair of cave trolls reunited, a man absolutely wrecked by the death of his family, or even a couple of birds that have been uncaged and found one another again, Brothers never lets the player forget that love is the primary motif for this tale. That's precisely what makes Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons so endearing -- the undeniable contrast created by the highs and lows that come with the entire experience being driven by love. It's so strong that it even dwarfs the game's core mechanical flaws, making them feel trivial when they should sully the whole affair. It's a powerful venture that isn't necessarily about where you began or where you end up; it's about everything that happened in between. 
Brothers review photo
Family bonding
It all starts innocently enough with a pair of brothers making their way through town. Sure, there's a task at hand, but urgency isn't an issue. It should be, but it isn't. Soaking in the warm glow of the sun and playing with...

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There's a little Hotline Miami in Payday 2


Plus here have a new trailer
Jul 31
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
There's a special homage to Hotline Miami in Payday 2! You can purchase a pig mask called "The Hog" and it has some familiar sounding text associated with it too. Yeah that's about it. Just a neat little thing. Anyway, we're...
Payday photo
Payday

Payday 2 Collector's Edition comes with a real mask


Here's what you need to know going in
Jul 09
// Jordan Devore
The North American collector's edition for Payday 2 is notable in that it's priced at a reasonable $59.99. That, and it includes a wearable mask, which is a pretty good bonus as far as these things tend to go. There's also a...

Payday 2 blew away my expectations, stole my heart

Jun 12 // Steven Hansen
Payday 2 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Developer: Overkill Software Publisher: 505 Games Release: August 2013One of the big pieces of Payday 2's revamp is that heist jobs can be segmented into multiple days and tasks. Essentially, there is a focus on the lead up to jobs that feel more holistic. This way, the team could build, "long, complex heists without having to build five hour maps," Goldfarb explained.  There is also a focus on making the natural economy useful and fruitful. Only portions of your take after heists can be spent immediately, much of it being funneled through off-shore accounts and other realistic feats of thievery. You can also use your wealth to purchase assets before jobs, like blueprints, and even sniper support. Talk about turned tables -- I have so many recollections of tons of sniper sights flitting around in Payday: The Heist, sights trained directly on me and my crew. There is also a mind bogglingly extensive upgrade, customization, and class system. The Mastermind, Technician, Enforcer, and Ghost all have huge skill trees full of some wild perks, like the ability to recruit law enforcement to your side, or a "Stockholm syndrome" perk that makes civilians see that maybe you're actually a pretty cool guy and that the cops are jerks. There's even a "Kilmer" perk, one of many nods to Michael Mann's Heat. Goldfarb noted that the Mastermind is essentially based on DeNiro's character in Heat. Beyond that, I saw a ridiculous collection of weapons and other customizables. There are a load of new unlockable masks and masks can be decorated, colored, painted, and textured. Given that everything appears visibly on your character in-game, the customization stands out even more.   Stealth is another cool possibility. In the bank heist I played, we were able to run around back and slip in through a lock picked back door, despite being a somewhat uncoordinated and unacquainted bunch. The latter did hurt us when someone -- if anyone tells you it was me, I assure you they lie -- accidentally fired a shot and ruined the entire thing. "Stealth will be difficult in pickup games," Goldfarb explained, noting that most peoples' attempts at stealth thus far had gone even more horribly wrong than ours (and usually more quickly). According to Goldfarb, some jobs are practically impossible to stealth -- though I'm sure that won't stop people from trying. If you're skilled enough, you can apparently push the stealth element surprisingly far into most jobs, though the game will be just as taut and enjoyable when things go horribly wrong, as capers are apt to do.  All told, the game has 30 missions. Add in difficulty levels and certain elements of randomization -- if you botch jobs badly enough, you can trigger various, randomized escape segments, for example -- and you're bound to get a lot of play out of Payday 2. Goldfarb noted that Dark Souls is a huge influence on the game, going as far as to call Payday 2 something of an homage. Anyone who has played the original on its highest difficulty -- or, hell, even on the "normal" difficulty -- can attest to that. Maybe that's why I love it. The game wants to beat you into the earth and has the means to do so. When you play long enough, after level 50, the game offers professional missions in which you have to successfully complete each part of multi-day jobs in sequence or be sent back to the very beginning. Devious. Let's not forget Payday: The Heist's ridiculous secret room. Beyond adding new features, the game itself is much improved over the original. Guns have been entirely retooled to feel different and the visuals have been ratcheted up. During the heist I played, we had the ability to plank up windows, which is one of many neat additions to the game. Far and away, my favorite touch was that picking up a money-filled duffel bag actually tilts the camera sideways as if the bag were on your shoulder, weighing you down. It's a fabulous little touch that immediately made me feel like I was in the climax of Heat, watching Tom Sizemore ineffectually trying to heft duffel bags through vacated streets. Payday 2 can't come soon enough.
Payday 2 preview photo
Exponentially expanded and improved heisting
Payday 2 feels like one of the most ambitious sequels in recent memory. I was a fan of Payday: The Heist, which in and of itself is high praise. Normally I can't be bothered to play online multiplayer and I've had first-perso...

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Live-action Payday series wants to rob you blind


The game, not the candy bar
May 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Behold, a teaser trailer for the upcoming Payday live-action web series. The teaser stars Dallas, Hoxton, Wolf, and Chains as they get ready to pull off some heists in Washington D.C. Episode one should be launching in a week or so. Obviously this is all aimed at hyping up Payday 2, which will be out this August in North America for Steam, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
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Pierrot Le Fou

PAYDAY 2 trailer here for the bankís money, yours too


Clowning around
Mar 13
// Steven Hansen
PAYDAY: The Heist always reminds me of Michael Mann’s brilliant, taut tale of thievery, Heat. The opening of The Dark Knight reminded me of Heat, too; a more somber Point Break, given the creepy clown masks. And now PA...
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Starbreeze

New video for Starbreeze's Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons


Two boys, one controller
Mar 08
// Jordan Devore
Coming up later this spring is an intriguing game from Starbreeze and film director Josef Fares called Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons. We got a brief look at this Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network title last ye...
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Starbreeze reveals Brothers - a Tale of Two Sons


P13 revealed
Sep 27
// Jim Sterling
Syndicate developer Starbreeze has finally lifted the lid on the project once known as P13. It's a 505 Games-published title for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, titled Brothers - a Tale of Two Sons.  Not quite...
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EA: Syndicate failed, old IP still to be resurrected


Jun 14
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts has admitted that the attempted Syndicate reboot didn't pay off as intended, but that hasn't stopped the publisher from wanting to bring back more old game names. After all, there's still so many things that i...
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Next Starbreeze project, Cold Mercury, to be free-to-play


Mar 26
// Conrad Zimmerman
Starbreeze, developer of such fine games as Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, The Darkness and the recently released Syndicate, has announced that their next title, Cold Mercury, will attempt to tackle ...
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Live show: Syndicate co-op on Mash Tactics


Feb 27
// Bill Zoeker
Lock and/or load for "Multiplayer Monday" today on Mash Tactics. King Foom is looking for recruits for a co-op campaign through Syndicate, and skilled hands (or absurd creations) to challenge in SoulCalibur V. As always, play...

Review: Syndicate

Feb 21 // Jim Sterling
Syndicate (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Starbreeze StudiosPublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: February 21, 2012 MSRP: $59.99 Syndicate's narrative campaign has players waking up handcuffed to a chair while a masked stooge merrily rearranges your face with his fist. The reason for being there is vague but it doesn't really matter, as it's not long before you've broken free and begun a sociopathic murder spree that may or may not extend to screaming pedestrians. This is what Syndicate's campaign is like from beginning to end -- inconsequential sequences, as vague as they are pointless. Then the killing.  This wouldn't be a bad thing, if not for the fact that Syndicate wants you to believe it's more than that. Much of the story is littered with moments of exposition in which inscrutable characters say mysterious things, hoping against hope that you'll actually believe something important is happening. The sad truth is, nothing important ever happens. Characters speak obtusely and make ambiguous allusions to more interesting horizons, not because they're hinting at some jaw-dropping revelation later (one never comes) but because they truly have nothing of value to say.  In fact, the game's six- to seven-hour narrative can be summed up in a sentence: You work as an agent for a corporation that unsurprisingly turns out to be the bad guy. Everything within that scenario is simply an attempt to copy standout moments from other games, such as Deus Ex, while the protagonist desperately attempts to mimic Andrew Ryan. By the time the game reaches its infuriatingly amorphous conclusion, one would be hard-pressed to name a single plot point that wasn't an overplayed trope.  [embed]222216:42746[/embed] Fortunately, there's plenty of violence in between the vapid story bits, and it's slightly more engaging than the writing. As a cyborg agent, players are armed with a new technological advancement, the DART 6 chip. This chip grants our silent protagonist a range of physical enhancements, as well as the ability to "breach" machinery and the human psyche. This breach mechanic is Syndicate's ace in the hole, though it also turns out to be its crutch. Breaching is performed by pressing a single button while looking at the desired object. If one looks at a computer, it can be hacked to open doors or take over automatic gun turrets. Breaching is essential for breaking the shields of various enemies, and it can even disarm grenades. As players progress, they also unlock special breach abilities to demolish an opposing force. Backfire makes opponents' weapons explode, knocking them back and dealing damage. Suicide will cause an enemy to hold a live grenade in his hand, taking himself and any bystanders out of the battle. Meanwhile, Persuade can force a foe to turn his gun on his comrades before putting a hole in his own head.  The agent also has access to DART Vision, which slows time and renders enemies in orange against black environments to make them easy targets. DART Vision can also see through walls, giving one a tactical advantage in any situation, although it needs frequent recharging so players can't DART their way through the entire game.  Possessing the ability to see through walls and cause mayhem among a rival syndicate's forces is certainly gratifying the first time one does it, but that's the problem -- it's done too many times, and the initial glee soon wears off. Not only that, but Syndicate never capitalizes on its ideas to create unique scenarios for their implementation. You cannot, for example, see through walls and find enemies before you meet them in order to soften the targets. Opponents usually only spawn after you've entered a wide-open combat zone, which totally undermines the point of DART Vision and limits the application of breach abilities. Truly empowering uses of the agent's talents are almost always scripted, not improvised on a player's behalf. The core combat is solid, but repetitive, offering old-fashioned FPS gunplay with the occasional chance to make an opponent blow himself up. The powers at an agent's disposal are the powers that a psychological predator would have, yet combat is so in-your-face and ordinary that they feel like cheap gimmicks. Simply put, the game has not been designed around any of its unique gameplay additions. It's a bog-standard shooter with some tech-magic thrown in. There are other shooters on the market that have done the whole "mess with an enemy's mind" schtick in a far more involved, satisfying way, which makes one ask -- why didn't Starbreeze steal some gameplay from those games alongside their narrative ideas?  Syndicate quickly becomes formulaic, as players trudge through a corridor, enter a combat zone, trudge through another corridor, and repeat the process. Every now and then, an interesting weapon with homing bullets or laser fire will turn up, but it's nothing that hasn't been seen before. The breaching ceases to become entertaining after a while, having been relied upon for so long with little variation, while opportunities to breach machines and turn them against the opposition are few and far between.  There is nothing wrong with Syndicate's single-player mode, but there's nothing right either. It's just okay, incapable of raising much more than indifference. It's solid, playable, and capable of chewing up a few hours, but it's not compelling in the least. It goes through the motions, marching from A to B and playing it safe the whole way, occasionally stopping to try and convince you that you should care about the elementary and highly cynical plot details.  The mediocre campaign is, however, half of the experience, and co-op makes things a little more interesting. Up to four players can join forces and take on nine missions at various difficulty levels. Not only do the environments sport more variety than the campaign, but so does the gameplay, with far more breach abilities and customization opportunities. Players can build their own agent, selecting weapon loadouts and abilities that are far more varied than in the campaign. Virus, for example, can sap health over time and ignore armor. Meanwhile, the Shield power generates armor for the entire squad. Agents can earn research points, which are invested into developing new weapon modifications and powers, essentially building their own specialized class that suits their play style. Ultimately there's just so much more to do, to the point where the campaign should've just been scrapped to add more resources to the co-op.  Teamwork is quite important, and while the first mission is fairly straightforward, things get significantly tougher fairly quickly. There are opposing generals capable of chewing into a player's health bar within seconds, requiring teams to draw fire, heal each other, and breach shields as a unified group. The contextual commands make this gameplay fairly fluid and easy to pull off successfully, although the sheer weight of opposition means things never feel too easy. Enemies are fairly adept at taking cover and flanking, while later encounters pit squads against fellow agents, capable of healing each other and dishing out breaches of their own. Once taken down, these foes can have their chips forcibly and bloodily ripped from their heads in exchange for extra research points.  Syndicate's co-op mode is a significant step up, and clearly the main draw, but that doesn't save it from falling into many of the campaign's pitfalls. For a start, the range of scenarios isn't varied at all, taking the form of a linear series of corridors to be fought through, a handful of "get item A and place it in receptacle B" fetch quests, or brief escort objectives. The new abilities, for all their variety, still fall under similar categories while the commonplace FPS combat never feels built around them. While teamwork is important, the breach mechanic is so rudimentary and repeated without deviation that it quickly becomes as mundane as everything else.  This is not to say that Syndicate is not enjoyable, because it is. It's just so very typical and ordinary that hiding behind shallow gimmickry fails to compensate. Having played through each mission, I can't say I've any great desire to go back and play more. The four hours and thirty-eight minutes it took to beat them were fun while they lasted, yet utterly dispensable and easily forgotten.  It is almost fitting that Syndicate's world revolves around cold steel cities and heartless corporations, because cold and heartless is certainly the feeling one gets after playing. Its sterile environments are clean and spartan by deliberate design, but serve the unintended purpose of personifying Starbreeze's modern reboot to its core. It's a gorgeous game, very easy on the eyes despite the overzealous use of lighting and bloom, but beyond the pretty visuals lies an empty void where its soul should be.  By all means, go out and enjoy Syndicate. You more than likely shall, because it will provide a solid dose of transient entertainment. It is a game you will never need to play, but you won't feel like you wasted your life if you do. It's a videogame about guns that pretends to be something deeper while striving for nothing more. If you keep that in mind, and you're happy to play along, you'll get what you paid for.  But you won't get anything else. 
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Starbreeze Studios certainly turned heads when it unveiled its progress on a brand-new Syndicate game, although attached to many of those heads were scowling faces sporting sneers of disgust. Syndicate is yet another classic ...

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Syndicate launch trailer will probably give you a fit


Feb 15
// Fraser Brown
Syndicate's launch is a mere five days away and I'm still no closer to deciding whether or not I want to actually pick it up, but I'm certainly interested. This trailer hasn't helped me make up my mind, but it was pretty coo...
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Syndicate cast includes Rosario Dawson and more


Feb 10
// Jordan Devore
Electronic Arts and Starbreeze Studios have revealed some familiar names included in the voice cast of Syndicate. First up is Rosario Dawson, who is described as playing a "rising star" in the syndicate EuroCorp. "She's an in...
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Live show: Mash Tactics' Darkness II playthrough marathon


Feb 07
// Bill Zoeker
Today will be a very special 'New Release Showcase' with The Darkness II. King Foom has committed to completely finishing the game in one go. Darkness II's solo campaign has been clocked in at around six hours, but how long w...

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