According to recent first-person shooter reboot Syndicate, shooting people hard in the face with high-tech machine guns is the rough equivalent of an office job in the cyberpunk future.


If you've not played the game yet, take a look at the video above to get an idea of what we're waffling on about. And then read the closest thing you're going to get to a review out of us, below, in which we pick apart the bits we liked least:

Fuck doors, man. Fuck doors

Syndicate Screenshot
There aren't any pictures of doors. So, you know, here are some flying robots instead

Grunting, we pushed open the double doors to the office for the fourth time that day, forcing them apart with our robot hands and squeezing through the gap. Some future this is, we thought – they've made brain implants that run off adrenalin and give you superpowers, but God forbid they should use doors that work properly. We missed hinges, but seeing as they were abolished as they were in the great door revolution1 of 2032, we'd have to make do with almost every single door causing a and lengthy quick time event. Eventually, we walked through the office to sit down at our desk.

'DESK,' said our heads-up display, helpfully. The world was awash with data, things like 'CUP' indicating a cup and 'KEYBOARD' indicating a keyboard, which made sense but wasn't entirely necessary. Sure, it was fun at first, but pretty soon it just got in the way and made it hard to type.

Our partner in... crime? Is this crime? We can't tell

Syndicate Screenshot
He sounds like Michael Madsen after he's drunk a whole pint of velcro

Our partner – quite why we needed a partner was never very clear, it's not like he helped us do our work at any point – walked over to the desk, wearing the standard issue uniform of a black trenchcoat and trousers with bits of metal stuck to them and the standard issue expression of mild disdain. His standard issue gruff voice, which sounded like he'd started using sandpaper instead of Rizlas in his roll-up cigarettes, mumbled something fairly indistinct:

“Come on kid, we're gonna go interview a footballer, or something. Don't know the details. Don't wanna know. Our job is to shoot things and not ask questions, on account of being agents which are a bit like machines, but I'm sure you'll start asking questions soon enough which will no doubt develop into a shoddy excuse for a main plot. But anyway - GQ have secured exclusive time with him today, and we're not going to let that happen. Get your coat.”

We sighed and pulled on our trenchcoat, which was uncomfortable and made it difficult to work, and the pair of us ran out of the building holding our pistols sideways like we were in a film.

Combat makes for a brief respite

Syndicate Screenshot
Much like in real life, you're free to kill as many scientists as you want

The PR office was dark, and it didn't look particularly futuristic. Nothing really did, which was odd, considering this was the future and all. Still. We forced open the sliding double doors, and our partner ran off down a corridor to do something useful but indistinct in a separate part of the building, communicating with us by radio but never doing anything especially useful.

Rather than a door, the interview room was boarded up with a few bits of old wood and detritus which only took us three goes to awkwardly barge through by running directly at it. The footballer sat on a chair in the centre of the room and three enemy journalists stood around him, so we ducked into cover and kicked up our DART uplay, a device which slowed down time and made everything look a bit like it was from Tron.

Syndicate Screenshot
This is the DART uplay. DART stands for Digitally Amplified Reaction Time - at least, that's our best guess, anyway

We popped up from behind cover and for for the briefest of moments we enjoyed our job – our pistol handled well, and we snapped off shots at range into the first enemy before vaulting our cover and smashing his face open bare hands. It was all tremendously satisfying. Having the option to reprogram someone's mind by glaring at them for a second, turning them traitor on their friends and triggering a sudden murder-suicide was pretty useful too, so we of course did that.


Syndicate Screenshot
This is how you level up - you yank valuable microchips out of people's heads. GRIM

In the aftermath – while we looked back on the admittedly-limited gunplay and the small selection of powers available to us (three! Three powers! And two of them do essentially the same thing!) with a mixture of guilt and embarrassment, a bit like the fifteen seconds immediately after you finish a wank – the footballer remained sitting, motionless.

We grabbed him and pushed our face up against his, seeing how crummy the facial animation was for the first time. 

“Tell us what you know!” We shouted, hoping that this was a valid interview tactic and feeling tremendously under-prepared and uninformed in regards to the mission at hand. “TELL US!”

“Oh, I'll tell you what I know, FHM,” said the footballer, whose name was probably mentioned at one point, “I'll tell you. But I'll hint at a much larger conspiracy, and introduce groups that are NEVER AGAIN REFERENCED in the future, just to wrong-foot you! Oh, how confused and angry you'll be to have sat through my story! How much time you'll have wasted!

As we settled down and set our dictaphone to record so we could try and shift some sense from the torrent of nonsense, our partner arrived from a hitherto-unseen side door and shot him clean through the head.

Are we jealous? Yes

Syndicate Screenshot
This is an example of the fun japes those multiplayer dicks get up to

“He was boring. Come on, let's go back to base. I have to set up an obvious betrayal – maybe, I forget, the script isn't clear - and dick you over, leading you to side with some ill-defined revolutionaries against your will. Or something. Don't pick too deeply at it. Hell, it's not exactly Deus Ex, you know what I mean?”

It certainly wasn't. We took a bullet-train home, and as we pulled in to the station we saw the co-op multiplayer operatives running around on the platform – exchanging high-fives, experimenting with their new and different weaponry and their twelve different powers, as opposed to the mewling, stunted extent of our three. We felt left out.

It seemed unfair that the bulk of the game would be online, and if we wanted to experience it that we'd have to scrub around with American teenagers whining about their homework assignments in our ear while we play. But that's the way it was, apparently.

We got home, tried to open our front doors, and got stuck on the button-mashing sequence to prise them open. So we sat down on our doorstep and had a bit of a cry instead.

Syndicate is out now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360

1 In which, ironically, all revolving doors were destroyed