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Syndicate strives for singular sci-fi greatness and settles for expertise in the area of cooperative gameplay. It’s unlikely that critics will recommend this one on the strength of the campaign alone, which is often bland and lacks a gripping narrative. That rankles simply due to my enjoyment of a well-written storyline, but there’s no denying the inspired, deep, and entertaining co-op play, which could eat up many hours.

Graphically, you’re looking at a super slick, almost sterile environment that embraces the concept of a world where humanity flags and electronics and robotics hold sway. There’s an engaging yet almost disturbing emphasis on the pristine atmosphere; “pristine” only because it’s as clean as a laboratory. And that’s the pervading sensation: that you’re wandering through a giant laboratory, no matter where you are. The detail isn’t great, the PC-like visuals lack luster, richness and even hue, but again, that’s the point. In other words, it’s not exactly pretty, but it’s extraordinarily apt.

The sound effects work hard to enhance the futuristic world in which you operate as a powerful agent. The background ambient effects never let you forget that things have changed, and the soundtrack is also fitting. All of it seems to kick up a notch during intense, white-knuckle situations (which are too few and far between in the campaign, by the way). The voice acting is decent with flashes of really supreme talent, and this too adds weight to the immersive, somewhat intimidating climate.

Emotion and human feeling has taken a permanent backseat in this depressing vision of a technologically superior civilization where only money matters, and human life is almost secondary when compared to the advancement of science. At first, although I’m not a fan of the background and style, I immediately wanted to know more: what the hell is EuroCorp even trying to do? How did they come to have such power? And so what if I don’t go get this thing, or stop this person? See, I never really got any answers, even though I really wanted them.

Too much of the plot is told through the incessant – and sometimes irritating – delivery of information and details. It felt probably the way a computer feels when it’s fed data…oh, okay, computers don’t “feel” but then again, neither did I. The solid voice acting, great backdrop, and compelling situations are all pluses, but they almost become minuses when the developers don’t follow through with their initial story presentation. So much of this game reminded me of Deus Ex: Human Revolution , but the latter exhibited, perhaps surprisingly, a more personal flair.

But above the lack of emotion and feeling sits the gameplay, as this is of course an interactive experience. And in this category, Starbreeze does a good job of giving us a mechanic that allows us to approach first-person shooting combat with a familiar yet jazzed-up panache. The familiar part comes with the smooth aiming and firing system, combined with a decent cover mechanic that might remind you of Killzone . The only flaw here is that cover doesn’t always seem to work. Bullets have a mysterious way of…finding you. Magic bullets, sometimes.

But that jazzed-up portion I mentioned comes from your prodigious set of abilities that just beg to be used on a frequent basis. You’ve probably seen promotional footage of the suicide skill, which lets you fog the mind of a foe who in turn disposes of himself. It almost feels wrong; as if you’ve become God for a few seconds and can completely dominate another’s mind to the point where survival instinct is overridden. Crazy. Then there’s the persuade application, which turns an enemy into an ally; extremely useful and not quite so grim.