Syndicate Syndicate

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“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is the infamous slogan of Sin City, but Video Games Plus journeyed to Las Vegas to bring you all the wild happenings of Electronic Arts’ inaugural “Vegas Game Show,” where EA unveiled info and details about some of the most exciting games coming out in the next six months. We had our hands on a remake of the classic PC game “Syndicate,” a sequel to “Shank” and “Battlefield 3."

Exclusive Look At “Syndicate”

EA blew the lid off of the remake of “Syndicate” -- a smart looking sci-fi action game that resembles “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” way more than its PC predecessor.

We were among the first to play an early pre-release demo of Syndicate and so far, it’s got a ton of promise. The first “Syndicate,” made by “Fable” creator Peter Molyneux’s Bullfrog Projections way back in 1993 was a strategy game that featured a top-down isometric perspective and involved ordering around four cyborg agents around in cyberpunk-themed
cities.

The remake is being handled by Swedish developer Starbreeze, best known for their games based on the “Riddick” movies. Much like 2KGames is doing with the remake of “XCom,” the new “Syndicate” is being reimagined as a first-person shooter.

The story is being created by British sci-fi author Richard Morgan (who also worked on EA’s “Crysis 2”) and is set in 2069, in a world where people have been implanted with special microchips in their brains. Three mega-corporations (known as syndicates) have taken over
the world and are at constant war with each other. You play as Miles Kilo, an enforcer for one of the corporations who has some special tricks up his sleeve.

It should be no surprise that gunplay is a large part of “Syndicate,” but what makes it unique is a new gameplay concept called “Breaching.” Miles has a military-grade chip that grants him the ability to breach other computer chips -- both standard chips installed in security
systems and computer mainframes and the ones in people’s heads.

This means, you can breach an enemy’s chip and cause them to go insane. Activating the “Suicide” ability early in the demo we played, caused an opponent to scream and flail wildly before shooting the other two people in the room with him and then turning the gun on himself.

Other breaching abilities will let you temporarily control enemies and make them fight on your side, bypass the shields of tough robotic foes or unlock doors and areas that are previous inaccessible. “Syndicate” also features some interesting weapons, like a Gauss rifle that lets
you shoot bullets that curve and go around obstacles to hit targets that you lock on.

EA says “Syndicate” will hit stores on February 21, 2012, in North America and February 24 in Europe for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Hands On With “Shank 2”

Shank is back and ready for more shanking action. “Shank 2” was the surprise announcement of Electronic Arts’ Vegas Game Show on Wednesday and will soon be ready for download.

The first “Shank” was stylish and cool, but had some major flaws that led to some mixed reviews from critics and gamers. Developer Klei Entertainment, however, claims they’ve heard some of the complaints about the original, and that the Quentin Tarantino-inspired, bloody side-scrolling action game is being rebuilt from the ground up.

"Creatively, Shank still has a lot to give," said Klei Entertainment's founder Jamie Cheng. "We took the feedback from the community and ran with it, putting our own flavor on every change. For Shank 2, we literally took apart the game and put it back together to push the envelope in combat mechanics, visuals, and 2D animation in games."

The cooperative two-player of the first game returns, this time with online co-op support for a brand new game type called “Survivor Mode” where you must survive waves of increasingly difficult enemies. We got to play a demo of the Survivor Mode at the Vegas Game Show, and we can tell you that it plays like “Gears of War 3” Horde mode meets the original Mario Bros as odd as that sounds. All of the action takes places on a single room that is divided into three floors -- each which can be leaped up or down to.

A variety of gun and knife-toting enemies come at you, and you must stab, shoot, or chainsaw them to death before they can get to you. In between waves, you can use money accumulated by nuggets of gold dropped by slain enemies to purchase a variety of temporary power-ups and special weapons like mines, auto-turrets and gatling guns. You can also take advantage of a new feature that lets you steal weapons from enemies and use them against other bad guys.

“Shank 2” is expected to hit PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and PC sometime in “early 2012.”

While waiting for the sequel, Xbox 360 owners can also get the original for a limited time for half price (600 points, $7.50) on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

BF3 Gets New Demo, Tournament

We also got to sample a mission from the single-player campaign of "Battlefield 3" first shown at the Tokyo Game Show and we're happy to say that it's shaping up rather nicely. The demo is Operation Guillotine, a mission set on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran. You play as Marine Sgt Henry Blackburn and your mission is to provide back up to an assault of an enemy base located at a heavily guarded apartment block housing an enemy base.

It's a thrilling piece of gameplay that shows off "Battlefield 3"'s graphical and audio heft. The mission takes place under a dark night sky and the real-time lighting effects are breathtaking.

We were also told that the game's sound team actually recorded audio of the gun's real life counterparts firing and it shows. If you close your eyes, there were times where "Battlefield 3" sounds more like a war documentary than a video game.

EA also announced at the Vegas Game Show that they are partnering with Virgin Gaming to host the Battlefield 3 Worldwide Conquest Tournament in early 2012. The pot for the tourney is a pretty penny at $1.6 million. The organizers of the tournament say it will be the biggest console competition in history that will be played totally online until a live “grand finale.” “Battlefield 3” just entered it’s open beta stage, so it’s never too early to start practicing, especially when there’s this much moolah at stake.

Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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