Posts Tagged ‘Rts’

Syndicate 4-Player Co-op Trailer: That’s more like it!

Syndicate 4-player co-op

When the new Syndicate was announced we advised people to give it the benefit of the doubt. It was a game with a history beloved by video gamers and fans of RTS the world over. It was one of the better parts of video game history and as such Starbreeze Studios has some rather big shoes to fill. As the trailers and screenshots and gameplay tailers came out we began to get a little worried that some of the elements that made Syndicate so great were being left out in favor of other, more modern, elements. With this trailer many of these fears have been put to rest:

I don’t know what it is about a team of 4 Syndicate agents in long coats that makes me shudder with delight, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t do it every time. While this doesn’t clue us into every gameplay element in the 4-player co-op in Syndicate it does let us know a few things.

Syndicate Staples

For starters we know that they are maintaining the integrity of 4 member teams in Syndicate. This is good because it will allow you to plan and strategize without simply just trying to overwhelm. In this light it won’t be a standard online FPS.  Additionally they’ve carried over the “trench coat” style from the original Syndicate. While this isn’t something that will make or break the game it’s still nice to see it carried through. There’s a thematic styling that should be maintained and Starbreeze seems to be attempting to do just that.

Around 0:37 into the clip we see an agent pick up a package. This lets us know that the there will be more than deathmatch style gameplay in this FPS co-op. Not every mission in Syndicate was about killing other agents. There were assassinations, recon, and personnel acquisition. Each of these elements could play an interesting role in the online multiplayer. We suspect (or at least hope) that what we witnessed was a piece of intelligence gathering or reconnaissance.

Syndicate Changes

While we catch a glimpse of my personal favorite weapon from Syndicate (the minigun) we still don’t see any use of a Persuadetron. However we have yet to see any real use for it. The other thing we notice is that this seems to be directed at direct combat in some form of corridor. The nice thing about Syndicate was that it was open, there was life, people, and random things to blow up. The “only us vs. them” approach is not what Syndicate was about.

Syndicate 4 player co-op trailer

There has to be people somewhere that aren't shooting at us

Open the map up and throw some civilians in it. Allow agents to blend in, persuade people to be human shields, and wreak untold havoc. Agents didn’t always notice you and that’s what made it fun. When you’re the only thing on the board moving around you pretty much know you’re going to get shot. Think more Assassins Creed: Brotherhood less CoD.

In fact that lack of true tactics was not all we didn’t see. Vehicles were nice in Syndicate because they allowed you to blend in. They also allowed you to drive around 150 of your closest persuaded friends. We see them littering the landscape but nothing interactive or engaging. It’s this element that helped make the original Syndicate so much fun.

However just because we didn’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there, it just means that it wasn’t in this 1:43 gameplay trailer. Starbreeze Stuidios have themselves  a very  interesting video game on their hands. If done properly their online co-op could create a whole new style of online play for first person shooters. Or they could just shoot for average run of the mill co-op. Only time will tell what they have in store for us, but we’re waiting with our hopes held high.

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Game of Thrones: Genesis Preview

game of thrones genesis

Many video gamers have a soft spot in their hearts for the RTS genre of games.  There was a time when real time strategy was everywhere and these were great times. However in recent years they haven’t shown themselves to be quite the mainstay they once were giving way to FPS, RPGs, and the like. That is not to say that there are no good RTS video games still out there being made. I think most people are aware of a little game called StartCraft 2 that came out last year. This is really a shame since many of us assumed that in this culture of online gaming this would be a genre that would have been everywhere. Again, there are still the very popular mainstays and new arrivals but they don’t hold the clout that they once did.

game of thrones genesis the wall

I expected the wall to be a little bigger.

However things may be turning for the better. With the popular series A Song of Ice and Fire and it’s HBO series Game of Thrones it seems only natural that we were going to see a video game adaptation. While some expected a thematic massacre through some open world Action-RPG when we heard RTS we got intrigued. This could very easily do this series justice and help it reach an audience that may not have been able to experience it. I know, I know, but there is bound to be a few people out there that haven’t read it or seen it.

Cyanide Studios has been working with George R.R. Martin (the author of the series) to bring to life a very interesting world of political intrigue and bloody war. OH! Also dragons. CHECK THAT OUT!

While there is a very strong potential for some wonderfully engaging and interesting multiplayer for the moment we are going to be focusing on the single player aspect of A Game of Thrones: Genesis.

A Game of Thrones: Genesis – Preview

In A Game of Thrones: Genesis you choose to start things off by selecting which house you wish to be the head of. Once you select your house you’re off in the world of Westeros. As you play you can determine how you will amass power and prestige. Your actions are not limited to waging a bloody battle. According to the website for A Game of Thrones: Genesis:

In this strategy game, victory does not necessarily result from brute force. You can of course choose to use a military approach and besiege your opponents, but you may also strangle them in an economical war, or use all the dirty tricks possible and subtle diplomacy to politically crush them.

a game of thrones genesis

Who doesn't love spring break on the beach? With an army....

While waging war is always fun it’s nice to see an RTS take a different approach to what strategy really means. There are always other means to do battle and key theme in A Song of Ice and Fire is that a blade is not always the best way to kill a person. Politics is a dirty game and you’re going to have to play it because if you don’t someone else will play it for you. Usually to your detriment.

However there are ways to remove your prestige too. If you’re attacking a castle during peace time, found to be working in some duplicitous plot, or even if you own bastard children start to run amok then you’re going to have to do some additional work to correct what’s going wrong.

This is going to take an interesting turn in the RTS world to take gaming out of just “build a base, build units, align troops, and attack.” What A Game of Thrones looks to deliver is the world of Westeros with all of it’s ups, downs, and quirky assholes. Me personally I’m hoping I get to see the Imp.

A Game of Thrones: Genesis – System Requirements

Now this is a PC only release. This means that there are going to be a few system requirements for you to worry about. However as of right now we really don’t know what they are. Once we know though, we’ll keep this updated for you. What we do know is that you’re going to need a computer. Probably something to interact with the computer (like a keyboard and mouse) and some form of operating system. I know, we really gave you some deep insight there.

edit: Wow, can’t believe I messed up the name of the series. Thanks hearshot

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Syndicate Announced – Get the Persuadetrons Ready

Syndicate Announced

In what we can easily call “yesterday’s news” EA announced that they were working to bring us another game from a long while ago. In 1993 PC gamers everywhere were introduced to Bullfrog’s critically acclaimed Syndicate. Syndicate was an RTS where you took control of a group of agents to complete missions however necessary, usually a shootout. What made it so phenomenal was the video games ability to let you do almost anything from take vehicles, use a weapon called a “Persuadetron” to amass an army of people (who would somehow all fit into the vehicle you’ve taken) and then after enough people you could begin to persuade opposing agents. What would ensue would be a firefight of epic proportions with a ridiculously high body count. Once you had control of a territory you decided taxes and ultimately had to fight to maintain control of your territory.

Old Syndicate

Now I'm going to have to reload this game and play it again.

It was, in a word, amazing. This is why when people first saw the announcement from EA heralding a new Syndicate people got very excited. Shortly thereafter upon learning that this next installment was to be a first person shooter people got…let’s just say somewhat grouchy. While yes, a FPS is in fact a wild departure from an RTS it’s certainly not a game ender. I mean hey, it worked for Fallout, right?

What made Syndicate so much fun wasn’t based on the fact that it was an RTS it was because it was an AWESOME video game to play. Sure the vantage point in the upcoming version is going to be different but Starbreeze Studios isn’t coming into this blind.

In an interview with the Official Xbox Magazine they said:

We’re big fans of the original Syndicate, and we’re definitely paying as much homage to it as we can – bringing across the essence of the world, the core essence of what it is to be an Agent. That sounds wanky but it’s true – we’re taking the Persuadatron and evolving it in different ways, the weapons and brutality. On both facets of the game, the co-op and the single player, it’s very key to stay true to it.

Simply put, we haven’t seen any true gameplay footage yet, just a few screens. We don’t know the specifics of the game, just that it’s planned on coming to the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. But there are some things that we do hope that we see.

1.) Persuadetron – The Syndicate’s Lil’ Helper

Seriously, this was the most amazingly fantastic part of Syndicate. There was something phenomenal about being able to wander around walking past people and suddenly having them follow you and operate as a human shield. Some of them would even pick up weapons and fight for you. This simple tool has to be a mainstay of the game. If we see a person we should be able to turn them into a movable bullet catcher.

2.) Strategy – Without it, Syndicate is just another FPS

While the persuading was fun that wasn’t the only aspect that made the game interesting. Keeping territories in line while constantly expanding your reach was the fundamental point of the video game. However Starbreeze can work it in I’m sure they will do just fine. What I would love to see is a Deus Ex: Human Revolution style “There is more than one way to get this done” method to territory capturing. While this is most likely a very lofty hope, it would be nice to find other tactics other than “brute force capture.”

I would enjoy working a small drug ring into a territory and growing it to a full blown cartel that has every politician and important figure under it’s thumb. There is something to be said for subversion. However there will always be a time when a simple flame thrower will work nicer.

3.) Upgrade – Seriously, Syndicate agents need help

Upgrading and modifying characters are nothing new to video games. But with Syndicate we have so much more potential. Take a lesson from every great modern RPG and let the users develop characters the way they want to. Instead of three super upgraded and unstoppable soldiers being able to create a specialized team to work through various challenges and missions together to accomplish a goal.

4.) Team – It’s what keeps a Syndicate together

Syndicate Main Character

He doesn't look like a team of 4 people...

The team of 4 cyborgs was part of the fun. Working on correct positioning and weapon loadouts before the mission became something my young mind of 13 would obsess over. “Do I want to bring the mini gun or the flame thrower? Do I have a backup Persuadetron just in case my number 1 guy falls?” We know they have stated that there will be multiplayer and one can assume that this would be the simplest integration of the team aspect, but what about during a single player campaign? It’s finding a good way to not only make the team present in a way that makes sense and has them provide value but also finds a way to maintain a seamless transition between team members.

5.) Keep the immersion – I was a Syndicate exec after all

If there is one thing Syndicate did exceptionally well was the level of immersion. They didn’t provide you with a “game book”. They gave you an executive manual. You weren’t a player. You were a Syndicate Executive in charge of a team of agents. While in the original Syndicate you monitored them via a blimp in this version it looks like it may shape up to be something different. While in this new version you are more of a mercenary for the Eurocorp syndicate than an exec we can hope that they find a way to make us feel like we are in fact that hired gun.

Whatever Starbreeze does they are entering into a potentially volatile area. Success could push them into heights that were previously unheard of for them, failure could be ultimately destructive. One certainty is that we are all watching with high expectations and heavy interest.

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