56 eye-melting screens of the most hilariously over-the-top bloom lighting in video game history

The chances are you haven't paid much attention to EA and Starbreeze's Syndicate. A reboot of Bullfrog's 1993 cyberpunk RTS, it has garnered bad press across the board by baring only minimal resemblance to the original. And as far as being a first-person cyberpunk game in its own right, being released in early 2012 has found Syndicate so deeply in Deus Ex's shadow as to require a whole lot of squinting to even spot it.

I started playing it the other night. So far I've discovered it to be a decent shooter, but I've also found it to be something else entirely. Utterly hilarious. The reason? An excessive, obsessive, utterly ludicrous obsession with nonsensically over-the-top blurry bloom lighting effects; one so severe that I spent three quarters of my play time genuinely believing that my character was crying in remorse at all the killing he was dealing out. Seriously,. Syndicate looks so insane that I felt compelled to document my adventures for you, through the well-trusted journalistic art-form of screenshots and captions. So I did.

So join me, if you will, as I take you on a guided tour of the first hour or so of Syndicate, via the medium of excessive lighting effects. However silly you imagine this getting, you are not imagining silly enough, trust me.

Above: Title screen. Bit of a statement of intent with that bloom on the text, but title screens have to be flashy. I'm going to let this one go.

Above: The game begins. I'm being beaten up. But I'm not distracted enough to fail to notice the bloom in the top right, and the worrying amount of glow coming off my attacker's clothing. Oh well, maybe it's supposed to evoke the blurry vision of a drubbing victim

Above: No! No it isn't! This is how real life looks in Syndicate. Like being at the bottom of the sea, basically

Above: Or having just got out of the sea, having been snorkelling without goggles

Above: Okay, so there's an enemy search light at the window. That sort of explains it

Above: But it doesn't explain why the entire sky above me is glowing. Has the sun finally exploded? Is Syndicate set that far into the future? The box doesn't mention anything like that

Above: No, it seems that the city is actually just that bright. No-one down there has been able to sleep in 37 years, you know

Above: Okay, I can just about excuse that amount of bloom in a neon-drenched city skyline, but now we're underground. And there's only one small light. And nothing reflective. Hmmm...

Above: Right, screw it. Syndicate, I am giving you no more excuses. This is just ridiculous. What the hell is causing the bloom in this room? What? Are my character's cyber-eyes covered in vaseline and cleaning agent from a recent polish and re-insertion? Right, the gloves are off. Let's see how deep this rabbit hole goes...(Spoiler: It goes DEEP)


  • NullG7 - March 17, 2012 10:45 p.m.

    I personally had nowhere near ad much of a problem with light bleed while I played it. Not one bit. Still hilarious though, let this be a warning! IF a game tells you to turn down your brightness DO IT.
  • reaperman22 - March 13, 2012 5:38 a.m.

    well when we reach this future the Estacado family is screwed
  • purple_omlet - March 9, 2012 10:13 p.m.

    They need to take that brightness and put some of it in Mass Effect 3.
  • hamish-rae - March 9, 2012 6:08 p.m.

    f'ing hilarious
  • Windus - March 9, 2012 5:09 p.m.

    Nice Velvet Underground reference up there.
  • AuthorityFigure - March 9, 2012 4:40 p.m.

    When an effect becomes so heavily relied upon for the entire game, it makes me wonder how it got through the play-testing.
  • usmovers_02 - March 9, 2012 12:33 p.m.

    Thank god they're switching to the Unreal Engine. I love Starbreeze but ever since the original Chronicles of Riddick something has just been OFF about the graphics of each of their games, despite having overall good graphics. This one takes the cake.
  • CitizenWolfie - March 9, 2012 7:32 a.m.

    I do like Bloom lighting if used sparingly. The "Faultlines" trailer for BF3 looked incredible partly to do with the insane lighting effects. However I didn't expect the whole game to have it! It's not so bad in multiplayer but it makes the SP campaign even more unplayable.
  • obliviondoll - March 9, 2012 5:19 a.m.

    "it has garnered bad press across the board by baring only minimal resemblance to the original." Firstly, that should be "bearing" Secondly, bad press across the board would imply mostly negative or mixed reviews, not mostly positive reviews with some mixed and a couple of negative reviews. Lets as Metacritic which of those patterns the game ACTUALLY fits, shall we? And third point - only minimal resemblance? I take it you never PLAYED the originals (not just "original" - there's an "s" on the end because it's PLURAL. There were TWO previous games) "Above: I'm not even going to try to explain how a sight this could occur in real life. Not without bringing psychotropic self-medication into the equation" Nope... REALLY didn't play the originals...
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - March 9, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    Still a boring, shitty game.
  • Cwf2008 - May 30, 2013 6:38 p.m.

    ""Above: I'm not even going to try to explain how a sight this could occur in real life. Not without bringing psychotropic self-medication into the equation" Nope... REALLY didn't play the originals..." And that sentence or image has what to do with the originals?
  • gazdog9 - March 9, 2012 12:21 a.m.

    Bloomin' awful ! Aha , Aha ha , Aha ha ha..... word play
  • aratiatia - March 8, 2012 10:12 p.m.

    This is absolutely hilarious! Hilarious!
  • Craza - March 8, 2012 8:25 p.m.

    Pretty damn good article, I laughed hard! I have never seen so much glare and bloom in my life! My eyes were hurting just looking a still shot. I can't even imagine playing this game with all of that.
  • birdman1041 - March 8, 2012 7:36 p.m.

    Funny! This guy had the same reaction:
  • ThatGamerDude - March 8, 2012 7:30 p.m.

    Dat light. So has anyone else been sent to the eye doctor because of this?
  • roryking1981 - March 8, 2012 7 p.m.

    Reminds me of BF3 preupdate.
  • brickman409 - March 9, 2012 5:23 p.m.

    i was thinking the same thing
  • Rudorlf - March 8, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    There's a way to cut off the effect on PC, but yeah, who would want to be immerse in a world full of "flashbang" fluorescent lights. (I'm fine with bloom lightnings, but this is just ridiculous.)
  • SideOfBeef - March 8, 2012 3:28 p.m.

    'Dat last page.

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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