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)

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  • DannyMB - March 8, 2012 9:07 a.m.

    Haha! Its actually a shame, takes away from what look like some decent art assets. Do we have Valve to blame for "bloom"? Seem to remember they introduced it with Source back in the day.
  • Kermit1970 - March 8, 2012 9:15 a.m.

    Blooming 'Eck
  • cosmicshambles - March 8, 2012 9:26 a.m.

    Funny stuff. Come clean though Houghton, how much did you turn the brightness up? Eh? Eh?
  • GR_DavidHoughton - March 8, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    Did not change a single setting, I promise. Even with the console dimming the display after a few minutes inactivity, this thing BEAMS.
  • cosmicshambles - March 8, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    Crikey, I was sure you'd boosted it a little - artistic license or whatever. That's insane. You probably have eye cancer now.
  • FearlessRaven - March 8, 2012 9:38 a.m.

    Woot! Classic Gamesradar articles! This is why I read your site (also this article is awesome!)
  • wingsdjy - March 8, 2012 9:43 a.m.

    GA! My eyes! The goggles, they do nothing! Side question: What's the blue circle indicator at the bottom-center of all the screens? Seems pretty distracting.
  • comaqi - March 8, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    Wow. I'm glad I live in a world where I can turn bloom lighting off. Because that's the ONLY way I'm ever going to play this game. Fantastic article by the way. Stuff like this is why Gamesradar is the home of the internet.
  • TwinHallow - March 8, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    Dude you are Funny as hell I enjoyed this Article all the why through
  • NanoElite666 - March 8, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    My eyeballs hurt.
  • HughJass41 - March 8, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    Hilarious article! but no joke this is exactly how the game looks, on my computer monitor it lights up my room like an artificial sun. It baffles me to think the developers thought this was a good idea.
  • ObliqueZombie - March 8, 2012 10:09 a.m.

    Hahaha, great article, Mr. Houghton. Now I know I won't be getting this game, because my eyes are literally strained from watching a few screens. And I'm used to playing games for hours and hours on end.
  • lordlundar - March 8, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams saw these screens and had an orgasm. Then proceeded to sue the makers for infringement.
  • Jacko415 - March 8, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Come on. His lighting craze is more on par with mass effect lighting. Mostly Horizonal bleeds. Except that one scene at the end of Star Trek when their entire cockpit is a lighting effects cocktail.
  • radiodeaf - March 8, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    yeesh... what a sad attempt at cheap lighting systems to cover whatever messed up graphics they have.
  • JSayonara - March 8, 2012 10:47 a.m.

    And God said "Let there be light" Then he saw this game and made a mental note to next time around install a dimmer switch.
  • Jacko415 - March 8, 2012 12:01 p.m.

    ^^Made me giggle
  • kingsmikefan - March 8, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    Good God, why? Why? Thank you Houghton, for I know you share the same cause as me: destroy bloom lighting.
  • FOZ - March 8, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    This isn't anything new for Starbreeze. Riddick's Eyeshine might as well have been called "Bloomvision," and apparently he sees everything through a fisheye lens.
  • FortyVsZero - March 8, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    Great article Dave, gave me some serious laughs! Last 6 screens are the best thing I've seen in a while

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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