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)