Syndicate is a rebirth of the 1993 cult favorite. Although Bullfrog Productions’ original creation was an isometric, real-time tactical game, Starbreeze Studios is taking the cyberpunk world towards a new direction with their upcoming first-person shooter remake. Set in the year 2069, the world is controlled by a set of syndicates. The syndicates of bio-engineers produce neural chips to help people digest data and control the technology around them. This is where you step in, as an agent of Eurocorp by the name of Miles Kilo.

In an attempt to convince you of your role as an agent in a world that is defined by brain chips and augmentations, literally every item is highlighted to you. Initially my reaction was to approach it and investigate, because surely pressing some variation of buttons will grant me experience points, log item information, reveal hidden treasures or at least interact with me in some way. As a gamer, I assume that items - particularly ones that are highlighted to me - must have some sort of significance. On asking the developers what the significance of bringing my attention to these labeled items was, however, they simply noted that my brain chip was acknowledging their existence and storing this new found data. Because obviously I have yet to encounter a couch, and my chip needs to analyze it to be able to recognize this breaking discovery.

It’s instances like these that trouble me into questioning how captivating the overall storyline will be, particularly after having only recently come away from a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Will there be other instances of halfhearted attempts at immersing you into this technology-centered society and storyline? Given that my short, probably 20-minute demo barely scratched the surface of this game, it is yet to be seen. But it’s definitely a note I’ve written down to verify when the full game releases in February.

The gameplay has changed drastically from the game’s predecessor. Opting for a first-person shooter experience over the isometric, tactical action game that once was Syndicate, die-hard fans might be troubled by the switch in gameplay, but the developers at Starbreeze are firm in their decision, noting that it’s a “game for today’s gamers.” The fact that we’re already in a very watered down FPS market doesn’t even concern the team. They’re adamant that the idea of technology threatening our lifestyles in a scarily pervasive, and also scarily realistic (to a degree) way will captivate people enough to distinguish Syndicate from the very many other FPS titles out there.

I’m still not convinced, though. The only somewhat unique weapon we were able to see during the demo (which takes place in the second level of the game) was one of the prototypes being developed in the syndicate we were infiltrating. This weapon locks on to a target and will home-in from any angle you shoot from thereafter. There are a few environmental puzzles that take advantage of this weapon. After breaching nearby pipes, I was able to freeze the adjacent window and target the lock on a door through there. Shoot anywhere, and the bullets will still automatically target whatever you previously locked on to.

It’s certainly interesting to play with a new grasp of understanding of your weapon, but the other weapons were fairly underwhelming. The gameplay does enter interesting grounds when you factor in the breach mechanic, however. As most of the enemies you encounter have biochips implanted into their brains, you can often breach the chip and command them to commit suicide. Computers and other technology can also be controlled when you’re given the cue for it. The current three hacking abilities you have at your disposal are “Suicide,” “Persuasion,” and “Backfire.” Complex was told that multiplayer would introduce several more interesting hacking mechanics, but they are yet to be revealed. We’re hoping for some really innovative abilities that stir the undoubtedly innately competitive soul of players.

When playing with the breach mechanic, moving pods to ensure enemies have no cover or disabling shields on mechanical enemies, it quickly feels like you’re multi-tasking like a badass. After setting one person to commit suicide, I quickly transitioned to grabbing the closest enemy to snap his neck and then used my rifle to rid of the rest of the footmen. Hiding around a corner, I could easily breach the flying turrets and kill them off in their weakened state.

Although a short journey, Syndicate proved to be a fast-paced, killer’s multi-tasking experience. Although perhaps not as distinguished from other FPSes on the market as the team behind the game would like to believe, it does reinvent a classic cult favorite and will hopefully flesh out the ideas of how technology can quickly become an invasive, political and corporate issue in our futuristic lives. All criticisms aside, that’s always a fun topic to revisit. Look for the game when it releases in North America on February 21.