PayDay developer Overkill Software has posted a big counter on its website. It's more than a month until we find out what it's counting down to, which suggests something significant. What could it be? Well, it's going to be a video game, probably. Hopefully it's not just more PayDay 2 content, or a big song and dance about the PS4 and Xbox One editions of that game, because that's not very signficant.
It’s only appropriate that Payday 2, which is all about stealing as much money as possible, is by far Starebreeze’s best earning game. Today, a press release from the developer revealed that it made $6.1 million between October and December 2013, $5.3 million of which came from Payday 2.
The premise of Brothers – communicated entirely through theatrical gestures and conversations in an untranslated fantasy language – is as affecting and uncomplicated as the journey that follows. A dying father sends his two sons to the other end of the world to search for a cure for his mystery illness. You must guide the brothers through a beautiful but monstrous fantasy world full of dark creatures and contrived puzzles.
In theory, the job was easy. But then again, aren’t they all? Me and three other wiseguys would hit this bank, break into the vault and make off with the cash housed within. Being the people person that I am, my job was to make sure none of the customers got any funny ideas about being a hero, calling the cops or whatever.
So after I’d killed the security guard outside and sweet-talked the dispatcher on the other end of his pager, I’d waltz into the lobby – all calm and serious, like – and start tying up those innocent bystanders. In the meantime, our safecracker would kindly persuade the manager to hand over his keycard, shut off the security system and get drilling on the vault, while the two other members of our operation searched for any civilians we’d missed in the backrooms and kept an eye outside. Easy, right?
Starbreeze used to be the AAA market’s guns for hire - now they’re making games for themselves. Curious, charming and mechanically novel games, in fact, like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. For a Starbreeze game, there’s a notable lack of shivving involved, as you steer two brothers on a quest to retrieve medicine for their dying father. You control each brother simultaneously using the thumbsticks of a control pad, and each reacts to the world in a different way, with the game asking you to navigate its obstacles through a peculiar and innovative form of asymmetrical self-cooperation. But it’s more than a puzzler; every interaction describes the touching co-dependence of the siblings and their individual personalities with surprising power and elegance.
It’s a project conceived and helmed by Josef Fares: a Swedish-Lebanese film director of some repute. He’s also a self-professed hardcore gamer and a hyper-charismatic cocksure loudmouth - I mean that in the nicest possible sense. On publisher interference: “It's gonna be on my terms or it's not going to happen.” Kinect and Move: “Bullshit.” David Cage’s games: “Films are films and games are games. We need to find our own way of making story in games.” Max Payne: “After one hour you've played it already.” His own game: “If you don’t feel what I’m talking about and the uniqueness of it, you can kick me in the face.” He’s a man not short of opinions - but, hey, they’re all the right ones.
Interweb supersleuth Superannuation notes that a domain registrar associated with Square Enix picked up the warfornosgoth.com domain late last week, prompting speculation that somewhere, somehow, a new Legacy of Kain game is in the works (Nosgoth is the setting for the series). OXM noted an entry for a "Legacy of Kain videogame animation pitch" on artist Richard Buxton's LinkedIn profile listed back in 2011, and picked out some vampiric storyboard artwork from his online portfolio. A game, a film, a HD rerelease of all the Legacy of Kain games? All hands to the rumour mill.
Syndicate and Chronicles of Riddick developer Starbreeze Studios recently updated their website, posting details of an upcoming, and previously unanounced, sci-fi shooter, titled Storm. Details are extremely limited for now, with the game's page saying only, "Currently in development. Co-op Sci Fi FPS. It is our future." There's also a picture. It shows pipes, gantries and a complete lack of any other defining features.
Obviously inspired by the events of their recently released Syndicate, Swedish developers Starbreeze are out to get Overkill Software, the creators of co-op multiplayer bank robbery game Payday: the Heist. Starbreeze want to buy the similarly Swedish studio and fold them into the company under their banner.
Were Starbreeze to adopt the corporate tactics of Syndicate's Miles Kilo, they'd drop into Overkill's offices via future helicopter thing, murder everyone in the IT department, and pull something out of their CEO's brain. But somewhat fortunately, they're not doing that - they're going through the proper business channels and waiting on the go-ahead from their shareholders.
The Syndicate reboot was a quite a step down for Starbreeze after their work on the Chronicles of Riddick games. After Syndicate shipped, 25 jobs were cut, and the company's future started to look a little shaky. GI.biz have news that they're planning to bounce back with a free to play game called Cold Mercury.
Starbreeze CEO, Mikael Nermark, insisted that "Starbreeze will not leave the AAA segment." They're also looking to make a game in collaboration with Swedish film director Josef Fares called P13. There are no solid details about either title yet, but if they're not shooters I'll eat this fork that someone mysteriously left on my desk this morning. The Chronicles games were good, it'd be nice to see a return to form for Starbreeze.
Somewhere between the roomfuls of civilians cowering from his indiscriminate firstperson weapons fire, and his best work pal putting bullets into the skulls of an entire train’s worth of helpless innocents, you’d think Syndicate enforcer Miles Kilo would have worked out that his employers Eurocorp were not entirely ethical.
But the silent Miles is either pathologically selfish or as dopey as a biomechanically enhanced brush: he doesn’t care about his company’s inhumanity until it’s directed squarely at him. He just wades through near-future offices, doing the shooty bidding of his bosses, until the story takes a personal turn.
Syndicate's co-op mode should provide the closest experience to the Bullfrog original. Sort of. The four player mode will put you in the shoes of the squad of agents you controlled in the old games. The trailer mentions nine missions based on the original campaign, as well as 12 "breach applications." These are special abilities that let you hack into enemy equipment (including the chips in their brains) and revive downed allies. Like the weapons, you'll be able to customise these with upgrades earned as you progress. Find out more in our Syndicate preview.
Updated: Now including comments from the BBFC
EA and Starbreeze’s upcoming reboot of classic top-down tactical strategy game has effectively been banned in Australia - and EA won’t be censoring the game to ensure it gets a release in the antipodean country.
The decision came from the Australian Classification Board (ACB), who refused to classify the game. According to Kotaku Australia, the reason for the banning is the game’s violent scenes, which include dismemberment, decapitation, bisection, exposure of flesh and bone and arterial sprays of blood. Which all sound awesome.
Who could have possibly predicted that putting electronic chips in everyone's brains would one day backfire? The Syndicate trailers are looking pretty flashy, but it's still hard to tell how much choice you'll really have when confronting your corporate enemies. Will it be possible to stride through the whole game wielding nothing but a biro, hacking into the brains of everyone who stands in your way and doing away with them using a range of inventive cybernetic Jedi mind tricks? Hopefully yes. You can check out the Agent's less subtle armoury of heavy weapons in the previous Syndicate trailer.
Whatever Syndicate used to be, it is now a series about enormous guns and the various angles at which you can tilt them. Portable hacking will get you past some enemies, but there are dozens more waiting to wade in and take a clip of high tech bullets to the chest. Whatever they're being paid, it's not enough.
The trailer above shows how many of those guns will work, and the rapid fire shotgun looks especially cruel. There are also eleven new screenshots below, in which the player stands in the middle of Syndicate's futuristic cityscapes, peering through the lens flare at the side of each weapon. Look ahead, there are men over there trying to kill you!
The four player co-op missions in Starbreeze's new shooter are as close as we'll get to the death squads that we commanded all those years ago in the original Syndicate. See the co-op mode in action in the new Syndicate trailer above, spotted on Blue's News. The gleaming future world that Starbreeze envisage is a lot brighter and ... bluer than the dark streets of Bullfrog's game of strategic, corporate murder. See more of Syndicate's shiny environments in the 11 screenshots below.
The new Syndicate trailer is an odd one. It's an attempt to sketch a link between the modern Starbreeze shooter and the classic Bullfrog isometric strategy, but at the same time holds one up against the other, as though to say "hey, here's that classic you loved playing all those years ago, probably doesn't look as good as you remember, huh? WELL HERE'S OUR SHINY NEW FUTURE! It has machine-guns and a man removing part of another man's brain with a needle! And look at our explosions!" See more of those explosions, and some proper in-game footage in last week's Syndicate trailer.
I've been a bit apprehensive about the new Syndicate. However, so long as you're ok with Starbreeze's FPS interpretation, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the 11 minutes of gameplay footage as seen on OXM. It appears that Syndicate could be quite a competent shooter packing a few smart moves.
Chief among the features shown off is the hacking. The Syndicate team have clearly taken a leaf from the Deus Ex manual, with many things from modular room systems to even human brains being hackable. That's about as far as the influence goes though; hacking is not a play style, but rather a technique to accompany the exceptionally brash nature of this shooter. What appears to be a single button-press activated contextual hack will scramble electronic devices while you simultaneously blow the brains out of your enemies.
So does Syndicate look like it's heading in a direction you can approve of, or do you still wish Starbreeze had stayed true to the series' tactical origins?
So, Syndicate is going to be a first person shooter. Perhaps one day everything will get a first person shooter reboot, even Diablo 3. It's not entirely bad news. In fact, if you look at it as a new cyberpunk shooter from the creators of the excellent Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, it's quite an exciting prospect.
EA have told Gamasutra that Syndicate should be out in February next year, providing the PC version gets a release alongside the console versions. If not, we'll set phasers to grumpy and put a crack squad of cyborgs onto the streets to find out why. For more, check out the official Syndicate website. There's not much in the way of solid info on there, but we do learn that the main character's name is Miles Kilo, possibly the worst protagonist name since Prey 2 unveiled Killian Samuels.
UPDATE: Check out our Syndicate screenshots post for better versions of these pictures.
A remake of classic isometric strategy game series, Syndicate has been announced. The first details landed over the weekend.
The remake is being developed by Starbreeze Studios under the codename name 'Project Redlime' and will be a first person shooter with separate single player and four player co-op modes. The details first appeared on NeoGaf, after being picked up from a store page mistakenly uploaded to Origin. Shortly after that EA confirmed the game, and mentioned that a an official Syndicate website be launched shortly.
It's rumoured that the remake will feature hacking mechanics which will let players slow down time and see through walls by 'breaching the digital world around them'. All sounds a bit Matrix 1 to us. Meanwhile the co-op mode will apparently feature 9 're-imagined' levels from the original Syndicate.
Check inside for the first screens.