Game: "Syndicate"
System: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Electronic Arts

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 6/26/2008

Review: Bullfrog was one of my favorite game studios, and seeing it shut down by EA killed me a little inside. At least we can look back fondly on the list of classic games they've given us, not the least of which being my favorite futuristic organized crime simulator, Syndicate.

In the future, corporations become so big that they dwarf the governments of the world. That's bad enough by itself, but then one of the corporations developed a device called the CHIP. Just plug it into your brain and suddenly, the world doesn't look so crappy anymore. Sure, it leaves you open to auto-suggestion, but hey, you won't care. This opens the door for crime syndicates to take over the companies, and then wouldn't you know it, they start waging war in the streets with cyborg agents for control of the world.

And you get to be a young up-and-coming executive in the Eurocorp syndicate. You get your own R&D department, your own stable of cyborg agents, and even your own blimp! Life is good, and it will continue to be good as long as you don't screw up.

Your cyborg agents have many advantages over the regular folk. Free will isn't among them thankfully, but you have something even better than that: drugs. Each of your agents can be given drugs to affect their Adrenaline, Intelligence, and Perception. Crank up their adrenaline and they'll turn into marathon runners; boost their perception and they'll shoot with greater accuracy; boost their intelligence and they'll start taking smart shots with choice weapons. Max them all out and your agents will mow down every threat that comes within shooting distance of them. There's still something to be said about direct control over your agents, but when they're being assailed from all sides, you want them to be able shoot every bad guy with pinpoint accuracy the moment they get too close.

But maybe the direct approach isn't the way you want to go. That's when you have to use the game's most famous device: the persuadertron. This wonderful device allows you to brainwash any civilian that gets close to you and turns them into a mindless thrall willing to die for your agent. Give them a gun and they'll even fire along with your agent. Even the police will fall in line, once you get enough “persuasion points”, that is, once you have enough people already under your control. Enemy agents, too, can be persuaded (which is incidentally the only way to acquire new agents), but you'll need plenty of persuasion points for them. At first.

What cyberpunk game would be complete without cybernetic implants? Each of your agents can be decked out with a number of cybernetic parts, like a steel chest to reflect those nasty bullets, or arms for carrying around the big guns, and even brains for giving them an edge when using the persuadertron.

But ordinary, run-of-the-mill weapons and implants will only take you so far. That's where R&D comes in. All the territories you conquer through various missions will pay you taxes, and that money can be used either to buy stuff, or research new stuff. Any undiscovered weapons you find will contribute to your research, and increasing your research budget will get the job done faster. Plus, if you leave the game running while you go and eat some food/run some errands, you can rack up a huge wad and walk into the second mission with armored chests and lasers.

As much as I love the game, it is not without it's problems. One of the smaller annoyances of the game is the fact that you have to manually reload all your weapons after each mission. I understand that ammo costs money, but when you've got 4 gun-toting cyborgs spraying bullets into the general populace until they submit, that gets to be a lot of extra clicking when you should be doing more shooting.

The biggest problem, though, is the pathing the game. Your cyborgs have no mind of their own, this is true, but they seem to have quite a bit of trouble navigating any path more complex than a straight line. What's worse, if there's an overhead obstacle like a guardtower or railway, your agents will fan out and try to find a way up to that spot, even if none exists. This gets even worse when in a car, as clicking on a faraway spot involving more than one curve can result in your agents doing donuts in the middle of an intersection. And god help you if you accidentally click on an overhanging obstacle while driving.

Still, if you can work around that snag and managed your heavily armed, drug-fueled cyborgs properly, you'll love this game. It requires a certain degree of strategy and management, but not so much that casual players will be overwhelmed. And if you can't handle it, just juice up your agents and pray they can shoot their way out.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Jun 30th, 2008, 03:56 AM
Oooooh man, what a great game this was. It had a perfect balance of strategy and carnage. And boy howdy, how bout that collateral damage? I loved a mission where you had to assassinate some guy riding in a convoy; so you just stood a mile away with your gauss cannon and wiped out half the neighbourhood. Boootiful.
Reptilus Rex
Jun 30th, 2008, 12:10 PM
I'm not sure if it was a sequel or a port to the PLaystation, but a few years back (like 10) I was playing Syndicate Wars on my good old PS1. I remember it mostly because I was 11 years old playing a game with Ghost in the Shell advertisements. There were boobies.
Funky Dynamite
Jun 30th, 2008, 12:23 PM
It was both. Syndicate Wars was the sequel, which was then ported to the PS1.
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:56 PM
I remember the first Syndicate game being really really hard. Or at least having a pretty sharp learning curve. It was fun once you got the hang of it though. Some of the flaws in this game were fixed in the sequel, Syndicate Wars. I liked that one even more then the first.
Jun 30th, 2008, 01:59 PM
When we were playing this game many years ago, one of my buddies started ad libing words to the background music. I remember that song to this day

Guys in Coats
Guys with hats
Guys with Guns and Baseball bats.

Makes me smile everytime I sing it, I don't know why.
Jun 30th, 2008, 08:44 PM
God, I miss Bullfrog. :C
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:19 AM
I find this review fascinating. It certainly helped me comprehend the great essence of this game. Say... Is there a way to get this game in these days?
Forum Virgin
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:34 AM
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I'll talk to people who say they remember all the good old computer games and I'll mention this game and they look at me like I have a dikfor on my head. I'm so happy that someone loves this game as much as I do. I still remember on the harder levels later on how angry I would get trying to get my top of the line agents away from the clans of bad guys and I would accidentaly hit one of the elevated train tracks. That did suck.
Turrican't. :(
Jul 1st, 2008, 03:54 AM
This game was hard and boring but there was a robot boobie so 5/5 BEST GAME EVER.
Mexican Rambo Doll
Jul 1st, 2008, 01:22 PM
Fuck, I hate EA.Wouldn't release Thrill Kill, wants to take over every single video game company. Now I find out that closed down a good video game company. They have probably closed down more, I just don't feel like doing the research.
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:42 PM
This sounds like a really good version of this game called Crime Fighter 2.
Funky Dynamite
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:48 PM
I don't know what you're talking about, but this is more a game about committing crimes, rather than fighting them.
Forum Virgin
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:16 PM
I loved playing this game! A little hint: if you want to start the game with all your research done, top of the line cyborgs, and a butt-load of money, I believe you had to call your company "cooper team". Not sure if that works for the PS1 version though.
taco loving zombie
Jul 2nd, 2008, 10:23 PM
you kno i have a little request could you make the picks for weekly reviews bigger or clickable in some way?
Scruffy drunken Brit
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:48 AM
No Syndicate, no GTA.

Cheers for reviewing this, brought back some good memories. Me and my best mate still go through periods where we mash our way through Syndicate Wars, only to spend ages and ages doing the last few levels. Horrifying.

Apparently someone has bought the name, not sure though. I do know Peter Molyneux has expressed interest in there being a sequel.

I don't know if I'd prefer it in its lovely top down go there shoot that form or in an engine like the GTA4 one... It'd make the flying cars and explosions a lot more interesting though!
Jul 5th, 2008, 04:16 PM
I loved this game, though I wasn't very good. I remember once inputing a code that jumped you to the last mission and being killed in two seconds. Its like Mike Tyson Punch Out all over again.