Published by: Electronic Arts
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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