Syndicate


Title		Syndicate
Game Type	Combat simulation
Players		1
Compatibility	All
Submission	Mark Parsons mparsons@mcb.net

Review
Syndicate is an all-time classic. The sort that should have a coveted
place in everyone's collection, along with the likes of Flashback. It
could even go between Turrican 2 and SWIV if you put your games in
alphabetical order! (What about Switchblade 2?? Stop being pedantic!!)



But *why* is it a classic?

Well - several reasons, mostly along the lines of:
"it's a good game",
"it's fantastic",
"*I* like it",
"it's got big guns and blood in it",
and probably many more.

Perhaps these coherent arguments won't sway you, though. In which
case, read on, and have your appetite well-and-truly whetted...


First of all, if you haven't got an '020 or better, then you won't
think that this is as good as I'm plugging. Well, it is, until you
blow something up. And since the entire objective of Syndicate is,
more or less, to blow things up (usually the enemy), then a slower
processor will dull your enjoyment. Trust me. As soon as you see a
slow-motion shot of your rocket-attack at a vehicle, you'll
instinctively *know* that it is time to upgrade!!



Basically, Syndicate puts you in charge of a squad of Cyborgs -
biomechanically modified soldiers with *serious* attitude problems.
Your job is to "relieve" the different countires of the World from
the tyrannical machinations of the Enemy Syndicates (Boooh!!). This is
usually achieved by killing all the Enemies present in that region,
but can be something as simple (Hah! Yeah...) as kidnapping someone,
or assassinating a leader, or stealing some weaponry. The choice of
mission types is varied - you have a limited kind of decision as to
what to do next, although the eventual aim is to complete (conquer,
dominate, and maintain control of...) each country.


In the game, you look down upon the battle region from a zeppelin of
some description (even though this is supposed to be the future...),
where you can see everyday folk wandering around, doing everyday
things.

Of course, all this changes when your agents stroll in (or crawl if
you have a slow computer...) - civilians flee in all directions,
windows cave in as your shots go wide, policemen bravely (stupidly?)
chase after you and get mown down in a pool of blood. And then there's
the Enemy Agents. Some, well - most, of these are really stupid, and
just run towards you, only to be cut down in a hail of MiniGun fire,
or a LaserBeam, or a Rocket, but there *are* some devious, sneaky
types out there....They run away, and hide around corners, or in
buildings, or snipe at you from the roof of a nearby building. If your
agents start to die, and you can't see who it is, this is often the
cause ;) A swift 360-degree blast of hot lead or explosive rockets
usually sorts the problem out!
Luckily, there are often several opposing Syndicates in a region, so
you can sit tight in a safe place, and watch the Enemy cut each other
to pieces before venturing out and cleaning up! Most people would say
that doing this is boring, but what the heck! ;)


Whilst all this distant warfare is happening, everything can become
rather confusing; You may have up to 4 agents to control, either
individually, or as a team. It is therefore very easy to lose track of
where each of them is, and you suddenly find that they're falling like
Autumn leaves as you concentrate on the action elsewhere. Whoops!

Fortunate then, isn't it, that you can alter the performance of each
of your Agents! Implanted within each Cyborg is a "Drug-Hormone Level
Adjustment Thingumbob" (C)(R)(TM)(etc.)  that you can fiddle with.
There are three options to change - Intelligence, Perception, and
Adrenalin. These are manipulated by the simple act of moving a slider
bar - to the right increases the level of drug, making the Agent more
Intelligent/Perceptive/Responsive,or the left to decrease the
characteristics. It is very useful to be able to boost an Agent's
attributes in this way, and then leave him to fend for himself - He'll
react with pinpoint accuracy to any threats, and run away if
necessary.  Of course, as with any drugs, there is a downside. After a
sustained period of exposure to the drug, the body's tolerance
increases, and the net effect of the drug increases - more is needed
to achieve the same effects as before (i.e. addiction). This game is
no different, the longer an Agent is "Maxed-Up", the greater his
"tolerance level". This is indicated by a line on each of the
drug-level indicators, and once it reaches the same level as the drug,
the effects start to wear off! A bit of a nightmare if you aren't
watching your Agents carefully, since your (previously) Intelligent,
Observant, Responsive (if a little psychotic) Agent soon turns into a
total imbecile who can't hit the side of a barn at five paces ;)

Whilst your cyborgs are battling away, the territories that you have
already "liberated" are busy living life as usual, getting taxed.
Of course, you may have guessed that you can set the tax levels!
Funds appropriated in such a manner can be used to buy better weapons,
and enhanced cyborg limbs. Money can be spent researching new weapon
developments, or making your Agents stronger, fitter and more
resilient to enemy bullets! Great!
Naturally, if you get greedy, and tax your poor subject-nations, they
will rebel (with the aid of the Enemy Syndicates, of course!), and
you'll have to go back with your guns blazing to teach them a lesson!!


Overall, this game is offers a fantastic, often frenetic, always fun
blend of out-and-out glorified shoot'em up violence, tactical
planning, and the need for cool-headed patience (especially on some of
the later levels!!). If you have a few spare pennies, this is
*definitely* worth a look!

Oh, by the way - throughout this review I have referred to the Agents
in the masculine sense. This isn't entirely fair, since Female Agents
are also available - they're just as hard, and can carry just as much
equipment, although I'm not too sure whether they can drive as well ;)



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