Syndicate Wars

a game by Electronic Arts, and Bullfrog Productions
Genre: Action
Platforms: PC, Playstation
Editor Rating: 6.6/10, based on 4 reviews, 12 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Syndicate Games

We've been champing at the bit to get our hands on this ever since its development was first announced way back in... ooh... the cro-magnon era, or something. This is Syndicate Wars, the beefed-up, polygon-gasmic sequel to the frighteningly violent and addictive original Syndicate, which thrilled us silly when it was released in 1993.

An all-time classic. Syndicate number one is still worthy of a place in your game collection. Set in an unsettlingly believable version of the future in which the Earth is ruled by rival groups of ultra-ruthless financial corporations, it cast the player as commander of a crack team of reanimated cyborg 'agents' - a moody-looking bunch of Terminator-style robotic psychopaths with a nice line in dark trenchcoats and an even nicer line in wholesale carnage.

The action consisted of nail-biting sessions of urban espionage, skulduggery and, more often than not, darkly humorous orgies of gore-soaked destruction as your team machine-gunned, bombed and flame-throwered their way through rival agents, policemen, cars, buildings and lots and lots of innocent civilians - all in the name of the takeover bid.

Now Syndicate Wars is just around the corner and, as its name implies, things have got even more violent. Those of a mild disposition may well want to give this one a miss; those of us who aren't a bunch of namby-pamby hand-wringing pussies, however, are entitled to crack a suitably wide grin and start flexing our fingers in preparation.

So, it's time to fire up the special two-level demo Bullfrog gave us to muck about with. A quick whizz through the spooge-inducingly slick front end and you're into the game proper. If you're familiar with the first title, your initial reaction is likely to be a mixture of confusion, frustration and an overriding sense that this is very different to the original - unless you've selected the hi-res option, that is, because Syndicate Wars defaults to a 320x240 close-up view which, initially at least, seems utterly alien. Move up to 640x480, however, and you've got something that looks more like the Syndicate we know and love - but a damn sight better. How much better? Well, picture the original for a second (those of you who haven't played it can sit impatiently through this bit). Now, add some more colours - suitably dark, broody ones. Now chuck in some gorgeous lightsourcing effects (working street lights, glowing gun muzzles and so on). Make the buildings far more varied and interesting, and pop a couple of smooth curves and inclines onto the landscape while you're about it. And then - for the ultimate piece de resistance - make the whole thing a 'proper' 3D environment in which you can spin around, zoom in and out, and generally tinker about with in order to get the perfect viewing angle. Sounds good? It looks even better than that.

Cock the hammer

So what else has changed then? Well, the basic gameplay remains the same (hooray), although there's less fiddling about with the agents' various mood swings (hooray again), and all the explosions are bigger, beefier, and cause far more carnage and damage than they did before (triple-underlined hooray, in bright red ink).

You can also choose which side you want to be on. Just as top strategy-fest Command & Conquer pits the forces of Nod against the might of GDI, Syndicate Wars stars two main warring factions; the Eurocorp Syndicate (which you'll be familiar with from the first game), and a new lot, the 'Church of the New Epoch' - an army of religious zealots intent on ridding the world of everyone and anyone who doesn't agree with their point of view. And just to make things even more violent and nasty (and therefore fun), there's also an outlaw gang known as 'The Outsiders' whose basic philosophy revolves around creating endless bloody mayhem just for the sheer thrill of it all. The end of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme is nigh.

Get pissed! Des-troyyyy!

One of the things that made the original such a joy to play was the fact that there was often just as much fun to be derived from indulging in lashings of purposeless violence as from genuinely trying to meet your mission objectives. And guess what? There's no change there. In fact, while playing the preview version I spent what can only be an unhealthy amount of time pounding the shit out of everything that came within view. You name it, I shot it. Even the lampposts explode if you shoot them enough - bloody great big detonations with fireballs and plumes of smoke. I lost count of the number of pedestrians I took out with my miniguns, and as for running over police officers with a speeding stolen vehicle - hey. I'm the king. My next ambition is to demolish one of the really large buildings - preferably an inhabited one - with a high-explosive charge (the realistic manner in which such structures collapse really does have to be seen to be believed).

Ahem. Anyway, let's try not to get too carried away. This is merely a preview, and as such it's too early to make solid judgements. While I certainly got a kick out of the two meagre levels at my disposal. it'll be interesting to see whether Bullfrog have managed to sort out the learning curve for the full set of levels: the original was a tad too easy, whereas American Revolt, the data-disk add-on. was so difficult that I doubt anybody in the world ever managed to finish it. And if they did they were probably lying. Wonyingly, the two preview levels for this new release were... how shall I put this?... rat-bastard hard.

A final word of appetite-suppressant. Remember me mentioning that 'hi-res' view earlier on? Well, for my money it's the only real way to play the game - and to run Syndicate Wars in that mode, the bad news is that you're going to need a very muscular pc indeed.

Let's make a deal. Those of you who don't already have high-end Pentiums, start saving up the money right now. When the full version appears, we'll give it a good going over and tell you if it's worth upgrading for. If it is, you can purchase and be happy. And if it isn't... well, how's about you pop along to our office and we'll go out and blow all that excess cash on wine, women and song? I'm already drawing up a multi-coloured pie-chart so I'll know how much money to spend on each.

And 'song' isn't getting much of a look in so far, I'll tell you that for nothing.

Download Syndicate Wars

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

This Is Good. This Is Very Very good. No. Wait a minute. It's better than that. This is brilliant. This game is brilliant. Aside from Quake, I haven't enjoyed a game this much in ages. This is Syndicate Wars. It's one of the best excuses for taking the phone off the hook and staying indoors for a week that I've ever come across. In terms of concept, content and execution, it's one of the best games I've ever played on any system. Ever. I'm in gamegeek heaven.

What makes it so good? Almost everything. I don't know quite where to start, so I reckon one of the best things to do is start with one of the most important aspects - yes, you've guessed it, the gameplay.

The gameplay

Syndicate Wars will appeal to anyone who liked either Doom or Command & Conquer (well, that narrows it down a bit, eh?). It's got the cathartic violence of the former, and the strategic tension of the latter. Those of you familiar with the first Syndicate only need to know this: Syndicate Wars is even better. Those of you who haven't played the original are in for a major treat. Here's the deal: You've got this gang of cyborgs, see. Four of 'em (occasionally less) who can be controlled as a group, or individually. They can have their moods altered with special drugs (depending on how trigger-happy you want them to be). The aim is to complete a series of missions, each set in a different city. These start off being fairly simple - 'kill a couple of bad guys' affairs - but rapidly turn into nightmarishly difficult assignments. Some require extensive planning. One mission, for instance, has you masterminding the hijack of a convoy of armoured bullion trucks. Another involves kidnapping a pair of high-powered business executives who are under police guard. All of them end with shitloads of corpses littering the pavement, like so many discarded socks across a teenager's bedroom carpet. Cops, enemy agents, innocent bystanders - everybody dies. Make no mistake this is ultraviolence, shoved right in your face. The vicarious thrills just never stop coming. It's as addictive as crack cocaine and The Simpsons put together.

In between the action sequences you'll also need to keep an eye on your finances, and most important of all, your Research and Development team. Investigating new tools of destruction and cybernetic upgrades for your soldiers is utterly essential (and without it, you'll never get your hands on the really spectacular weapons).

Hot sound and vision

In hi-res mode, (which requires a decent Pentium to move efficiently) Syndicate Wars looks glorious. It is chunkier than the original - which takes a bit of getting used to - but before long you end up falling hopelessly in love with it. We're talking Blade Runner territory here - lots of gloomy towers, glaring neon, and fully animated video screens (which have fmv adverts for cult sci-fi comic 2000AD and Manga products on them). The brilliant lighting effects aren't just pretty, they actually add to the game (blow up all the lampposts, and you'll find yourself suddenly plunged into darkness). One major difference between this and the original is that the city is represented in 'proper' 3D - you can spin it around and tilt up and down to get a really good peek at the carnage.

And Syndicate Wars' sound is utterly top of the pops, too. Aside from the menacing soundtrack (a cunning blend of CD audio and midi synthesis), there are rumbling explosions, horrendous blood-curdling screams, and ominous tannoys telling the hapless citizens to 'keep moving'. Bloody fantastic.

As you can imagine, add all of these elements together and you've got possibly the most pervasively threatening atmosphere you've ever experienced. Unless you've ever walked down Kilburn High Road at chucking out time, that is (which isn't recommended, by the way).

Ooh, you are awful..

Part of the joy of Syndicate Wars is the way it positively encourages you to act in a reprehensible manner. Aside from the thrill you get from committing purposeless acts of random savagery (which usually involves running after a screaming crowd of pedestrians with a flamethrower), here are just two of the ways in which acting like a devious bastard can actually aid your cause...

1) Exploiting the emergency services

You'll often find yourself in need of a set of wheels in the game. Sometimes they're just parked at the side of the road for you to casually help yourself to (ie steal), but occasionally you'll need to be a little more cunning. Here's one particularly good method: Stand on a street corner for a couple of minutes, shooting as many pedestrians as you can. Once you've bagged a load of them, hide round the corner. Now wait a few minutes. If you're in luck, an ambulance will arrive. As soon as k the do-gooding medic steps out onto A the pavement, shoot him right in the face. Et voila - one spanking new ambulance for you to speed around in. Cool, huh?

2) The 'Groupie Shield'

Switch on the 'Persuadertron' (or equivalent), and start rounding up a few easily-brainwashed civvies. Once you've got a large crowd of them milling around you like mindless sheep, head for the nearest bunch of gun-toting bad guys. Not only will your gang of adoring followers join in the fighting with any discarded guns they come across, they also make a handy human shield -especially useful when someone else is sniping at you from afar.

There goes the neighbourhood

Buildings, eh? What a huge pain in the arse. I mean, they're just no good for anything. You can't walk anywhere these days without a bloody building getting in your way. They clutter up the pavement and they ruin your view of the sky. They're ugly and they're boxy and they shouldn't be allowed. Even Prince Charles thinks so (sort of).

In this respect. Syndicate Wars should warm the cockles of the Royal heart nicely. The endless destruction within the game isn't limited to mere human-on-human barbarism - structures get it in the neck as well. Use a sufficiently meaty explosive and you're treated to the sight of entire skyscrapers crumpling down around you. At times the action gets so insanely apocalyptic you'll suddenly wonder where the skyline went as entire districts are destroyed. If the end of the world looks half as good as this, I want it on laserdisc.

A couple of gripes

Those of you who are paying attention will have noticed that I'm enjoying this game. Yet despite all this unalloyed praise, I do have a couple of tiny gripes. They won't seriously spoil your enjoyment, but they are a tad irritating...

1) Zooming In and out

Initially, this really wound me up. Despite the inclusion of a 'zoom in and out' function, Syndicate Wars doesn't give you much control over the zoom factor. Your field of vision is dictated by the range of the weapon you choose: use an Uzi, for instance, and it zooms in close. Pick a long-range rifle and it zooms out again. Most of the time, you don't really notice, but occasionally it's bloody annoying - you can't see what's around the corner, and it doesn't look as nice either. Often I found myself temporarily choosing a long-range weapon just so I could see more of my surroundings. The two-level preview demo Bullfrog sent us a few months ago had a far greater 'zoomed out' look to it - was the change really necessary?

2) The Al 'lapses'

Although the ai is far superior to that in the original Syndicate, it does have problems now and again, especially when you move the entire group of agents. Nothing's more irritating than seeing three of your team members strolling effortlessly to their target location, while one inexplicably gets 'stuck' behind a fence somewhere along the route. Like, duuuuhhh.

Multiple maniacs

Aside from being a brilliant one-player game, Syndicate Wars also has more multi-player options than you can shake a stick at. For starters, you can play with four players on one machine (each controlling an agent via the keyboard orjoypad). Better yet, if you have access to a network or modem, you can link up with seven other psychopaths and run riot through the streets. Multi-player games are really quite flexible - not only are you free to play as EuroCorp, The Church or the Unguided, you can also decide what level of firepower will be available - from lo-tech (Uzi 9MM) to 'end-of-the-world' materials (nuclear grenades). As you can probably imagine, it all gets extremely noisy. It's also a bloody good laugh.

The conclusion

So, then. We've come to the end of the review. It's late. I want to stop typing. Not just because my wrists ache more than they did the week I first discovered how to 'manipulate' myself (last April, I think it was), but because I want to have another go on the game before I go to bed. According to my watch, it's quarter to four in the morning. I have to be up early tomorrow. If I start playing,

I might have to forget about sleeping altogether and try to make it through tomorrow with a never-ending stream of strong black coffee instead. And that's sad. That's tragically sad. But I don't care, because I'm gripped. I'm quite happy to cancel weekends away and to neglect my social life (well, it wasn't up to much anyway) - Syndicate Wars has grabbed me by my entrails and refuses to let go...

Syndicate Wars really does have it all. The more you play it, the better it gets. There's an unbelievable amount of detail packed in there. And an equally unbelievable amount of good, honest fun to be soaked up, too. All of you rejoice. Kill, maim, and rejoice.

The background

Syndicate Wars would make a great movie. A great banned movie, anyway. It's a fiendishly subversive sci-fi extravaganza which sees the people of Earth (or Utopia, as it's now known) presided over by the ruthless EuroCorp Syndicate, a dictatorship of corporate businesses which keeps its populace in check via the use of surgically implanted 'mindchips' designed to prevent independent thought. Things start to go wrong, however, when a mysterious computer virus begins wiping out EuroCorp mainframes across the globe. Cue financial chaos, misfunctioning 'mindchips', and the rise of a sinister religious army calling itself the Church of the New Epoch. As 'civilised society' disintegrates around them, the two sides go to war in city streets around the world. Their foot soldiers are cyborgs, bastardised human bodies which stalk the urban jungle laden with guns. The conquering side will need determination, cunning and - most important of all - lots and lots of ammunition.

IN THE RED CORNER

We have the cyborg henchmen of the EuroCorp Syndicate. Stars of the original game, they sport long, grimy trenchcoats and have a nice line in moody lurking. They're also hard as nails.

IN THE BLUE CORNER...

It's the challengers, the crazed fanatics from the Church of the New Epoch. They wear capes that wouldn't look out of place in Huggy Bear's wardrobe, and as such are clearly not to be messed with. They're very clever indeed, and more than a little bit crazy.

OUTSIDE THE RING...

Are the Unguided, an anarchic band of nihilistic hooligans who aren't fighting for a cause - they're fighting for the sheer thrill of it all. Their only purpose In life is to create as much chaos as possible.

TRYING THEIR BEST...

It's the Police. They're only trying to do their job. Everybody shoots at them. The average mayfly has a longer life expectancy than these poor bastards.

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE

Are the innocent civilians with the happy chips in their heads. Easily identified by their two main behavioural patterns:

1) Running away screaming.

2) Lying dead in a puddle of gore.

Part 1

Wanted: - Butch guys who like dressing up in big scary coats, shooting people and blowing things up. Sounds like an invitation too good to resist, doesn't it? This month the Taskmasters set out to save the world from the forces of anarchy, and carve their names with bullets on the grim face of a futuristic, cyberpunk world.

Getting tooled up

To the uninitiated, an Uzi is a terrific weapon. It makes a lot of noise and looks impressive. In fact, this weapon is as much use as a one-legged agent at a bum-kicking convention! Wherever you go you'll find bad guys packing these weapons so they are easily picked up -providing you aren't already carrying one. The best thing to do with an Uzi is to sell it before you go out on a mission and use the cash to buy something better. Provided you are not already carrying one. you will be able to pick up at least four replacements from dead punks, and sell them at the end of the mission to make yet more cash.

Shields

Wonderful things are shields, unless, of course, it's an enemy agent who's wearing one, then they arc bastards. Of course, as with all hi-tcch items, they have 'features' which can be exploited by the cunning operative. Once you fire a single shot at a shield it becomes activated and stays that way until its power drains. It's no good blasting endlessly at someone wearing a shield - you're only wasting your firepower. Instead, fire once, then wait a few moments until his ever-ready isn't quite so ready, then fire again. Better still, hit him first with something that creates a shockwave as that will immediately drain his shield, then take him out. Remember that lamposts. vehicles and grey bins when shot at can be blown up to create shockwaves.

Your shield is regenerating even as it's being depleted, and the time it takes to drain depends on the state of your brain. If you've had a brain modification then your shield will last longer. Normally your shield will survive for 10 seconds, but each additional brain modification increases this time by another five seconds.

Keeping healthy

Better even than eating an apple a day. or flossing till your gums are sliced through, you can stay healthy by investing in body modifications. While a normal agent will eventually recover from any damage, those who have had body modifications fitted recover a lot faster. Normal recovery is half a point per second, whereas each increase in body modification improves things by a further half a point per second.

High explosives

Nasty things, explosives, they go off when you least expect it, so listen out for the warning siren and make damn sure you're running in the opposite direction. With practice you'll learn to judge the distance and direction of a potential explosion from the siren's noise (ah, you mean that Simon & Garfunkel song, The Sound of Sirens' - Ed.).

You should also be aware thatm shooting a corpse who is holding some high explosives comes under the general heading of CNot a Good Idea!'.

Bank withdrawals

No matter how you cut it, you're going to need all the cash you can get in this game. And where is the best place to find cash? In a bank, of course. In lieu of a withdrawal book, I suggest you use high explosives. It's not so polite, but it's effective and you don't have to go through that smiling and CHave a nice day' crap. Remember that you are the power around here, so don't hesitate to attack any bank you find and adjust their cash flow in a negative direction. You can often find out where money is to be had by investing a few shekels in the Net Scan information facility.

How to win friends and influence people

Picking up girls isn't easy when you're dressed like something out of a nightmare and packing a sub-machine gun: girls tend to prefer more a of a '90s guy. What every agent needs is a handy Persuadertron, for then simple civilians, both male and female, will find you irresistible - providing you get within spitting distance of them. Very soon you can find yourself looking like the Pied Piper leading wide-eyed innocents around by the nose. You'll also find that as your following grows, so does your pulling power. Soon hard-nosed cops, who would never have dreamed of falling for a butch agent, will turn dreamy-eyed when they see you and become your bosom buddy. You will need a fan club of at least six civilians before a cop will get the urge for your body, and at least 20 before a zealot would find you even mildly sexy.

To activate the Persuadertron, you must get up close and this can be a bit difficult when the object of your affection is pumping lead into you. Try hitting your super shield option then making a run for him. and just hope he gets smitten before you get trashed. You'll also find that your hypnotic power is influenced by the state of your brain power. For each increase in your brain state, your influence will extend by 15 yards. (Note: Those aren't real yards - in this case ten yards is about the height of one of your agents. These are 'big' guys!) With an army of civilians and cops at your side, things can be made tough for bad guys and allow you to cut yourself a bit of slack when the action starts.

Getting rid of friends

There are times when we all want to be alone and even your best friends can become a nuisance. Should you find that you have accidentally Cpersuaded' someone you really hate, then it can be very embarrassing and difficult to say goodbye. One thing's for sure, you can't shoot them, for your weaponry won't target someone who's on your team. You can. of course, always go and insult an officer of the law and he'll start spraying both you and your unwanted buddy, but that's not as much fun as the following solution.

The ideal way to get rid of someone who has become Cpersuaded' is to set fire to a tree and walk the terminal bore up to the fire. Position things correctly and you'll be able to walk past the flames and leave the nerd behind toasting his buns.

Aiming off-target

Chucking explosives and Csnore' grenades is great fun, but the targets tend to spoil things by running away when they see them coming. The best idea is to aim slightly off-target and chuck the little beauties behind them instead of directly at them. Being bad guys, they're not as smart as you and they tend to stay around laughing at you, shouting. You missed!" It's just about then when things go bang and their butts get fried.

Research for beginners

Researching new technology is a must, but it does take valuable time. If you're a good little agent you'll patiently wait, ticking off the days until Christmas comes and Santa arrives with your new super mega-blaster. If, however, you were never very good at waiting for Christmas, here are a couple of tricks to get your toy factory working overtime.

The time taken to develop a new gizmo is dependent on a number of factors - mainly money and manpower. As a general rule, the more money and scientists you throw at the problem, the quicker it will be solved. However, there is a breakeven point, past which you are wasting your resources. Work on a maximum of doubling the money and manpower requirement and you won't go far wrong. You'll also speed things up if you give the boys in the backroom an example of what you want them to come up with. If you manage to pick up a new gizmo from the field and hand it over, you'll find that your scientists will arrive at a solution just that bit quicker. Each item submitted reduces the research time by 8/9THS. In other words, a weapon that would have taken ten days to research will take only nine if you hand over one that you've found.

If you decide to suspend the research that you've begun on a particular project, it is possible to return to it at a later date and pick things up where you left off. The only downside is that you won't get any credit for unspent money from a suspended project, as this has been committed for good.

Time travelling

Here we have the ultimate cheat for this game - Time Travel! It's a well-known fact that time flies when you're enjoying yourself, but drags like a snail when you're waiting for things to begin. So it is with Syndicate Wars. When you go off on a mission, the game measures time using its own rules and, consequently, when you return a hero, you may well receive the mission report stating that you took days to finish things - even although it seemed only like minutes to you. On the other hand, while you're farting around at headquarters getting prepared to go out on another spree, or checking up on how work is progressing In the r&d labs, you'll find that time moves at the same boring pace as the normal world. That's because during this period the game actually uses your pc's clock to determine time. Now, suppose you wanted to knock a few days off the development time of a super megablaster? Only a real cad would be so sneaky as to save the game, set the pc's clock to 11:55PM, then reload. Anyone doing such a thing would gain a day's research time as the system clock passed through midnight. To do this twice would be a dreadful act of cheating, so do be careful that you don't do it accidentally. At least be careful that no one catches you!

Getting a little extra charge

Some of the weapons, such as the Pulse Laser, Electron Mace, Plasma Lance and Graviton Gun, can be supercharged to inflict six times the normal damage on targets. Simply hold down the trigger control for a few seconds before letting fly.

Vehicles

Normally anti-grav cars can only carry four agents and their weaponry with comfort, but if you've used a Persuadertron to collect your own personal army you'll be amazed at how roomy these vehicles can be. Packing your friends into a mini can become quite a moving experience in this game, as there always appears to be room for one more inside.

Vehicles have their own shields which is all very nice, but you must remember that when the car blows, everyone inside goes with it. For this reason it isn't a smart move to get inside a vehicle whose shield is less than 50% intact.

Roll out the barrels

The barrels which are to be found in many scenarios are not simply for decoration, they can be crammed full of goodies, so make sure you investigate them whenever you can. Here's a small list of what you're likely to find inside:

  • Yellow - High explosives
  • Blue - Psycho gas
  • Grey - Knockout gas
  • Green - Small explosive

Kamikazes CR' Us

Once you've had an agent's body modified, you'll find that he can then self-destruct by using the <Alt/d> keys. Exploding your own agents may seem rather extreme, but there are times when it can be an effective show-stopper. By right-clicking on your Cvolunteer's' shield indicator you'll switch on the supershield function which pumps it up to maximum. You now have a heavily protected living bomb which can run into a crowd of bad guys and take them all out with a quick key press. Remember, using your buddy to take out the enemy is one way of never having to say you're sorry.

Okay, that gives you all the general Information you need to kick some serious butt, but next month we'll be back with some specific tips for those missions which tend to cause the most grief.

Part Two

EuroCorp Mission 3 -Hong Kong

Equipment required: Persuadertron

Don't get involved! Spend some time building up your powers of persuasion until you're powerful enough to persuade the scientists. Find the green unattended car and use it to gain entrance to the scientists' compound.

EuroCorp Mission 3 -Beijing

Equipment required: Mini-guns, Persuadertron Once again use the Persuadertron to build up your powers before you attempt to convert your targets. Use the super-shield option to rush forward into persuasion distance. Move forward to clear enemy agents before bringing your captives into the firing range, as they tend to get bumped off very easily. Try to capture some high explosives because the local bank will disgorge lots of funds when cracked open.

EuroCorp Mission 4 -Geneva

Equipment required: Mini-guns, Persuadertron Shoot on sight anyone who looks even remotely hostile. There's an executive in possession of lots of money who you should seek out and then lighten his load. You'll recognise him by his accompanying guards. Hint: The Church enclosure is a trap, so keep well away.

EuroCorp Mission 4 -Matochkin Shar

Equipment required: Persuadertron, explosives, knockout gas As soon as you arrive, destroy the gate with the explosives and grab a hover car. Persuade the Bluesky security guards to join you as you're going to need help to protect the scientists. Deal with the ambush waiting for you at the IML before the scientists get there. A zealot convoy is on its way into the city: take some of the cash it's carrying.

EuroCorp Mission 4 -Vancouver

Equipment required: Persuadertron

Head for the elevated car park and destroy the unguided. Wait around until a car arrives that you can commandeer. Now you can attack the compounds - pick the largest one first to find a useful flying vehicle. Now we're airborne it's time to go to church and pick off the bad guys from the air. Search the bodies for a flamer. Now it's time to go look for the scientists.

EuroCorp Mission 5 -Singapore

Equipment required: Long-range rifles, knockout gas

If you don't have long-range rifles with you, first make sure you relieve someone else of theirs. Snipe out the enemy guards from a distance, then retreat if they mount a counterattack. Knockout gas will prove handy to take out massed retaliation. You really don't want to let any of the enemy get into the truck, so as soon as you have created a way in, make a dash for it yourself. Hint: There is an Ion Mine to be found in this mission, so have a scout around.

EuroCorp Mission 6 -Phoenix

Equipment required: Knockout gas, mini-guns Go first to mop up the punks robbing the bank and pick up the money which is lying nearby. You're going to need lots of knockout gas and heavy firepower to fight off the waves of unguided soldiers. At the zealots' stronghold you will have to deal with guards both outside and in. Once the inner guards start to get beat they will call for air support, and if they still get their asses kicked they'll release crazy gas. A smart strategy is to lure them out of their defences and deal with them outside.

Hint: There is a neat disrupter to be found on this mission.

EuroCorp Mission 7 - Rome

Equipment required: Long-range rifles, high explosives

The trick here is to use the punks' own weaponry to destroy them. As soon as you make an appearance in their stronghold they will order up some satellite rain, so on no account should you hang around waiting for it. Dart in, make someone's day, and get out before the explosions start. Now you can use sniper tactics to take out the spider droids in the smaller compound nearby. Head for the area under the control of the unguided on the other side of the map, but don't linger on the ground level as gas will be released at an early stage. It's a good idea to steal a vehicle from here as you're going to need it later on to get inside the syndicate base. Use the car as a shield in the base as there's lots of enemy firepower protecting the entrance.

You must locate the agent who is to be found in a corner of the compound. Remember to blow up the bank and take the money. Hint: There is a Cerberus IFF to be found in the compound.

EuroCorp Mission 10 - New York

Equipment required: Persuadertron, launchers, long-range rifles Begin in the eastern section of the map and destroy the five security guards. Be prepared for an air attack soon afterwards. Beware of the taxi as it has explosives onboard and you don't want to be anywhere near it when it goes bang. Pick up any lasers as they will bring a dividend at the mission's end.

Head east once more until you detect a large enemy force, then resort to sniper action to whittle down their numbers. Watch out for agents carrying explosives. Locate and head for the armoured car which is further east.

A civilian will appear from the south, and he must be neutralised with extreme sanction; he is not what he seems however - he's carrying a clone shield and will destroy the car which is essential to your mission. Use the car to enter the target compound. You're going to need rifles to take out the defenders, as well as launchers to survive the air attack which will definitely be called in.

EuroCorp Mission 11-Santiago

Equipment required: Persuadertron, long-range rifles, launchers

Find the zealot compound where the flying vehicle is located - but beware of the enemy snipers in nearby buildings. You will be attacked by two flying vehicles, so take them out before you actually take over the spare flying vehicle as you don't want to get its paintwork scratched. Get airborne then approach your target, taking out all ground-based zealots before you land.

EuroCorp Mission 11-Cape Town

Equipment required: Persuadertron, razor wire, high explosives, launchers, long-range rifles

Avoid the initial punks who attack you, as they are wired to explode. Head for the 1ML, then use the high explosive to blow a gap in the wall near to your target. Once you are in control of the situation, disperse the razor wire around the temple entrance to slow everyone else down. Persuade your target to join you, then leggit!

EuroCorp Mission 11-Adelaide

Equipment required: Persuadertron, launchers, long-range rifles

First clear the surrounding area of any threats, then move towards the temple. Dispose of the guards, grab your man and leave. Make sure that you keep a weather eye out for razor wire back at the IML or you'll find yourself in deep trouble - some sneaky swine has laid out a surprise for you.

EuroCorp Mission 11-Buenos Aires

Equipment required: Persuadertron, launchers, long-range rifles, high explosives, razor wire

Things are hot from the very start in this mission, so when things start to rock, and airborne attacks begin, take cover in buildings. Distribute lots of razor wire around the base to slow down the zealots' attacks or you'll suffer heavy casualties.

When things are finally under control there are rich pickings to be made in this particular mission. There is a well-stocked bank to be taken out, and a clone shield to be found. There is a long building which you must blast your way into that contains a special skin that your research scientists would give their bunsen burners for.

EuroCorp Mission 12 -Christchurch

Equipment required: Persuadertron, launchers, long-range rifles

Get ready to rumble! From square one they'll be coming at you thick and fast in this mission. The bad guys now have launchers to deal with, so you'll have to learn to recharge your weapons while dodging in and out of buildings. To make things even more difficult than they already are you're working against the clock in this scenario, as some wicked church zealots will turn up as the time runs out. When you've done this, finish by taking the IML to Reykjavik.

EuroCorp Mission 13 -Reykjavik

Equipment required: Long-range rifles, launchers

There are three zealots guarding the compound - one of whom is carrying loads of explosives. Time it right and you can kill him in such as way that he can take his two companions with him when he explodes. Inside the compound you'll encounter heavily-armed zealots, so hang back and use sniper tactics wherever possible. There is one zealot who must be brought down before he reaches the research silos - he's on a suicide mission, and if he makes it, your mission will fail. Keep an eye out for a flying vehicle full of zealots which will land soon. There is a zealot guarding the scientists and he will be difficult to deal with inside a building, so scare the scientists outside by running at them. The zealot will follow and you can then dispose of him more easily.

EuroCorp Mission 13 - Nuuk

Equipment Required: Lots of knockout gas, long-range rifles

This is another hard mission and you'll need your wits about you as you have to continually snipe and run. Use your knockout gas and mini-guns to dispose of those who get too close. There are some flying vehicles you can capture and then use to drop knockout gas. When you land, use mini-guns to dispose of the remaining zealots, then prepare to take on the advancing spider droids with the long-range weapons.

EuroCorp Mission 14 -London

Equipment required: Cerberus IFF, knockout gas, launchers, long-range rifles

Have one agent prepare an IFF on the car park side of Drennan. Have two agents set up theirs to the north of the executives, and lastly set one up in the car park. With the police to assist you, control the area around your headquarters until Drennan arrives. Protect Drennan with some of your men while the others go to the data vault. Get Drennan to the podium and things will be okay.

EuroCorp Mission 15 - Tokyo

Equipment required: High explosives, long-range rifles

Make sure you keep hiding in buildings to recharge your energy once the bad guys arrive in the flying vehicles. Ignore the mass of unguided individuals who will appear in the main street as they have no value.

Destroy the flying vehicles near to where Drennan is, then take out the nearby patrols. Beware of the gun turrets at the entrance, and instead use explosives to blow your way in near to Drennan.

EuroCorp Mission 15 -Bangkok

Equipment required: Nothing special

Go north and handle the advancing zealots, then get back to Drennan as quickly as you can; if you don't return soon enough he panics and runs off on his own. Take Drennan and head north again. You must get your skates on as there are five zealots in front of you who will call up more reinforcements if they're not dispatched with extreme prejudice! Do keep an eye on Drennan as the bad guys will concentrate all their firepower on him, and even more zealots will come swarming from the west. Move north-west and kill another bunch who are located in a group of buildings. Go west to a clearing where there is a large vehicle packed with zealots. These zealots can be cleared using long-range rifles.

Okay, we've done our bit - now it's up to you. If all of this serious training doesn't turn you into the Department's meanest sonofabitch that ever walked the dark streets of Cybertown, we give up.

The thrilling PC strategy/action title is now making a strong showing on the PlayStation. Syndicate Wars features 60-plus missions, a Multiplayer Mode and a fully rotational 3-D map. The game uses realtime light sourcing and shadow effects allowing the realistic use of search lights while in mission. Weaponry was a big consideration in the original Syndicate. The console release keeps up this trend by adding more than 15 new weapons that include nuclear grenades, razor wire, insanity gas and time-travel weapons. Players can expect the thrill of blowing up everything in the missions including the buildings them-selves in more than 30 cities worldwide. So whether you want to play the role of a Eurocorp Syndicate or the opposing Church of the New Epoch, Syndicate Wars has the destruction you desire.

People say:

6.5

Being a big fan of Syndicate, I couldn't wait to get my claws on this sequel-especially since I knew it was going to look better than the PC version. Well, turns out it was a long wait (SW was one of the first titles announced for the PlayStation), and I'm a little disappointed with the finished product. My gripes aren't with the basic gameplay. With its way-cool weapons, sprawling cities and teams of ultraviolent agents, SW follows the original's winning formula. It's just that the awkward control scheme keeps the game from living up to its potential. You have to memorize layers of joypad commands to choose your agents, pick their weapons, etc. And aiming is so difficult you'll probably ventilate a dozen civilians before you nail the bad guys. The mouse-which works in conjunction with the control pad-helps a little, but your best bet is to play with up to three friends and let 'em worry about their own agents. Control complaints aside, SW is still a solid sequel. The Blade Runner-esque cities are extremely detailed, with realtime lighting effects, heavy traffic and hovering billboards. Plus, you can rotate your view when structures get in the way. The 60-plus missions will keep you busy, but it's the nasty weapons you get later on that'll hold your interest.

5.0

I remember being all stoked when the PC version of this came out, and finally it has come to the PlayStation. I can't say I'm all that impressed. A lot of the little character animations lack, well, animation. It's just not as fun as the first one-definitely not as easy to get into. Graphically, it's decent, but nothing revolutionary. A rental first for me.

4.5

I searched and searched, but I could find only one reason to play this game: the atmosphere. I like the futuristic Blade Runner-type setting, but other factors weighed this game down, like the so-so animation, the pain in the butt controls and the boring gameplay (you pretty much do the same thing each stage). If you don't play Syndicate Wars, you won't miss much.

5.5

The main problem with this game is the con-trolls-it sorely needs a keyboard. There are so many different button combinations to do the most essential things that it seems like you're playing Street Fighter. If you're willing to take a lot of extra time to learn the game, you might find Syndicate Wars satisfying. Otherwise, be prepared to get very frustrated.

Syndicate Wars was one of the first titles announced for the PlayStation, yet we've seen nothing but screen shots of it for the past two years. Now that the game's nearly finished, it looks worth the wait-at least if you like Syndicate, because this sequel doles out more of the same.

Like the original, Syndicate Wars puts you in control of four cybernetic, nearly indestructible super agents, whom you unleash to perform the dirtiest kinds of dirty work: murder, terrorism, industrial espionage, mass destruction. Except now you can pick from two organizations at the game's outset If you choose EuroCorp, then things go a bit easier. For the past 50 years-ever since it emerged victorious from the first Syndicate conflict-EuroCorp has maintained an iron grip on humanity, mainly due to the mind-control chips implanted in nearly every citizen's noggin. Challenging EuroCorp is the Church of the New Epoch, a mysterious organization of high-tech adepts whose gangs of zealots are just as powerful as EuroCorp's agents. Both sides have their own missions and a few unique weapons.

Most missions busy you with several objectives, including assassination of troublesome enemies; persuading scientists or other valuable folks to join your side; protecting key officials, vehicles or buildings; and stealing items from heavily guarded areas. Successful missions fill your bank account with credits, letting you buy new weapons or body-part upgrades for your agent team. You start the game with a little cash and wimpy Uzis. but soon you'll acquire explosives, razor wire and other nasty, exotic arms that your R&D department will invent Of course, these gameplay elements were in the original, too. So what's new? Syndicate Wars' graphics have been supercharged and are even better than the PC version's visuals. The Blade Runner-esque cities are fully polygonal now, and can be rotated around the team, with buildings becoming transparent when they block your view. And the PlayStation's panache with lighting effects means explosions look particularly good.

The control interface is a bit bulky, forcing you to go through several button combinations to pick individual agents or ready their weapons. The mouse makes things a bit easier, but you'll have the best luck if you play Syndicate Wars with a few friends. With one human player controlling each of the four agents, your team will be unstoppable.

  • MANUFACTURER - Bullfrog
  • THEME - Strategy
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4

Syndicate Wars shoots up the PlayStation, offering some heavy strategy, complex action, and extreme violence.

Leaving off where the original Syndicate ended, this intense sequel gives you complete control of four heavily armed cyborg agents. You follow orders on behalf of the ruling government, which wants you to prevent uprisings from external and internal threats. A variety of objectives and control options, plus a four-player option, makes Syndicate Wars strategically sound, while the action element remains intact as you eliminate enemies with an arsenal of weapons.

Graphically, this dark and gloomy game yields some great detail, such as the buildings (like the car dealerships), that makes up for the lack of variety in the characters. Slowdown, however, is apparent when there's too much firing and destruction onscreen. On the sound side, screaming burn victims and the exclamations of scared citizens balances out the slow-paced music.

As for the controls, a heavy dose of manual reading is required to play the game, which makes Syndicate Wars difficult to get into at first. After a while, though, you'll be rewarded with an addicting, complex game.

ProTips:

  • Use crosswalks when crossing the street because your persuaded citizens can easily be run over by moving vehicles.
  • Whenever possible, modify your agents with new cybernetic implants to improve their offensive and defensive skills.
  • Even if it's not part of the mission objective, neutralize or persuade all zealots to discover new weaponry that you can appreciate.
  • Choosing your weapons wisely is the key to accomplishing your mission objectives.

Syndicate Wars, the sequel to the pedantic strategy game, Syndicate, will be a little more edgy and a lot more explosive than its 16-bit predecessor. This time the motto "Corporate Persuasion Through Urban Violence" sets the tone for the 3/4-overhead action game. You equip your corporate spy with nuclear grenades, razor wire, insanity gas, and more as you search out a sinister group called The Nine in an attempt to right the new world order in your favor--by any means necessary.

With interactive environments that can be completely destroyed and over 60 missions in 30 cities. Syndicate Wars will appeal to war-sim strategists with designs on future conflicts.

In the year 2096, Mind Chips - small microchips that control people - are the latest breakthrough. In Syndicate Wars, you control a group of mind-altered agents armed with an array of cybernetic enhancements and futuristic weaponry.

Syndicate's two-player action takes place in real time and mixes strategy and action/adventure. You'll explore some 50 cities, gather weapons and special items, and race for control of the New World.

Years from now, the world will be ruled by one monolithic company called The Corporation. PC and 3DO gamers helped The Corporation rise to power in Bullfrog's original Syndicate, and now PSX owners will be able to do the same in the sequel, Syndicate Wars.

Syndicate and Syndicate Wars are anything but your normal, run-of-the-mill strategy games. Your aim in the original Syndicate was to do anything in your power to take over the world and put your Corporation in the Number One spot. In its innovative 3-D isometric interface, you guided your team of operatives around various cities, undertaking missions for your parent company. be it an assassination or destroying a strategic building.

In Syndicate Wars, you can either be the representative of The Corporation, the operative of a religious cult or the leader of a biker gang. New features include a 360-degree rotating landscape with full light-sourcing, totally immersive city environments (everything in a city is destructible), video streaming (play the CD footage of your choice on the sides of buildings) and new weapons, including Napalm mines and razor wires.

Overview

I have always been fascinated with the future; what will the world be like? Will there be space ships and laser guns and interplanetary travel? I hope so!! One of my favorite movies is Blade Runner; remember the city with all the electronic billboards and steam coming from everywhere? It seems some authors paint the future to be a dark, cold, cyborg-infested place. When I was younger, I used to imagine myself as a blade runner, just like in the movie. I was awesome, shooting bad guys with my laser rifle, fighting crime as some sort of vigilante, and of course I never died.

A couple of years ago a game called Syndicate came out, and I was instantly attracted to its ambiance. I played it for hours, finally I was living my Blade Runner fantasy through that video game. It was so well done, and if GameFabrique was in existence then, it would have been one of my top picks. Now enter Syndicate Wars, the long awaited sequel to the original. Again I was excited to get into that futuristic world and fry cyborg scum until their molten parts flowed freely beneath my feet. For those of you who have seen Blade Runner, Syndicate Wars brings to the gaming world that same dark futuristic feel. If you haven't seen it, I hope my description says it all.

Gameplay

What you need to do is play this game late at night after you have seen Blade Runner to get in the mood. You'll find yourself in control of a team of cyborg agents designed for ultimate decimation. You will get to arm them with multitudes of nasty weapons as you perform missions in various cities around the globe. You can play one of two sides, each with it's own distinct storyline and flavor, as you attempt to complete your goals and ultimately control the globe.

You are briefed before each new mission, and at any time before entering the mission, you can arm your agents with the latest weaponry -- of course you'll pay for it. You are also able to research new technologies for weaponry as well as cyborg enhancements for your agents. The between-mission interface is very slick, adding to the dark, futuristic experience.

Once you enter a mission, you control up to four agents at a time. I found that the mouse works better than any other input device for best maneuvering your agents into killing position. I also found it best to group all of your agents together and operate as one unit, rather than trying to control two separate units at once. This was a slight drawback for me since I would have liked to split my guys up. It was just too hard during the heat of a frantic battle to control two groups and watch their health etc. Overall, the missions and accompanying storyline were excellent and the variety of vehicles and extras in the cities were great.

The overall feeling of control in this sequel did not match up to the original in my opinion. I liked the view in the first game better, and in this one I regret to say that my spiffy little agents got caught and stuck on buildings and edges of things more than once, forcing me to reboot and start from my last saved position. These problems were by no means reason not to buy this game, but they are worth mentioning.

Graphics

Ahh, the graphics ... very sharp and pleasing to the palette. This is definitely where this game really shines. It is obvious the work and detail the guys at Bullfrog put into the cities, vehicles, and explosions. I loved waltzing through town blowing away pedestrians, cars, buildings, and anything else I felt like blasting to a thousand pieces. The explosion graphics are great, with shrapnel and fire and smoke, very satisfying. All this splendor comes at a price, of course. I barely had satisfactory game play on my P-100 with 32 MB RAM. There is an option to turn down the resolution, but I could not bring myself to those extremes. The animations are very nicely done, and except for a little pixelation on some things, this game is a graphic dream (can you tell I'm into graphics). Besides the pixelation, my only other complaint would be the bogging down when there is lots of stuff on the screen, come on guys, Diablo never bogged. I'm no programmer, so I take that back if I'm out of line, but I just hate bogging, and my machine ain't that bad.

Audio

From the screeches of death to the heart pounding danger music, this audio truly stands out from the crowd. I especially liked the cybernetic-sounding voices with that weird reverb, echo or whatever. Nothing got annoying or repetitive, and if you have a good sound card and speakers, you will enjoy the audio even more.

Documentation

The manual is thin, and although it tells you enough to get started and enjoy the game, I wanted a little more here. I like to skim the manual for tidbits of information on the characters and read stats on all the weapons, etc. You won't find all that in this teeny weeny manual, but it will get you going.

System Requirements

Bullfrog recommends at least a Pentium 100 with 16 MB RAM. I think they are right on here. If you have even better hardware, that's great -- this game will use it. I don't think it would be playable on anything less than a P-90 unless you have a sub-light-speed video card or something.

Bottom Line

I really liked this game. It is a good sequel worth the investment. The graphics have improved and many more cool items, weapons and extras have been added. Unfortunately, like most sequels, Syndicate Wars is not that "quantum leap" I was hoping for. I thought that three years was enough to totally revamp the engine, which is the kind of change I like to see. I felt like Syndicate Wars was just a great add on to an already great game, and that's not bad, I'm just trying to put this in perspective. If you liked the original, pick up Syndicate Wars, If you have never played the original, get this one anyway, and remember GameFabrique rates it an 86 out of 100.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation Screenshots