Review: Syndicate, a play God type game with much detail and atmosphere
In the dark future, massive corporations become so have powerful they replace Governments as the real powers ruling countries. Naturally, the criminal element infiltrate these power bases, and the result (after years of sporadic wars) is the world is now ruled by 8 large companies (or Syndicates). Each of them will stop at nothing to undermine the power of the others and tip the balance of power enough that they can seize overall control and dominate the entire planet. You take control of the European-based power and must take over all other regions while avoiding costly rebellions in the regions you already rule. The game is played from a world map with 60 or so regions colour-shaded according to which syndicate controls them. Whenever a region experiences an event that upsets the balance of power within it, it flashes on the map to tell you (the greedy controller of Euro-Corp) that there is an opportunity to send your cyborg agents into the area to cause enough confusion that you grab control of the region. Naturally, other syndicates have the same thing in mind and will think nothing of blowing away your agents if their paths cross while they undertake their own missions.
These opportunities present themselves as a mission brief tied to the area in question. The missions (I have only seen 3 so far) tend to involve either an assassination of someone or the recruiting of someone to your side via the use of a nasty little gun called a Persuadatron. Using a combination of your judgement and the resources available, you must assemble a team of cyborgs best suited to the job. The team can consist of 1 to 4 members, and each can carry 10 pieces of equipment chosen from dozens of possibilities. Overkill when choosing the team is a waste of valuable corporate funds, while underkill will almost certainly result in a massacre. For this reason, mission hints and an enhanced map for the mission can be obtained for a price. These will give you a better idea of what to expect and how best to configure the team you plan to send. At this point in the game, you can also allocate funds to your scientists in a “Mega-lo-Mania” sort of way to get them to develop even more devious ways to kill enemy agents in spectacular fashion. True to the spirit of “Syndicate”, the more money you throw at the researchers, the faster they succeed in their task. Another nice feature is that any unknown devices or weapons you take from enemies (whose heads you have just blown off) can be given to the lab boys after the mission and developed much quicker than starting from scratch.
Once your team of cyborg agents is selected and kitted out, you send them into the appropriate hot spot in the region to carry out their task. The execution of the mission makes up the major aspect of the game. This is presented in an isometric point of view. Your no-holds-barred killer cyborg agents can act independently or as a group, and have efficient scanner devices allowing them to locate the various targets (as well as spot enemy agents). In fact, every member of an area’s population appears on the scanner. Apparently, entire cities are modeled as living, breathing entities in this game, right down to the whereabouts and activity of the most insignificant member of the populace, and including entire working (and usable) transport networks. This claim I can believe as the little village I infiltrated had a population of around 30 little people, and intelligence in each was obviously present: when one of my cyborgs pulled out a nasty Uzi machine gun in the middle of the town square, everyone around scattered for cover while the village guards and police ran at me with pistols blazing! The graphics are excellent. The intro to the game contains quite simply the best animation I have seen in an Amiga game. It looks like a couple of scenes out of Blade Runner. Most impressively of all, the animation is extremely fast. The Commodore Amiga have never seen a “play God” type game with so much detail and atmosphere that is so much fun to play! Worth downloading and works fine using WinUAE or Amiga Forever 7 from Cloanto.