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Since Bullfrog burst on the scene with Populous, they have gone from strength to strength building a reputation as one of the finest development houses this country has seen. With their latest game, Syndicate, they appear set to surpass all their previous achievements.
Syndicate has been in development for over three years now, and almost everyone at Bullfrog has had a hand in it at some time. The result is one of the most violent and original games the Amiga has ever seen.
it is set almost 100 years in the future when the world is run by giant corporations. These syndicates forgo the traditional backstabbing and under-the-counter deals of present day business. When they have a problem they reach for the button marked ‘the lads’ and send them in to blast the opposition into submission.
Yesssss! It has arrived! Raise the flag, crack open the champers, stick a plum under a viper and rejoice, for Syndicate has finally tumbled gently through the letterbox. I had begun to think it might just never appear, fading away into the mists of time as one of those games that was supposed to happen but did not. But no. I need not have fretted, because all along it was being nurtured and developed, and at last it has crept onto the shelves of computer game emporiums from here to sunny Slough.
But before we embark upon a fascinating excursion into the dark, dank depths of Peter Molyneux’s imagination, let me take you on a reflective stroll down memory lane.
Usually we skip over the plot line of a game because it is tedious and, frankly, irrelevant. But let us break with the tradition this time, because the background to Syndicate is absolutely fascinating.
It is the future. World government is in the hands of three hugely powerful multinational corporations, one in America, another in Europe and the third in the Far East. The European corporation develops a device known as the CHIP, which is inserted in the neck and stimulates the brain, offering the user an enhanced perception of the world far better than any drug. It also offers the corporation the chance to manipulate the public through auto-suggestion, and it soon becomes apparent that control of the CHIP means control of the people.
Syndicate, sindi-kat, n Abbr. synd. An association of people or companies organised to promote a common interest. The new game from Bullfrog, makers of Populous 2, is sinister. If you have ever seen films like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner or George Lucas’ THX 1138, you will know what I mean – futuristic science-fiction which is eerily life-like, and eminently plausible.
Syndicate is a strategy game, where the ‘common interest’ is to complete takeover of the world. Of course, this has been the subject of films and games since the year dot, bur rarely has it been as effective as with this game. What is different here, though, is you are not the megalomaniac seeking ultimate power. Instead you are an agent who works for the big cheese, the syndicate, trying to do a job and get up the employment ladder. Morals are out of the window – you have to do what you are told, no matter how weird or immoral the orders are.
In Sachen Grafik und Spielkomfort ist Amiga-Syndicate der MS-DOS-Variante klar unterlegen. Trotzdem sollten Amiga-Besitzer schleunigst die Disketten in ihren Amiga implantieren.
Rein optisch stört eigentlich nur das ruckelige Scrolling, die Details dagegen haben es in sich: Da kann man stilecht aus dem Wagen heraus schießen, und wer nicht aufpaßt, hat ruckzuck einen harmlosen Passanten auf dem Kühler und/oder die Polizei am Hals! Allerlei nette Sound-FX, eine schön düstere Titelmelodie und die für spätere Upgrades geplante Netzwerktauglichkeit vervollständigen schließlich den positiven Gesamteindruck. Es macht also durchaus Laune, mit Uzi und Flammenwerfer auf die Pirsch zu gehen, aber der letzte Kick, der aus guter Soft unsterbliche Klassiker macht, fehlt irgendwie. Vielleicht liegt es am doch etwas biederen Mix aus „Risiko“, Finanzstrategie und Wuselmännchen-Action...