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Syndicate (Macintosh)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Tashtego (156)
Written on  :  Nov 12, 2009
Platform  :  Macintosh
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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Summary

A unique strategy game with plenty of carnage, although at a miniature scale. The Mac port was done in-house by Bullfrog and is rock-solid.

The Good

The best thing about Syndicate is Panic Mode. Control-click on the screen and the drug levels of your agents go to the roof, turning them into sharp shooters. They don't miss a single shot, no matter how many enemies they're facing, and they fire automatically.

To balance things out, agents from rival syndicates also have Panic Mode, which depending on who fires the first shot can be either a good thing for them (as your agents are turned into spaghetti sauce) or a bad thing (as they rush to be gunned down by your people).

It keeps getting better. Some enemies carry time bombs that explode after they die. It's not uncommon that during a big fight these bombs go off while other enemies are running over them, killing them and making them drop their bombs, repeating the cycle.

I don't know if the same happens to your agents if one of them is killed while carrying a bomb, because that have never happened to me, but if you have money to spare, you can make one of your guys blow himself up by pressing Command-D. This is a good strategy on assassination missions, but it works only if the agent has a chest mod installed.

To avoid making this review too long, I'll mention only two more things I love about Syndicate. One is that you can complete all levels with a single agent, which simplifies the game, although to beat the infamous Atlantic Accelerator you must exploit a glitch. The other thing is that you can speed the game up, which cuts short long waiting times when researching new technologies.

The Bad

Except for the introduction, the movies look like pixel puke. They have this ugly dithering all over the place. That probably makes Syndicate the only game in which the cut scenes are better on DOS than on the Mac!

There's not much variety either visually or aurally. You got only two tunes, one for "all clear" and the other for "enemy approaching." And all levels use the same texture collection. No matter where you are, it can be in Europe, Asia or South America; in a city, a fortress or a small town, everything and everyone look the same. They could have at least played a little bit with the color table.

Moving inside buildings can be tricky. You can guide your agents using the radar, but if you send them to kill a NPC, you have to hover the mouse until the cursor changes into a targeting reticle and then fire, but because NPCs are always moving, this is a matter of luck and frustration.

The Bottom Line

While other strategy games allow characters to go berserk in one way or another, Syndicate is the only one I know that incorporates this feature as a regular part of gameplay. For that thing alone, it's one of my favorites. True, all levels are variations of the same theme and all mission types can be beaten with the same strategy, but the game never gets boring.