Syndicate

aka: BOB, Cyber Assault, Higher Functions
Moby ID: 281

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 79% (based on 42 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 214 ratings with 10 reviews)

Simply The Best

The Good
The Graphics for it's day were state of the art. The Sounds where atmospheric. The Gameplay is out of this world you just can't stop. It was a novel idea that was well thought out and implemented.

The Bad
You are not able to see when you walk into a building and you have to move your mouse over the outside of the building while you are trying to complete and objective inside.

The Bottom Line
This game is one of the best games of all time, you will not be able to stop playing once you start. It set the benchmark for RTS squad based games and set it so well that most new games nowadays still don't come close to comparing with this master piece.

DOS · by Tony Chaplin (1) · 2004

Another classic Bullfrog game, this time set in a cool cyberpunk dystopia.

The Good
The sheer thrill of sending your four fully armed, minigun-toting, adrenaline-fueled psychotic death machines into a crowd of defenseless civilians has never been surpassed. Customising your trenchcoat-clad death squad with all manner of cybernetic enhancements and high-tech weapons is good clean fun.

The atmospheric music and crisp, clear graphics greatly add to the feeling of immersion into Syndicate's dark, disturbing world.

There is a large assortment of missions on offer, ranging from generic "kill everything in sight" to the slightly more subtle "persuade this scientist type person to join our illustrious organisation's R&D department."

The game really draws you in with its very atmospheric and moody music and graphics. I remember great elation and excitement after assassinating my assigned target quickly turning to horror as my elite squad is ambushed and ruthlessly mown down by the forces of an evil enemy syndicate (fully equipped with trenchcoats and multicoloured hats).

Syndicate allows you to enact all your antisocial activities in the safe, private, reprisal free world of the computer game. Stealing cars, arming civilians, laying waste to entire cities with horrendously powerful weaponry, all this and more awaits you.

(Technical nit picker note) - The laser is realistically invisible! And it also vaporises people in a rather disturbing way.

The Bad
Once you get to the point that you can afford energy shields and miniguns, the game becomes slightly easier, as you can activate the shields in succession, and become effectively invincible. This doesn't really make the games easier though, because you must still drop your shields to attack.

The isometric viewpoint looks very nice, but can make things confusing when your agents are on different levels or moving around inside buildings.

It doesn't seem fair that the player only gets to play with four agents, whilst the AI can throw hordes of mindless killing machines at you. Then again, they all drop guns for the looting.

The Bottom Line
Syndicate is an excellent game with few faults. The story is absorbing, the features are well thought out and numerous, the difficulty level is almost spot on and the gauss gun is supremely satisfying. What else do you need? Buy this game, lock yourself in your room, don your trenchcoat and prepare to perform a "Hostile takeover" (of the world).

DOS · by Evan Kerr (9) · 2004

Bullfrog’s Masterpiece

The Good
I first spotted this game at Babbage’s about a month before it came out. A huge pile of empty game boxes surrounding a cardboard cyborg and a few posters with awesome screenshots. I had just started getting into cyberpunk science fiction so I knew this was going to be a must have. I saved up for a month and got there right when the store opened on the game’s release day. I even bought a sound blaster so that I didn’t have to use my PC speaker. A game that looked this good deserved the best. It took me over three hours of sound card IRQ wrangling and boot disk making to get Syndicate to run properly. Having only a 386 computer with 4 Megs of RAM meant that a lot of tweaking had to be done before I could play even the simplest of games. Then, just after midnight on the night of the worst ice storm that Texas had ever seen, the game’s opening movie started and my jaw dropped. I had never seen a pre-rendered movie for a game before. Sure, I had seen games start with splash screens and pictures but never anything this smooth and slick.

The game’s interface is very nice and immersive. As a matter of fact I have never seen another control system that makes you feel like you are IN the game as much as this one. Every action is controlled through a holographic computer aboard your luxurious corporate blimp high above the city. This gives a logical reason to why the action is presented from a third person view from above. Selecting your team, arming them, setting up research options, paying for hints from informants, and taxing the local populous are all done though this virtual computer and it really makes you feel like you are using a state-of-the-art OS from Blade Runner or Nueromancer.

The graphics still pack a punch today as they did almost ten years ago. While the scrolling can be a little jerky at times all of the animations are smooth and the color scheme fits the game’s theme nicely.

The level of interaction is pretty amazing. You can blow up cars or steal them; set fire to trash bins and mailboxes, torch trees leaving burnt stumps.

The sound effects are perfect. Environmental sounds such as an explosion’s rumble or an electronic door’s hum provide a lot of ambience. But how do the weapons sound? Uzis, lasers, rockets, and your Gatling gun (the best weapon in the game) all have a very full and deep sound.

You can choose to research weapons or agent upgrades between missions. You have to balance your budget to make sure you don’t spend too much on available equipment so that you can purchase future items as they become available. The research feature adds an entire new level of planning to tactics. Go into a territory without advanced enough combat armor or weak weapons and the enemy will smash you in seconds.

After you mow down enemy agents you can steal their weapons and equipment. If you steal a weapon more advanced than any that you are currently using it actually decreases the amount of time needed to research it. Nice feature! You can also hijack enemy agents using a weapon called the persuadatron and bring them back to your base to add to your talent pool of mercenaries. The persuadatron can even be used to seize control of civilians, police, and guards allowing you to form a large mob that will fight with you, picking up weapons as they go. Brilliant!

Upgrading your agents has a very noticeable effect on game play. Put some new cyber-legs into agent John and notice that he can outrun the rest of your team. Arms, eyes, and even brains can be augmented to the point that you can leave your agents to their own devices and they will “hold the fort” for a while.

The Bad
There are only two musical pieces in the game and they get repetitive very quickly. You can turn the music off but since it changes to reflect when an enemy is near it’s usually best to keep it on.

The A.I. is pretty dumb. Enemy agents will rush you taking the shortest path possible. They never flank, set up traps, or try to create choke points when engaging you. They will never retreat either, just continue to advance to certain doom wading through cannon fire and bombs. Guess those advanced brain augmentations aren’t that helpful.

The Bottom Line
Syndicate is practically perfect in every way. Even after ten years this game has never left my hard drive! A classic that I highly suggest you play.

DOS · by saladpuncher (22) · 2003

Interesting at First, then Repetative

The Good
The cyberpunk genre was new, and this game had the feel of it. The graphics were awesome too. The RPG element was cool, as you built up each of your team's skills and weapons.

The Bad
However, about 1/2 into the game, the novelty wore off. I had maxed out my characters, seen all the cool explosions and vehicle types, and was looking at hours of the same missions again and again.

The Bottom Line
Blade Runner meets Command and Conquer.

DOS · by Tony Van (2797) · 2000

Very good and sometimes very frustrating game

The Good
The graphics are of very fine detail (thanks to the use of VESA modes) and very nice to look at. The overall atmosphere is immense - from the cool introduction video sequence to the dark, mood-enhancing ingame music, everything reflects this cold future world where the syndicates rule.

The missions are suspenseful and you really got many different tasks to master. Rescuing some professor, killing the other syndicate's agent teams or just gathering some innocent people as new recruits are just three of the diverse missions you can encounter. The mission descriptions are always informative and sometimes even downright funny. With the huge arsenal of weapons and other stuff to research, you really have something to do even outside the combat action.

The best thing of all is the really high level of detail. There are innocent bystanders, running away in terror when I draw my gun. There is the brave policeman, trying to stop my team - but he has no chance against four miniguns :) You can shoot waste baskets which would burst into flames, you can drive any car you encounter (and blow them up)... and it's so suspenseful when standing in an empty street with your agents, watching for an enemy to come around the corner, hoping he won't have a Gauss Cannon or Laser which could fry you instantly... and on the other hand, you DO hope he has some major gun in his pocket which you can loot when he's dead :)

The Bad
Sometimes, the action could be a bit confusing - due to the fact that the perspective was static. You couldn't always figure out where the enemy agents were (because you didn't see anyone). One or two missions (Atlantis for example) were simply unfair and could only be mastered if you had luck.

On most 1993 PCs, the graphics were a bit jumpy (hires graphics and slow CPU doesn't fit too well).

Spoiler Alert: the endgame sequence is hilarious - one page of "Thank you" text and the game will exit to DOS :(

The Bottom Line
Syndicate is a very good strategy game with LOTS of intelligent ideas. If you see it - buy it! And play it all!

DOS · by phlux (4294) · 2002

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.

Macintosh · by Tashtego (142) · 2009

An original, addictive game...

The Good
The gameplay between missions is one of my favorate parts, building up a team of players with their different equipment and weapons is very rewarding. Salvaging equipment from the missions to increase your nestegg is a nice touch.

Missions are fun and fast paced and certain to get the adrenaline running. After all that hard work building a team with version 3 equipment, it would be a shame if one of them dies...

My favorate part af the game is watching the flamer do it's job; the gauss gun kicks some major butt also.

The Bad
God, why are the path finding abilities so bad? Don't click the mouse far away from your squad, or one of them is certain to go off on a dumb course and which most certainly will be the death of them.



The Bottom Line
Syndicate is an action packed game with enough elements of a strategy to keep my playing this long past my bedtime.

DOS · by Brian Hirt (10409) · 1999

An excellent and innovative game.

The Good
Well, the first thing you gotta love is the amazing intro sequence :-) Bullfrog have really outdone themselves with this one - beats even the X-COM intro.

But the game itself - WOW! One of the most challenging and innovative games ever invented! I played this one for hours, and would still do if I hadn't lost it... A true classic, Syndicate gives you challenging (not to mention FUN) missions in a relatively detailed environment, with the ability to research technological advancements for your operatives.

Sporting hours of endless play, it's one of the most innovative games ever invented.

The Bad
The sound effects/music are rather harsh and annoying... but the game's worth every beep.

The Bottom Line
A wonderfully innovative and well-done game you'll forever love.

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4538) · 1999

Perhaps one of the most addictive action/strategy games of all time...

The Good
In Syndicate, everything came together to create a near-perfect gaming experience. With great gameplay mechanics, excellent graphics (I would say they are better than those of its sequel, Syndicate Wars) and cool weapons, playing the bad guy has never been so fun. The tactical part of gameplay was plain sadistic fun as your agents run around town mowing down cops and enemy agents (and for those with genocidal tendencies, the civilians too!), while the pressures of managing money and research gave the game a satisfying strategic component. Syndicate was a bit on the easy side, but no one will ever forget the first time they played the Atlantic Accelerator mission, where death came in mere seconds for an unprepared player. All in all, Syndicate stands as one of the best games ever created, and easily the best game to come from Peter Molyneux.

The Bad
The worst part of the game was the music. There were only two different tracks: one when nothing was happening and one when enemy agents were near. Brief music clips were played after mission success or failure, but other than that it was the same music mission after mission. To add to the tedium, both tracks were short and repetitive, which will make you want to turn off the music if it weren't for the fact that you could tell enemy agents were near without looking at the minimap just by hearing the "Enemy Agents Near" music. It's a good thing the sound effects are excellent, or you'd be seriously wondering why you paid good money for a sound card...

The Bottom Line
A classic game, standing tall beside legends such as Doom and SimCity 2000.

DOS · by tritium4ever (37) · 2023

It left a great taste in my mouth........ for almost 8 years.

The Good
In the summer of 1994, I was sworn to my nes. Then one time I went to my babysitter's and he had this new game, Syndicate. I was unaware of what that was, and when I watched it, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. As I watched the blood spray up after he hit some innocent civilian with the minigun and received no consequences, my mouth hung down for a while. Instantly I began saving up for this game, and it took me almost 2 months. When I finally had the money to purchase this game, I went to my local Electronics Boutique, which was then very small, and dumped all my one dollar bills and change onto the table, and the cashier smiled, but then when he checked his stock, he was all out. He felt sorry for me, and without even my asking, he ordered the game for me directly from the publisher. This, of course, was way before people working at electronics boutique became arrogant pricks, and 2 weeks later, I finally got the game which started my love for pc games. The graphics were slick, the game was actual fun, and I spent a good long time till I got it beat. I loved this game, and I wish people gave it due credit.

The Bad
The music sucked, and there was no ending.

The Bottom Line
Along with Half Life, it's games like this that make me remember why I have to work so hard to balance games and school.

DOS · by oh noz (4) · 2001

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Bozzly, Martin Smith, Tim Janssen, Patrick Bregger, vedder, Alsy, Terok Nor, ti00rki, jsparky, Trypticon, shphhd, BurningStickMan, Big John WV, Игги Друге, Omnosto, WONDERなパン, Tomas Pettersson, phorque, Crawly, Riemann80, robotriot, Sun King, S Olafsson, Joakim Kihlman, jean-louis.