Syndicate (video game)

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Syndicate
Syndicate Coverart.png
European box art
Developer(s) Bullfrog Productions
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Producer(s) Peter Molyneux (Bullfrog)
Kevin Buckner (EA)
Designer(s) Sean Cooper
Programmer(s) Sean Cooper
Phillip Jones (AI)
Artist(s) Chris Hill, Paul McLaughlin
Composer(s) Russell Shaw
Platform(s) Amiga, Amiga CD32, Mac, Sega Mega Drive, SNES, 3DO, Atari Jaguar, Acorn Archimedes, NEC PC-9801, Mega-CD
Release date(s) 1993
Genre(s) Tactical shooting
Real-time tactics
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Floppy discs, CD-ROM, download
This article is about the 1993 game. For the 2012 reboot, see Syndicate (2012 video game).

Syndicate is an isometric real-time tactical game from Bullfrog Productions created in 1993. It is the first title in the Syndicate series. An expansion pack, Syndicate: American Revolt, a sequel, Syndicate Wars, and a reboot Syndicate have also been released. The original game and expansion pack were re-released together in 1996 as Syndicate Plus.

Plot[edit]

The game puts the player in charge of a self-named corporation in a gritty near-future cyberpunk-style world in the year 2096. The teams of up to four cyborg agents are used in a series of deadly missions, which include assassinations, infiltration, theft and "persuasion" (using a device called a Persuadertron to capture individuals of importance). The game's objective is to establish world-wide dominance with the established syndicate, one territory at a time, while engaging and eliminating rival syndicates and putting down internal mutinies.

The backstory of Syndicate is contained in the manual, instead of the game itself.[1]

Gameplay[edit]

In-game screenshot (PC version)

Game play involves ordering a four-person team of cyborg agents around cities displayed in a fixed-view isometric style, in pursuit of mission goals such as assassinating executives of a rival syndicate, rescuing captured allies, "persuading" civilians and scientists to join the player's company or simply killing all enemy agents.

As the player progresses through the game, they must manage the research and development of new weaponry and cyborg upgrades. The player has only limited funds, requiring taxation of the conquered territories while ensuring that they are not so over-taxed that they revolt against the player. The player begins the game with simple pistols, progressing through increasingly destructive weaponry that includes Uzis, miniguns, flamethrowers, sniper rifles, time bombs, lasers and the enormously destructive Gauss gun (a rocket launcher). In addition, the player can use items such as medikits to heal his agents, scanners to locate pedestrians/vehicles and the "Persuadertron" to brainwash the player's targets into blind obedience.

Development[edit]

Release[edit]

The game first appeared in 1993 on the Amiga and PC DOS computers and was subsequently ported across to a wide variety of other formats. The DOS version was unique in that it used the standard 320x200 256-color resolution(Mode 13h) just for the planning and main menues, yet tactical simulation part used a higher resolution 640x480 mode with only 16 colors. The higher resolution permitted finer detail in the graphics and allowed for the illusion that more than 16 colors were used by means of dithering. Similar graphics and same levels design were used in the Macintosh, 3DO, Atari Jaguar and RiscPC ports.

A separate version was made for the simpler, 16-bit consoles, as the hardware couldn't support the complexity of the original game. It contained completely new level design and different graphics, and was released for Sega Mega Drive and SNES. Later, it was released on the PlayStation Portable as part of EA Replay, a compilation of retro games released in the United States on November 7, 2006; this version is really the SNES version and is executed on PSP by an emulator.[2]

In January 2012, the DOS version of Syndicate was re-released, packaged with pre-configured versions of the DOSBox emulator for both OS X and modern versions of windows.[3]

Reception[edit]

Computer Gaming World criticized the lack of multiplayer, random research, poor AI, and repetitive missions. The magazine concluded that "Syndicate is a polished and significant effort" that would appeal to fans of other Bullfrog games but "doesn't quite offer the staying power of its predecessors".[4] COMPUTE! noted, "This isn't a game to use as a morality lesson for the kids – it's bloody, it requires you to be ruthless, and some people may take issue with the use of drugs to control your agents. But it's a ball to play."[5] On release in 1995, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Super Famicom version of the game a 22 out of 40.[6] The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the Jaguar version a 6.75 average, concurring that it was the best home console version of the game to date, but still clearly inferior to the PC version. They especially criticized the use of the Jaguar controller's number pad, saying it made the controls needlessly complicated.[7]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 67th best PC game of all time, stating that "it was just fun to mow down civilians in this strategic action game of futuristic gang warfare."[8] That same year, Next Generation ranked it as the 29th top game of all time for being "fast, furious and tons of fun" in spite of its complexity.[9] Also in 1996, Syndicate was ranked as the seventh best Amiga game by Amiga Power.[10] In 2010, UGO.com included the game on its list of 42 best games ever made.[11] It was also included in the 2011 list of the best violent video games of all time by The Daily Telegraph for the reason that "few games have ever been so keen to have their protagonists murder civilians, burning them with flamethrowers, blowing them up with rocket launchers and simply mowing them down."[12] That same year, Wirtualna Polska ranked it as the third best Amiga game.[13]

Legacy[edit]

Syndicate Wars is a 1996 direct sequel to Syndicate, featuring 3D graphics and released for the PC and PlayStation. Several attempts by Bullfrog to produce another Syndicate game were all ultimately abandoned. These canceled games included at least one for the PC and another for the PlayStation 2.[14] The game was re-imagined by Starbreeze Studios as Syndicate, a first-person shooter released for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012.

A spiritual successor, Satellite Reign, is being developed by some of the same staff.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Retro Rewind: Syndicate Has A Long Manual". GameFront. 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  2. ^ Die Google Ranking (2006-10-16). "EA Replay Preview". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  3. ^ Sharkey, Mike (2012-01-17). "Original Syndicate Headed to Good Old Games". gampespy.com. Retrieved 2012-03-02. 
  4. ^ Lee, Wyatt (1993-09). "Electronic Arts' Syndicate". Computer Gaming World. p. 94. Retrieved 30 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Compute!, November 1993, page 130.
  6. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: シンジケート. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.336. Pg.30. 26 May 1995.
  7. ^ "Syndicate Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (69) (EGM Media, LLC). April 1995. p. 38. 
  8. ^ CGW 148: 150 Best Games of All Time
  9. ^ Next Generation 21 (September 1996), p.64.
  10. ^ Amiga Power issue 64, Future Publishing, August 1996
  11. ^ Syndicate Is the Best Game Ever That Might Be Remade – UGO.co, UGO.com, August 25, 2010
  12. ^ "The best violent video games of all time". Telegraph. 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  13. ^ 3. Syndicate – 30 najlepszych gier na Amigę – Imperium gier, WP.PL (Polish)
  14. ^ The Syndicate Games That Never Were – Kotaku[dead link]
  15. ^ "Satellite Reign by 5 Lives Studios – Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 

External links[edit]