To Say That the Original Syndicate was well received would really be something of an understatement. Games4Win loved the thing so much that our cover line on issue five actually read (and I quote): "Totally amoral, ultra-violent and more fun than sex - it's Syndicate." Okay, at that point we were obviously yet to discover the finer pleasures of partaking in certain horizontal activities, but now that we know all about that sort of thing (and we do, you know) we still think it's ace. Syndicate remains one of the few titles that you can honestly say is a god among games. And there aren't many - Command 6 Conquer qualities, as does UFO: Enemy Unknown, and probably Formula One Grand Prix - but they really are very few and far between.
After the immense success of Syndicate and the resulting conversions which appeared on virtually every format known to man, it was inevitable that we'd see a k sequel. And we did, very quickly in fact - in the shape of American Revolt, which actually turned out to be data disk. And how would we describe it? Bloody hard. Totally and utterly, stupidly, ridiculously and inhumanly bloody hard. But people played it, and they beat it. And then things went quiet for a bit. Late last year, the Syndicate hype machine starting whirring and buzzing yet again. Rumours abounded that there was a 'proper' sequel on the way and we all got very excited and started jumping up and down a lot.
The thing is though, the rumors were partly true. The original intention was for the thing to be a PlayStation-only product and to be honest, it is shaping up to be a more 'action' based thing. Worry not though, the pc version is now nearing completion and it manages to capture the best of both worlds - strategy and action.
New and improved
The idea behind the game is that things have been trundling along quite nicely since the American Revolt. Eurocorp is now the company that controls everything, and the world population can sleep easy in their beds knowing that big brother is watching and if they step out of line they will get their heads blown off. Hooray for totalitarianism, eh? Anyway, no one would be able to see if there were any problems because Eurocorp is still using the Persudatron to ensure that everyone stays placid.
Obviously this situation wouldn't make much of a scenario for a game, especially when you consider that you are the head honcho of Eurocorp. So, to add a bit of zing you soon learn that a number of resistance groups are now forming around the world and that the whole thing is falling to pieces. By the third or fourth mission everything goes to hell in a hand basket and, before you know it, there's complete chaos. Hence the ensuing mission structure where you rebuild everything and wipe out anything that moves (or doesn't).
So what's different this time, then? Well, it's all a bit more complicated. For a start you have the option to represent Eurocorp with two different factions of warriors. You can choose to either tow the company line and go with the trench-coated foot soldier types or you can join the church and make use of a bunch of religious maniacs who go around zapping people with weaponry that makes them look magical. Obviously, depending on which faction you go with, the structure of the gameplay alters accordingly. Whereas the first game featured extremely linear gameplay where you simply completed one mission after the other - each with a specific goal - this time you are simply set goals. There are 30 cities around the globe that you can travel to and many of the missions could be completed in any of a number of these. For example, you may receive a brief that simply says "go and get some dosh" so you can go anywhere in the world and blow up a bank, if that's the way you think you should go about this sort of thing.
It's not just the gameplay that's been given a serious kick up the backside though. The graphics engine has been enhanced seriously, and while the game still manages to capture the atmosphere of the first game - it's totally different.
For a start the old scrolling isometric viewpoint has gone. In its place we now have a fully 360 degree rotatable landscape that can be easily manipulated using the mouse. You can zoom in and out of the action and tilt things up and down as well. Basically if you want to see any part of the city you can just twiddle the 'virtual camera' (for want of a better name) and look at things from anywhere. Cool. Gone are the days of the original Syndicate where you could hide behind a building with a very large gun in multi-player mode and no one would know you were there.
As well as all of this 3D twiddling around, we now also have a fully light-sourced, texture-mapped polygon-based environment. Each city is made up of real-looking, solid polygon buildings and structures and all of them look different depending on which city you are in. Some of them have huge skyscrapers, some have intricate road systems, others have Venice-like canal-ways, but all of them are unique. What adds to the fun as well though is the fact that if anything is standing upright there's a pretty good chance that you can shoot a large weapon of some description at it and make it fall over. And in a very large puff of smoke.
But it's not just the scenery that's polygon-based - even the vehicles are generated using fairly complex, guru-shaded polygons. Although not properly implemented fully in the preview version we saw, there is a good chance that the finished game will feature the vehicles from Hi-Octane as well as the obligatory collection of police cars and hover-Skodas (or whatever).
From what we've seen, there's a pretty good chance that Syndicate Wars will turn out to be yet another Bullfrog classic. The mission structure is more story-based than before and the gameplay should boast more depth than the basic strategy blastathon of the original game. Hopefully we'll be able to bring you a full review in a couple of months.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Syndicate Wars Screenshots
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