Review by Chuck Schrank for Gamezilla PC Games
I have always been fascinated with the future; what will the world be like? Will there be space ships and laser guns and interplanetary travel? I hope so!! One of my favorite movies is Blade Runner; remember the city with all the electronic billboards and steam coming from everywhere? It seems some authors paint the future to be a dark, cold, cyborg-infested place. When I was younger, I used to imagine myself as a blade runner, just like in the movie. I was awesome, shooting bad guys with my laser rifle, fighting crime as some sort of vigilante, and of course I never died.
A couple of years ago a game called Syndicate came out, and I was instantly attracted to its ambiance. I played it for hours, finally I was living my Blade Runner fantasy through that video game. It was so well done, and if Gamezilla! was in existence then, it would have been one of my top picks. Now enter Syndicate Wars, the long awaited sequel to the original. Again I was excited to get into that futuristic world and fry cyborg scum until their molten parts flowed freely beneath my feet. For those of you who have seen Blade Runner, Syndicate Wars brings to the gaming world that same dark futuristic feel. If you haven't seen it, I hope my description says it all.
What you need to do is play this game late at night after you have seen Blade Runner to get in the mood. You'll find yourself in control of a team of cyborg agents designed for ultimate decimation. You will get to arm them with multitudes of nasty weapons as you perform missions in various cities around the globe. You can play one of two sides, each with it's own distinct storyline and flavor, as you attempt to complete your goals and ultimately control the globe.
You are briefed before each new mission, and at any time before entering the mission, you can arm your agents with the latest weaponry -- of course you'll pay for it. You are also able to research new technologies for weaponry as well as cyborg enhancements for your agents. The between-mission interface is very slick, adding to the dark, futuristic experience.
Once you enter a mission, you control up to four agents at a time. I found that the mouse works better than any other input device for best maneuvering your agents into killing position. I also found it best to group all of your agents together and operate as one unit, rather than trying to control two separate units at once. This was a slight drawback for me since I would have liked to split my guys up. It was just too hard during the heat of a frantic battle to control two groups and watch their health etc. Overall, the missions and accompanying storyline were excellent and the variety of vehicles and extras in the cities were great.
The overall feeling of control in this sequel did not match up to the original in my opinion. I liked the view in the first game better, and in this one I regret to say that my spiffy little agents got caught and stuck on buildings and edges of things more than once, forcing me to reboot and start from my last saved position. These problems were by no means reason not to buy this game, but they are worth mentioning.
Ahh, the graphics ... very sharp and pleasing to the palette. This is definitely where this game really shines. It is obvious the work and detail the guys at Bullfrog put into the cities, vehicles, and explosions. I loved waltzing through town blowing away pedestrians, cars, buildings, and anything else I felt like blasting to a thousand pieces. The explosion graphics are great, with shrapnel and fire and smoke, very satisfying. All this splendor comes at a price, of course. I barely had satisfactory game play on my P-100 with 32 MB RAM. There is an option to turn down the resolution, but I could not bring myself to those extremes. The animations are very nicely done, and except for a little pixelation on some things, this game is a graphic dream (can you tell I'm into graphics). Besides the pixelation, my only other complaint would be the bogging down when there is lots of stuff on the screen, come on guys, Diablo never bogged. I'm no programmer, so I take that back if I'm out of line, but I just hate bogging, and my machine ain't that bad.
From the screeches of death to the heart pounding danger music, this audio truly stands out from the crowd. I especially liked the cybernetic-sounding voices with that weird reverb, echo or whatever. Nothing got annoying or repetitive, and if you have a good sound card and speakers, you will enjoy the audio even more.
The manual is thin, and although it tells you enough to get started and enjoy the game, I wanted a little more here. I like to skim the manual for tidbits of information on the characters and read stats on all the weapons, etc. You won't find all that in this teeny weeny manual, but it will get you going.
Bullfrog recommends at least a Pentium 100 with 16 MB RAM. I think they are right on here. If you have even better hardware, that's great -- this game will use it. I don't think it would be playable on anything less than a P-90 unless you have a sub-light-speed video card or something.
I really liked this game. It is a good sequel worth the investment. The graphics have improved and many more cool items, weapons and extras have been added. Unfortunately, like most sequels, Syndicate Wars is not that "quantum leap" I was hoping for. I thought that three years was enough to totally revamp the engine, which is the kind of change I like to see. I felt like Syndicate Wars was just a great add on to an already great game, and that's not bad, I'm just trying to put this in perspective. If you liked the original, pick up Syndicate Wars, If you have never played the original, get this one anyway, and remember Gamezilla! rates it an 86 out of 100.
-- Chuck Schrank