Syndicate Wars

Who needs a corner office when you have a mini gun?

Review by Peter Suciu

Syndicate Wars is set in a dark, violent world of mega-corporations and very hostile takeovers. A sequel to the disturbingly enjoyable Syndicate, this game picks up when Eurocorp is ready to get down to actual business now that foreign and domestic markets are in place and the other syndicates have been removed. To defend its new-found position, Eurocorp has positioned agents to keep the competition from muscling in. These agents are the best that Eurocorp has: highly drugged and highly enhanced with the latest cyber-modifications. The daily routine is typical in this business world: kill some religious fanatics, take out a few enemy agents, remove a disloyal officer and even persuade (there is technology to help) a few people to join the company.

The game is mostly played as a series of individual missions, with players having to complete a task in one area before moving on to the next area and next mission. Each mission offers new goals to accomplish, while in between players can research new weapons and cyber-modifications, and then re-arm and re-vamp their agents, or call up new agents in cyber-cold storage.

As in the original game, players control their agents from an overhead perspective, with a mini-radar to help keep an eye on the action. But this time players have a 360-degree rotating view, so agents can't wander into trouble behind buildings. They can also control up to four agents at a time, using a mouse to handle all tasks.

Syndicate Wars is a nice hybrid of the shooter, action simulator and adventure game genres. Cyberpunk fans will delight with the dark images, including a provoking opening segment. In this game players can also control either side -- the Eurocorp Syndicate or the fanatics of the Church of the New Epoch. However, players and fans of the original Syndicate may be disappointed slightly by this sequel -- the game lacks some of the themes and overall essence that created such a unique title the first time around. But that's to be expected.

While the graphics don't have the crispness of the original, they do have dark overtones that make for a definitive cyberpunk look of a hellish future with a neon-and-metal style that inspires the proper mood from the start. The soundtrack blasts with an equal mix of industrial music and B-movie sound effects from a shoot out, super-imposed over a car crash. Throw it all together and it's like reading William Gibson while watching Blade Runner and listening to Skinny Puppy.

Syndicate Wars makes me want to quit my full time PR job and become a corporate assassin. -- Peter

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