Review: Syndicate (Jaguar)


Syndicate, released in 1993 by Bullfrog, was a kind of action-strategy set in a sci-fi universe, and was fairly well received by game critics at the time. In the game, the world is run by a number of competing corporations (syndicates), and it’s your particular company’s goal to take control. As such, you take on missions in the various regions of the world (countries to you and me), and deploy a team of four operatives to achieve a set goal.

The main game utilises an isometric view, and you can direct your team either individually, or as a whole, depending on how you think the mission is best tackled. The game plays itself out in real-time as you navigate your team around the city streets looking for your target.

The beauty, though, lay in the detail – not only could you choose which operatives to send out (from a list), but you could also choose what equipment each individual took on the mission, or even what cybernetic enhancements each individual had applied (to make them faster, more accurate, etc.). On top of this, you could invest some of your earnings into researching various technologies (primarily weapons and cybernetic enhancements), which injects a kind of RPG quality into the title.

Why did I get this anyway?

To be honest, I’m not sure. It was prompted by a little nostalgia, as I remembered playing Syndicate on my friend’s Amiga, and absolutely loving it. However, I never played it on a console… I guess it was cheap and I saw the opportunity to grab something I used to love…

Likely impact (on release)

In the overview above, I mentioned that the game was fairly well received by critics, but I guess I need to make myself clear – this does NOT refer to the Jaguar title, as playing on Amiga/PC with a mouse, and playing on a console with a gamepad are two completely different things…

The lower resolution of a standard definition TV, coupled with extremely confusing controls means that it’s likely this wasn’t well received on Jaguar. That said, review scores have ranged from 30% to 90% in my searches across the web, so it might come down to how long it takes to get used to the controls, and whether or not you can weather the frustration in the process. I guess I can say that the 90s was a different time, and it’s possible that it wasn’t so frustrating.

Current impact: Has it aged well?

No… No, it hasn’t. On Jaguar, it’s extremely hard to control, and the graphics are lacking in detail. Playing at a higher resolution is much better (on other machines), but it’s not an impressive Jaguar title.

Still, I haven’t spent much time with the game, but the simple fact is – I don’t really want to. That kind of speaks volumes as to how much I enjoyed playing it so far. I’ll give it another chance, but I don’t see myself playing it for any more than nostalgic reasons.

Overall – is it worth collecting?

On Jaguar – no. Unless you have played it on Jaguar before and want to get it for that reason, don’t punish yourself – it’s not the same as you remember.

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3 Comments

Filed under Review, Video Games

3 responses to “Review: Syndicate (Jaguar)

  1. I didn’t really play the original Syndicate but I loved the hell out of Syndicate Wars on PS1 especially because it was one of the only games available at the time which supported 4 player co-op on the same screen, it was amazing!

  2. zorrobandito

    Interesting that the Jaguar version seems to have the same ‘hi-res’ graphics – particularly the agents – as the PC version. The AMiga and the SNES both had ‘cuter’ graphics.
    Thanks for the warning on this version though it will likely do little to prevent me from picking it up if I find it cheap enough. I’m enough of a fan of the original that it’s one of ‘those’ games that I am driven to own on as many formats as possible – Prince of Persia, Speedball and Populous being other examples.

    • MadCapsules

      Hey – I’m sure you’ll get on top of the controls. I don’t really regret getting it, I guess I regret not getting something else, if that makes sense (I’m happy to have it, but would have preferred something else).

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