Review by hurricain

Reviewed: 07/10/02 | Updated: 07/10/02

Bullfrog's cybernetic hit squad sim PC port

There exists numerous PC ports for the SNES hardware, the unifying trait of these being the failure of most of them to favourably compare to the PC originals. Ultimately, those which succeded did so on grounds of retaining the overall gameplay dynamic whilst overcoming the control disparity between the keyboard/mouse(serious Quake 2/ FPS players will usually denounce a home version-due to this functionally omni-faceted combination) and the SNES controller(not revolutionary, yet a sturdy, reasonably innovative controller- perhaps one of the best,most solid 1st party console controllers and at the time definetly the supreme, of course Sony siezed the essential layout for the original PS controller). The ports which faired best were largely isometric or overhead simulation games; Sim City was actually one of the European launch titles; and more graphically demanding games tend to look rather dilapidated on the SNES, take Wing Commander, Wolfenstein or Doom for example - all pseudo 3d and pixellated to oblivion compared to their PC forefathers, the resolution grotesque due to the SNES's limited processor. Syndicate is a simulation, a remarkably grim, violent and fun one, that evokes a world of armed global confrontation between vying factions in an environment similar in feel and look to Blade Runner, in which teams of cybernetically enhanced agents are the 'enforcers'.This game has surplus atmosphere and exudes 'cool' as you inject capital into your crew of literal killing machines, outfitting them with an arsenal of weaponry and attribute-endowing cybernetic implants. And yes you can terminate, flambe and ventilate any civillian, droid and rival in your way (of course there are mission objectives to consider before you perform 'wet works' on the innocent denizens of the various locales). The developer of this title, Bullfrog, are extrodinares when it comes to modelling worlds for the player to control from the perspective of overseer rather than direct participant, they are one of the premier simulation(as we know it) developers. Lets get a tad more analytical in terms of Syndicate's graphical realization and playability.

As elaborated earlier the SNES version takes a graphical step down, but this is not a completely offputting nosedive. The graphics lose a certain edge in this version, the PC original's sense of gritty darkness yields to some brighter and garishly varied colour schemes, some of which are unfortunetly quite putrid. The sprites seem larger here, making them ever so slightly cartoonish and disproportionate compared to the PC version. Intentionally or no, in accordance with Nintendo's policy regarding violence at the time of this games release(early 90's, dunno exact date, plus I lost this cart years ago)the slaughter seems toned down too... don't get me wrong, you can shoot a car, then the driver as he flees, torch people, etcetc but because of the graphical retred the mayhem doesn't feel as powerful as before, even if it is as wanton. Essentially the playability of this game shines through the understandably tarnished veneer...kudos to Bullfrog.

Without getting pedantically specific, I'll say the control method used in SNES Syndicate works well, rest assured the learning curve, well, it ain't a curve come to think of it- you won't be fumbling here.The difference between Bullfrog's other simulations such as the Sim City series, Theme Park, Sim Ant et al is primarily in the scale of the action and importantly,the action itself. In the other games I mentioned the goal is to create, nurture, sustain, in Syndicate the aim is to destroy and prevail,dominate with force and extreme predjudice(noticed that in this review I've reeled off an absurd amount of american action film title sounding rhetoric). To guide a crew of quasi-Shadowrun killers through missions completing objectives, beefing them up between stages with the earnings and slaying throughout countries such as Kazakstan and China is fun, no doubt, but overall, is best done with the PC incarnation of Syndicate(I'd give that a higher score BTW). This was a nice try though(look at SNES Doom for a disgusting failed port - shoulda been aborted).

Rating: 6

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