Retro Rewind: Syndicate Has A Long Manual

Although I was a gamer in 1993, at the ripe young age of 6, I did not play Syndicate. I was more into first-person shooters back then, and so I missed out on this one the first time around. I am familiar with the small unit tactical genre, though, having become acquainted with it after my brother got Commandos 2 for his birthday one year. And, of course, I was into strategy games, having played Command & Conquer games for most of my life.

I played Syndicate this week because I wanted to be righteously indignant when the reboot shooter comes out in just a few weeks. Did I like it enough to be angry about a series-breaking remake? Let’s take a look.

My first impression of Syndicate is that I felt lost. I created my crime syndicate and started doing research and stuff and outfitting my agents, and I really didn’t feel like I knew what was going on. I’m doing research, but I don’t really know what the research will give me, or how much money I should be putting into it. I’m giving my agents some cybernetic legs and hearts, but I don’t really know what the point of it is. What the f–k is a persuadertron? The game didn’t tell me any of the things I wanted to know.

All right, let’s play a mission.

The first mission in this real time, small unit tactical game has me try to assassinate some colonel at a military base. So I get my four guys — or, more accurately, my two guys and two ladies — and we go in. I situate my people all around the base, but it takes forever to do that, because my people move so sloooooooooooooooooowly. So I wait. And wait. And wait. An, oh crap, somebody is shooting at one of my guys! I click on the offender, and my guy walks over to him and does nothing. He gets shot again. I try right clicking, which does nothing. S–t, my guy gets killed.

Ack, now somebody else is attacking another one of my people. Oh, maybe I should click on a gun in my inventory first. Oh man, he pulled out his gun! I’m so excited! I left click again, and my lady agent just walks over to the enemy. I right click, and she shoots him dead. Yay!

Then we find the colonel and murder him.

The first mission is simple and easy, and it works as a tutorial, even though it is most definitely not a tutorial. But it allows you to get used to the game.

I played a few more missions with only one incident in which I finally figured out what the persuadertron does. (Hint: it persuades people.) I was having a decent enough time, but I felt like I was missing something. I didn’t really understand how to make money, although I was making money, and it seemed strange that there was no story whatsoever. And then I remembered that also gives you the manual for a game when you buy it.

So I read Syndicate’s 60-page manual. It turns out the manual actually builds up a dystopian setting for the game. Crime syndicates are wrestling for control of the world’s CHIPs, which allow people to live in a drug-induced fantasy world that is happy and stuff even though the real world is actually a terrible place. Too, your agents have CHIPs, which seems rather cruel.

Armed with the manual, I now understand how the game works, and can evaluate it more accurately.

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2 Comments on Retro Rewind: Syndicate Has A Long Manual


On January 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

As someone that played DOS games back in the day, I’m not exceptionally butthurt about Syndicate 2012 being a shooter. The first game itself was practically an isometric shooter in the vein of the Crusader series, and Starbreeze has yet to make a poor game. I honestly could not care less about the story (I haven’t cared about story in a Cyberpunk game since Anachronox)and am just going to enjoy the 4 player co-op.

Although, I do tend to dislike giving EA money.


On January 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Command and Conquer is freeware now, I know this article was about Syndicate (which was good) but that first little paragraph mentioning CnC makes me want to go get Tiberian Dawn and shoot some NOD terrorists.

The new Syndicate looks pretty good honestly, I remember my dad playing it when I was young; I was actually 6 as well so never played it myself until many years later, but I’m not particularly upset the new one is FPS either, I feel the same as Jeremy.