Syndicate: American Revolt
Novice syndicate executives, take heed: you'll need skill, patience, a well-managed bank account, and a fist of iron to re-subjugate the American upstarts.
Review by Russell L. Webb for Game Bytes Magazine
Computer Graphics Memory Disk Space
Minimum 386 VGA 4 MB Syndicate(12MB)+2 MB
Control: Mouse (required), keyboard
Sound: Sound Blaster only (but GUS and PAS known to work)
Notes: Protection - None
Reviewed version 1.0x on: 486DX2/50, 16B RAM, SB Pro.
Reviewer recommends: SB-compatible sound card.
You controlled the world. In SYNDICATE, you ruthlessly guided your cyborg agents and oversaw your company's funds and arsenal to succeed against bloody civilian uprisings and police resistance, and you accomplished political assassinations, abductions, and rescues. You managed to grind every competing syndicate in the world under your heel, basking in the control of (and taxes from) every nation on the globe.
In SYNDICATE: AMERICAN REVOLT, the situation has changed. The North and South American populations have revolted to form a strong, almost impervious defense against you, the syndicate that once ruled them. Novice syndicate executives, take heed: you'll need skill, patience, a well- managed bank account, and a fist of iron to re-subjugate the American upstarts.
The American Revolt add-on data disk creates 21 new missions in the familiar terrain and cityscapes that players may recognize from the original Syndicate game. What has changed are the objectives, the enemy skill, and a few weapons. The new weapons Clone Shield (which holographically cloaks your agents in civilian appearance) and Air Strike Com (which calls in a devastating wave of airstrike bombers for a stiff $50,000 fee) raise the game's difficulty. It's harder to minigun your way through squads of enemy agents while they're calling large-scale bombs down on your agents' heads. Clone Shield is only useful in the 10 NetBIOS multiplayer scenarios that are included with AR, as enemy agents in the solo missions are not misled by your agents' civilian appearance.
The missions, I'm happy to say, are very difficult. One disappointment of mine with the original Syndicate was that a fully-modified level 3 team of agents could bulldoze through almost any original Syndicate mission with several miniguns and an occasional gauss gun. Brute force alone won't get you through American Revolt. During many of my first runs through AR missions, I ended up slack-jawed and a bit dazed as I watched my entire team of agents slaughtered in 10 seconds or less. The infamous Atlantic Accelerator mission from Syndicate is a good example of the sort of consistant difficulty of many American Revolt missions, where brute force combined with tactical movement through sectors, attentive weapon selection, and quick reaction time were equally necessary. (Interestingly, the Atlantic Accelerator mission is included in American Revolt, but with defense as the objective instead of the takeover of the complex. Watch out: it gets hard to dodge airstrikes when your agent is stranded on a 10 foot square guard platform.)
The subject matter of most American Revolt missions is the same as in Syndicate: assassination, rescue, scourges of enemy agents or guard squads. Your opponents, however, are vastly more well-prepared than in Syndicate. Expect a particularly aggressive enemy agent with a minigun to nearly be able to mow down your entire level-3-modified group within seconds if you're too inattentive or sluggish. Many American Revolt missions also have a notable absence of civilians, frequently preventing widespread use of a persuadertron to subjugate an entire city without bloodshed. Several of the missions that do have civilians have just *barely* enough civs to manage persuadertron use against agents and guards, leaving a nice tactical choice between attacking agents and the difficult job of protecting every one of the civs from gunfire. Both the enemy difficulty and frequent lack of civilians make most of the missions considerably more difficult than the original missions.
Beyond game difficulty, several weapons, and additional missions, American Revolt really doesn't add anything fundamentally new to the single-player Syndicate game. Some of the slight weaknesses from the original game remain: there is no way to control groups of 2-3 agents (only 1 agent or all of them), the game ending is non-existent except for scrolling credits, and mission objectives are repetitive. AR addresses the repetitive objectives somewhat, as the basic assassination, abduction, and attack tasks are spread over 21 missions instead of 50, making them seem duplicated less. Besides, players will probably find themselves struggling so desperately just for survival that a lack of widely-varying mission objectives will probably not be a significant concern.
Game overall replay value is minimal, or depending on your perspective, no more or less so than the original missions. The company name: 'COOPER TEAM' and associated cheats still work, though, so using that you could quickly replay any previous American Revolt mission. I spent about 20-25 hours of playing to finish AR, and consider myself an average Syndicate player; expect to replay the more difficult missions many times, which may lead to some frustration for casual Syndicate players.
As noted before, American Revolt is an add-on disk, so don't run off to buy it before you have Syndicate. Perhaps that's just as well; considering the mission difficulty, it would be inadvisable to play it prior to the original Syndicate missions anyway. For those die-hard Syndicate players looking for a good challenge, though, American Revolt fits the bill quite nicely.
This review is Copyright 1994 by Russell Webb for Game Bytes Magazine.