Memo-review #1: Syndicate

I have been playing games for over 20 years now, and I’ve been the absurdly proud owner of my very own gaming machine since Christmas of ’89, when my brother and I were given an Amiga 500. As a result, I have a lot of memories backed-up and built-up through my brainsphere relating to the games I played through those formative years of my life. I would like, therefore, to take the time over coming weeks and months to reminisce a little about some particular standout titles that have lived with me, shaped me in some way or just never really got out of my head. Rather than going the easy route and downloading ROMs to re-play them and refresh myself, I will instead be conducting these reviews entirely from memory, hence some facts may be a bit squiffy. Bear with me.

First up is one of my top three games ever made: Syndicate. I have waxed lyrical about this game so much that… it… needs more wax and lyrics? Regardless, I loved it. I was my perfect world when I was a growing boy: the future, lasers, flying cars, miniguns, ginger toupees, trenchcoats, a gang of men who did everything you told them to without question, trees that set on fire – seriously, it was perfect for demi-Ian.

I think the thing that amazed me the most about Syndicate was its liberal use of beans. They were everywhere – from the graffiti daubed on walls to the cars that swamped the future-roads being filled with their tasty goodness. No one forgets the first time they opened the hovercar door only to have their agents washed away in a sea of Heinz’s best! But that’s where your research team would come in, eventually coming up with the Bean-deflect-o-shield and, further down the line, the Anti-bean Cannon, which fired toast to soak up the hazardous bean juice, if I’m remembering it correctly.

Players were tasked, if memory serves, with liberating central Swansea from the encroaching nefarious types known as ‘foreigners’. Thing was, Swansea in the future actually looked – if you can believe it– a lot like Hull! Oh, the potential for hilarity was endless, let me tell you, what with endless chances of getting the Swansea Fish Shop mixed up with the Hull Fish Shop and such other japes. I’m sure the developers, who were made up of a rag-tag bunch of Hell’s Angels forced together through their mutual love for coding videogames, did this on purpose just for shits and giggles.

But the defining moment in Syndicate, for me personally, was the final boss battle. On reaching Swansea Bus Station you were confronted by the mastermind of the entire ‘foreigner’ operation: the Queen. The battle was intense and difficult, and if you didn’t use all of the skills you’d learned through the game then you’d likely be overwhelmed by her Corgis (she threw them like grenades – or “dog bombs” as the game called them – and required liberal flamethrower use to overcome) or unable to resist when she demanded you bow to her (also solved with the flamethrower). It took me years to do that boss, but one day I did. And I never felt better about any boss since.

Like I say though, this is all from memory, and we all know that we tend to put the rose-tinted specs on when thinking about the past so you’ll have to forgive me some of my involuntary flights of fancy. I hope you enjoyed the memo-review, as I intend to fit in as many as I can before my brain completely packs in on me.



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