Syndicate, Atari Jaguar

Bullfrog‘s classic tactical action game, Syndicate, was published for the Atari Jaguar by Ocean Software in 1995, and while the game works well enough it does suffer a bit from the switch from mouse to gamepad controls.

The game was designed as a point-and-click mouse game, and this Jaguar port – as you would expect – uses a gamepad instead. You still move a cursor around (and click the ‘B’ button) to move your team of assassins around, and pushing the edge of the screen with the cursor also moves the view around (you can also hold down the ‘C’ button to move the view as well). You use the ‘A’ button to fire your currently equipped weapon. The number buttons on the gamepad allow you to select individual agents, or all of them, and to cycle through and equip items in your inventory.

You play the executive of a small corporation (a “Syndicate“) who assigns cyborg agents to various missions around the world. The aim of the game is to gain as much control of the world as possible by completing missions, and to dominate rival syndicates. Missions range from assassinations to capturing rival agents and each can be chosen from a world map and is briefed individually.

There are a number of things you need to get your head around before playing Syndicate, though. Basic mission information is provided, but you must pay extra for additional tips. Each team member must be equipped manually, although your first four team members are given a default pistol. Adding a ‘Persuadertron‘ to one of them is vital and this is used to persuade other people to follow you (to use it you simply select it in-game using the ‘7’ button and it works automatically, when close to a target). You can also equip a shotgun, a scanner and a Medkit, but other more advanced equipment must either be researched or acquired during missions. Modifications (for legs, arms, eyes, heart, chest and brain) can also be purchased for each cyborg team member, and these can be improved through research. You can also buy and sell weapons during intermissions. And – if a weapon needs reloading – you must do it manually here (which isn’t the case in the PC and Amiga versions; weapons are automatically reloaded between missions).

When it comes to completing missions, it’s important to note the location of the target (which is indicated by a moving, pulsating beam on the map, that always points in the direction of the objective), and also the placement of any hostiles (that must usually be neutralised). You can also get into vehicles to move around roads, although this can be a little confusing at times. To direct cars, for example, it matters on which side of the road you click on, to drive to specific places. It’s also not a good idea to be standing near a car during a firefight as a stray bullet could make it explode, although this can be used to your advantage to take out groups of enemies if you’re so inclined.

One important aspect of the gameplay in Syndicate is replacing dead agents who are killed in the field. You have access to a cryogenic chamber back at base, in-between missions, with extra stocks of agents, but this can run low if you lose too many men. In which case you need to kidnap civilians (or police) to return to base with you, so that you can turn them into cyborgs for your nefarious use.

While the gamepad controls in Syndicate do hold the game back somewhat they at least don’t suffer from the frustrating unresponsiveness of the Amiga version’s mouse controls. The Jaguar port also looks better than the Amiga version in terms of visuals; arguably even better than the PC version as well. One thing that I couldn’t work out (even after scouring the entire manual), was how to transfer weapons/items from one team member to another. It’s simple enough to do in the Amiga and PC versions (by right-clicking and dragging an item onto another agent), but in the Jaguar version this useful feature seems to be missing. So there are pluses and minuses to playing Jaguar Syndicate.

Given a choice of only playing one version of Syndicate, though, I would probably go for the original PC version because it has the most responsive and appropriate controls. That said: the Jaguar version of Syndicate remains an excellent game and is still worth playing today.

More: Syndicate on Wikipedia
GOG: Syndicate on

One thought on “Syndicate, Atari Jaguar”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.