Glorious Moments in Gaming: Syndicate Wars
Syndicate Wars was the first PlayStation game I ever owned. I had played Syndicate at a friends' house and it was with some excitement when my brother and I popped the PSX version in for the first time. Up to 4 player co-op, manga signposts, awesome soundscape (we loved Neotokyo on Timesplitters 2 because of how Syndicate it felt), bank robbing, pursuada-tronning, setting trigger wire traps, getting into a hover car and flying about, setting crowds on fire, the meaty spit when the LR rifle liquidises a person from range. That whole game was amazing* and we'd poured hours and hours into the game (occassionally accompanied by the good Dr. Wo).
We played the Eurocorp Agent missions because, hey, guys in trench coats are so much cooler than the guys with the shoulder pads. Apparently, I've just discovered, there was actually a proper 'plot' according to wikipedia but I never read any of the mission briefings and still loved it. Eventually, we managed to get to the last level which was made up of two sections with no option to tool up between. The first time we beat the first part we had no way of knowing this so when we ended up on the second section we quickly got greased. After a repeated tries we got quite adept at finishing the first section with most of our resources intact before heading up to the finale, set on the Moon, prepared for the final conflict. The objective of which was to take out the 'nine'. Nine enemy agents you had more or less been pursuing throughout who were going to destroy Earth with an Ion cannon ahem. It was here we got all seven kinds of rinsed. Repeatedly. Hundreds of zealot goons and mecha-spiders would pin you with lasers and plasma lances and then zap you to death. Even with the best weapons and cybernetics if you took one wrong step you were only ever seconds away from death. I remember hours of tense pop and run guerilla warfare through networks of glass tunnels always ending in frustration. Eventually, we enlisted the help of Dr Wo. and Monfuche (our mother) to fill out the 3P and 4P slots in a bid to beat the game.
One of the best bits things about Syndicate Wars was that when you bought the cybernetic body from the cryovat, any player at any time could self destruct by pressing x, square, triangle and circle. Self destructing caused a massive explosion that would bring down skyscrapers, set trees on fire, send hover cars spiralling into the ground and would leave a crater in the fabric of the city itelf. Needless to say we had hundreds of mission restarts as one of us would "comically" or "accidentally" self destruct when we were all in a car together or killing the personwe were supposed to be escorting etc. Occassionally, it did come in useful for taking out targets quickly (but if you completed a mission when someone self destructed, you lose that agent, all their gear and all their body upgrades from the available agent list FOREVER) but more often than not self detruct was a last resort so you could exact your revenge on your would be killers before restarting a mission. More games need a self-destruct feature.
After numerous attempts at the final level we'd more of less committed to memory roughly how the level would go. When to lure guys into a trap, when to run and when to restart. We were on a really good run when things started to get a bit hairy. Mecha-spiders had Dr Wo pinned down with lasers and with zealots surrounding our position all of us were taking heavy damage. Shields were down. "Just run" he cried out, lasers taking chunks of his health and then self destructed a second before he would have been killed, taking a handful of bad guys with him and slowing down the spiders. Caught in the shockwave of the blast, the three remaining agents, shields completely depleted then started to rush the remaining members of the nine. Monfuche, slightly lagging behind then got picked off and started to take heavy damage from zealots, in between taking shots she turns to face the pursuers and then BOOM! she self destructs again buying us crucial seconds to complete the objective before getting swarmed. We then get to the final member of the nine who is armed with the sick graviton gun. My brother selflessly rushes up to him and BOOM self destructs, taking out the last of the nine With low health and no shields I then quickly sprint off being pursued by a horde of baddies, reaching the exit and winning the game.
Rarely, have I ever felt so good as after finishing that mission, my team mates selflessly sacrificing themselves so we could literally (within the fiction of the game) save the world.
*If there had to be a downside it was that the intro movie was changed from the brilliant PC version. Actually:
I guess you had to be there :( stupid hindsight.