Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oh My Gog.com

Steam is a lovely platform. You can buy your games, usually cheaper because they're all digital versions, and download them to any and every PC you log on to.

They do PC and Mac, which is both useful (in the case of something like Team Fortress 2 on both platforms) but can also really annoying (when that game you desperately want is only available in a PC version).

There are a lot of great new, and fairly old, games on Steam, and I thought this was a good thing. This is, of course, until I discovered gog.com, which essentially does the same thing.

While Steam, made by Valve, is it's own gaming platform, with studios both large and small desperately vying to get their games on there, Gog is much simpler and much, much smaller in its scope and library. Gog used to stand for 'Good Old Games', and looking at their collection, it seems they're fairly well named. A lot of them, however, would only be downloaded for nostalgia purposes anyway as they weren't all super-fantastic, even at the time. Dated games are dated, after all.

But, there is a crucial 'but'.

They have the original PC version of Syndicate, from 1993, by Peter Molyneux's Bullfrog Studios, for £2.99.

On Mac.

For not even the price of a generic fast food burger meal, I get to play my favourite PC game of my pre-teen days. I was 11 when it game out originally, and my friend owned it and copied the four 3.5" Floppy Disks for me. They were black plastic, and the labels he'd stuck on them had orange edges with 'SYNDICATE 1/4' on them in a thin blue marker. Yes, I  enjoyed that game more than a little bit. They were the holy tablets of my youth.

Since I've downloaded this game, I only have one complaint: the UI sound effects are terrible and repetitive. This is something I never had on my PC at the time as, despite a 'superb' SoundBlaster card, it only gave me the in-game music. These midi tunes are as atmospheric as ever, and the music change when rival Syndicate members appear cranks up the tension level.

It somehow feels right to play it on my Mac in a darkened room, echoing the in-game situation of the Syndicate leader sitting in his airship watching on the 2D holographic display in front of him. The UI always, immediately, brought me out of whatever I was doing and into the game.

It's still brilliant, it's still staggeringly difficult in places - did anyone ever have a foolproof loadout/method for completing the Atlantic Accelerator mission? - and even fullscreen on a iMac it looks just fine.

If you owned a PC, or an Amiga, or even an Acorn in the early 90s, you probably either owned or played this game. Nearly 20 years after it came out (next year is the 20th anniversary), the original Syndicate is still a staggeringly brilliant game. I wholeheartedly recommend spending the £2.99 on it.

Apparently the player syndicate was, in canon, called EuroCorp. No no no, it was (almost always) BradyCorp when I played, with purple hair.

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