Syndicate Wars

Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Year: 1996
Developer: Bullfrog Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Age Rating: 18+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 8 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

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Ever feel like big corporations are gaining too much power? Don’t be silly, must be the chip in your head not working correctly. Now, if you’d like to step into this darkened alley, this gentleman in a trench-coat will re-educate you with his Uzi 9mm. If you hadn’t already guessed, Syndicate Wars is another game set in a violent, dystopian future. As an executive in the evil EuroCorp, you will take control of four cyborg assassins as you fight against civilian uprisings and the deadly Church of the New Epoch. In 1996, the games dark cyberpunk theme and frantic combat won it many fans. Sadly the games visuals have dated rather badly and its gameplay can feel simplistic compared with modern RTS titles. Nevertheless, there’s still a very enjoyable and often challenging game lurking under that dated exterior.

Preparing DOSBox

To run Syndicate Wars on your PC, you should use DOSBox. Set up your DOSBox configuration according to our tutorial here. Set up DOSBox with the SVGA configuration we detail on that page. Syndicate Wars requires one change to the default DOSBox configuration. Search for and launch “Dosbox Options” on the Start menu or Start screen, and the file will open in Notepad. Find the section that begins “[cpu]”. Now, change the line that reads “cycles=auto” to read “cycles=fixed 70000” (do not copy the quotation marks).

Don’t forget to change this value back to “cycles=auto” when you run your other games. Save the file and now you can move on to installation. If you want to avoid having to change this file every time you play, see our tutorial on custom DOSBox configuration files.


With your DOSBox configured, insert your Syndicate Wars CD into your PCs optical drive and start DOSBox. Enter the following commands into the DOSBox window to install the game, pressing enter after each command.


The games installer will then start, click on “Login” to start the installation, then choose your language and click on “Continue”. You should now see the screen shown in the picture below.


Like most DOS games, we now have to configure sound options, luckily DOSBox makes this fairly straightforward. First click on “Set Sound”. A list of possible sound configurations will be displayed. choose “Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 or Awe32” then choose “Configure Automatically”. If you click “Sound Test” now you should hear a sound. Click on “Accept” to go back to the previous menu.

Now, click on “Set Music”. Again, a list of music playback devices will be displayed, click on “Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16” then choose “Configure Automatically”. A “Music Test” button should now appear, if you click on it you should hear a jingle. Click on “Accept” to go back to the previous menu.

Now all that remains is to click on “Install”. Leave the installation path as “C\SWARS” and choose “Full Install”. Wait while files are copied and configured. When installation is complete, click on “Logout” and then “Quit”. The game is now installed.

Starting the game

Once the game is installed, you can run it at any time by inserting your Syndicate Wars CD-ROM, starting DOSBox and then typing the following commands.

cd swars

The game should then start.

Tweaking visual options

Syndicate Wars has a few visual quality options you will want to set before you start playing.  To change them, start the game, choose “log in” and choose an alliance (or load a saved game). Once at your executives desk, click on “System” and then “Visual Depth”. The options shown in the picture below will then appear.



For all the options, the low quality setting is on the left and the high quality setting is on the right. You should therefore set all the options to the option shown on the right. The only possible exception to this is “Projector Speed” which affects how fast text is displayed. This option can be set to taste.

At the bottom of the screen there are two options, “Panel Permutation” and “Trenchcoat Preference”. These change minor cosmetic elements of the game and can be set to taste.

When you are done configuring these options, simply click on any other icon to leave the menu. You’re now all set to command your cyborgs and increase profits for EuroCorp or bring glory to the Church of the New Epoch, good hunting!


  1. qs11452987 says:

    FYI there’s this unofficial “port” that allow you to run Syndicate Wars on modern OS without help of DosBOX (albeit with some missing features like no joystick support), check this out

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