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Syndicate lives again

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Posted September 13, 2011 by Richard Plant in Editorial
citizen game - syndicate

Syndicate is one of those games that you feel like you played, even if you didn’t. From the amount of love often shown to the early Bullfrog game, you might be forgiven for thinking that it was a massive and influential gaming success story.

In fact, Syndicate was something of a dead end. Released in 1993 on a vast range of machines including the PC, Mac, 3DO and Amiga, the tense tactical action game spawned only a single expansion before disappearing into the ether in EA’s purchase of the studio shortly afterwards.  While the isometric viewpoint and team-based setup would survive in corridor shooters like Alien Swarm, the waning popularity of X-Com seemed to seal the tactical action strategy sim’s fate.

EA was never one to let old IPs hang around without earning their keep, however. The publishing giant has roped in developer Starbreeze Studios, known for the respectable Chronicles of Riddick series, for a reboot of the old franchise.

Fans may be disappointed though by the direction the studio has chosen to go in. Ditching the isometric viewpoint and squad strategy elements, the game has been re-imagined as a sci-fi first person shooter set in a world of shady corporate espionage and corruption. The near-future setting will offer the usual panoply of hacking, augmentations and advanced weaponry, but Starbreeze seeks to set the title apart with time-slowing and “digital breach” mechanics.

“Our goal with Syndicate is to provide a challenging action shooter for today’s gamers as well as fans of the original. I’m sure they will enjoy and recognize the legacy that made it such a classic,” said EA’s Jeff Gamon. “Fans of the franchise will recognise many weapons and environments in the game, but in a whole new way. The game also provides a separate and deep 4-player co-op mode featuring missions from the original cult classic, which adds another layer of depth to the overall experience.”

We look forward to seeing a fresh take on the series, but the news that the deep and layered strategy of the original will be squeezed into an FPS straitjacket doesn’t fill us with hope. Also, the developers will have to work hard to mark their title out from another recent, hugely successful first person sci-fi action thriller.

Syndicate is due in early 2012 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.


About the Author

Richard Plant

Author, producer, dreamweaver… also actor. Willing to talk at length about JRPGs for food.

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