What Would A New Syndicate Look Like?

What Would A New Syndicate Look Like?

Electronic Arts recently trademarked the hell out of Syndicate, Bullfrog’s much-loved early ’90s PC game of violence among drug-fuelled cybernetic spies. But what can we expect from a new Syndicate?

It’s long been rumoured that Swedish studio Starbreeze have been hired to work on a Synicate revival. Starbreeze are best known for their work on The Darkness and the two Riddick games, both first-person action games with meaty, gritty worlds. Is that our first clue? Maybe. But maybe Starbreeze aren’t the team on the project.

Here are our ideas for what EA might be doing with Syndicate and how likely they might be to come to fruition:

1. First-Person Shooter: An isometric, squad-based tactical/strategy game making the shift to FPS? Hmm, we’ve seen that before. But as with XCOM, it doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the series’ roots. A mission-based FPS set in an urban environment as sprawling as ODST’s hub world with four-player co-op where each agent has individual goals akin to Brink? The world map is replaced with a city map with discreet districts to conquer. Drugs would be selectable along with weapons in your loadout before each mission.
Why Will It Work? This is what blockbuster console games look like these days.
Why Won’t It? EA already has plenty of first-person shooters in its stable.
Odds of EA doing it? 3/1

2. MMOFPS: Think Planetside. Players sign up as cybernetic agents in the employ of one of numerous competing corporations. Cities are instanced maps fought over constantly with power shifting as civilians are persuaded and executives assassinated. Levelling up allows you to access better technology while drugs are shared amongst players who group together into squads.
Why Will It Work? The world needs a new Planetside.
Why It Won’t? EA cans more MMOs than it launches.
Odds of EA doing it? 50/1

3. Third-Person Action: An open world game along the lines of Crackdown or inFamous. Far more of a sandbox than the FPS proposed above, you’ve got to complete assassination, demolition and persuasion missions in each territory to bring it on side. Larger, set-piece story missions maintain the pace. This is more of a singleplayer game but could work in co-op.
Why Will It Work? The sandbox concept is true to the spirit of Syndicate. Would sell on console.
Why It Won’t? But you’re losing the squad tactics and the strategy of the world map.
Odds of EA doing it? 8/1

4. iPhone/iPad Port: This is how EA could best maintain the original’s top-down isometric view and point-and-click gameplay. In fact, this could be a straight port with tarted up HD graphics and an interface tuned to touch.
Why Will It Work? The game’s ideally suited to a touchscreen interface.
Why It Won’t? EA hasn’t done this with any of its current stable of IPs.
Odds of EA doing it? 25/1

5. Social Game: Facebook is ripe for a mature social game such as Syndicate. Every player is a corporation and you take out contracts on other players. Your friends can be “persuaded” to help you out, while your agents’ drug habits must be constantly attended to so they perform at maximum efficiency in their next mission.
Why Will It Work? EA’s getting big into social game right now.
Why It Won’t? The subject matter doesn’t seem the stuff of casual gaming.
Odds of EA doing it? 12/1

6. A Proper Remake: Take the original, top-down isometric squad-based tactical strategy and… keep it. Make it a PC exclusive replete with a scalable 3D world where you can zoom from the world map right down to street level. You control four agents with nothing but the mouse, feeding them drugs and pointing and clicking them to murder civilians with flamethrowers.
Why Will It Work? The biggest PC game this year is top-down isometric so there’s an audience there.
Why It Won’t?
Syndicate is nowhere near as well-known as StarCraft. Unlikely to work on console.
Odds of EA doing it? 66/1

So, there you. I reckon a new Syndicate is most likely to be either a co-op first-person shooter, a third-person sandbox or a grind-heavy social game on Facebook. What do you think a new Syndicate will be? And what would you like it to be?


  • I think something along the lines of the GameCube game Battalion Wars would work nicely. You’d have to tweak it so the squad controls were a little more detailed but it wouldn’t be too hard since you’d control a smaller force than Battalion Wars.
    You’d have the four agents to switch between as well as a birds eye satalite feed you could switch too. Like Battalion Wars you’d be able to issue orders to any unit while controlling any unit, so you could do the entire mission old school using the satalite feed if you wanted too.
    That way it’d appeal to the newer generation of gamers who want more direct control of their units and plenty of action without completely abandoning the classic fans.

  • I think if they do a remake they will simply update the graphics and sounds etc to make it a PSN / Xbox Live Arcade release. I won’t complain with that but please also release it for PC.

    I like the last option the best but I doubt it will happen. As David pointed out it won’t work properly on consoles which seems to be the focus of many big publishers. 🙁 Another FPS seems the most likely option which to me makes poor business sense. I know FPS are the big sellers but isn’t the market a little cluttered with entrenched franchises?

    In the meantime anyone know how to get a copy of the original working on a Windows 7 machine? 😛

    • There are a lot of games like I’d like to have get upgraded like this for PSN/Live, another game in the “Strike” series would instantly bought if made.

      I think it can work now, if it was upgraded as it was… with the PS Move and Kinect, it’s possible the games can play a lot better if they are more designed for the PC…

      Playing RUSE on the PS3 and it’s as good as you can get with a standard controller, I’ve seen vids with people using the Move though and it really does look far superior and personally can’t wait to test it myself.

      The best option though would be if the game looked the same, but had 4 player co-op also… that way all the tactics and planning remain with a bunch of friends.

    • For the original, DOSBox should work quite nicely, MIGHT also work for Syndicate Wars but I think I had problems the last time I tried it (though dosbox was a lot older back then)

    • I don’t see why the last option has to be considered so impractical. Halo Wars may not have set the world on fire but I think it demonstrated that you can make a real-time strategy for a console work.
      The game had its weak points but most of them would be chopped back to a manageable level simply by the fact the game wouldn’t have things like bases and unit production mid-mission.

      Its easy to write it off as a shallow attempt to milk the Halo fanbase but the game goes a long way towards proving that RTS games can work on a console. Starcraft might be asking a bit much, but I think if they put their minds to it they could get at least as far as Dawn of War II.

  • “Unlike to work on console.”

    This is such a sad, sad statement. The truth behind it hurts so much because it’s single-handedly causing the most damage to the pc games market from a dev point of view.

    Rightly so, why would a business cut itself out of a large (largest?) portion of the market?

    Steadily PC’s are moving towards being exclusively an MMO platform with social network plugins.

    I will not hold my breath for this childhood classic, I have little faith in EA, and am absolutely certain they will not treat this IP with the respect it deserves.

  • I would buy a higher-resolution Syndicate Wars any day of the week. Possibly all of them. Wars is still one of my favourite games.

    Not sure if I could go back and play the original Syndicate though, it’s a little bit too clunky these days.

  • I want a real syndicate game, isometric perspective and all.

    They’d need to delvelop 2 different interfaces for the PC & console, the PC would be like the old syndicate and the console version could act almost like a twin stick shooter (because there’s little more annoying than trying to control a mouse ccursor with a thumbstick). For example aim with the right stick to lay down a firing cone and tap the left trigger to switch between targets for more accurate shots then shoot with the right trigger. Alternatively you could just aim with the right stick and hold the right trigger to spray an entire area with volleys of minigun fire for hours of wholesome indiscriminate slaughter. Ahh the good old days…

  • I don’t know, a syndicate game is the same vein as Dawn of War 2 could be succesful… and completely awesome.

    I mean, Dawn of War 2 is just like syndicate but in space and with Orcs and stuff, and less civilians.

  • All I can say is that I hope Kotaku is wrong, wrong, wrong. I can’t say how much I hate that pretty much all the odds are based on whether or not it would work on console. Says a lot about the state of the industry, but let me tell you – if they take the Syndicate franchise and ruin it like so many others by making it a console-centric release, god-forbid a shooter, I will suicide bomb EA headquarters. Yes, I said it.

    Why bother resurrecting a franchise like Syndicate if you’re just going to throw away it’s heritage? Show the trail-blazers like Bullfrog a little respect. If only THQ were publishing I’d have some real hope of this turning out brilliantly. With EA behind the wheel, I just know I’m going to have a messy death in my future.

    A modern 3D engine with the iso squad-based mechanics and gritty cyberpunk feel of the original, throw in a little multiplayer world domination and squad-vs-squad missions and oh-my, would I pay for that.

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