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?