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EA announces a reboot of Syndicate which may or may not bear any similarity to Syndicate

With Deus Ex: Human Revolution, we already have one excellent reboot of a much-loved '90s cyberpunk franchise, and one which manages to freshen things up while also remaining totally true to the original to boot. And it seems that EA  is in no way oblivious to that. It's just that rather than being directly inspired to emulate Deus Ex's authentic modernisation, it seems that EA has thought "Well you've already got one. How many more do you need, fuggodsake?"

And thus EA's update of Syndicate is an FPS, which so far sounds like Syndicate only insofar as said FPS is called Syndicate. Still, that's not to say that it won't be a great FPS called Syndicate. It's just that... Well...

Look, it's not that the new Syndicate game is completely eschewing the spirit of the original - there is, by the sounds of it, a variant of the old Persuadertron weapon from Bullfrog's original RTS, in the form of a brain-embedded chip that allows you to manipulate the actions of enemy characters - and of course this remains early days. After all, we have few details to go on, given that the game has only been officially announced today. And of course, I knew that a new Syndicate game was never going to be a top-down RTS. A quick look at the charts on any given week will confirm that all you need to do in order to hit the number 1 slot is to make a game that allows people to kill things in first-person. Any game that allows people to kill things in first-person. So I understand why the new Syndicate is going this way.

But really, this could have been way more Syndicate than it currently sounds.

"Fast-paced, futuristic, action shooter" is the current description from EA. Our sister magazine, PSM3, describe it as "Call of Duty meets Inception" in its upcoming issue. But it didn't need to be like this at all. Couldn't we have had "Fast-paced, futuristic, tactical shooter"? And if we're mixing games and films into a heady comparison cocktail, how about "Freedom Fighters meets Blade Runner"? Bullfrog's Syndicate was always a blackly funny, deliciously mean-spirited, squad-driven slice of strategic brutality. It wouldn't be hard at all to make that work as a first or third-person shooter. The new Syndicate apparently has a separate four-player co-op campaign, which is a nice nod to the original game, but I await to see just how big a chunk of the overall game it will be.

For all of this though, I'm not down on EA's new Syndicate as a game in its own right. Not at all. In fact it sounds pretty great. Starbreeze are making it for a start, and between The Darkness and the two Chronicles of Riddick games, Starbreeze have proven that if there's one thing they can do well, it's making brutal, densely atmospheric first-person games set in staggeringly well-realised worlds. And just going off these screens, the new Syndicate's world looks gloriously typical of their work.

I think this new Syndicate just stabs a nerve because it seems archetypal of the long-current trend of pointless IP recycling. If this thing is going to play like a new IP, why not just make it a new IP? Yeah, obviously new IP is always a risky thing to launch, but when a brand name is 18 years old, it essentially is new to a large chunk of your audience. So why the desperate, dogged attempt at brand recognition where there probably isn't much in your target demographic? It all just feels a lot like when America buys the remake rights to a critically-acclaimed foreign film within minutes if its release, only to strip out everything that made the original critically acclaimed in the first place, seemingly under the impression that people just reviewed the original well because they liked the title and superficial concept.

But yeah, new Syndicate. Coming. Probably good. But maybe not what you were hoping for. Just pray that it doesn't have the hackneyed-sounding, not-very-Syndicate plot that supposedly leaked a while ago. Also, can we lose the giant hologram Blade Runner Geishas please? Sticking them in your cyberpunk world and saying its your world is like putting a blade-fingered man called Freddy in your horror film and claiming it isn't A Nightmare on Elm Street.

September 12, 2011

15 comments

  • snailfx - September 13, 2011 3:02 a.m.

    Massive dissapointment! really? another FPS?? don't get me wrong i love FPS's but i think EA bringing back franchises has all gone a bit hollywood! i would have loved to have seen this as the old version with a new engine. if this game had been done in the style of full spectrum warrior then i would snap it up any day of the week but for me, a syndicate consist of more than 1 person... Bad choice in my eyes.
  • Stryde22 - September 12, 2011 4 p.m.

    seems like NOW would have been the best time to remake the Perfect Dark franchise, in the wave of glossy cyberpunk FPS's. even Zero might have been decent if it were done now lol.
  • Ariaka - September 12, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    I'm on the fence-- I have this game on floppy disk (with box, I can get pictures! XD), but FPS wouldn't really hold true to the original gameplay style. But I am glad to hear of this IP reboot... (My RECAPTCHA is SNAKE)
  • Turboash - September 12, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    Yes, just what we need... ANOTHER FPS. Give your head a shake EA, Syndicate was a great game. Why not leave it in the same style?
  • ithurtstopoop - September 12, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    Mooshon u took the words right out of my mouth, still if there's some aspect of squad commands/management it might be worth a look.
  • Mooshon - September 12, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    Really, really disappointed at this. Loved the idea of a direct revamp of that 3 quarter angled, bladerunnery, rts that I sank so many hours into. However good this may be a fps, i'm out. Bah.
  • taokaka - September 12, 2011 8:23 a.m.

    way too many games are getting re imagined as FPS's, I'm just trying to imagine how some other forgotten franchises would get a gritty FPS remake, bust a groove: modern combat, klonoa: kill death fighters, Tony hawks pro shooter, Okami: shooty wars. Anybody else think of any another franchises that would have a ridiculous FPS reboot?
  • Hobogonigal - October 21, 2011 12:49 a.m.

    ok fine I believe you now. You did inspire a GamesRadar article!
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - September 12, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    So this is XCOM all over agin, honestly we have enough first person shooters. Still, I guess this could well be a good game...
  • RoeTaKa - September 12, 2011 8:03 a.m.

    To be fair Fallout was well accepted.
  • ParanoidAndroid - September 12, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    It was still, at heart, an RPG though. This has changed genre from a tactical RTS to a straightforward, action shooter.
  • Grif - September 12, 2011 7:47 a.m.

    It looks like an interesting game, but it really really feels like EA just retaliating at Square for Deus Ex.
  • Bexster - September 12, 2011 7:37 a.m.

    What would be great is if they re-released the original on XBLA/PSN, Monkey Island style to go with it. I think then they'd placate a whole lot of people. A huge part of the fun was the topdown style.
  • DirkSteele1 - September 12, 2011 7:47 a.m.

    And hopefully when you have gone a little crazy with the Gauss Gun and half the screen is burning, it would not slow down to a crawl on the PS360 like it did on the Amiga and other 16-bit machines of old.
  • omnilion - September 12, 2011 6:59 a.m.

    Umm... Judging by the pictures it's looking quite Deus Ex-que to me :D

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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