A Rumour Renewed: Syndicate Resyndicated?

By Alec Meer on March 31st, 2009 at 2:43 pm.

More than renewed, in fact – Gamesindustry.biz reckons it’s had cast-iron confirmation from a source that EA and Starbreeze (Chronicles of Riddick, The Darkness) are, as speculated last year, working on a brand-new Syndicate game.

Which is happy-hands-in-the-air time for long-term PC gamers. As long as they don’t mind that (most probably) no-one from the original Syndicate team will be involved. And that the odds of it being a zoomed-out strategy kinda thing rather than over-the-shoulder mega-death fun are practically zero. But it’s a highly respected developer with a history of morally-ambiguous protagonists, tackling an ever-beloved theme of semi-malevolent corporations treating humanity with near-total disdain – it’s very unlikely to be Syndicate as we know it, but it certainly seems like a smart pairing.

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79 Comments »

  1. phil says:

    May I be the first to say woooooo!

  2. phil says:

    Well yes, it appears I can.

    I think it’ll turn out to be a next-gen Sydicate flavoured Freedom Fighters, with terminators as main characters and lashings of amorality, so excellent in other words.

  3. gulag says:

    The purists won’t like it, but I hope like hell they take some lessons from games like Hidden & Dangerous and Band of Brothers to bring this into the 21st Century.

  4. Ian says:

    @ phil: Speaking of which, WHEN R MI FREEDUM FITERS 2 COME OUT? =(

  5. Tei says:

    Playing “mercenaries 2″ feel somewhat like syndicate. Maybe feel more like syndicate than syndicate itself… withouth the persuadertron, amorality and upgradeable body parts.

  6. ChaosSmurf says:

    May I be the first to say WON’T BE AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL WHAAAAAAA WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    And yeah, woo. Makes me wanna go back and play the original now that I’m old enough to work out what in the name of hell to do.

  7. mysteriesofkabir says:

    I remember a time when torching random people on the street with your flamethrower was “Whoa”. Now it’ll just be a GTA-clone with a different brand slapped on.

  8. Markoff Chaney says:

    Syndicate flavored Freedom Fighters? God that would be awesome. Make it Turn Based (or pseudo pausable turn based at least) and I’m all over it. I always loved the stories that Syndicate offered, but the gameplay wasn’t all that, imo. I’m not an RTS guy at all though so I blame my slow reflexes and one track mind.

    I second the call for Freedom Fighters 2 as well.

  9. Acosta says:

    Last time we got a Syndicate without Peter Molyneux we got Syndicate Wars (and it was still a Bullfrog game), so my first thought is “please, no”.

    Nothing against Starbreeze, but I have no special interest in seeing one a game that means so much to me as player transformed in a dark FPS with pretty explosions. New developers should work their own way, and not be forced to follow what others did in past times.

  10. Robin says:

    Glad that others have already made the Freedom Fighters link.

    I’m only vaguely familiar with Starbreeze’s work, but if they can get the atmosphere right and don’t go down the FPS route I think we can be cautiously optimistic.

    (Syndicate had little if anything to do with Molyneux, as I understand it, Acosta.)

  11. jsutcliffe says:

    If it is bad, we haven’t lost anything. We’ll still have our memories *sniff*

    @Gulag
    I too thought of a H&D-type setup for an updated version. I’m not sure how well it’d work, since you tended to switch between your folks quickly in the original. I think it’d be difficult to keep track of things when you have four different perspectives rather than an overhead view. It might work better as some kind of online-only 4-player thing like Left 4 Dead.

    Another alternative would be to have one player-controlled character and some AI-controlled teammates, like Rainbow 6 or Ghost Recon.

    I never played Syndicate Wars. Was it terrible?

  12. Morph says:

    I wish to go on record as being the first person to make some sort of connection to Fallout regarding making a ‘modern’ version of an old classic.

    When AIM are complaining that the new version of Syndicate isn’t like the old one, and they’ve screwed it up just like Fallout 3, I got there first!

  13. Bhazor says:

    Yeah, colour me unexcited too.
    It really was Molynuex that made Syndicate so darned great.

    Fun fact I only realised recently from reading Games(TM): The character you play is the Head of Marketing. That is soo rad. Is soo good.

  14. hydra9 says:

    @jsutcliffe: Syndicate Wars wasn’t very good, but it was mainly due to the switch from neat isometric 2D to clunky 3D.

    As for this, we’ll have to wait and see. I have great faith in Starbreeze’s abilities, though.

    [EDIT: Unproven comment about Molyneux deleted]

  15. MeesterCat says:

    pleasedontfuckitup, pleasedontfuckitup, pleasedontfuckitup

    *rocks back and forth*

    Syndicate showed me how evil games could be and with any luck this will remain pure evil.

  16. pauleyc says:

    “And that the odds of it being a zoomed-out strategy kinda thing rather than over-the-shoulder mega-death fun are practically zero.”

    You’ve raised my expectations and dashed them quite expertly, sir. Bravo.

  17. Steve says:

    This is such a brilliant pairing of studio and IP. Not to mention that I’ve been dreaming of an updated Syndicate for years. Hot damn

  18. Tworak says:

    tps starring dudes without hair and a shit-ton of brown.

  19. Acosta says:

    hydra9@ Peter Molyneux was the producer of Syndicate, and I don’t know where you have heard he didn’t like the concept, but you are wrong. In typical Molyneux fashion, he even shared with press that the final game would allow to destroy full buildings with enough explosives (sadly, it wasn’t possible).

    After that he did Theme Park because his mother was shocked he did such a violent game (I guess that is more a joke than other thing).

    The game Molyneux had no input was Syndicate Wars, EA blocked him to contact anyone out of the Dungeon Keeper team because he announced his plans to leave the company.

  20. El_MUERkO says:

    /jumps out of chair and thrusts crotch with abandon

    /sent to HR for reeducation

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    Colour me intrigued. I only ever played Syndicate Wars, and I didn’t find it bad (just hard, what with being in the single digits). The original must have been amazing.

    I’d like to see where this is taken.

  22. gulag says:

    “And that the odds of it being a zoomed-out strategy kinda thing rather than over-the-shoulder mega-death fun are practically zero.”

    Why not do both? If the Total War games prove anything, it’s that there’s no reason you can’t have a gods eye view and get down in the dirt in the same engine.

  23. greg says:

    Syndicate Wars wasn’t a bad game on it’s own. It was lighter on the managing side but rotatable 3D environment allowed for some terrific tactical moments. It also had destructible terrain.
    Hell, it was the same engine Magic Carpet was made on. They should rather redo this game instead. It would be a crack on the console.

  24. Dan Harris says:

    Yippee-kai-yay motherfu…

    Sorry. Got a bit carried away.

  25. Cooper says:

    I’m gonna, for once, reserve judgement. Starbreeze, you have the heaped expectations of many a Britain who has cherished memories of the Syndicate game as a seminal piece in a defining era of games and themselves as gamers.

    Do not trample those memories.

  26. El_MUERkO says:

    LEST THEY INVADE AND BURN YE HEATHENS AT THE STAKE!

  27. yhancik says:

    While it would be interesting to see a modern reinterpretation of the strategy kinda thing, I think there’s also room for something else. That something else won’t ruin anything, Syndicate still is the marvel it was, and nothing will ever replace its fantastic art.

  28. Acosta says:

    As I don’t like to let arguments without solid answers neither quotations, I have checked the archive and found this. It´s from a talk of Molyneux in the GDC 06.

    “Later, with titles like Syndicate and Magic Carpet, I became a designer who programmed. I had a team of 15 or so, so I needed to learn how to persuade people to do things this way instead of that way, but it was all very experimental. I was a designer who did some programming. A lot of the creativity was still back-ended. We were all enthusiasts.”

    Bullfrog games used to be was a really communal effort, a very talented group of individuals under the direction of Molyneux. It´s not coincidence that Gene-Forge, Syndicate Wars or Dunkeon Keeper 2 were not up to the high standards of Bullfrog games.

  29. charlie says:

    Did no one else get a Syndicate like vibe from Crackdown? That was a great game, I can imagine a new Syndicate being a squad based game a bit like that. But with drugs instead of super jumping.

  30. Wildeheart says:

    We don’t need no Syndication,
    We don’t need no thought control.

    Hey Starbreeze, leave that game alone!

  31. Heliocentric says:

    Syndicate isn’t about guns or cyborgs. Its about the persuadatron, walking up to a cop with a few civilians and overriding his perception of reality turning him into a drone. If you can’t use a swarm of unarmed civs to block sniper rounds its not syndicate.

  32. Ian says:

    @ Wildeheart: I’ve never played the original and so have little opinion on this, but loved that post. :D

  33. Panther says:

    Syndicate Wars did allow you to level whole buildings though. That was fun.

    I am very cautious about this, given recent remakes/spiritual successors.

  34. Po0py says:

    Just keep it isometric and maybe release it via steam and xbla sumpt. I wouldn’t mind a simple re-make with a few tweaks and updates here and there, tbh. Starbreeze have proved themselves a competent group of chaps in the past so hopefully it won’t be totally borked.

  35. Chaz says:

    Well I thoroughly enjoyed both the Syndicate games, and hearing the words “Satellite Rain” moments before witnessing a storm of destruction is still one of the cooler moments in computer gaming.

    No idea what they’re going to do for this one, but if you’re not controlling a squad of psychotic cyborg agents with a penchant for mass destruction, around dark dystopian cities in the future, then it won’t be much cop.

  36. Chryso says:

    I’ll give it a tentative “Yay”; I’m definitely one of the people who’d rather get a full-on update of the original gameplay, but what the hell, if they can show as much respect for the original material as FO3, it ought to be great. It shouldn’t be hard either; practically all of the concepts outside the squad mechanics can be translated directly to a single-unit action game.

    If they can work in the Persuadertron, I will have no complaints; just like my minions.

  37. yutt says:

    Syndicate was great, and this game will be better.

    Of course, [I am ritually mean to perfect strangers for no good reason]

  38. Igor Hardy says:

    I love the original and I can play it again any time I want. No point in a remake – better to have it basic and raw.

  39. Lu-Tze says:

    I can’t help wondering (like others) if the squad nature will be relegated to Multiplayer and instead use AI companions who you direct for the Campaign, what with co-op being all the rage.

    Certainly there are many things about the classic that we would want to see improved upon, not least of which a much more modern system of firing from cover. If that involves taking civilians hostage to use as cover, all the better. Especially if you can properly “herd” them.

    There’s promise in the license for something that is different from other titles in the market, and i’m not going to belittle the this revival just because EA are involved in it, at worst i’d expect the huge glowing neon ad boards of the future to contain ACTUAL adverts. Shock horror.

  40. Sum0 says:

    I read this and thought of a kind of Gears of War third-person shooter coupled with Deus Ex non-linear tactics and SWAT 4 entry teams. You lead your squad through dystopian streets, weaving in overcoats through fabulously rendered crowds to a local government building, where your target to persuade/assassinate is waiting unawares. You can go in all guns blazing for some old-style Syndicate ultraviolence, or sneak in the back, or blow something up.

    I know it sounds like I want a mindless shooter, but I think going with a futuristic tactical FPS would be a fantastic evolution of the series. Oh dear, I’m starting to sound like a PR droid.

  41. D says:

    @Chryso I’m a vehement hater of Bethesdas Fallout 3, because it to me broke everything the originals were trying to do.

    But likewise, a bad rework of synd wouldn’t bother me at all, because the classics main idea was loading up cyborgs with drugs, miniguns and gauss guns and watch them tear the world apart. Any form of game will suffice for this purpose, thought I hope there will be a modicum of strategy or tactics involved. Also I hope people will scream when on fire.

    Go team Starbreeze! Go!

  42. Chaz says:

    @Sum0

    Some thing like Assasins Creed then, but with lots of fire power. Yeah I could probably get into a game like that.

  43. Subject 706 says:

    “As long as they don’t mind that (most probably) no-one from the original Syndicate team will be involved. And that the odds of it being a zoomed-out strategy kinda thing rather than over-the-shoulder mega-death fun are practically zero. ”

    Then why bother? It would be what XCOM – Enforcer was to UFO – Enemy Unknown…

  44. Taillefer says:

    At first I thought it was a bad idea to go first-person… but imagine walking through those Syndicate streets. The video billboards flying above you. Neon-covered buildings reaching up to the smog-filled sky. Sinister agents firing indiscriminately into steamy, pedestrian-filled streets.

    Hovercars, man. Hovercars.

  45. Chryso says:

    D:
    All depends on expectations I guess; it’s definitely a truncated version of what the original games accomplished, but even with all the limitations they were under I thought they got all the essentials in, shitty squad mechanics aside.
    If nothing else, maybe these reboots will lead to some slightly more old-school mini-sequels for DS or similar…

  46. kafka7 says:

    Syndicate Wars was the real thing and blew the first game way. Rotable camera, massive destructable buildings, and huge pedestrian body count all wrapped up in corporate brutality. Also, you could replay the same mission and things would never turn out the same way (unheard of in game design at the time, when games were more like puzzles than player-led experiences).

    Unfortunately it was rock hard and had no mid level saves which probably explains why no one references it. Personally I find the first game quite empty and actionless by comparison. I’d rather they made the second game again, but with a little more care.

  47. Toby says:

    Pooslice, anyone?

    I’m not a gibbering pottymouth; Syndicate Wars aficionados should understand…

  48. Schmung says:

    I am praying for awesomeness here. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the squad and management elements, but as long as it’s a good game in it’s own right I could maybe live without those. I just hope that it’s bleak and laden with black humour and cyberpunk goodness.

  49. bhlaab says:

    Okay, so it will be a game in no way related to the originals in terms of gameplay, but I should be excited simply because I recognize the brand?

    To clear things up, I’m not a whiny fan. I’ve never played Syndicate. It’s just that this “remake an old franchise and change everything about it so that its barely recognizable” craze is really steaming my carrots.
    WHY make a [Shadowrun/Fallout/Deus Ex/Syndicate] game that isn’t even close to what [said franchises] actually IS? It’s just such an obvious, disrespectful attempt to ride the wave of someone else’s credibility.

  50. Nick says:

    I would like to see a SWAT 4 style take on Syndicate myself – hell I’d like a SWAT 4 style take on Xcom too, I think it could work pretty well as long as they left the out of combat elements intact.