Agents Of Change: Starbreeze Talk Syndicate

By Alec Meer on September 13th, 2011 at 8:59 am.

It's just like being inside his head! As opposed to just on the right side of his gun.

This isn’t going to help. More likely quite the opposite, in fact. But, for the record, here’s Starbreeze’s claimed explanation for why they’ve so controversially made revered RTS/RTT/whatevs Syndicate into an adrenalised FPS.

Convinced? Me, not so much.

Speaking to OXM, game director Neil McEwan claimed that “It was always going to be an FPS. The original nub of the idea was to take that viewpoint from the original game and zoom into the Agent’s head, and play that part.”

Inevitably, he has it that “We’re big fans of the original Syndicate” and despite the genre switcheroo “we’re definitely paying as much homage to it as we can – bringing across the essence of the world, the core essence of what it is to be an Agent. That sounds wanky but it’s true – we’re taking the Persuadatron and evolving it in different ways, the weapons and brutality.”

McEwan is conscious that he’s playing with fire – ‘fire’ being the many and passionate fans of the original game. “I would love them to like it. You’re never going to please everyone.”

And here’s the quote that’s going to make people particularly upset. I’m not upset as such (I’m actually pretty resigned to old games being remade as shooters these days, and entirely subscribe to the ‘the old games don’t stop existing’ mindset), but I don’t think it’s a very useful or entirely accurate thing to be saying. So, take it away, designer Rickard Johansson: “I don’t want people to stop playing the old games, but time has moved on.”

This is what time has moved on to: a machine gun on the lower-right of every game, ever

Has it? Has it really? Perhaps he didn’t notice that Starcraft 2 outsold most of EA’s (and everyone else’s) portfolio last year. Perhaps he didn’t notice that SEGA refer to Total War as one of the major jewels in their crown. Perhaps he didn’t notice that Valve are spending a fortune on a DOTA remake. Perhaps what he really means is ‘publishers will give us a bigger development and marketing budget if we make it a first-person shooter.’ And that is what winds me up. The fact that Syndicate is being remade as an FPS I can actually deal with just fine – the original game still exists. Being asked to swallow claims that it’s genuinely a creative decision is entirely bitter pill, though.

I believe that this is absolutely nothing to do with changing times, and everything to do with cold commerciality. Because times have not changed, not in the way or to the extent that kind of claim (and similar ones made by 2K regarding XCOM) suggests: strategy games can still sell very well and can still do amazing experiential things. It’s just that first-person shooters are the more likely games to shift absolutely, honkingly enormous numbers.

Look, I’m entirely prepared for nu-Syndicate to be great and I am looking forward to it – if Syndicate has to be turned into an FPS, there are few studios I’d trust to do that well more than Starbreeze, who* did amazingly clever things with both Riddick and, to a lesser extent, The Darkness. It is highly likely to do interesting things and to expand Syndicate’s world and fiction in new directions: that is okay. Potentially even exciting. I’d really much prefer it, however, if we didn’t put up with nonsense ‘creative’ reasoning for the change on top of having to accept the cold business logic that really motivates it, however. Who on Earth do they think they’re kidding? (That’s not to say they can’t then go on to do impressively creative things with the brief, of course).

Moreover, a well-made Syndicate sequel proper would quite clearly sell pretty damn well: the fanbase is huge and the concept is strong enough to bring in newcomers. Unfortunately, ‘pretty damn well’ isn’t enough for a top-tier publisher anymore, not in these ultra-competitive times – that’s the nub of it. There isn’t the same interest in bread and butter, solidly-selling releases anymore: if a game isn’t a bonkers-scale smash hit the big firms just aren’t happy.

For both this and XCOM, however, I honestly do think there’s a good chance that if the FPS remakes do well, it’ll lead to far more faithful, if lower-key remakes of the more stately, less headshot-obsessed originals. If there’s one thing rights-holders love to do, it’s to capitalise on brand awareness – and for once, that might well end up being to our benefit. Releasing a high-res old-Syndicate as a promo game for the new one would make an incredible amount of business sense. I do hope EA high-ups are aware of that.

* Yeah, I’m aware that some of the major creatives behind those games have moved on. I do suspect a company philosophy extends far beyond key figures at the top, however – but we shall see. I expect at least some of that pedigree remains, and enough that I am highly interested in what they’re doing with this game.

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254 Comments »

  1. Switch625 says:

    I would have dismissed the game director’s entire spiel as marketing nonsense, were it not for the phrase “that sounds wanky but it’s true”.

    No marketing department has ever sanctioned such a sentence.

    With that and the game designer’s comments it at least sounds like we’re getting something close to the genuine, candid views of the developers and not some publisher’s PR drivel.

    Still not convinced though. There are so many other, clever things they could have done instead of making an FPS with slow-down.

    • foop says:

      My only problem with it is that it sounds wanky and *is* wanky.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I could easily see them allowing “wanky” in an engineered “frank and honest talk” piece of marketing bs.

      1. because, like the Simpsons, they don’t quite understand what “wanky/er” means (it seems kinda odd the way it is actually used in that sentence at least)
      2. because it’s ‘onest talk, look how down with the fans we are with all this non-corporate language.

    • BAshment says:

      .

    • voidburn says:

      Out of the 7 (seven!!7!) possible interpretations for the adjective, at least two fit without a problem in that sentence, and one is spot on.

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wanky

    • Burning Man says:

      As opposed to what, “it sounds odd but true”? He just happened to say ‘wanky’ in the spur of the moment. You’re relying excessively on just one word.

    • Gnarf says:

      With that and the game designer’s comments it at least sounds like we’re getting something close to the genuine, candid views of the developers and not some publisher’s PR drivel.

      Yeah. And the “business decision rather than creative decision” thing doesn’t seem to fit that well here. It isn’t that weird that Starbreeze is making a Starbreeze kind of game. They don’t have to be lying about stuff for that to make sense. I’d say the “business decision” was to let Starbreeze have the IP.

    • shitflap says:

      Perfectly acceptable use of wanky, in a British English turn of phrasing anyway.

    • qrter says:

      As long as what the person is communicating is “on message”, why would the marketing/PR department care about him using the word ‘wanky’?

  2. Harlander says:

    Syndicate, an RTS? I wouldn’t have called it that. A RTT, maybe…

    To be honest, I can see Syndicate fitting a co-op FPS better than X-COM.

    Also, I’m more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who admits that what he’s saying “sounds wanky”.

    • bill says:

      It might fit an FPS better than XCOM, but it also looks like a much more generic FPS than they’re trying with XCOM.

      But we did need another near future sci-fi dark FPS…

    • Balerion says:

      No, but we definitely need another good cyberpunk game. Or at least I do. I need it. Like, seriously! Because apart from Deus Ex, there’s not many great cyberpunk games I recall. Which makes me sad.

      Now if only someone made a proper Ghost in the Shell game…

    • skoll says:

      Balerion, Hard Reset is released today, set in quite the cyberpunky world.

    • Balerion says:

      Tried the demo, wasn’t impressed. Seemed like a generic corridor shooter to me, sadly.

    • qrter says:

      Why would anybody be impressed by someone using the word ‘wanky’? I guess it doesn’t take much, for some people.

  3. Axyl says:

    I still have my hopes pinned on Paradox.

    FUCK FPS remakes. I’m with Alex on this one..It’s nothing more than publisher money grabbing that’s making this a FPS.

    Syndicate, in my eyes at least, lays dead for a few more years yet.

    I will NOT be getting this FPS “re imagining”

    That term makes me feel nauseous.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I want to be part of the official Paradox fanclub.

      Where do I sign up?

    • Om says:

      Probably on their forums

    • Unaco says:

      @Alyx…

      You’re with Alec on this… so you are “entirely prepared for nu-Syndicate to be great and [you] [are]looking forward to it”?

      Good to hear! Stay positive, it’s going to be a great game I reckon.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I reckon it’s going to be initially interesting, but ultimately a dull let down, much like their other games.

  4. SirKicksalot says:

    The people that made Riddick and The Darkness are no longer at Starbreeze. You can read more about what happened at the company here: http://www.1up.com/features/starbreeze-secret-history

    • thepaleking says:

      As if I needed another reason not to want this game. But there it is.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      Thank you for the article, great read! I agree this makes me less interested in this game and more interested in what Magnus is up to :)

  5. Stitched says:

    Except that Neil doesn’t work for Starbreeze, he works for EA.

    @SirKicksalot – Not ALL people, just *some* of the people.

  6. Very Real Talker says:

    there is simply no point at all in re-launching syndicate- a game with a concept that’s pretty different from anything else out now- and making the nTh generic first person shooter. Same for xcom.

    Completely stupid if you ask me

    • mike2R says:

      Stupid? Generic, certainly. A travesty, perhaps. Brutalising the memories of my childhood, for sure. But stupid?

      Syndicate and X-Com may be old IP, but they still have a hell of a lot of name recognition with older gamers… Kind of the exact demographic who make up the majority of games journalists and reviewers.

      So release a generic no-name FPS, or release an FPS based on otherwise unused IP that is guaranteed a lot more attention for the same marketing spend? I don’t think the latter choice can be called stupid.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’d like to know which generic shooters XCOM is similar to, because the closest thing I can think of is Brothers Of Arms, and those aren’t generic shooters. Plus there’s an added strategy layer on top of the alienshooting.

  7. Alexandros says:

    “and for once, that might well end up being to our benefit.”

    I highly doubt it. If these games sell well, they’ll probably go for a shitload of DLC and not even think about making a strategy game in the same universe.

    • Wisq says:

      Yeah, uh, I’m not sure how “we just took some old strategy game, turned it into an FPS, and shifted a ton of copies!” is somehow supposed to lead to “now screw this FPS stuff we just made millions on … let’s go remake the original!”.

    • qrter says:

      Sorry, Alec, I also don’t see why a publisher would then reanimate the old game. The new FPS-y version will just become its own new franchise, and overall it’ll mean more FPS remakes of old non-FPS games will be made, as that seems to bring in the money.

    • Erd says:

      I see that vicious cycle too.

  8. Baboonanza says:

    I don’t necessarily hold it against the developers, if you want funding from publishers you have to make FPS games sadly.

  9. Ephaelon says:

    I look forward to future “early-morning grumps”.

  10. Curvespace says:

    Why are some developers so quick to diminish what is actually core to gaming, the mechanics, and push forward the setting and theme of the game as being somehow the most important aspects. A game is all of these things and more, which is why they are special. The game world provides a framework for us to enjoy the core gameplay, the essence, it is not the other way ’round, otherwise we’d all be playing rail-shooters and FMV adventure games.

    If we’re going to insist on using some sort of existing model for our industry, let’s try not to make it Hollywood, aye? :(

    • LionsPhil says:

      TOO LATE.

    • metalangel says:

      (this is not at all what I clicked on to reply too)

    • briktal says:

      Why does that thought only apply to gaming IPs? I don’t recall comments everywhere exploding with anger that the new WH40k game wasn’t a strategy game or freaking out because Star Wars has shooters, space sims, strategy games, MMOs, RPGs and racing games. Should a game IP have to be so strongly tied to the genre of the first game?

    • Chris D says:

      @Briktal

      There’s a couple of differences 40K and Star Wars did not start life as video games, so there’s no previous expectation, it was always going to be an adaptation one way or another.

      They also both have fleshed out settings, places that people want to spend time in and see stories happen in which is why a change to another genre works. However much you loved Syndicate the setting was still pretty much off-the-shelf cyberpunk, that wasn’t the draw, the mechanics were.

    • something says:

      I agree that 40K got a bit of free ride but when it finally came out, it was to a somewhat muted reaction. There was some talk along the lines of “if we’re going to have a new 40K game, why does it have to be an FPS?” but not enough. As for Star Wars, what’s to complain about? There have been Star Wars games made in virtually every genre. The computer game merchandising for that particular IP has been considerably less egregious than much of its other merch.

      The problem I have with Syndicate is that the whole premise of the original was that you were some suit wearing corporate psychopath sat in a blimp sending out cyborgs to kill for you in a grimy city that you never have to set foot in. Moving it to FPS makes the hero into yet another gravel-voiced, lantern-jawed, super soldier, risking his life for a cause.

    • McCool says:

      @briktal

      Should a game IP have to be so strongly tied to the genre of the first game?

      Essentially, yes. Curvespace’s point is that the essential element of a game is actually its mechanics, its gameplay if you will. The term “IP” is a horrible one, seems to only make complete sense in a marketing suit’s drunk-on-newspeak brain. Copy and pasting the way a game might look onto an essentially completely unrelated game is willfully ignoring what made that game great. This is only really an issue when the games in question are classics like Syndicate or X-COM, which have no real modern equivalents. Your Star Wars example holds no water, because Star Wars is a brand of merchandising. The analogue would be the recent prequel Reboot of the Star Wars films consisting entirely of romantic comedies with no real spacefareing action, films that neither looked nor felt like the originals, but maintained, say, certain selling points like lightsabers and Jedi. (oh).
      Really, a better example is thinking of a TIE Fighter game that didn’t involve piloting TIE Fighters..a game where you inexplicably crash land and have to fight your way out of a rebel base in the first person mode. But yeah, you still look totally like a TIE Fighter.

    • Curvespace says:

      Yeah, I agree with sentiments that Syndicate wasn’t a particularly original setting. A game of this premise and genre could happily be made without any discussion of it being Syndicate.

      Instead, this groundswell of marketing has already sunk its teeth into us and we find ourselves here, debating a game that is still miles away from distribution when we should probably just be ignoring it. The arguments will continue through forums, twitter and pubs right up until weeks after the release. This s*** is free for them and it’s one of the very reasons they do it. These games are never a homage, they are cynical to their core and if they are the corporation then we are their dancing monkey agents.

    • Jad says:

      I think the problem is less that there are games made with different mechanics in the same IP, but that there is the implication that the old mechanics are dead and no one likes them any more, despite evidence to the contrary, and furthermore there is the implication that the new mechanics are in fact superior to the old ones.

      To take an example from the console world, no one flips out when a Mario Kart game comes out, because it is so clearly a spin-off and Nintendo is still making traditional Mario platformers. Nintendo is not saying, by word or action, that platformers are dead and that kart racing games are the future now and you people who like the old Mario games are losers and should just get with the program.

      If Sid Meier announced that he has one team now working on Civilization 6, a true PC-style turn-based strategy game (or better yet, had gotten the license for Alpha Centauri 2), but also has another team making a Civilization FPS, there would be a lot of confused and surprised reactions, and maybe some standard AIM grumbling, but there would not be the feeling of abandonment and insult in the community that the XCom and Syndicate FPSes have produced.

    • briktal says:

      If the mechanics are the essential element of a game, then why does it matter that some FPS is using the same name and setting?

    • Curvespace says:

      Let me put it this way: I’d much rather someone take the core gameplay elements of Syndicate and move it to a new setting than this current scenario with no association.

      Also, for better or for worse, I’m sentimental towards it. It’s like when you mention Watchmen and people assume you’re talking about the film. GNnngngnngngngh. There’s no need to use existing worlds like this beyond money, convenience and free-marketing.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Sorry, but the 40k comparison is moronic. Firstly as someone already mentioned, it’s an adaptation of a boardgame. On top of that, we get regular strategy games based around Warhammer all the time, having an action game as well as that is a bonus if anything. If this was announced alongside a more traditional remake of Syndicate you wouldn’t be seeing this reaction.

  11. Hardtarget says:

    To say that the fan base of syndicate is huge and that a well made sequel would do great is really a weird statement. It’s a RTS game from 1993 that has not been kept in people’s minds over the past 18 years (there was 1 sequel in 96 and then that’s it). That means that half of the sales of this FPS game are going to come from people that weren’t even born yet when the original Syndicate came out!

    Times absolutely have moved on. That doesn’t mean a RTS game can’t do well or sell great, your starcraft and total war games are great examples of that, but from a games website it’s just bizarre to me that the writers are going to insist that times are exactly the same as they were 18 years ago.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Look, I’m sorry to be That Guy, but would you mind reading the piece again, carefully?

    • Hardtarget says:

      I read it extremely carefully and was with you until you said:
      “Moreover, a well-made Syndicate sequel proper would quite clearly sell pretty damn well”
      which is a bit of a ridiculous claim since the franchise has been stalling for almost 20 years

      my other complaint was that you seemed to suggest the industry hasn’t really moved on and my response to you is that it absolutely has.

      Now I hate to be ‘that guy’ but I’d love for your to re-read my comment more carefully.

    • Alec Meer says:

      See, you’re conflating ‘pretty damn well’ with ‘UNBELIEVABLY WELL’.

      You’re conflating ‘stalled’ with ‘publisher mystifyingly didn’t do anything with the IP for 20 years.’

      You’re conflating ‘times haven’t moved on in the way or the extent that he suggests’ with ‘TIMES HAVEN’T CHANGED EVEN ONE BIT HOW DARE THEY’.

      You’re conflating ‘this is really a business decision not a creative decision’ with ‘THERE IS NO REASON WHATSOEVER THAT THIS SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED AAAAAAAARGH’.

      So be a dear and have another read, please.

    • Hardtarget says:

      lol, I would say you are exaggerating with that reply far more than I was

    • Alec Meer says:

      Oh, good grief.

    • Hardtarget says:

      Oh come on, that’s it? fine:
      “You’re conflating ‘stalled’ with ‘publisher mystifyingly didn’t do anything with the IP for 20 years.’”
      so? what’s your point? It doesn’t matter why it hasn’t been used, it hasn’t and now a huge amount of the buying public have no idea what Syndicate is

      “You’re conflating ‘times haven’t moved on in the way or the extent that he suggests’ with ‘TIMES HAVEN’T CHANGED EVEN ONE BIT HOW DARE THEY’.”
      Neither of us said this, you are arguing that time has only sort of moved on but that RTS games can still sell really well so not all that much is different, I am replying with Times have fully moved on, most RTS games sell like garbage or are garbage (C&C 4 I’m looking at you) and that only Blizzard titles with 10 years of dev time can pass through this hurdle

      “You’re conflating ‘this is really a business decision not a creative decision’ with ‘THERE IS NO REASON WHATSOEVER THAT THIS SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED AAAAAAAARGH’.”
      I’m not doing that at all, I actually have no idea why you would say that to me. good grief

    • Alec Meer says:

      “now a huge amount of the buying public have no idea what Syndicate is”. Look at the number comments on the recent RPS stories. What you actually mean is ‘young people haven’t heard of it.’ In which case, why remake it? EA are calling this game Syndicate instead of CYBERDEATH KILLSPLODE because they know the brand guarantees a certain level of success.

      “Neither of us said this” – you essentially accused me of saying it, because you hadn’t read the piece properly. This is why we’re having this ‘discussion’, and I think you’re trying to retroactively defend an ill-thought initial comment instead of actually thinking about it.

      “most RTS games sell like garbage or are garbage (C&C 4 I’m looking at you) and that only Blizzard titles with 10 years of dev time can pass through this hurdle” – is knee-jerk nonsense and again sticking to the initial misinterpretation that the only worthwhile success is eyewateringly huge success. That you hold up C&C4 as somehow representative of the entire genre today is bewildering.

    • TheApologist says:

      @Hardtarget

      Surely the point of Alec’s argument is that this *isn’t* about extremes. Sure, you are right that large portions of the market don’t know what Syndicate is. True. But large portions do, and enough to ensure a Syndicate could sell well. Not mega-millions perhaps but well.

      Alec’s rebutting the idea that you have to make Syndicate an FPS to make it worth doing on the grounds that this argument only works if by worth doing a publisher means ‘will sell absolute mega-millions’. This stunts creativity in the industry.

      I.E. You have missed the point.

    • Hardtarget says:

      oh I got the point for sure, in my view it boils down to this, there is absolutely no reason, at all, to call this game syndicate except that EA already had the IP and they think they can get some extra sales out of it.

      There were 2 specific things in Alec’s piece that I disagreed with him on and so I posted about it, that doesn’t somehow nullify his entire piece but it’s the 2 things that stuck out to me as being a bit silly.

      edit – and Alec if you think the C&C 4 comparison is bad I don’t know why that would be. It’s a game by EA, it’s the latest RTS game they made, and it did not sell well (to my understanding). It’s the most direct thing EA can compare to when deciding to make a new RTS or FPS game! It’s also very representative of the market because it was supposedly a huge release of a extremely large franchise and should have been a AAA game that would have given them a nice return on investment.

      edit 2 – “sticking to the initial misinterpretation that the only worthwhile success is eyewateringly huge success”
      I would say this is absolutely how EA looks at things and it really doesn’t matter whether that is true or not since EA is the publisher on this

    • Alec Meer says:

      C&C4 is nothing to do with anything except C&C4. It’s mystifying that EA did what they did with it, given C&C3 and RA3 did well.

      edit 2 – “sticking to the initial misinterpretation that the only worthwhile success is eyewateringly huge success”
      I would say this is absolutely how EA looks at things

      Yes: which is exactly what the article is protesting!

    • Hardtarget says:

      :
      now I’m no EA executive but I’m pretty sure, since EA is a public company, with a board, and very focused on making money, that if they decide to do a new RTS they are going to look at the returns of their last RTS and see if it’s worth their while.

      Now the point of the article is obviously “publishers shouldn’t lie to us and give us bullshit reasons for remaking games when the reality is obviously they want to make as much money as they can from IPs they already own” and obviously i’m stretching this in a very different direction than what you intended and you don’t really want to talk about that so I’ll concede

      (side note, it’s quite neat you replied to me multiple times)

    • Zarx says:

      I think the closest recent title to Syndicate would be Dawn of War 2 which sold quite well.

    • Hardtarget says:

      hm that is an interesting comparison, and one I did not think of, since the entire mechanic of the game is controlling your small team. I wonder how well Retribution sold? All of the DoW2 games are super good.
      (side note I’m also thoroughly enjoying Space Marine)

    • metalangel says:

      This is what I said in one of the two rather-similar looking previous Syndicate articles… choosing to make this an FPS is somewhat mystifying if being used as a justification for needing/wanting to sell insane quantities (by ill-advised board members, no doubt) because action-strategy games DO still exist and DO still sell, as seen in DoW2, but also the huge number of hugely popular games like DoTA/League of Legends/HoN/etc etc etc.

      Now, as with all EA games, this is a case of being told ‘TAKE THIS FRANCHISE AND DO WHATEVER IT IS YOU DO TO MAKE IT GOOD AGAIN, TALENTED DEVELOPER – OR ELSE, HERE IS A CRAPPY DESIGN DOCUMENT WE DREW UP IN THE EXECUTIVE LOUNGE WHICH MUST BE FOLLOWED’ (last seen in NFS: HP with Criterion and Medal of Honnnerr with DICE) as opposed to ‘WOW, THAT’S A GREAT IDEA FOR A GAME, GO MAKE IT, TALENTED DEVELOPER’.

      Alas, the same executives don’t seem to remember the existence of C&C: Renegade and non-existence of Starcraft: Ghost, but there you go.

    • Makariel says:

      That C&C 4 didn’t sell has not much to do with it being a RTS but with it being a terrible game. I like RTS quite a lot but C&C 4 was quite rubbish.

    • Hardtarget says:

      if I recall C&C 3 sold ok and RA3 sold ok, but not as well, and the RA2 expansion sold really poorly and I guess they tried to do something new with C&C 4 and instead the downward spiral of sales hit a new low

    • Milky1985 says:

      “that if they decide to do a new RTS they are going to look at the returns of their last RTS and see if it’s worth their while.”

      If i remember correctly they billed C adn C 4 as more of a RTT than a RTS, due to the complete lack ofbase building and the stupid mechinics.

      Using it as an example of RTS is basically an insult to people who play RTS’s , it was widly seen as a terrible game (personally i really hated it, but mainly due to the fact that they billed the game as the end to the saga and it woudl answer all the questions bougth up over the series plot wise, and it answered precisly zero of them…. that and ther fact that I was fighting tier 3 units with tier 2 stuff in SP because “i hadn’t leveled enough”

    • Archonsod says:

      “because action-strategy games DO still exist and DO still sell, as seen in DoW2, but also the huge number of hugely popular games like DoTA/League of Legends/HoN/etc etc etc.”

      The problem is Syndicate was only ever a lite action-strategy. It was pretty much Cannon Fodder with a cyberpunk sheen and Risk style level select. The kind of thing you could probably sell on the mobile or budget market, but not something you could get away with releasing as an AAA title today.

    • metalangel says:

      Yes, and that’s what they should expand on, instead of making it into an FPS. Give us augment-style abilities as well as the various drug effects. Give us stances and behaviours and waypoints to make it tactical. Hell, do something like XCOM: Apocalypse with the ability to pause and given orders. Or make it like Dungeon Siege for multiplayer, where each player directly controls their agent’s actions.

      There’s plenty of ways to bring Syndicate up to date without just turning it into another FPS that happens to take place in the Syndicate universe.

    • Jimbo says:

      “Moreover, a well-made Syndicate sequel proper would quite clearly sell pretty damn well: the fanbase is huge and the concept is strong enough to bring in newcomers.”

      Disagree. As vague as ‘pretty damn well’ is, I don’t think that level of success is ‘quite clear’ at all and I’m not sure where your certainty is coming from. Neither option is guaranteed to be successful, but I would expect the FPS option to not only offer higher potential rewards, but also be the option which is less likely to fail.

      “For both this and XCOM, however, I honestly do think there’s a good chance that if the FPS remakes do well, it’ll lead to far more faithful, if lower-key remakes of the more stately, less headshot-obsessed originals.”

      Has that ever happened? If the FPS remakes do well, they’ll make FPS sequels. Maybe they’ll make a Syndicate iphone game or something too.

      “Releasing a high-res old-Syndicate as a promo game for the new one would make an incredible amount of business sense. I do hope EA high-ups are aware of that.”

      That or it will just scratch any Syndicate itch which does exist, and undermine sales of the full game. BC: Rearmed apparently did pretty damn well, but did that ultimately help or hinder Bionic Commando? BC reviewed ok (not great) but was a massive flop and the company went bust soon after.

  12. Symitri says:

    Would anybody really be making this much of a fuss if they had decided to not call it Syndicate but still share a number of similarities and motifs?

    I’m hardly the biggest fan of the FPS genre but to hate it as a genre because it’s what publishers tend to fall back on to sell big numbers doesn’t seem like reason enough. If the gameplay and story is terrible and uninspired like Duke Nukem Forever was, fair game, but I’m not going to get incensed without playing a working demo or seeing and hearing more about the gameplay.

    Well… at least, not until they mention they have some crazy DRM.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Would anybody really be making this much of a fuss if they had decided to not call it Syndicate but still share a number of similarities and motifs? ”

      No, but then isn’t that the entire point of using the IP?

  13. metalangel says:

    Oh Alec Meer, I could kiss you.

  14. Gnoupi says:

    Next up:

    - Startopia, the FPS: “Get rid of this pesky Memaus with a rocket launcher before they infest a visitor!”
    - Theme Hospital, the FPS: “Because we computed that what fans liked the most was to kill the rats.”
    - RollerCoaster Tycoon, the FPS: “Because we ran out of options to get rid of vomiting people.”
    - Dungeon Keeper, the FPS: “Shoot spells in first person view in the good knights’ faces” (Oh wait, already done. Well, this time it’s HD)
    - Black and White, the FPS: “Unleash the beast, take full control”

    • Vurogj says:

      - Pong, the FPS “Headbutt the ball, shoot the other paddle, score goals”
      - Pacman, the FPS “One of these pills MUST give me a gun to headshot ghosts with, surely?”
      - Donkey Kong, the FPS “We actually can’t do this, as yould be able to see up the princess’ dress as you climb the girders, and that won’t do AT ALL.

    • Baka says:

      Black and White, the FPS would be awesome!
      Just imagine the creature having the same skills like the god-hand… no indirect “No don’t go over there!” controlling, pure population kicking greatness.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Pong and Pacman have actually been done, and Black & White would probably only be improved, yeah.

      And I believe RTS-the-FPS is what Mount & Blade is supposed to be. Adventure-the-FPS would be Penumbra Tex Murphy. Clearly it is the One True Genre(TM) and the only reason games have ever been made any other way is just technical constraints. Sid Meier always wanted you to play Civ as a roaming warrior-king, or a throne-bound bloater setting policy via Alpha Protocol-esque dialogue minigames with advisors.

      Also you can’t point-and-click on things with a gamepad, so any genre that involves selecting units has to die because nobody buys PC games.

    • Grygus says:

      I am sure they will perfect the shift to FPS with Dragon Age III.

    • ninjapirate says:

      Not to forget Maniac Mansion the FPS – this time with plenty of gas tanks!

    • N says:

      Those all sound fucking awesome to me lol. Really.

    • Baines says:

      I want “Dungeon Keeper, The FPS”, if people can make and populate dungeons that other players can team up and assault.

  15. Balerion says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Starcraft and Total War are strategy games, while Syndicate was pretty much an action game. And action game isn’t that far off from FPS, unlike strategy games.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      True, there isn’t much strategy in Syndicate. It’s better to call it a tactics game.

    • Azhrarn says:

      it was a Real-Time Tactical Game, not really an RTS, but basically a smaller scale version of the same concepts. Not exactly an action game by any stretch.
      Instead of an army you have 4 heavily armed dudes, but other than that it’s all about intelligent use of information, tactical awareness and using your surroundings to your advantage (persuadatron anyone?).

      Turning that into an FPS means you loose the entire control aspect, sure you can coordinate with 4 other people in co-op, but that’s not the same as controlling your squad as some omniscient evil corporate puppet master, the feeling is gone.

    • Balerion says:

      Well I played Syndicate many years ago when I was a kid and only a bit, so my memory of it is not perfect. But still, do you know how they’ll handle single player? It might be done like L4D with bots, or like Mass Effect where you issue commands or even like the old Rainbow Six games where you can switch between them.
      Do you know that you’ll be not playing as a puppet master controlling the agents? (you are basically still a puppet master in every fps…)

      There’s very little info of the game for people to complain this much.

      “but other than that it’s all about intelligent use of information, tactical awareness and using your surroundings to your advantage ”
      How do you know, it’s not going to be in the game? Rainbow Six anyone? Why can’t this game be tactical? Why does everyone immediately imagines COD when it comes to FPS? I don’t get it.

    • ninjapirate says:

      @Balerion: I doubt that everyone is thinking “COD”, the 4-player-coop makes it more likely to be compared with “Left 4 Dead” at this point.
      While I’d have trouble seeing how a FPS could be as tactical as an RTT game (due to the lack of an overview for one thing), it’s mostly McEwan’s comments like “I would love [old Syndicate fans] to like [the new Syndicate game]. You’re never going to please everyone” that leave me worried.

      To me that reads like they know that the old Syndicate fans are not going to accept the new game as a Syndicate game – but since “time has moved”, the old fans aren’t their target group anyway.

      Ironically, the target group they’re shooting for couldn’t care less about the “Syndicate” title, because they’ve probably never played (or heard of) the original game anyway.
      Those people who could be lured into buying a “Syndicate” game just by the title would expect it to be an RTT and will end up disappointed… so why call it “Syndicate” in the first place?

      Starbreeze can be happy. At this stage the game is getting more publicity than it would have under any other title.

    • Azhrarn says:

      @Balerion: Tactical in the Left4Dead sense is quite different from Tactical in a RTT sense, I very much doubt they’ll cast the new Syndicate in the Rainbow Six mold (although that would certainly be preferable to just a generic co-op shooter I’ll give you that, but those games aren’t the megabucks sellers the publisher will want).

      Remember, the chances that this is almost entirely directed by the potential profits gained from rebooting an existing IP, the chances that they’ll take any risks at all in terms of creative mechanics or challenging tactical gameplay are quite remote. With some luck that will be included, but chances are in favor of it being a strait up co-op corridor shooter, and not a Rainbow Six style first-person tactical combat game.

    • Archonsod says:

      “While I’d have trouble seeing how a FPS could be as tactical as an RTT game”

      I’d have said SWAT 4 and Rainbow Six were more tactical than the original Syndicate, and those are just off the top of my head.

      “Those people who could be lured into buying a “Syndicate” game just by the title would expect it to be an RTT and will end up disappointed… so why call it “Syndicate” in the first place?”

      Speaking as one of those people, I’d be interested purely because I quite liked the background and themes of Syndicate. Hence an FPS which utilises those becomes slightly more appealing than one which doesn’t, in much the same way a chocolate flavoured cake tends to be slightly more interesting to those of us who like chocolate than an unspecified cake.

  16. Keilnoth says:

    This is going to completely suck too bad.

    But at the end, the good thing is that there will still be only one Syndicate game and it’s certainly not going to be this one.

    • Starky says:

      Syndicate Wars (which I think was better than the original) says hi.

    • ankh says:

      It’s not better than the original.

    • metalangel says:

      About the only thing Syndicate Wars had in its favour was distracting anime trailers of big tits on the numerous billboards.

  17. magnus says:

    It’s to do with money that’s why, plain and simple really.

  18. Lobotomist says:

    What I dont understand , with all this TRADEMARK craze.

    They find it so important to acquire the trademark , because they think the game (or movie for that mater) will sell because of that trademark.

    But than they take what trademark was about and change it so much that its completely opposite to what it was. Probably in order to appeal to newcomers , but completely disappointing and insulting the people that have any love for the given trademark.

    So why taking trademark at all, if all you want to do is to appeal to new people ?

    Old fans will not buy the game because its nothing like the old. And new people dont know the trademark at all, and do not care about it.

    Why not just create new trademark and save themselves licensing fee ???

    • jezcentral says:

      Oh, come on Lobotomist, you’re better than that.

      New IP is too risky nowadays for the people who stump up the money. No money, no game. The devs recycle an old IP instead, and get a lot of brand awareness before they even start. Money, game.

      And they already own the IP, so no licence fee required.

    • karry says:

      Basically, what it boild down to, is : rich people are hella dumb. Now, if they were somehow…indisposed…and the money were put in the hands of someone else…

    • ninjapirate says:

      With 4+ pages of comments just on this one article, this game is getting more attention than it would have under a non-trademarked title at this point.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Easy to call investors dumb and rich – but not withstanding the fact that by far the vast majority of investment comes from savings accounts – like yours or mine – imagine if it was your money and you had two games pitched at you – one is a generic FPS made for a console, the type which has turned a profit consistently for the last ten years OR an isometric action game optimized for the PC, the type which has only 20% chance of returning you any profit and had 40% chance of losing all your money, regardless of the quality of the title. Which would you sink your future into, the future of your family. Which one would you gamble your house on?

    • psyk says:

      Karry you could just you know make a game and show us the amazing product you would produce.

  19. NegativeZero says:

    Since there’s so much hate for the AAA-budget FPS adaption, maybe there’s room for an indie to make an actual 2D isometric ‘spiritual successor’ Syndicate game then. I’d certainly play it.

    • Xercies says:

      Seeing what happened with X-Com with I think 2-3 indies saying they were making a spirtual sucessor to it and one I think I graphics update I think this could actually happen.

    • ninjapirate says:

      @NegativeZero: Keep your eyes on Paradox – if I recall correctly, they’re planning on doing just that.

    • Unaco says:

      The hate will (mostly) disappear when it turns out it’s actually quite a decent, fun game. There’ll be a couple of people who cling on to their rage, but they’ll be largely inconsequential.

  20. MOKKA says:

    This passage somehow got my interest:

    “The original nub of the idea was to take that viewpoint from the original game and zoom into the Agent’s head”

    They do know that the agents you played in the older games were all remote controlled do they?

    Well at least if this game turns out to be too linear they can say: “We were being faithful to the concept of the original game by giving the player no choice whatsoever.”

    • Hoaxfish says:

      to go back to an earlier quote

      Take on the role of Miles Kilo, Eurocorp¡¦s latest prototype agent, and embark on a brutal action adventure of corruption and revenge.

      They think that agents had actual personalities (rather than being mindwiped drones)

    • BAshment says:

      He will need personality for all those sassy one liners.

    • el_murph says:

      Would you kindly explain how this isn’t perfect for a FPS? A mindless drone shooting whatever he’s told to….

    • psyk says:

      How were they controlling them remotly? they would have to have camares somewhere.

    • ninjapirate says:

      Let me guess:
      You’ll be playing Milo, the protagonist, who, à la “Dollhouse”, becomes increasingly self-conscious and slowly discovers that, not only did he used to have a name, he also had a life that was taken away from him before he became a drone. A few flashbacks into the game and you’re playing a rogue agent who’s turning his entire arsenal against his creator, on a quest for revenge.

      Voila, the perfect FPS background story!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      As I remember the camera’s were in blimps – hence the isometric viewpoint.

  21. Anthile says:

    I’m not really sure how useful it is to compare Syndicate to the likes of Starcraft 2 or the Total War games. Starcraft 2 was one one of the most anticipated games of all time and Total War is only one step away from FIFA-like annual updates. Real-time strategy just doesn’t sell as good as shooters do.
    I also don’t think the Syndicate fanbase is that huge. Here on RPS maybe but what console player knows Syndicate? Everyone knows X-COM, though.
    That said, both reimaginings might turn out alright. If they were going to make shooters anyway, there are far worse sources of inspiration.

    • Hardtarget says:

      exactly, this is exactly what I said earlier but Alec is just going to say you should re-read the article :p

      (but i still love Alec)

    • apocraphyn says:

      More people would know of X-COM than Syndicate, perhaps – though really, if one were into the “gaming scene” back when those games were released, there’s a fair chance that they know of both. Both were quite popular upon release.

      There’s evidently a low chance any of the current market’s target audience would know of the two IPs in this day and age, so to imply that “everyone knows X-COM” would be an over-estimate and then some. (I do agree with the comments regarding the examples, however. Myself, I’m still recuperating after Fallout’s transmogrification into an FPS.)

    • Hardtarget says:

      eh sure there were more x-com games but do people who are 18 and primarily play games on their xbox really know about x-com these days? I can’t imagine that they do

    • Gormongous says:

      It’s really hard to believe some people are so dense. That FPS games sell better than RTS games is the entire point of Alec’s editorial stance. RTS games can and do sell well, but they don’t usually sell ludicrous amounts and that’s all publishers care about these days. Remaking Syndicate as an FPS is entirely a financial decision and not a creative one.

      As for the Syndicate fanbase not being huge, “syndicate game” returns 104,000,000 hits on Google, and only three on the main page refer to news of the remake. The top ten YouTube videos on it have views in the tens of thousands. Maybe you’re conflating “not that huge” for “I’m really not wild about it”. It’s an understandable mistake.

    • Anthile says:

      I really don’t think Google hits and Youtube views prove anything. Then again, I don’t have any facts to prove anything myself so I rest my case.

    • c-Row says:

      As for the Syndicate fanbase not being huge, “syndicate game” returns 104,000,000 hits on Google, and only three on the main page refer to news of the remake. The top ten YouTube videos on it have views in the tens of thousands. Maybe you’re conflating “not that huge” for “I’m really not wild about it”. It’s an understandable mistake.

      According to the results I get, by that logic Syndicate’s fanbase (181m) is as large as that of The Sims (84m) and StarCraft (98m) combined. It even outranks any mention of WarCraft (168m), Tetris (66.5m) or even Pong (110m). Hmmm.

    • djtim says:

      @Hardtarget

      My interpretation of Alec’s argument wasn’t that (the original) Syndicate is necessarily similar to SC2 or any of the Total War games. More that the default option developers/publishers seems to be the FPS, the developer then cites ‘creative’ reasons for the choice while the more pessimistic (or maybe realistic) of us can see the decision is purely for the $’s.

      You could argue that there is more untapped creativity outside of FPS games right now, the genre is fairly stagnant (I still love a good shooter, but they are all pretty much the same just with different window dressings when it comes down to it). I think Alec is trying to make a point that good non-FPS games also sell well particularly if the brand is already relatively well known – whether this includes Syndicate is debatable.

      Additionally while the big 3 or 4 FPS games sell very very well, what about the other 20 or 30 FPS’s released every year? As an FPS there’s not a lot that makes Syndicate really stand-out – but as a tactical strategy game or something a little bit different, it would have a unique selling point that would enable it to rise above the nameless hoard of shooters.

    • Kadayi says:

      Agreed I think it’s slightly disingenuous to cite Starcraft 2 (a game which is practically a national obsession in Korea) and say ‘look, look there is a place for top down play’. Starcraft is an outlier.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Okay, Diablo 3, Torchlight, DotA, etc… top-down. Of course, they’re all multiple genres, so it becomes a bit hard to compare them to FPS’s singular genre.

  22. Mad Hamish says:

    hmmmm…..no one has mentioned consoles yet. I’m no console basher, I’ve been playing their games longer than PC’s but it’s also quite obvious that the publisher wants that market to be the earner on this one. Despite the fact the original syndicate was quite good on the SNES and also that it’s fanbase are probab;y still on PCs.

    As long as you can have full control over your three team mates, like that genre of yore where you’re screen was spilt into 4 and that I’ve forgotten all examples of. Wanky AI often ruins single player on these things.

    • mejoff says:

      Space Hulk?

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Of course, how could I forget. Also Narco police and a game where you play cyborg mercenaries, damn the name is on the tip of my tongue. But yeah they should also make a Space Hulk remake. I guess it’d kinda be like L4D except that you’d be the tanks.

    • sluttyYutty says:

      i do remember syndicate on the sega genesis worked pretty well and it kept the same core game play elements so i’m sure they coulda kept the same core elements of the original gameplay and make it work on current consoles if they wanted to.

      But like the article says they want to take the safe route, which limits game creativity. That designer was right times have moved on. It used to be about innovation & making a fun game now its about how much money can they make.

    • ninjapirate says:

      I think I remember playing both Syndicate and Space Hulk on the PSOne as well. Both titles aren’t complete strangers to consoles, just to the younger generation of gamers.

    • shitflap says:

      Hired Guns?
      Not on consoles though.

  23. node says:

    “Being asked to swallow claims that it’s genuinely a creative decision” It’s quite cynical saying it’s 100% publisher pressure – if Starbreeze felt they absolutely could not creatively tackle Syndicate as an FPS then it wouldn’t exist. Also, if they kept the same isometric perspective etc. they’d be making the same game. Why do that when, as you point out, the old ones don’t stop existing?

    It doesn’t bother me in the slightest when they try something new with an existing franchise, sometimes it’s what’s needed. That said, Diablo still manages to sell bucket loads with the isometric-ish perspective in there. But then it’s all too easy to say “Blizzard sell piles on PC, why can’t you?” Well, if more people could crack that magic formula, they would.

    • Hanban says:

      I pretty much agree. And arguably, Syndicate is a game that would be quite well-suited as a co-op FPS. So in terms of ‘raping’ a franchise there are worse targets.

    • Monkey says:

      What other ‘sacred’ old franchises are left pure and pristine i wonder?

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m wise to your surrupticious ways, Mr Monkey. Or should I say MR GAMES EXECUTIVE.

      Gee golly willickers, I sure do hope they don’t remake Quake as an FPS! That would be just awful.

    • Monkey says:

      Quake the turn based isometric strategy game?

      *scuttles back to secret mountain publisher base*

  24. Matt says:

    what I don’t get is that this – like the XCOM reboot – have potential to be pretty good games with very little relation to the properties they’ve taken the name from. which is bizzare – I mean, Syndicate wasn’t a great game because of it’s fairly-standard-cyberpunk-corporate setting, it was a great game because of it’s distinct gameplay. giving you FPS upgrades like a persuadatron just looks like they wanted to jump on the FPS-with-minor-RPG-upgrades bandwagon and rooted through their sock drawer of un-used IP to find one that vaguely fitted.

    also, people that liked Syndicate are going to be mildly (or hugely, depending) outraged and people who’ve never heard of Syndicate won’t benefit from marketting leverage from the IP.

    i don’t understand this industry sometimes.

    • Azhrarn says:

      I get the feeling the so-called “experts” in the industry don’t understand the industry sometimes.

      These marketing specialists should know that if you’re aiming mainly at newcomers then using an IP that hasn’t seen a game in more than a decade is going to be downright useless, most of the players you’re aiming at hadn’t even finished primary school when those games originally came out.

      Those that do remember the original will hate you for just duct-taping their beloved franchise name on some generic sci-fi / cyberpunk shooter, again defeating the purpose of using the IP for marketing power in the first place.

      But publishers (and the marketing goons that work for them) love using stuff they already they already used at least once because that’s somehow less “risky” than creating a new IP that doesn’t suffer from all the negative impact this rebooting-as-FPS of an older franchise has.

      And since it’s all about the “risk management” these days we’ll see new IPs become increasingly rare and more and more reboots of loved old games as “high volume selling Genre-du-jour “. Count on many genres dying out from a major publisher standpoint simply because they don’t sell enough.

      Let the golden age of the independent developer begin, since those can “risk” developing “less popular” genres.

    • Hardtarget says:

      eh they want to make a FPS because those sell well, Syndicate is a brand they own, maybe if they are lucky people who used to play the Syndicate games will be interested in this new one so they might as well call it that to hopefully get some extra sale they normally wouldn’t have gotten

      Now with that said it’s silly since if they put out a good campaign and made a good game there is a good chance that those chaps who know what syndicate is would still buy this new game whether it was called syndicate or not assuming it was a good game.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Every time someone whines about Syndicate being ruined on the Internet, someone else thinks “hunh, I’ll have to look and see what they did”. And if that someone else never played the original and sees a cinematic next-generation man-shooting experience, they’ll go “this is pretty cool” and a potential sale is generated.

      Your rage nourishes the marketing machine.

    • Robin says:

      Exactly what LionsPhil said.

    • Zarx says:

      People don’t have to have played previous games in the series to be attracted to the IP. Many that haven’t played the games may still have heard good things from fans of the original and may (even if subconsciously) link the IP with quality and so may be more inclined to try the game even if they aren’t willing to track down and play a almost 20 year old game.

      Plus all the fans bitching generates news stories like this one that will let new people hear about the game. They are basically banking on the “there is no such thing as bad publicity” principle to help sell the game. And if some fans pick up the game all the better.

    • RaveTurned says:

      I agree with Matt, but I worry that in this case making a first-person game in the Syndicate universe inherently breaks some of the core traits of the universe (i.e. agents having no free will) while providing nothing new to fans or to the genre. If they ignore that completely they have a pretty poor DXHR knock-off minus the alternative routes, mission hubs and all the rest that make that game great, while also making a mockery of the persuadertron tech that’s so central to the universe.

      The alternative is something that takes a side-long glance at FPSs in general and says “Look at you, following objectives like a drone.”, perhaps giving you freedom once this shocking realisation has been made – and we arrive at Bioshock in some Corporate Future Setting.

      Perhaps there is a third way, and if the devs have the vision and the staying power to deliver something fresh and original with a real Syndicate feel to it I will probably buy it. At this point though, I don’t have my hopes up.

    • c-Row says:

      It makes for a huge amount of free publicity. Press coverage would have been much less if it was a completely new IP and only a bunch of screenshots at this point, don’t you think?

    • Matt says:

      i agree that there is a definately danger of over-reaction and nerd-rage and really theres not enough info to judge the game in its own terms. (for instance i think XCOM looks like it could be pretty cool; just not even vaguely XCOM-ey).

      sadly i’m not as optimistic as Alec and worry that if the game is a success it’ll send another green light to the “lets turn everything into an FPS” industry craze and if it fails we’ll see the IP blamed and buried for another decade. Because the kids want to play FPS, right? so it must have been bad IP…

    • Archonsod says:

      “These marketing specialists should know that if you’re aiming mainly at newcomers then using an IP that hasn’t seen a game in more than a decade is going to be downright useless, most of the players you’re aiming at hadn’t even finished primary school when those games originally came out. ”

      You’re jumping the gun quite a bit by assuming that the entire purpose of re-using the IP is to appeal to players. The other benefit of course is that all of the preliminary design work, like the back story, art direction and the like, has already been done, which means cheaper and shorter development since you’re not paying a design team to go off and come up with a cyberpunk world to set the game in.

  25. TheApologist says:

    Alec speaks the truth. But I think his examples of non-FPS (and I would add non-3rd person character action) are still pretty honking huge games with big sales. But the PC is such a great place to be because of the variety of more truly medium sized games on made on more modest budgets. So in recent years PC has also given me King’s Bounty and Bloodbowl, and going smaller still Magicka, Dungeons of Dredmore, Project Zomboid.

    • Prime says:

      There’s an absolutely huge untapped market out there for people to remake these old classics with modern technology, that wouldn’t require vast teams, enormous development budgets and half a decade to produce. But, as Alec, said, the big publishers that own most of the old classics we want remade are blind to everything but MEGABUCKS AAA success stories and the FPS model is where that’s found. We only need one publisher to set themselves up with, say, at range of old-school titles, that could be sold at a modest price point, and fans the world over could be kept happy.

    • TheApologist says:

      Yeah – King’s Bounty being the best example I can think of, perhaps. Maybe a revamped d/l cannon fodder? You could do interesting online things with Sensi Soccer perhaps. Etc etc

  26. konrad_ha says:

    “we’re definitely paying as much homage to it as we can – bringing across the essence of the world, the core essence of what it is to be an Agent.”

    But I never wanted to be an agent in Syndicate. I always pictured myself as a stone-cold manager safely hovering in his blimp above the carnage, giving kill-orders without second thoughts. THAT was the essence of the game, agents were meaningless drones.

    • bill says:

      I don’t really remember any of the story or characters from Syndicate (just the fun of the levels and the look). WAS there even a story? The agents were just mindless drones? Right? I don’t remember them ever having personalities.

  27. Dominic White says:

    As others have said, Syndicate really wasn’t a strategy game. It had far more in common with, say, a modern twin-stick shooter than it did X-Com. Sure, it was dressed up to look all cyberpunk and deep, but 90% of the missions boiled down to ‘Heres four cyborg soldiers with miniguns. Kill some asses’.

    So y’know what? I’m not too torn up about this. It’s a perspective shift, but still a straightforward action game. Anyway, there’s a Syndicate Wars source-port in the works.

    • Monkey says:

      Syndicate was a cyber punk cool Cannon Fodder, with a sprinkling of RPG features. Doesnt make it any less great of course

    • bill says:

      It’s not a huge shift, but it’s a DULL shift. Syndicate wasn’t really about the setting. It had basically no characters or story. It was about controlling a team in wide urban environments.

      Maybe this will be an FPS about controlling a team in wide open environments, with multiple entry routes and ways to approach each level. But do you really think so? Really?

      It’s much more likely to be a corridor shooter.
      In which case it’s a sci-fi FPS corridor shooter – like Killzone, Crysis 2, etc… and that’s just depressing.

      It’s like your favorite rock band coming out of retirement and making ballads…. i’m sure they’re good ballads and they’ll probably sell a bucket load… but still…

    • Hardtarget says:

      sadly the only FPS I know of that was about directly controlling other dudes as you were playing was the cancelled x-com FPS from 2001ish? I think the ship has sailed on that idea :(

    • Monkey says:

      Syndicate and XCOM – the U2 and Coldplay of gaming

    • bill says:

      was thinking aerosmith… but same idea.

      (that x-com FPS looked cool. Space hulk is probably your other option – and that game SHOULD have a remake as an FPS – but retaining and improving the tactical parts.

    • Hardtarget says:

      x-com: Alliance is what I was thinking of, sadly cancelled in 2001
      I always liked the idea of how up top you could always see the FP camera of your other 3 squad mates. never seen that in another game before.

      Hell people shouldn’t be so bitter about the new X-Com game now that I think about it since Alliance was going to come out anyways years ago.

    • Monkey says:

      I have no idea why Space Hulk hasn’t been made as a Warhammer 40,000 Left 4 Dead.

      I’ve always thought the Warhammer license has been wasted in THQs hands (DOW aside). So much potential and they throw money at games like Homefront instead

    • Balerion says:

      “It’s much more likely to be a corridor shooter.
      In which case it’s a sci-fi FPS corridor shooter – like Killzone, Crysis 2, etc… and that’s just depressing.”

      Neither of those games are 4 player co-op. So I don’t know where you came to that conclusion.

    • Nick says:

      eh.. Space Hulk has been made as an FPS.

  28. DiamondDog says:

    The other chunk of bullshit in there being the whole “we’ve taken the core essence of Syndicate”. No, because the core essence wasn’t some nonsense about being inside the head of an Agent. It was about the gameplay, and they’ve changed that.

    Whatever, it could be good. I’m almost of the exact opinion as Alec. It’s not the FPS thing that bothers me, it’s the developers trying to bullshit me. They do realise some people have actually played these games, don’t they?

    • Hanban says:

      What exactly is the core essence they have changed though? Mind you, I was very young when I played Syndicate and the word tactics made about as much sense as the words emergent storytelling, but the way I remember I finished Syndicate was simply by creating huge trains of civilians and then blasting haywire around with the gauss gun.

      So far as I recall it was an action game where you could upgrade your dudes. I don’t see how that would translate poorly into an FPS. There are certainly much worse picks to translate into FPSes, X-Com for example.

    • LionsPhil says:

      They do realise some people have actually played these games, don’t they?

      What? Psh. Nobody from the ’90s would still be alive today. Look at all those primitive pixels. It’s like cave paintings. We will never truly understand what they saw in them, but they’re kind of quaint.

    • bill says:

      What exactly is the core essence they have changed though?

      Being interesting -> being generic.
      Being different to most games on the market -> Being the same as most games on the market
      Controlling a team -> controlling one player
      Wide open urban environments -> linear corridors. *
      Team management overview with little story -> story with cutscenes and characters and emotion*

      * these are purely based on my assumption that they’re gonna turn this into a generic modern FPS.

    • Hanban says:

      @bill

      There should probably be an asterisk on basically every one of your supposed differences there. Perhaps not “generic” if FPS in itself is meant to mean generic.

      Given the fact that we know so little of the game at this point it’s pretty hard to make the calls you do. For example, in regards to the corridors, they did say they will be recreating maps from the original game. If that means corridors, well, then that’s incredibly lame. But it’s not bad to hope for city-scape destruction in an open environment is it?

      The rose-tinted goggles I am wearing have served me well up to this point. I didn’t fall to the outrage of DXHR when it was announced simply because they had decided to change some stuff, and that turned out to be a game I enjoyed. Hence I keep my hopes up. And even if changing Syndicate to an FPS is a u-turn in terms of changes if we compare it to Deus Ex, there’s just no saying at this point that it will be a bad generic game just because it’s an FPS. It might turn out to have great squad controls for SP. One can only hope.

  29. Monkey says:

    So it’s a FPS with the name ‘Syndicate’ tagged on to it because a NEW name, NEW franchise is too risky.

    I see this and XCOM in no way linked to the previous (and probably my most beloved) games, thats how it doesnt make me angry.

    I just wish i knew how to make games so i could do what i think a modern X-Com or Syndicate would be.

  30. bill says:

    The thing was, Syndicate’s setting wasn’t really that important.

    I mean, it was reasonably cool, but it was basically a standard cyber-punk setting with very little back story or characterisation.

    As such, taking the syndicate setting, but leaving the syndicate game seems a weird choice.

  31. pblackburn says:

    I loved Syndicate, I dabbled in but ultimately enjoyed Syndicate Wars (I only ever had the demo, I couldn’t afford the full game), and now I’m very excited about this new FPS installment.

    I’ve done my fair share of reminiscing about the original Syndicate, but while it is one of my all time favourite classics, I’m more than happy to see it revived in the manner we see here. Then again, I’m one of the Fallout fans who really enjoyed Fallout 3 and New Vegas, too, and those were even less similar to their predecessors than this Syndicate re-hash looks to its own.

    I will be enthusiastically keeping up to date on this game.

  32. Hardtarget says:

    I might get beat up for this but ever since seeing the E3 (was it e3?) trailer for the x-com fps game last year (or.. 2 years ago?) I’ve been pretty sold on the setting and the idea. I just hope the game is good.

    I’ll feel the same way about Syndicate once actual news starts coming out. If the game is good I’ll be happy to play it regardless of the name, if the game is garbage I’ll pass.

    • Azhrarn says:

      That’s just it, the XCOM reboot doesn’t look bad, and neither does this. It’s just that we despise their respective developers and publishers for sticking the name of games of yore that we loved and cared about on something so alien to the concept of either. From a pure gameplay perspective, ignoring the IP it looks rather interesting, and then they went and ruined it.

      Had they both been introduced as new IPs with their respective settings (cold-war paranoia plus alien invasion tactical FPS = cool concept, just not XCOM and cyborg shooter/RPG in a cyberpunk setting is also interesting (see Deus Ex), just not compatible with the Syndicate gameplay style) then I might have shown quite a bit more interest, now I’ll vote with my wallet and not play either.

    • Hardtarget says:

      but that’s ridiculous. If it’s a good game and happens to take place in a setting you already enjoy then it’s a bonus. If it’s a bad game and is “ruining” a setting you enjoy than sure, that’s shitty. But pre-judging the game just because of the setting it’s in is a bit silly.

    • Azhrarn says:

      This isn’t about the game, that has the right to exist on it’s own merrits.
      This is about radically changing the entire gameplay concept of a game franchise for the sole purpose of pasting a familiar name on a new game to pad sales numbers, nothing more.

      I don’t approve of that practice, so I won’t support their decision by buying it (and no, I won’t pirate it either, that’s just silly). It’s the only power I have left as a consumer since I can’t influence them directly.

    • ninjapirate says:

      For me the problem is that I don’t like FPS games too much. RTTs on the other hand I enjoy.

      This is like hearing that one of my favorite indie rock bands has replaced all of its members and is now playing pop music. Sure, they could end up making good pop music, but it’s not the type of music that I listen to, so I’m not exactly happy about the news.

  33. Taidan says:

    Am I the only person here who thinks the FPS-thing is a pretty cool idea? I guess it depends how you look at it.

    On the one hand, taking a classic game and remaking it as a generic FPS is balls, and should be derided by those of us who still carry a torch for this classic series. If they’re going to make a sequel, then for godsakes actually keep at least the tiniest core of the original intact, or it might as well be “Just another FPS that’s cashing in on the name”.

    On the other, making a FPS spin-off of a much-beloved classic game is actually a pretty cool thing to do. Getting to explore a game IP you loved 20 years ago through the first-person viewpoint, with modern eye-candy, should be cause for a nerdgasm of the highest order.

    I guess it’s a game of semantics, and whether or not the glass is half-f…

    *snip*

    I f**king hate that expression.

    Anyway, EA marketing people, take this away: Sequel=BAD, spin-off=GOOD.

    • Moni says:

      I think that’s pretty much it, it’s how I feel about the Brothers In Arms spin-off. It seemed rubbish at first, but then they called it a spin-off and then everything’s fine.

  34. Curvespace says:

    In honour of the Syndicate FPS we’ve decided to do a spiritual sucessor to Bladerunner. It’s going to set roughly in same universe that we all know and love, but because noir police procedurals are now so old fashioned it will be a romantic comedy. We are currently in discussions with Reese Witherspoon.

    • Prime says:

      Please don’t joke about this. There’s an actual Bladerunner sequel coming and while Ridley Scott is on board to direct, soothing many a brow, there’s still enormous potential for this kind of ‘creative thinking’ to occur. I’m seriously considering getting a girl pregnant just so I can have a first-born child to sacrifice to the gods of decent cinema.

  35. Pardoz says:

    “For both this and XCOM, however, I honestly do think there’s a good chance that if the FPS remakes do well, it’ll lead to far more faithful, if lower-key remakes of the more stately, less headshot-obsessed originals.”

    After all, just look how the success of the FPS remake of Fallout led to more faithful, lower-key remakes of Fallout/2, rather than a pile of DLC and a second FPS remake with its own pile of DLC, right?

    Much as I wish this were the case, if not-Syndicate and not-X-Com do well, that will just mean a bunch of DLC and a sequel a year down the road, and likely more creatively-bankrupt generic FPS/TPS “modern re-imaginings” of older games the devs are always “huge fans of”, despite little evidence they ever played them (has Generic Alliance: Jagged Shooter been announced yet?)

    If they don’t do well, of course, that will be taken to mean “There’s no market for Syndicate (or X-Com)” rather than “Maybe doing half-assed shooter remakes isn’t such a great idea.” Either way, the only hope for a “more faithful, if lower-key” remake lies in the hands of low/no-budget indies a la Xenonauts (nothing against Xenonauts – it looks great, and I’m really looking forward to it. But just imagine what they could do if they had the resources of a big studio or publisher behind them.)

    • Balerion says:

      You are aware of the fact, that there’ll be a new Jagged Alliance game, right?
      http://www.jaggedalliance.com/en/

    • Pardoz says:

      I’m aware of it, yes, but while it looks to have “modernized” out much of the gameplay that made the originals good, it hasn’t gone the full monty generic manshoot travesty route of not-Syndicate and not-X-Com. Yet. The JA name could easily be the next victim of this particular pathology, though.

  36. Vayl says:

    Do FPS really sell better then other games? Besides the huge IPs like COD, BF, Halo, do the other FPS really sell better just by being a FPS?

    • Subject 706 says:

      Actually a good question. One wonders what the return of investment is for non-top franchise FPSes with large budgets.

      Crazy thought publishers: Maybe non-FPS games with smaller budgets could ACTUALLY have a better ROI than your eternal “I really hope this will sell as well as COD” lame FPSes?

  37. Sheng-ji says:

    “For both this and XCOM, however, I honestly do think there’s a good chance that if the FPS remakes do well, it’ll lead to far more faithful, if lower-key remakes of the more stately, less headshot-obsessed originals. If there’s one thing rights-holders love to do, it’s to capitalise on brand awareness – and for once, that might well end up being to our benefit. Releasing a high-res old-Syndicate as a promo game for the new one would make an incredible amount of business sense. I do hope EA high-ups are aware of that.”

    This is why I’m so happy about this game being released. Sure the game may be good, perhaps even great – I am partial to the occasional FPS and I know a lot of other people are too, but this statement is why I am really really looking forward to both the X-com game and this one coming out. I couldn’t care less if the next “X-Com” game bears the title “X-Com” or Xenonauts, and I couldn’t care less if this game spawns another 3rd person isometric view tactical battle game called syndicate or something else – I just care that these games are made.

    I loved the syndicate universe, but I loved the game over and above the fiction around it. I loved being free in a city. I loved being able to click on the minimap far outside the play area and watching your men negotiate their way around buildings you couldn’t see in the main viewscreen “off map” to get to where you’d clicked, proving that this city didn’t end at the level limits. I loved the freedom you had and the variety of tools you had to tackle any scenario. I loved the upgrades and the sense of loss you had when you lost an agent. It was probably the first free roaming game I ever played ( I was only 11) and I know with some certainty it was the first game I ever played to completion.

    So if this spawns a game or two that replicates these things with fancy graphics, I’ll be happy – heck, notice I didn’t love the isometric viewpoint – if this game gives me these things, I’ll be happy!

  38. trigger_rant says:

    “Releasing a high-res old-Syndicate as a promo game for the new one would make an incredible amount of business sense. I do hope EA high-ups are aware of that.”
    As much as Id like this to happen, I highly doubt it. If this generic shooter with a Syndicate stamp on it, does in fact sell well, I think its more likely we will get more of the same. Im sure thats more how the EA suits think.

    • Unaco says:

      This game is generic? You know this? To quote Mr Alec Meer…

      “When did you see the game? Can you tell us more about it?”

    • trigger_rant says:

      I am sorry if I dont share your optimism concerning Starbreeze. The studio isnt what it used to be. Especially not after CEO resigned and the staff exodus. I am sincerely in doubt they can live up to Bullfrogs legacy. This is why I am expecting a fairly mediocre, yes generic shooter, a quick cash in on the brand name. I wish I could share your optimism, but I cant.

    • Unaco says:

      Oh… you’re ‘expecting’ a generic shooter. See, you stated “if this generic shooter”, like you knew it WAS a generic shooter, rather than your knee jerked, smashed your desk and knocked your keyboard into your face, which happened to type out your post.

      For a ‘quick cash in’ on the name, they really don’t know what they’re doing by the way… StarBreeze have been working on this for (at least) 2 and a half years now, possibly longer, and still have another 6 months at least. That’s not exactly quick.

  39. sluttyYutty says:

    :( …… i still have the good memories of the music and miniguns blasting away.

  40. Dominic White says:

    Just leaving this here:

    http://swars.vexillium.org/

    You want your shiny, 3D polygonal Syndicate on modern PCs? There ya go.

  41. Cinnamon says:

    They might think that they are being humble and honest but in my opinion they should just shut up and if they have to say anything it should be simple statements like, “we are sorry that we are not able to give people the game they want.” Not these sorts of annoying statements about how their games publishers and marketing robots know better than everyone else what is good for them or how their amazing new vision for being able to play a game in first person filled them revolutionary zeal.

    • Unaco says:

      I think you missed a word… they should be saying “we are sorry that we are not able to give people the game they want YET”. But they don’t really need to apologise for that, I’m patient and I can wait for this.

      This is a game I want. It looks gorgeous, it’s been in development for years (so it isn’t a rushed thing), StarBreeze are a pretty good studio, with a good philosophy etc.

    • Cinnamon says:

      “I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!” the Queen said. “Two pence a week, and jam every other day.”
      Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, “I don’t want you to hire ME – and I don’t care for jam.”
      “It’s very good jam,” said the Queen.
      “Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.”
      “You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”
      “It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”" Alice objected.
      “No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.”
      “I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”

    • Unaco says:

      At last the Mouse, who seemed to be a person of authority among them, called out, “Sit down, all of you, and listen to me! I’ll soon make you dry enough!” They all sat down at once, in a large ring, with the Mouse in the middle. Alice kept her eyes anxiously fixed on it, for she felt sure she would catch a bad cold if she did not get dry very soon.
      “Ahem!” said the Mouse with an important air. “Are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know. Silence all round, if you please! ‘William the Conqueror, whose cause was favoured by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria——’”
      “Ugh!” said the Lory, with a shiver.
      “I beg your pardon!” said the Mouse, frowning, but very politely. “Did you speak?”
      “Not I!” said the Lory, hastily.
      “I thought you did,” said the Mouse. “I proceed. ‘Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him; and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable——’”
      “Found what?” said the Duck.
      “Found it,” the Mouse replied rather crossly: “of course you know what ‘it’ means.”
      “I know what ‘it’ means well enough, when I find a thing,” said the Duck: “it’s generally a frog, or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?”

  42. Fitzmogwai says:

    If I win £125million on the lottery tonight, I’m going to buy Julian Gollop and allow him to make a proper “new” x-com. Sadly I couldn’t do that with Peter Molyneux and Syndicate because he’s too busy making Kinect-powered sheepdog simulators.

  43. Bluerps says:

    I agree completely with this article. Only one little thing confused me a bit.

    “It is highly likely to do interesting things and to expand Syndicate’s world and fiction in new directions [...]”

    I haven’t played Syndicate in a very long time, but does it even have much world and fiction to expand? Doesn’t it boil down to “It’s the year 20XX. Multinational corporations use cybernetically enhanced, mind-controlled agents to fight each other for control of the world.” – and that’s it, for the entire game?

    I mean, sure, you can use that as the premise of a setting and a story, but you don’t have to call the game “Syndicate” to do that.

  44. CelticPixel says:

    Never played the original Syndicate, but was a massive Syndicate Wars fan. I understand the nerd rage with such a drastic change in genre, but I love a good Co-Op FPS, and when I remember directing those 4 syndicate wars characters around on my PSone, it seems ripe for a co-op game.

    * Please note the positive opinion expressed above will be revoked if the Persuadatron does not allow me to gather a massive conga line of pedestrians.

  45. Acosta says:

    Almost 20 years of its release Syndicate is still a classic, it achieved that being unique and different, not another “me too” of the flavour of the month. I can close my eyes and remember the experience of reading that great manual, the wonder of exploring each maps and learning that I could take cars or trains, the music, the great action… 20 years from that game I still remember it and have fond memories of it.

    Let’s see if your game achieves that.

    • Starky says:

      I have to disagree, there was nothing really unique or different about syndicate.

      It was a generic setting, and a fairly generic style of gameplay for the time (cannon fodder + cyberpunk as mentioned in this thread).
      It wasn’t original, or really that advanced.

      It was just fucking good.

      Syndicate wars made some advancements, but again nothing mind blowing given the games around the time it was released, it was just a bloody good game. Really solid and highly polished (for the time).

      Nostalgia is great and all, but lets not take it too far.

    • Werthead says:

      I first played SYNDICATE via a game demo (on AMIGA FORMAT, I believe) many months before the full game came out. The demo did the rounds of my school friends quite a few times. People were blown away by the whole art aesthetic (the screens showing adverts as your men ran around was jaw-dropping for the time), the ludicrous potential for insane ultraviolence (“You can carry eight miniguns around simultaneously?”), the ability to get in and out of cars and use them to run people over and then blow them up, and, most popularly, the ability to set people on fire and watch them walking around screaming before they fell over and expired. The full game expanded on that with some interesting variation, such as ‘stealth’ missions (by the standards of the time) where you had to walk around with no weapons showing, do a quickie persuadatron of a target and then get out of there without being detected. You also had the drug-bars which could make a huge difference to your agents’ survival prospects, as well as the augmented limbs and weapon selection. There was a very strong tactical angle to it as well.

      CANNON FODDER may have had almost the exact same controls and the whole humour angle, but what you could do in the game was severely limited in comparison. I enjoyed playing through CANNON FODDER at the time but twenty years later have little interest in replaying it. Whilst I revisit SYNDICATE every few years and still find it a strong gaming experience.

      I still think 1993 was an amazing year for games: CANNON FODDER, SYNDICATE, FLASHBACK, FRONTIER, X-WING, DOOM, DAY OF THE TENTACLE and (in the UK on the Amiga, anyway) DUNE II, not to mention the very good Amiga port of DESERT STRIKE. Good times.

  46. AmateurScience says:

    I think ultimately, if they want to make the game multi platform (which I assume they do) their hands are a bit tied because of the interface limitations of consoles (and to a certain extent the habituation of exclusively console game players to a certain control paradigm). Ultimately if they want this to sell well across all platforms it’s kinda got to be an FPS (which I think was Alec’s point – it’s a sales rather than an artistic decision).

    And it is lamentable, I do wish the big publishers would be more amenable to smaller scale (i.e. not we’ve-run-out-of-superaltives-super-uber-mega-awesome-AAA) single platform/focused titles. most of their output seems to be ‘this is the game to end all games and it cost $100 000 000 to make and is yours for £40 plus another £30 in drip-fed DLC over the next 6 months’.

    Surely there is room for some highly polished well funded genre pieces out there? And a willing market for them?

    Re: the actual game. Whilst I am a little sceptical, I remain optimistic. I don’t think it would be impossible to capture the essence of Syndicate in a first person game (oddly calling it an FPS just makes me think of COD so I will not). It’s certainly been shown that just because something’s in the first person it has to be a brainless ‘splosionthon (I am patenting that word – hand off!).

  47. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    I’m looking forward to this with cautious optimism, partly due to being an enormous fan of cyberpunk games; System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Human Revolution (it’s actually become my favourite game ever since I played it), etc.

    Can’t one just give things a chance before breaking down in histrionics about abstract changes one’s never experienced the implementation of? I mean I could understand if everyone was upset that the game has become a linear and heavily gameplay-scripted collection of set-pieces and shoot outs or if there was a substantial amount of gameplay footage and hands-on accounts corroborating this but as it stands now, it certainly appears to be a lot of petulant whining that things aren’t how one envisions them to be.

    Now there’s even complaining about the phrasing of part of a justification of a decision no one here has actually experienced for themselves.

  48. Laurentius says:

    The answer is simple: console gaming killed strategies and space sims, if it has to be succes on consoles it can’t be neither, let’s rebrand as FPS.

  49. kyrieee says:

    I don’t doubt they will try to honor Syndicate, but there’s only so much you can do when executives have already decided which genre the game is to belong to. It’s Starbreeze trying their best with an impossible constraint. The people who decided that this game was going to be made also decided that it wasn’t going to honor the original, no effort on the developer’s part can make up for that. This is an FPS first, Syndicate second.

  50. HermitUK says:

    It’s a choice dictated by the consoles, at the end of the day. Why spend time trying to make a game similar to the original work with a gamepad, when it’s so much easier to make another shooter that’s much easier to sell to that crowd. Heck, this may be good, who knows. I’m just waiting on the inevitable Theme Hospital FPS.

    • Starky says:

      Syndicate wars for the Playstation 1 played pretty damn well.

    • Werthead says:

      Actually, I enjoyed playing Syndicate Wars on the PS1 more than on PC, where it never really gelled for me. But the PS1 version was a well-made and highly enjoyable port.