Syndicate garnered a lot of respect among gamers and critics alike when it was released in 1993, thanks to its blend of deep strategic choices and real-time tactical combat. Similar in many ways to X-Com: UFO Defense, players of Syndicate could customize their squads in an RPG-like fashion, using the money they earned on missions to upgrade their agents, tools, and equipment. Syndicate presented players a memorable world: a vision of a dark future, in which all-out corporate warfare was the norm.
Syndicate was quite impressive when it was released, providing players with a robust and immersive interface. "As a matter of fact," says Mobygames reviewer saladpuncher, "I have never seen another control system that makes you feel like you are IN the game as much as this one. Every action is controlled through a holographic computer aboard your luxurious corporate blimp high above the city," he explains. "This gives a logical reason to why the action is presented from a third person view from above. Selecting your team, arming them, setting up research options, paying for hints from informants, and taxing the local populous are all done though this virtual computer and it really makes you feel like you are using a state-of-the-art OS from Blade Runner or Neuromancer."
MobyGames reviewer phlux touches on the game's variety of different mission types, and how they keep the player engaged. "The missions are suspenseful and you really got many different tasks to master. Rescuing some professor, killing the other syndicate's agent teams or just gathering some innocent people as new recruits are just three of the diverse missions you can encounter," he explains. "The mission descriptions are always informative and sometimes even downright funny. With the huge arsenal of weapons and other stuff to research, you really have something to do even outside the combat action."
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In the future, the world is controlled by a handful of global corporations (syndicates). You are the Marketing director (hit man) for one of these companies. It is your job to take control away from the competitors. The job is not one of diplomacy, but one of brute force and physical control. Advance your way to the top of the corporation by successfully completing your missions and managing the money you make from your territories.
The gameplay is visually reminiscent of X-Com, with an angled top-down perspective, but it is real time rather than turn based. You have missions ranging from infiltrate and capture, to seek and destroy. In each of these you direct a team of four agents as they move through the world shooting at anything that gets in their way.
You can upgrade and modify your agents, as well as equip them with tools you have researched or liberated from opposing syndicates. As you complete missions, you gain more funds to use for purchasing agents or researching upgrades and equipment.
MobyGames Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.