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.
Shacknews user Sideways Bob recounts his first exposure to Syndicate during a pen-and-paper session of Shadowrun back in 1994, and notes how impressed he was by the level of interactive destruction that Syndicate afforded. "The GM was showing us the flame thrower and I remarked that it'd be cool if you could blow up a car with it," he states. "One happened to be driving by, so he took a shot at it and a moment later it exploded. The lot of us were NES/SNES guys, and used the fairly linear gameplay and many non-interactive environments, so this was something of a surprise to us."
He goes on to mention the PS1 spin-off Syndicate Wars, and his ongoing search for a PS1 mouse. "A few years later I had a PS1, saw Syndicate Wars for sale and, remembering that afternoon, bought it. It seemed to hit all the right notes, but the interface was just way too cumbersome for a gamepad. To this day I'm trying to find the PS1 mouse so I can play it properly."
Shacknews user prsgame also makes note of Syndicate's tone, which was refreshingly mature for its time. "I loved the rocket launcher or Gauss gun," he writes. "It was a game with a moral compass as sending a rocket down was met with screams and destruction. Powerful stuff for the time."
Check out the original Chatty thread for more stories and memories from Chrono Trigger.
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.