MobyGames Classic: Syndicate

MobyGames.com Classic returns with Syndicate, the 1993 PC game by Bullfrog with a corporate-cyberpunk storyline, RPG elements, and frantic real-time combat.

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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.

Today we add 1993's classic RTS game, Syndicate, to our growing list of video game classics, presented by MobyGames.com.

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."

Tell Us Your Stories! We want to hear about your experiences with Syndicate. Tell us your stories. Why did you love it? What drove you crazy? Remember it fondly with us in the comments below. We'll select some of your thoughts and memories and add it to a Weekend Update to this feature.

Syndicate on MobyGames.com

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.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    February 8, 2012 11:00 AM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Moby Games Classic: Syndicate.

    MobyGames.com Classic returns with Syndicate, the 1993 PC game by Bullfrog with a corporate-cyberpunk storyline, RPG elements, and frantic real-time combat.

    • reply
      February 8, 2012 11:30 AM

      I loved the rocket launcher or Gauss gun. It was a game with a moral compass as sending a rocket down was met with screams and destruction. Powerful stuff for the time.

    • reply
      February 8, 2012 11:36 AM

      I remember I was involved in a tabletop Shadowrun game in 1994. The guy running it had picked up the Mac version of Syndicate and showed it to us before we started our game one afternoon.

      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. 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.

      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.