Syndicate is an isometric real-time tactical and strategic game from Bullfrog Productions created in 1993, and released for a variety of platforms beginning with the PC and Commodore Amiga. It is the first title in the Syndicate series. Set in a dystopian future in which corporations have replaced governments, Syndicate puts the player in control of a corporation vying for global dominance. The game consists of a series of missions, in which the player controls a team of cybernetically modified agents attempting to take control of a particular country. The agents must frequently overcome local police forces and heavily armed agents from rival syndicates to achieve mission objectives, which range from assassinations to capture or rescue of personnel. Agent armaments, cybernetic modifications and behavioral attributes can be controlled by the player to make them more suited for particular tasks.
The player corporation makes money through taxes gathered from occupied territories, which can be used to research and purchase more potent weaponry and cybernetic modifications. The player controls the level of taxation, with excessive taxation bringing the risk of revolt, requiring a further mission to re-capture the territory.
The game was critically acclaimed upon release, with particular praise for the realistic presentation, writing and violence of the gameplay. It cemented Bullfrog's reputation following its early successes with the Populous series and Powermonger.
An expansion pack, Syndicate: American Revolt, a sequel, Syndicate Wars, and a reboot Syndicate have also been released. The original game and expansion pack were re-released together in 1996 as Syndicate Plus.
Gameplay of Syndicate involves ordering a one to four-person team of cyborg agents around cities displayed in a fixed-view isometric style, in pursuit of mission goals such as assassinating executives of a rival syndicate, rescuing captured allies, 'persuading' civilians and scientists to join the player's company or killing all enemy agents.
As the player progresses through the game, they must manage the research and development of new weaponry and cyborg upgrades. The player has limited funds, requiring taxation of the conquered territories. Over-taxed territories may revolt, resulting in the loss of that territory and requiring the replay of that mission. The player begins the game with pistols, progressing through increasingly destructive weaponry that includes Uzis, miniguns, flamethrowers, sniper rifles, time bombs, lasers and the destructive Gauss gun. In addition, the player can use items such as medikits to heal their agents, scanners to locate pedestrians/vehicles and the 'Persuadertron' to brainwash the player's targets into blind obedience.
The backstory of Syndicate is contained in the manual, instead of the game itself. As multinational corporations gained power and influence they came to exercise direct influence over the world's governments, eventually replacing them, controlling the lives of people through commerce. One such 'megacorp', named EuroCorp, invented the 'CHIP', a device inserted into the neck which alters a person's perception of the outside world, numbing their senses to the misery and squalor around them. It also opened the user to suggestion and manipulation by the megacorps. Before long the megacorps became corrupt crime Syndicates, fighting amongst each other for monopoly over CHIP manufacturing and control over populations.
The game puts the player in charge of a self-named corporation in a near-future cyberpunk-style world in the year 2096. The teams of up to four cyborg agents - who according to the game's intro cutscene, are ordinary civilians who have been captured, cybernetically enhanced and reprogrammed. The agents are used in a series of missions, which include assassinations, infiltration, theft and 'persuasion' (using a device called a Persuadertron to capture individuals of importance, or hordes of civilians, police and others to act as cannon fodder). New agents can also be Persuaded and added to your roster, to replace those who have been injured or killed. Losing all your agents results in a Game Over screen, as your corporation sets your control airship to self destruct and crash.
During the course of the game, the player establishes worldwide dominance with their established syndicate, one territory at a time, while engaging and eliminating rival syndicates (such as The Tao, Sphinx Inc., and The Castrilos) and putting down internal mutinies. The finale sees the squad eliminating wave upon wave of enemy agents on the Atlantic Accelerator research station: victory declares the dawn of a new Empire across the Earth.
How to play:
Click on the joystick icon in the Syndicate online emulator to see how to control the Syndicate game