Given that EA is reselling the original game idea under a different guise, I'm going to provide you with the overview via a review of the original. This comes from Tim Tucker's review in Amiga Power magazine:
“It is the future. World government is in the hands of three hugely powerful multinational corporations, one in America, another in Europe and the third in the Far East. The European corporation develops a device known as the CHIP, which is inserted in the neck and stimulates the brain, offering the user an enhanced perception of the world far better than any drug. It also offers the corporation the chance to manipulate the public through auto-suggestion, and it soon becomes apparent that control of the CHIP means control of the people.”
When it first appeared in the early 1990s Syndicate was a third-person strategy-cum-resource management game on the Amiga and PC. I enjoyed its even-then old school, 'Cyberpunk' overtones. I enjoyed the fact that it took a stab at dealing with subject matter that appeared on the surface to be adult: Corporations the size of countries; Orwellian 'hegemonies'; Technocratic power grabs.
Back then it seemed that Bullfrog (owned by EA) was attempting to raise videogames up from childish things to grown-up things. It really wasn't. Let me shake you and the new game free from that nostalgia and pretension.
Corporations would inevitably make cyborgs and robots with which to enslave their consumers... for some reason: see Terminator and Blade Runner and Rossum's Universal Robots and Robert Asprin's The Cold Cash War.
“I did not originally set out to create a violent game, but having said that I did not want to pull any punches. Obviously it is violent... but there is nothing I would like to see more than ratings in computer games.”
The point back 'in the day' was that we had some really horribly violent game play that used a pretty neat dynamic that didn't crash a lot.
Now, however, nostalgia and the recent, cloying need of some game commentators for games to be 'Art' with concomitant 'Art History', mean that we have to see the first Syndicate as, well, sacred.
When it was all Trees
Here's the skinny from someone who was there: it wasn't. It was a good game. It was a good, fun, violent game. It holds fond memories. It was certainly a good way to take resource management, a flick of Cyberpunk and a smidge of classic Science Fiction and popularise them.
To provide an air of budget and possibly – god forbid 'Art' or 'Seriousness' – there are also cameo performances by real actors. Sure, they are phoned in performances of scripts plucked from the cabinet marked “Corporate Sci-Fi” not “Monstery Sc-Fi” but they are there.
This kind of cost saving strategy – rather than the expensive construction of uber-violent cyborgs who will inevitably develop a conscience - is the mark of a truly successful corporation. This is the kind of thing that increases shareholder value and takes profitability forward.
Back to the 2012 version of the game.
It's a bit dull. I mean, it's dull if you like FPSs. If you don't like FPSs it's excruciating no matter what narrative or acting you wrap it in.
Read More Like This
Shouldn't have been called Syndicate. It was a bad move. It means nothing to new comers and dissatisfies people who were there when it came about the first time.