Codex Gamicus

Syndicate is an isometric real-time tactical game from Bullfrog Productions created in 1993 by Sean Cooper. It is the first title in the Syndicate series. An expansion pack, Syndicate: American Revolt, and a sequel, Syndicate Wars, have also been released. The original game and expansion pack were re-released together in 1996 as Syndicate Plus.


The game puts the player in charge of a self-named corporation in a gritty near-future cyberpunk-style world. Game play involves ordering a 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 simply 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 only limited funds, requiring taxation of the conquered territories while ensuring that they are not so over-taxed that they revolt against the player. The player begins the game with simple pistols, progressing through increasingly destructive weaponry that includes Uzis, miniguns, flamethrowers, sniper rifles, time bombs, lasers and the enormously destructive Gauss gun (a rocket launcher). In addition, the player can use items such as medikits to heal his agents, scanners to locate pedestrians/vehicles and the "Persuadertron" to brainwash the player's targets into blind obedience.


Syndicate was critically acclaimed on its launch, though its graphic violence provoked some controversy; as COMPUTE! noted, "This isn't a game to use as a morality lesson for the kids — it's bloody, it requires you to be ruthless, and some people may take issue with the use of drugs to control your agents. But it's a ball to play."[1]


The game first appeared in 1993 on the Commodore Amiga and PC (MS-DOS) and was subsequently ported across to a wide variety of other formats. The DOS versions was unique in that it did not use 320x240 256 color mode, but instead went for higher resolution with only 16 colors. The higher resolution permitted finer detail in the graphics and allowed for the illusion that more than 16 colors were used by means of dithering. Similar graphics and same levels design were used in Macintosh, 3DO, Atari Jaguar and Acorn RiscPC ports.

A separate version was made for the simpler, 16-bit consoles, as the hardware couldn't support the complexity of the original game. It contained completely new level design and different graphics, and was released for Sega Mega Drive and SNES. Later, it was released on the PlayStation Portable as part of EA Replay, a compilation of retro games released in the United States on November 7, 2006; this version is really the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version and is executed on PSP by an emulator.[2]

Future sequels[]

In a 2006 interview at the Leipzig Games Convention for GameSpot, Peter Molyneux said that he would like to revisit some of his old efforts, but adds that it is very unlikely that will happen. But Molyneux makes one possible exception: "Aside from the licensing complications, some sort of next-gen online version of Syndicate would certainly be popular with gamers."[3]

There are rumours,[4] as of October 18, 2008, that Starbreeze will be resurrecting one of EA's "classic franchises" - Syndicate. This rumor is further confirmed, as of March 31, 2009, by[5]


  1. Compute!, November 1993, page 130.
  2. Die Google Ranking (2006-10-16). EA Replay Preview. Retrieved on 2008-11-30
  3. Boxer, Steve (2006-08-15). Xbox News: Molyneux talks game design and next-gen. Retrieved on 2008-11-30
  4. Robinson, Andy (2008-10-17). News: EA at work on new Syndicate. Retrieved on 2008-11-30
  5. Martin, Matt (2009-03-31). Starbreeze working on new Syndicate title for EA. Retrieved on 2009-03-31

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