Back in 1993 Syndicate was a Isometric Shooter in which you controlled a team of cyborgs and navigated them around a small town/city-scape map to achieve various objectives all in the name of your corporate overlords. It was a fun game and I have really fond memories of Syndicate (and Syndicate Wars), I played both and loved them quite a bit as a kid so maybe I'm a little biased about this whole subject but if I had to pick a game from the nineties that deserves some sort of reboot Syndicate would definitely be near the top of my list.
Syndicate came at a time in the games industry when things were really starting to build, in the early nineties – about the time of the SNES and the Megadrive (Genesis), casual gaming was becoming more commonplace and you didn't necessarily need an army of people to make a AAA game like you do today. Things were simpler but also limited.
Syndicate's appeal was it's style and it's flow, it was a fast-paced real-time strategy game with action elements set in a dark futuristic world. Stylistically speaking Syndicate borrowed much from film and literature, creating a cyberpunk vision of the future in which ordinary people are simply helpless cash-producing sheep, tools for multinational corporations – ofcourse you could argue that that's pretty much what it's like in real-life today considering the power large companies have and syndicate wasn't really that much of an imaginative stretch – and you'd sort of be right, atleast to some extent, but syndicate did add something unique to the idea of corporate immorality: because the corporations in syndicate decided it'd be cool to fight their corporate battles with literal battles... with cyborgs... armed with miniguns... in the street.
But as silly as it may sound on casual examination once you do start playing the game really sucks you into the atmosphere, and you feel as though you're this shadow government controlling events from behind the scenes. Obviously Syndicate is relatively simple compared to the strategy games of today, in terms of the amount of data being flung at you at any one time - especially given that you eventually control the entire world - but in the end the strategy was mainly a mechanism by which to fling you into the action.
You would start on the world map, and select a target region/state, then move to the briefing and learn about your mission before moving to equip your team with hardware – from a range of advanced cybernetics and weapons. Then you'd deploy and have to work out exactly how you wanted to complete each level. Simple yet fun, and when you did finally conquer the world (after hours of minigunning people) it was really rather satisfying.
Syndicate's the sort of game that could benefit a lot from a remake today – afterall the two games (three if you count the expansion pack) revolved around thriving cities meant to contain thousands of individuals each with their own lives, jobs, families, priorities ...atleast in theory. Of course given the limitations of the technology the citizens would simply walk up and down the city and back and forth – and of course run away when you started shooting. They were simple to say the least, but imagine the potential a modern syndicate could have – obviously they couldn't have hundreds of unique individuals traipsing around the map but they could have something similar to what Syndicate Wars had.
Syndicate Wars carried on much like Syndicate, but included small 'scenes', parts of the game where characters were scripted to do certain things – at specific points in missions you could see gangs assemble, people 'talk' to each other, disagreements occur. Obviously at the time these were simple – characters would simply stand facing each other to imply they were talking, and there wasn't any visible dialogue but it's more the potential that's important.
If syndicate was remade you could have hundreds of randomly generated individuals on a map, with set-pieces, scripted events, small gatherings adding to the overall plot aswell as giving character and identity to each of the maps – each representing a different area of the world. With this you could develop a picture of the politics and culture at play in say the future Egypt, or Colombo, or London.
It wouldn't be perfect, even today there would still be limitations on the number of unique characters on-screen at any one time, but despite the drawbacks there would be the ability to craft a dark vision of the future in which gangs, factions, sects within each city have their own voice in the Corporate future of Syndicate – and each would play it's part not only in the events of the game but the narrative be drawn before your eyes. Agents could 'overhear' conversations, witness assassinations, spy on potential future operatives or sources of revenue, all of which could contribute to your ability to insidiously take power.
Another potential plus would be the inclusion of the rumoured First-Person Mode, in which you could use your agents as your vessel and experience the narrative first-hand – again this would add to the depth of the narrative and the experience, painting the dark, dystopian-future in even harsher colours.
Obviously there would be other advantages to a modern remake as retrospectively speaking Syndicate can feel quite simple in terms of depth of play: A range of weapons, each useful for different missions – sniper rifles for assassination missions, silenced pistols for stealth, shotguns for intense action; items with specific uses – say a radio-jammer to eliminate the chance of reinforcements in an assault missions or a 'City Administrator Identity Tag' to allow you to pass through areas without suspicion or inspection when trying to be stealthy; cybernetics with different uses – long legs for jumping, spindly legs for high agility, powerful legs to hold weapons and for armour, positive and negative effects of different implants on your agents abilities – possible addictions related to the use of different implants, aswell as the individual effects of implants on a specific agent's physiology.
Aswell as this though you could add levels of depth like levels of awareness for potential adversaries – 'Alert', 'Aware', 'Passive', much like in games like Metal Gear Solid security guards, soldiers, and other syndicate's agents could have a level of alertness based off reacting to events around them aswell as any intel their faction may have about the likelihood of any attack during the timespan of the mission. The player would have to choose between stealth and avoiding combat to reduce the likelihood of getting swamped by the enemy, OR choose to take on a running gun battle – OR, if they're clever find the loophole, perhaps using the radio-jammer from early to prevent those pesky reinforcements ever getting the message...?
In a sense remaking syndicate gives Developers the chance to create not just one city but dozens of thriving cities, each with their centres of power, culture, sectors of society, factions, landmarks, identity, wealth and resources – with each aspect playing a part in both the player's goal of conquering the world and the game's goal of drawing the player further into the narrative, and though I doubt it'll get the remake it deserves the potential Syndicate has is self-evident, even now.