The plague is coming. Loved strategy games turned into shooters. Yuck.. yet another case of elephant in the room, dear friends. You will soon see why.
Strategy game lovers fondly remember Syndicate (1993) and Syndicate Wars (1996), the DOS action strategy-games that were presented with plenty of blood and violence. For those desiring a more in-depth blast to the past, you need only click here. In the original Syndicate franchise, your task, should you choose to accept it, is to use your Syndicate to gain control of the world. In today’s world where video game manuals are a second thought (if they are to be included at all), the manual for Syndicate was designed to pull you into its universe from the get-go: “Syndicate Wars’ standard manual addresses the player as a newly-hired Executive. The entire manual was designed to pull the player into the story and atmosphere as much as possible. Notable features of both games are the use of context-sensitive background music which changes to suit the mood of the on-screen action, and a high degree of interactivity, in that many objects in the first game and nearly every object in the second game can be destroyed.” (Source: wiki)
What a beloved franchise. If EA were to revive the franchise back, surely that would result in modern strategy gaming bliss all over again! WRONG. EA is bringing the franchise back, but the revived corpse is a horrific mutation of what it once was.
“Our goal with Syndicate is to provide a challenging action shooter for today’s gamers as well as fans of the original. I’m sure they will enjoy and recognize the legacy that made it such a classic,” says Jeff Gamon, EA Partners Executive Producer. Fans of a strategy game will immediately recognize and enjoy a shooting game. That makes perfect sense. I see absolutely zero flaws in that logic. Hold on, brb, lemme make a romance dating game out of Crysis and dub it Crysis: Maximum Thrust. Surely all Crysis fans will want to jump on board! …sigh.. I really don’t get EA sometimes. Anyway, since our industry has an OCD of trends, this is nothing new, as Warhammer 40k was recently turned into a shooter as well. It received glowing reviews, actually. So the mutation could work. That’s not the problem.
The problem is the reasoning behind all this. Arstechnica asked Michael Pachter if the revival of the corpse is a) going to actually be well received and/or b) worth the potential backlash: “It’s a great question,” Michael Pachter, Managing Director, Equity Research at Wedbush Securities told Ars. “I don’t think that the name means all that much to the masses who buy Call of Duty, and if Starbreeze does a Riddick-like job, the game should go over well with the hardcore. I think this is sort of like what we’ve seen with Fallout, and the upcoming XCOM—familiar brands spun differently. I’m not sure that Syndicate is all that familiar to most (nor is XCOM), but there is something about nostalgia that sells. I think that strategy games will always have limited appeal, and as Call of Duty has proven, shooter games are the rage right now.”
Let’s hit the brakes and back up a bit, shall we? Strategy games have limited appeal? Since when? Based on what data? It’s like Pachter has his back turned to Starcraft II, the elephant in the room. Now there’s at least one strategy game (and let’s not forget DoTa, LoL, all the Worms derivatives, AoE, just to name a few) that has seen worldwide appeal. Shooter games are popular in the west. Worldwide? Not so much, least of all in the east. It is ironic that some popular shooters should be changed into strategy games for worldwide appeal. Why is it ironic? Publishers in the west seem to think otherwise.