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Video Game: Syndicate

Syndicate is an Action / Strategy hybrid developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in 1993 for the Amiga and IBM PC. An RPG / FPS reboot was made in 2012 by Starbreeze Studios and Electronic Arts.

A short description for this game could be: World domination simulation.

For its time, Syndicate had impressive graphics, environments, AI, and gameplay freedom. It is notable as an early example of a video game Villain Protagonist, and its portrayal of evil acts while totally lacking karmic or moral punishments. It is now available at GOG.com if you still have yet to pick it up.

Setting:

In a dystopian future, the world is controlled by powerful syndicates ruling it through the police and military. The vast majority of the population just takes it because they spend much of their time on the cybernetic equivalent of happy pills. You take the role of the evil overlord of one of these syndicates and control a team of cyborg killing machines, or as you call them agents, that follow your every command in a quest to achieve complete world dominance.

Gameplay:

This can be separated into two parts. The first is the world view where you plan out your nefarious schemes. Here you outfit your team, allocate resources to research to get better equipment, acquire intelligence, and choose the next territory to take over. Taking over a territory means performing a mission.

The second part is the tactical view where you actually do the mission by controlling your team of up to 4 agents. The tactical view sports an isometric view and some pretty impressive (for the time) environments: cities, army bases, secret research facilities etc. that are convincingly "alive", busy streets have people and cars going about their business, trains that can be ridden, cars that can be driven, army bases have drilling soldiers and so on. These environments also react convincingly to your actions with civilians running away from your agents when they draw their weapons, police trying to stop them, and Stuff Blowing Up when they shoot it.

Your agents can carry quite a lot of equipment like miniguns, uzis, med-kits, rocket launchers, but the most exotic piece of equipment is the Persuadertron. This device allows you to brainwash civilians and enemies into helping you, if they have (or get) a gun they'll even shoot at your enemies.

But if you think you can go around just persuading people you are wrong. This! Is! Syndicate! And it is impossible to finish the game without killing, mayhem, and ruthless disregard for property!

Still the game lets you have quite a lot of freedom in how you actually accomplish your missions, for example if your mission is to assassinate someone you can:

Expansion and Sequel:

The game was followed by an expansion pack, American Revolt. Now ruling the world, Eurocorp has lost control of the Western Hemisphere, and a series of rather difficult missions are needed to subdue it.

In the sequel, Syndicate Wars, the Syndicate has been managing the world for some undisclosed time, until an experimental mind-expanding program goes wrong. The scientists running it Go Mad from the Revelation, becoming "The Nine", heading the Church of the New Epoch. They spread a "Harbinger" Computer Virus that destroys the globe-running UTOPIA network and the chips in people's heads as the start of their Evil Plan, which you must either thwart or advance. Also available at GOG.

2012 Series Reboot

A reboot of the series was released in February 2012 but unlike its predecessors, the new Syndicate game is an action RPG / FPS hybrid written by Richard K. Morgan. You play as Miles Kilo, a new Agent under Eurocorp implanted with a prototype DART chip which grants him cutting-edge hacking abilities. The game is linear with Kilo a silent protagonist and most of the story coming through cut-scenes or the environment.

A four-player co-op mode is also included, where you play as one of four Agents under upstart rival syndicate Wulf Western going against other syndicates, including Eurocorp. A demo for co-op was released 1 February 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3, showcasing the Western Europe level.

The most commonly referenced game element is "breaching" - real-time hacking of not only your environment, but also your enemies. The Persuadertron has been subsumed under this function, along with the ability to make enemies "Suicide" by holding a grenade or making their weapons explode through "Backfires". Everything Is Online, and the adrenaline surge of killing mooks translates into processing cycles, and thus more "breaches".

Spiritual Successor

A Spiritual Successor from some of the original crew called Satellite Reign has been funded via Kickstarter and is currently in development.


    open/close all folders 

     Syndicate (Original series) 
  • 0% Approval Rating: What you can end up with if you over-tax your territories. It is possible to abuse this mechanic horribly by deliberately making territories rebel, allowing you to garner extra cash or replacement agents by repeating the easier missions.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: In American Revolt, clone shields make you look like regular civilians. Enemy agents see right through them.
  • Artificial Limbs: Legs and arms made from metal, plastisteel, or cybermesh.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Invoked or averted at the player's discretion. Your agents' "chips" suppress their free will when you're giving them orders, but when left to their own devices (eg on guard while the rest of the team pushes forward, or while you micromanage another agent) their level of independence is determined by their IPA injectors.
  • Badass Longcoat: With a ludicrous arsenal of weapons beneath it.
  • BFG: Let's start with the Minigun, and go from there. Syndicate also gives you a "Gauss Gun" rocket launcher and a laser, but it goes nuts in Syndicate Wars. Graviton Gun, anyone?
  • Bigger Bad: Though the Player Character is responsible for spreading the corporation's influence all over the world, he's just middle management in the grand scheme of things and has to answer to at least one higher-up.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Have fun watching your agents and a whole crowd of Persuaded personnel disappear into a car. Or, even better, watch them all pile out at the other end and start shooting. Probably the ultimate Zerg Rush.
  • Black Comedy: The manual is full of it, especially in the Shout-Out-laden "Rival Syndicates" chapter. Loads of things within the missions themselves can come off as Bloody Hilarious.
  • Blown Across the Room: Almost all hits cause the target to skid backwards.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Wars has these. Handwaved by each agent having a miniature fusion reactor strapped to them to power weapons.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: One mission in Wars has you control a single agent who has been retired for several decades. He's sent in because his cybernetics are considered antiquated, but allow him to survive independantly since the crash of the UTOPIA system.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: One more thing you can do with brainwashed civilians.
  • Bystander Syndrome: If your agent is equipped with an ID card, police will react like this no matter what atrocities you are orchestrating.
  • Church Militant: The Church of The New Epoch in Wars. They call their agents "acolytes" and you "disciple."
  • Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: The player avatar, pretty much whenever we see him. Except when you fail a mission.
  • Cool Airship: The command centre of choice for the discerning executive.
  • Corporate Warfare
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: That's you, instructing your agents to gun down people EuroCorp finds inconvenient. Maybe your department is Murders And Executions.
  • Crapsack World: Your average dark, polluted, cyberpunk future, with the chance of being gunned down in the street during corporate takeovers.
  • Cyanide Pill: According to the flavor text, an executive who fails to serve his affiliated corporation adequately one too many times is required to swallow one, or else he'll become a marked target.
  • Deflector Shields: A researchable item.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Justified in that civilians have perception-altering chips in their heads, and police have to show some respect for the law by not shooting until weapons are drawn.
  • Dummied Out: Syndicate Wars contained ten levels for the Unguided, but their campaign was not implemented due to time constraints. The missions included with the game can still be accessed via command line parameters.
  • Emergency Weapon: Every agent comes equipped with a single pistol, which is fine for flesh and blood targets - enemy agents, not so much.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: Enemy agents, police and mission objectives show up against the crowd on the minimap.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: The best (read: only) way to replace lost agents is to Persuade enemy ones.
  • Enemy Mine: All the other syndicates team up against the player for the Atlantic Accelerator mission, resulting in a Nintendo Hard final battle. In the expansion, it's even more difficult since your agents are generally in fixed positions, and have to survive airstrikes.
  • Escort Mission: A few in Syndicate Wars. Most notably Eurocorp have a mission to rescue and evacuate top scientist Drennan, then another mission to escort him through a hostile neighbourhood.
  • Evil Brit: According to Wars, Eurocorp is based in London. The agent in the intro movie speaks in RP.
  • Evil Redhead: The Eurocorp operatives who abduct a new agent in the intro movie, the agent himself, and the two guys who stand beside the executive in another cutscene ALL have red hair.
    • Also, the agents you see in the game are either this, blonde or blue.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The first game is a battle between corrupt Mega Corps trying to take over the world. In the sequel the two main factions are the totalitarian government and a group of religious fanatics determined to brainwash enough people and then kill everyone else.
  • The Faceless: The player avatar, who is visible in some cutscenes but is always obscured by shadow.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The "CHIP"
    • Also the new agent in the intro movie - "Subject code: B.O.B" (which is also a Shout-Out to an earlier draft of the game, which featured a Blue and Orange Bloke, or BOB for short)
    • And the UTOPIA network from Wars
  • Friendly Fireproof: Applies only to agents from the same company. Agents from two different companies (identified by a different colored beret) can still injure each other even if they're technically allied.
  • From Bad to Worse: Three global Mega Corps become so rich they can influence world governments, then develop the "CHIP" to increase their control over the population. Then The Syndicate starts bribing and murdering its way into the corporate board-rooms.
  • Gaia's Lament: The syndicates cause such an extreme level of environmental damage that ocean water is now pitch black. This is such a problem that even the syndicates have no choice but to recognize it, and so they build the Atlantic Accelerator in an attempt to reverse at least some of the damage.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the intro to Syndicate, someone is abducted from the street to be made into an agent, but in-game you can only recruit enemy agents turned by the Persuadatron.
    • You can only have four agents on a mission while rival factions have many dozens.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Agents, if the cover art is anything to go by. Probably implants.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Any battle that takes place inside a building. Alternatively, depending on player sentiment, it may be an Offscreen Moment of Awesome instead.
  • Healing Factor: Your agents can slowly regenerate health thanks to their "artificially boosted healing indices".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Using the Graviton Gun on the Orbital Station is a good way to fail it, as every enemy carries a High Explosive, which detonates upon their death unless disarmed.
  • Hollywood Cyborg
  • Holographic Terminal: The menus are designed to give this impression. Your character is shown to use this in cutscenes.
  • Honour Before Reason: Police will not challenge your rather conspicuous agents unless they've actually drawn a weapon.
  • Human Popsicle: When not out killing things, your agents reside in the "cryo chamber".
  • Human Resources: You're paid a bonus for civilians, police, and other non-Agents who remain Persuaded after the end of the mission, implying that your Syndicate has some sort of use for them. Perhaps it's for the better that you're never let in on what happens to them afterward.
  • Humans Are White: No matter if your mission leads you to Africa, South America, or wherever, the civilians always appear to be Caucasian.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Your agents can pack eight miniguns without spoiling the line of their coat. For Syndicate Wars, you carry one of each gun and generate ammo internally, but still pack a truckload of BFGs and other gear. The Cerberus IFF auto-sentinel appears to be about the size of a man.
  • Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: In the intro for Syndicate Wars two agents start laying down More Dakka with their miniguns in order to take out the Unguided man who has just dropped off the UTOPIA network. Only one round manages to hit him in the shoulder, dropping him to the ground. Furthermore, one of the agents turns around and activates a computer targeting system on his minigun in order to take him out at point blank range.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Energy Shield prevents your soldiers from being hit by bullets. If you have five shields, you can remain indefinitely immune. It doesn't work so well when the enemy uses flamers, gauss guns, or other non-bullet attacks. Most enemies use bullets, rendering you invulnerable in most situations. Even if they could grab a shield-piercing weapon on the ground, they'll still try Shooting Superman with their ineffective minigun.
  • Kill It With Flamethrowers
  • Lightning Bruiser: Agents in both the original and remake.
  • Lightning Gun: The Electron Mace from Wars. The reboot brings it back.
  • Look Both Ways: Subverted for the most part, as most civilian cars will slow down and stop if your agents walk out in front of them. The sole exception is your own agents, who will cheerfully run over anything that gets in their way. Including allies.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: A form of this for the citizenry, who set the chips in their heads to see something more pleasant than reality. The intro movie for Syndicate Wars shows someone walking down a village street with the local bobbie waving to him, just as the Church's virus crashes the chip; the policeman becomes an armed riot cop, and the village turns into a dark Blade Runner-esque city.
  • Made of Iron: Shotgun? 'Tis but a scratch. Your agents are badass cyborg Super Soldiers.
  • Man on Fire: Screaming and running, before expiring in a patch of dust. Charming.
  • Mega Corp.: A series of them, with overt plans to conquer the world and the ability to manage it, fielding their own armed forces. Yours is canonically named EuroCorp.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Partially averted in Syndicate Wars. While the Unguided and the Church of the New Epoch include plenty of female troops, Eurocorp agents and guards, as well as the Police, are universally male, barring one or two renegade female Eurocorp agents.
  • Mind-Control Device: The Persuadertron makes civilians follow you like sheep, and pick up weapons to join the fight. With enough civilians, you can turn the police or even enemy agents (used to refill the stock of agents you may have lost during previous missions.) This is one of the few weapons that doesn't alert the police, and with a large enough group, makes most missions easier.
    • Also, the modified chips that allow you to order your agents around within missions are basically this. Why yes, this does make you the player Obviously Evil.
      • In the Reboot, mind chips are as common as cellular phones - anyone with the right chips and programs can "breach" another person's chip and jam its connection to their weapons, make them attack their allies, or even shoot themselves in the head. One of the few people with this capability is the Player Character and co-op characters.
  • Mission Control: That's the role that the player assumes in the game. You budget the mission, arm the agents, issue their orders, and control their injections on the fly.
  • More Dakka: Missions can feature more than 20 mini-guns being fired simultaneously.
  • Musical Spoiler: Indicates an enemy cyborg in the vicinity.
  • Nano Machines: The justification for the instant effect of the med-kit.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: That's you. You simply monitor the situation from above while your agents do all the heavy lifting.
  • Non-Entity General: You're a man at a Holographic Terminal controlling your agents from an airship. That's all we know.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Nine.
  • One-Man Army: Agents in both the originals and remake.
  • Out of the Inferno: Being quite literally Made of Iron, it's not really surprising that agents can pull this one off. Don't try to walk through a fire with a group of Persuaded civilians in tow, though.
  • Police Are Useless: Mostly because they're comprehensively outgunned by cyborg super soldiers wielding huge guns from fairly early on.
  • Product Placement: The sequel had animated advertisements for Ghost in the Shell and Judge Dredd on several advertising boards in-game, as well as at the drive-in movie theatre.
  • Rasputinian Death: It's possible to shoot people and have the impact push them into the path of oncoming traffic, or a train. This is really annoying if it happens to one of your agents.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The world is divided up into somewhat arbitrary regions, gobbled up by the major players as you progress.
  • Shout-Out: Many of the agents are named after members of the design team (special agents Edgar, Jones, Donkin, and Mumford, among others)
    • In Syndicate Wars, upgrading an agent with a complete set of cybernetics (particularly level 1) will have them resemble The Terminator.
  • SNK Boss: Most of this game runs the gamut from easy-ish to hard-ish. Then you get the infamous final mission, the Atlantic Accelerator; without a precision setup, you're lucky to last five seconds.
  • The Syndicate: Obviously.
  • There Are No Good Executives
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: You can use an anti-tank laser to vaporize people, or if you don't want to shoot anything you can run people over with an APC.
  • The Wiki Rule: Overall wiki.
  • Three-Quarters View: Justified in that the viewpoint of the game is literally meant to be what you're seeing from the vantage point of your airship.
  • Throw Away Guns: You can't reload weapons in-mission. If you run out of ammo, you'll switch to a different weapon.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Be honest, this is what the flame-thrower is there for. Slightly more subtly, let's round up a huge crowd of civilians and lead them on to the railway tracks! Syndicate Wars gives you more options: throw "psycho gas" into crowds and see them go nuts, or tool up with nuclear grenades and knock down buildings!
  • Villainous Breakdown: Upon hearing that a mission has failed, the player avatar emits a Big "NO!", grabs a nearby lamp and throws it through his Holographic Terminal.
  • Villain Protagonist: Vast Mega Corp. uses cyborg agents and More Dakka to Take Over the World. You're in the Corporation. You have a person knocked down in the street to be press-ganged as an agent, and that's just the intro movie.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Facilitated by mind-controlling "chips".
  • We Can Rebuild Him: In the intro movie. You broke our new agent's leg by running him over when you kidnapped him off the street? No worries, we'll just slap on a cybernetic replacement and send him out there!
  • Window Pain: Stray bullets and explosion overpressure will shatter building windows, which has no in-game effect but looks cool.
  • A Winner Is You: Maybe they've improved, but Bullfrog weren't much cop at game endings. The end game animation is the exact same animated victory screen you see after beating every other level: a celebration in a city with your airship displaying the increasingly out-of-place message "Welcome To The Dawning Of A New Empire." It is then proceeded by a credit roll.
  • You Have Failed Me: If you lose all your agents, someone higher up in the company sets off a bomb on your airship.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Despite being set in a cyberpunk future, and your syndicate fielding cyborg Super Soldiers managed by mind control chips from a Holographic Terminal, your armoury only consists of pistols until the R&D department re-invents Uzis, shotguns, flamethrowers and the like.
    • Of course, it may be that the weapons do already exist, and "R&D" is a euphemism for the guys who go out and find you the appropriate arms dealers.
  • You Nuke 'Em: The "Cataclysm" nuclear grenade in Syndicate Wars, which will knock down buildings.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: You operate from an airship with huge advertising screens on the sides.

    Syndicate (2012) 
  • Action Girl: Lily Drawl.
  • Air Vent Escape: Miles uses this a few times during the game.
  • All There in the Manual: There are a lot of background conversations and collectibles that help with worldbuilding.
  • Always Someone Better: Eurocorp is this to Wulf Western. Many of the Wulf Western equipment tooltips describe them as imperfect replications of Eurocorp stuff.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There are checkpoints during Agent Tatsuo's boss fight. Also, in the fight with Agent Tatsuo, there will be drones flying about that dispense guns when you Breach them, just in case you run out of ammo. On La Ballena, there's a part where you have to shoot down drones with the Swarm missile launcher, which has many ammo stock-up points for when you run out.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Secondary Fire of the Kusanagi assault rifle can penetrate shields and light cover. The Kusanagi sniper rifle can do the same in both fire modes. The Minigun is powerful enough that it cuts right through the Deflector Shields of liquid armour trooper without needing to Breach first.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Sergeants are Elite Mooks, the Lieutenants may be minibosses and the Colonel in co-op demo is a boss. The "end boss" for co-op, found in New England, is a General; he's basically an Agent armed with a minigun and backed up by 3 other Agents.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The COIL laser. It's a laser so it's awesome by default, but the primary fire only hurts a little more than an assault rifle; the secondary fire is absolutely devastating, but eats ammo so fast every clip only has four uses, and you usually only get two clips total. It does, however, not have any recoil at all, which is significantly better than any bullet rifle if you haven't bought the recoil suppression upgrade.
  • BFG: The gatling fires 30mm rounds and has Bottomless Magazines. It's so powerful that it can go through otherwise-Immune to Bullets Deflector Shields.
  • Badass Longcoat: All Syndicate Agents wear one. A collectible text message reveals they're actually advanced body armor embedded with a number of electronic combat systems, and are incredibly expensive (as mentioned by an armory supervisor chewing out a subordinate suspected of stealing one to take pictures of himself wearing it).
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Kris Delaney of the Subverters.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: At several scripted points, you get prompted to charge through weak walls and obstacles.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The way in which Jack Denham in the final mission chooses to die, by throwing himself in a gap in his damaged tower to the ground far below. Also counts for Logos, though his is more of a Taking You with Me kind.
  • Blatant Lies: After getting to the front of the train, Merit tells the controller's cabin that he's Aspari security and has dealt with the situation. The guillible guard opens the door and promptly takes a bullet to the face.
  • Bling Bling Bang: A preorder bonus for the co-op.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Miles is implied to have done a first person version of this trope after taking a nasty spill at the beginning of the Subverter levels.
  • Breaking the Bonds: You do this at the start.
    • You also do this once again near the end of the game when you rescue Lily and begin the assault on Eurocorp.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The minigun has this, with no attempt whatsoever to justify it.
  • Bullet Time: One of the primary effects of the DART Overlay ability is this. It's pretty much mandatory to survive the game, especially in the insane boss fights.
  • But Not Too Evil: Inverted. Reviewers called out Starbreeze for throwing in a Heel-Face Turn instead of letting you fully embrace the Villain Protagonist role of the originals.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Agent Tatsuo's surname is Hamilton.
  • But Thou Must: About 3/4ths of the way through the game, Miles Kilo is ordered to kill Lily Drawl, who is secretly working against EuroCorp for the Resistance. This results in a quicktime event which ends with Kilo putting a gun to Lily's head, with a button prompt appearing to pull the trigger. The player can ignore the prompt and after several seconds Miles will lower the gun, the Syndicate will freak out, and Lily will be impressed that Kilo still has some humanity in him. If you chose to press the button prompt to blow Lily's brains out, an override she put in Kilo's chip will prevent him from pulling the trigger, and she'll kick his ass. Ultimately, both actions have the exact same outcome (Lily survives, Kilo passes out, and Merit shows up to capture both Lily and Kilo). Later, at the end of the game an almost identical situation arises with the player being given a quicktime prompt to execute Agent Merit. This time, there is no alternative option. You have to kill him (even though he's apparently gone comatose) in order to progress to the ending.
  • Call Back: The Leonardo Device, now called Vitruvian Machine, returns in this game. No, it doesn't cut your legs off.
  • Call Forward: The reboot's co-op levels to the original.
  • City on the Water: The Caymen Global syndicate have La Ballena, a large city floating out in the Atlantic ocean. When one of their agents kidnaps Lily Drawl agent Kilo follows them back to it to retrieve her.
  • Combat Medic: One of the co-op only Breaches is the ability to heal your teammates. It turns out to have been stolen from Eurocorp; like the co-op characters, Merit and the Twins can do this. To win that boss fight, you have to temporarily disable Merit, run down the health of a Twin, then do a melee execution.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Only shooting people is so passe. Blow up their weapons in their hands! Make them kill themselves or turn on their allies! Hack the environment to use it against them, like making a fuel line leak and ignite, or turning a sentry gun! See and shoot through or around cover!
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: All Agents are immune to your normal Breach applications, although some may have specific Breach-able functions that are essential to defeating them.
  • Cool Bike: The Aspari syndicate has flying jet bikes.
  • Crapsack World: Just like the original. If you're working for a Syndicate, your life is good, but you have a chip that allows the Syndicate to keep track of you at all times. If you're not part of the Syndicate, your life sucks, as you live in squallor, don't have access to sufficient food, and your only potential saviors are terrorists that consider you expendable at best. And even if you work for a Syndicate, you're eminently replaceable unless you offer something unique, in which case, you're considered an asset and treated as property.
  • Cyberpunk is Dubstep: The 2012 remake's soundtrack features songs by Skrillex.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: The control scheme has enough similarities to fellow published-by-EA Crysis 2, including the press crouch while sprinting to slide and automatic ledgegrabbing, that you might be confused when it isn't. L2/LB is Breach, not Maximum Armour; R2/RB is DART Overlay rather than Cloak. The real kicker, though, is when you double-tap Y/Triangle to get your 'nades out and wonder why they don't show up. It's hold Y/Triangle here.
  • Dark Action Girl: The female agents. (Only 2 appear in the main game, but the multiplayer features a few more, some of which are rival agents.)
  • Dashing Hispanic: Agent Ramon of Cayman Global.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Unusual and innovative lobbying techniques" are used to describe a multiple murder and putting of people into comas.
  • Deflector Shields: Enemy UAVs, all 3 variants of Syndicate Elite Mooks, and the final boss(es) all have these. You need to breach them before you can even harm the shielded enemy. A regenerating player version is available as a purchaseable upgrade; it functions similar to the shield from Halo and various other similar shooters.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Application of "datascape camouflage" allows you to walk around secure places without anyone batting an eye at the sinister masked man in the black coatnote . Naturally, it fails at the worst possible times. When you infiltrate Cayman Global, it doesn't last even three minutes.
  • Doom Troops: Almost all the mooks, but especially the Elite Mooks.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: Done by the Agent Tatsuo.
  • Driven to Suicide: How a few characters react to being left at the player's mercy. The suicide breach also lets the agents force other people to do this by hacking them.
  • Dual Boss: The first phase of the final boss fight has you fighting a pair of twin EuroCorp Agents, while Merit harrasses you with minigun fire from an inaccessible higher ledge.
  • Dynamic Entry: Agent Tatsuo makes his appearance teleporting in and giving Miles a Boot to the Head. Agent Ramon shows up by jumping in and doing the same after you first open a door to a seemingly empty corridor. There are also several opportunities for Miles himself to do this.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: The levels are noticeably more challenging than most other FPS games, but are manageable once you get the hang of the gameplay mechanics. However, most of the bosses are completely insane, even on the "Normal" difficulty setting. The final boss in particular is on par with the likes of General RAAM in terms of player frustration.
  • Elite Mooks: Cayman Global's liquid soldiers and the active camouflage-wearing Subverter Specters would both count. Cayman Global's reactive soldiers and EuroCorp's electro-armor soldiers, with their multiple layers of shielding to be Breached and heavy firepower, are outright Boss in Mook Clothing or mini-bosses.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The infobank.
  • Eye Scream: One of the chip extractions is done via a stab in the eye.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Eurocorp and Aspari. They fight against one another, but both of them show callous disregard for the lives of their customers and personnel. This is also implied to be the case with the other corporations. The Downzone Subverters are Bomb-Throwing Anarchists and little better than the corps. One conversation you can listen in on has someone say that the Subverters haven't done anything to improve the lives of the average Downzoner, while the syndicates at least kept things clean.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Entire Euro Corp including Denham and Merit if you count Euro Corp as evil.
  • The Faceless: You. NOT. After you defeat Merit. Though you are still wearing a mask over the lower half of your face.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several conversations and text collectibles setting up the Church of the New Epoch (the antagonists of Syndicate Wars) as potential villains in a sequel.
    • The infobank entry on riot shields mentions a Eurocorp memo to switch to liquid polymer defences, foreshadowing the liquid armour troopers and later liquid shields.
  • Fragile Speedster: According to his infobank entry, Agent Tatsuo's augmentations are focused on speed at the expense of defence and regeneration. By normal human standards he's still a Lightning Bruiser who can take enough damage to kill a platoon.
    • Kilo counts as well, by Agent standards. He can't take very much damage, but he's actually capable of running faster than every agent he fights (except for Flash Step moves and the like).
  • Gatling Good: the few times you get to use the Minigun, you become a walking engine of death.
  • Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke: Eurocorp and Aspari use gene splicing in their Agents. Agent Crane's accelerated Healing Factor comes from this.
  • Grenade Launcher: The TAR-39 has an underslung single-shot tube.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: An infobank entry mentions an Agent throwing a suspect off a tall building. This trope comes in when the entry mentions that the body just missed a secretary and would have hit her had it been thrown a few seconds earlier.
  • Groin Attack: One of the melee attacks.
  • Guttural Growler: Agent Merit.
  • Hand Cannon: All the handguns, but especially the Bullhammer Mk II, a revolver firing .600. One upgrade option for that is the Magnetic Acceleration Rail, which gives it an impact profile, to directly quote the fluff, "such that it's often mistaken for cannon or explosive blasts in police investigations."
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The CIA weren't quite heroes in the first place, but they were one of the last holdouts of governmental force against the syndicates. However, with funding at critical levels, they turned into the Independent Intelligence Agency, which is itself a syndicate. The infobank entry directly mentions becoming the monster they used to fight.
  • Healing Factor: This is Agent Crane's power. If you don't drain a "block" of his health fast enough, it'll regenerate. There are three blocks to empty.
  • Heroic BSOD: Miles Kilo has one just after the final boss fight, immediately after beating Merit to death with his bare fists. It's noticeable because Miles is otherwise an ice-cold S.O.B., as revealed by his thought comments on the level select screen.
  • Heroic Mime: Miles Kilo, to underline his lack of agency. The co-op characters, by contrast, are very chatty, and will even celebrate their kills.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: This game has Scolar Visari, The Prophet of Truth, and Rosario Dawson as the 3 main characters. Also, Kath Soucie voices your CHIP. Not her first time playing a computer either.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: To defeat Agent Ramon, you must Breach his missiles and turn them against him. He keeps firing them despite having an assault rifle that you can't turn against him, and no weapon of your own.
  • Hot Scientist: Lily Drawl. Agent Merit will actually wonder aloud if Miles just agreed to test the prototype DART chip to have a chance to let her examine him.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted where the game makes you conform to the now-standard two gun setup.
  • Heel-Face Turn: YOU after you have a flashback of your memory and Lily Drawl, depends if you count Euro Corp as evil side.
  • Hufflepuff House: Other syndicates like the Castrilos, IIA and Tao are mentioned, but never seen onscreen.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: An obvious case with Rosario Dawson, Brian Cox and Michael Wincott.
  • In the Hood: Subverters wear hoodies.
  • In The Style Of: At the very end of the credits, you get to hear a all-too-short jazz take on the theme.
  • Interface Screw: When you're in the AOE of a jammer, your HUD turns fuzzy until you get out or remove the offending source. If you get hit by EMP, the HUD disappears entirely for a short while. When Jack Denham tries to shut your CHIP down at the end, your HUD also goes haywire.
  • Internet Backlash: Hoo boy. As soon as the announcement video for the reboot came out, many people complained that the game was: A) going to be a bad remake of a good game, B) just going to be another generic FPS because the devs wouldn't use the isometric style from the previous games, and C) a copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Present for some mooks, but neither Miles nor the co-op characters have one.
  • Ironic Echo: Jack Denham remarks that it's "such a shame" when telling Miles that Lily may have to be liquidated. At the end of the game, he says the exact same thing just before killing himself to avoid being killed by Miles.
  • It's Up to You: You only get help from a friendly ally on two separate occasions in the entire game, and both times they're very little use. Merit is largely absent during your assault on Aspari, and when you finally do meet up with him near the end of the mission, he gets K.O.ed by an enemy Agent after only taking out a couple of Mooks. Lily helps you fight through EuroCorp H.Q. towards the end of the game, and surprisingly can often take out Mooks with one shot (amusingly making her more useful than Merit was), but is fairly unaggressive in combat and gets separated from you pretty quickly anyway.
  • Kick the Dog: The player character himself does this a few times even if the player tries their best to make him behave like a good guy. Agent Merit does this CONSTANTLY.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Kinetic weapons are still very effective, with such gems as the 30mm Gatling and Hand Cannon. However, this has led to the creation of Immune to Bullets Powered Armor used by Elite Mooks. In turn, energy weapons like the laser gun and Electron Mace that ignore the defence of aforementioned Elite Mooks have been invented.
  • Kung-Fu Proof Mook:
    • Boss enemies are initially immune to Breaches and must be softened up first.
    • Elite Mooks invert this by being immune to damage until Breached. There are also Jammer Commandos who block out Breaching against enemies in their AOE.
    • Subverters are immune to breaching, because they don't have any chips for you to hack. Their weapons can still be hacked, though.
    • In Cayman Global there is a single unarmored security officer who's seemingly immune to breaching. Presumably he's some sort of high-level executive with a protected chip like Denham's.
    • The liquid shield troopers have the opposite deal from Subverters: their shields are unnetworked and only have an analog switch. The users on the other hand...
  • Last Ditch Move: Electro and reactive armours have these. You get achievements for using them to kill other mooks.
  • Lean and Mean: Liquid armour troopers are very lanky. It's particularly obvious when they spawn next to normal mooks.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All enemy Syndicate Agents are insanely fast, and can survive more damage than most FPS Powered Armor suits while tearing you a new one equally fast.
  • Lightning Gun: The Electron Mace.
  • Limit Break: DART Overlay. It make surroundings looks slowed down to you and show enemies that hide behind cover. Mandatory in some boss fight.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Minigun+enemy soldier=fun times.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Swarm missile launcher fires a missile splitting up into many lesser missiles. Agent Ramon uses this weapon. Agent Merit in the final fight has mini-missile pods that fire flashbangs and explosive missiles.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: In addition to all the Faceless Goons, there's Agent Ramon, the Twins, and Miles yourself From a Certain Point of View.
  • Man in White: The Cayman Global officers have white armour, unlike the black and dark grey of Sergeants or normal grunts. Several boss Agents wear white. Merit also wears a white armour in the final battle.
  • Mega Corp.: Just like in the original, Syndicates act as the sole authority in a region controlling everything from sanitation to law enforcement.
  • Mind-Control Device: The neural chips are as common as cellular phones - anyone with the right chips and programs can "breach" another person's chip and jam its connection to their weapons, make them attack their allies, or even shoot themselves in the head. The Player Character and co-op characters are among the few people with this capability.
  • Molotov Cocktail: One of the few enemy weapons that can't be used by the player.
  • Musical Spoiler: Skrillex remixed the original's for the remake's theme.
  • Mythology Gag: In the opening sequence of the reboot there is a part where the years tick up to the time the game takes place in. It starts in 1993 when the original came out.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: One of the agents in the Co-Op mode is called Akuma, which roughly translates as "Demon" in Japanese.
  • Neck Snap: One of the melee attacks in the reboot.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Jack Denham. He tries to shut down your CHIP, but when that fails he doesn't raise a single weapon.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: When you run out of health in the co-op, you have to be rebooted by a teammate.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The player uses this to kill Merit, after being thrown into a sort of air duct. The fact that that Kilo, after the beating, stops and looks at his now bloodied hands suggests this was also a My God, What Have I Done? moment for him.
  • Organ Theft: Some of the multiplayer missions task the agents with securing and delivering organ samples to a drop ship for transportation.
  • Outside Ride: Done to a Cayman Global dropship by Kilo after Lily Drawl is kidnapped and loaded into it.
  • Overt Operative: The intro mentions that the corporations employ covert agents like yourself. With the liberal amounts of firepower you can access and must use, covert you most certainly are not.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: The Syndicates are like a textbook on how to do this. They criticize their competitors for their unethical actions while doing the exact same things, all while caring first and foremost for their "consumers."
  • Percussive Maintenance: Agent Miles, or atleast the DART 6 system is activated by a Mook punching him repeatedly, it makes some sense as the DART is fueled by adrenaline.
  • Playing Possum: Agents Ramon and Merit. When you approach them to do a CHIP-rip, they get back up and attack.
  • Playing Tennis with the Boss: The fight with Agent Ramon goes like this, as the two of you hack rockets back and forth at each other.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jack Denham is civil for most of the game. When you speak to him face-to-face at the end, though, he's become more rude, including using a full F-bomb.
  • Prequel: The 2012 version is set in 2069, while the original game was set in the 22nd century.
  • Quick Melee: You can perform a lethal melee takedown. It can also be combined with the Executioner chip upgrade that restores 50% on each kill, and can be used in a combo where it heals you more quickly then enemies that can harm you. Enemy marksmen on high-up ledges, UAVs, and armored Elite Mooks, are resistant to this.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Before and after the final boss fight, Jack Denham lectures your Player Character on your delusions of morality, the fact that you're just a tool and calls you out on the damage you've done.
  • Required Secondary Powers: The infobank entry for liquid shields says that they can withstand even 105mm rounds, but the concussive force transferred pastes the shieldbearer.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Syndicates are unquestionably evil, at least by 20th century Western standards of morality. However, the Resistance are terrorists who are unable to offer any alternatives other than "kill as many bourgeois as possible", and the New York branch's leader gleefully anticipates the civilian collateral (although it's hinted that a less militant wing of the Resistance, which is not seen in the game, is working on a more scientific solution).
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Two of the available sidearms are revolvers. They both do pretty good damage and have a fairly high ammo capacity. (Especially if the player buys the ammo upgrade.) One has ten rounds and is pretty decent... the other is a Hand Cannon, and when fully upgraded is a one-hit kill machine that can cut people in half at the waist.
  • Roboteching: The special ability of the gauss guns.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
    • The LAW-92 is a relatively low-tech unguided missile popular with terrorists because Agents cannot disable them via Breaching.
    • The Subverters use crude molotov cocktails instead of electronic frag grenades. They can't be breached, detonate on impact, and are a One-Hit Kill against you even if it's not a direct hit. This can make them Demonic Spiders.
  • Scenery Porn: Just take a moment to look around at the surrounding cityscape the next time you find yourself moving along the roof of a tall building.
  • Secondary Fire: Used in both single player and multiplayer, though in multiplayer the secondary fire needs to be unlocked through weapon research before it can be used.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: There are two shotguns. The first, the CQC-11, has a buckshot primary fire and a Secondary Fire that uses explosive shells instead. This secondary fire is always available in single player but has to be unlocked in co-op. The second is the Mjolnir HOG, which is an automatic shotgun only available in co-op.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Kusanagi brand assault and sniper rifles. While the name is Older Than They Think, in this context it's hard to avoid thinking of a certain Major.
    • The fifth mission is titled "Escape from L.A.".
    • Something called "Re-Member" is mentioned, which can give you false memories. Someone wants to get memories of being an Agent.
    • Whenever you activate the DART Overlay, hidden messages can be seen in the environment, that would be for the most part, invisible to the naked eye. These hidden messages are very straightforward, such as "Trust the Agents", "Submit", "Obey", and so forth and so on. This is very much like what Nada begins to see once He gets the special glasses in "They Live!"
    • One of the achievements is called "Hurt Locker" and is unlocked for breaching (disarming) 873 grenades before they explode.
  • The Sociopath: Agent Merit's dossier remarks that all Agents are expected to be psychopaths, but Merit is psychopathic even by Agent standards. Also, the corporate, ethically bankrupt Syndicate society effectively fosters a general attitude that the lives of others are meaningless except to the extent they can be used to benefit yourself.
  • Take Cover: Like Crysis 2, pressing the aim button while crouched behind an object will cause the player to peak out to take a shot.
  • Take That: Reactive Armour provides protection against "tunneling rounds", which are an upgrade choice in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  • Teleport Spam: Aspari Agent Tatsuo.
  • Training from Hell: Agent training includes taking No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and live-fire courses with gunships. Justified in that Kilo isn't a terribly valuable asset by Eurocorp's standards, and he actually NEEDS the adrenaline rush from putting his life on the line to properly use his DART chip.
  • Traintop Battle: This happens at around the 1/4 mark of the game between Miles and several dozen Aspari soldiers. Making things interesting is the fact that Miles has an infinite ammo minigun and the Aspari have hover bikes and a massive airship.
  • Tykebomb: Agents are now recruited and trained from young, although they don't get sent on operations until older, averting Child Soldiers.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: You can't pick up shields dropped by enemies or the Subverters' Molotov Cocktails. Other weapons are fair game though.
  • Vein-O-Vision: Currently provides the page image for this trope.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's possible to slaughter civilians left and right, including inside non-combat storyline areas (which can lead to hilarity in some of the storyline areas). However, it's somewhat discouraged by not giving any Breach energy back when you kill them.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Nicely averted with the Thermite Gun. It doesn't have the range or unlimited ammo of the minigun, but kills enemies quickly and is great at wiping out large groups of foes in a short amount of time.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Agent Tatsuo. If you haven't gotten around to using DART Overlay optimally, you're going to die a few times before you get around to killing him.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Miles Kilo is this (by Agent standards, anyway. To regular humans he's still a Super Soldier). He lacks any of the really incredible superpowers other enemy Agents have (super-speed, holograms, super-jumping ability, impenetrable shields, cloaking devices, enhanced regeneration, etc.) However, his in-game dossier remarks that he is unusually creative and independent for an Agent, which allows him to come out ahead when faced with better-empowered enemies.
    • He was specifically chosen for the DART 6 chip because he had sufficient skills and abilities to full make use of it, but if the prototype failed, he was only a barely-above-average agent who could be easily replaced. His creative thinking and independence, however, make him a nightmare for Eurocorp when he turns on them.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here ya go.


SuspendedAmigaTest Drive
SymphonyWebsite/GOG.comSystem Shock
Space AceAtari JaguarTempest
Super Robot Wars GCXbox 360 Tales of Vesperia
StriderPlay Station 3 Tales of Vesperia
SupernovaIBM Personal ComputerSystem Shock
Sword of SodanUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshSystem Shock
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Spider TankImageSource/Video GamesVein-O-Vision

alternative title(s): Syndicate Wars; Syndicate
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