Justification 1

Through a link on Gamasutra, I ended up reading the blog of Stuart Roch, a producer at Treyarch. In one post, he wrote up his 10 favorite games of all time , along with a short statement on why each was important to him. On that note, I felt like it might be useful to justify the games I've listed in the "Favorite Games" field of my profile over there. I'm going to split each of mine into a separate post, in the arbitrary order that I initially listed them.

PC / 1993 / Developer: Bullfrog / Publisher: Electronic Arts

Up front, I'll admit the possibility that my esteem for games from this time period might be elevated by nostalgia to some degree; on the other hand, I've played all of these games since their original release, and still, objectively I think, hold them in high regard.

The world of Syndicate is a cyberpunk dystopia. The player is a high-ranking executive in a multinational corporation, tasked with remotely controlling a squad of cybernetically-enhanced field agents to wreak havoc in cities across the world, gaining control of each territory in turn. The goal is complete world domination, the method wanton destruction.

I like the setting, but what I think really stuck with me was the game's structure, and the amount of control the player had over the gameworld. From the outset, the player is presented with the whole globe, and then given the power to conquer it however he chooses. The globe is divided into territories, each of which is represented by a discrete playable space; this playable space is comprised of an open-structure city, into which the player's agents are inserted. The player must then complete specific objectives within each level, by observing the area's physical layout and NPC behavior, formulating a strategy, and executing it using a small but focused set of affordances. The player decides in which order to approach the levels, and must then himself decide how to accomplish the goals in each level, pushing the game's progression forward along the path he's chosen.

It's human-scale tactical conflict in a series of open-structure levels, which generally describes my favorite type of game to this day. That in Syndicate the
order of the level progression is also dictated by the player is an added bonus. The rest of what makes the game great are the specifics of the action and the artifice that I won't go into, but for 1993, I'd say that everything about Syndicate was far ahead of its time.

For me personally, leading up a modern-day spiritual successor to Syndicate would be my dream project. It's a game experience which has never been duplicated to this day, and which I believe has enormous potential to be translated into the contemporary game sphere. If only.

1 comment:

FreakyZoid said...

I don't care who makes a new version of Syndicate, as long as it gets done.