EA was absolutely ready for the hostile response to the revelation that the all-new syndicate game had abandoned the franchise's roots in favour of creating a first-person shooter, EA Partners producer Ben O'Donnell has told VideoGamer.com.
"It's EA's IP, they were the one who released it originally. You've got to be sensitive of that, because people do look back on older games like that with rose tinted glasses, they really do," said O'Donnell. "And it was a great game, so we've got to do the right thing by it.
"But what we've found, that makes our workspace slightly easier, is that when the trailer came out we'd have people on the forums saying, 'Oh, I love the original. Why isn't this an RTS?' And within a couple of minutes you'd have a raft of other guys - not EA people, just users on the forum - saying, 'What are you talking about? This looks great!' I think there's a real split [with] people that remember the original game, and then when they see what we've done with it they say, 'Ok, I'll give it a chance.' And hopefully when they get their hands on it, they'll love it."
O'Donnell added that the decision to make Syndicate an FPS wasn't made because of the popularity of the genre, but because it felt right for the fiction the team was working with.
"It just felt right for the fiction," he explained. "As I say, just doing a high def version of the original game would have been, 'This is too easy, isn't it?' And those games are of their time. I think if you played the original now, you wouldn't have the same time that you had before. Things move on."
He concluded: "Because of the fiction in the game, where everyone has this chip in their head and you're supposed to be able to read the Dataverse in the world... You can't really do it in third-person, you certainly can't do it with RTS. You have to be in their head, and you have to be looking out of the eyes of the player to be able to see all that cool, meta-reality stuff. So it just felt right for the IP. We're following the fiction of this one agent, and you can really immerse yourself in the world when you're in their body."
Syndicate is scheduled for release on February 24, 2012.