"If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate."
Because, of course, the only options are an exact copy and changing to a totally different form. That's why Civilization II
was a platformer.
Civ 2 was basically Civ with more Civ. It was mainly just refining the formula.
And from what I've heard from people who actually played the new Syndicate was that it was a pretty alright game. Not a game worth 50€, but still a game worth playing once it reaches a lower price point.
Marketing sucked though. It looked like EA expected the name "Syndicate" to sell the game for them, because most of the marketing seemed to be based on pushing the name, and not show us anything about the game itself. It would probably have sold quite a lot better if they just tried to start a new franchise, and marketed it as such.
And to be honest, I don't get EA's marketing department, this is not the first time EA has thrown a lot of money on a game, only to forget to market it properly (another example would be Armies of Exigo, a big budget RTS, with a slightly derivative game mechanics, but which was really well put together, and a blast to play. And how many have actually heard of it?). Proper marketing can make or break a game's sales, far more than review scores and actual quality (look at Drakensang & its sequel, River of Time. Two excellent games... that they did not market at all outside of Germany. Of course they sold poorly)