Sho’ Can: System Shock 2 In Source

By Alec Meer on August 13th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Important qualifiers before you get over-excited by that headline!

- This is not System Shock 2′s game elements in the source engine, it’s simply the first level recreated in Source, with original assets presumably naughtily extracted to do so. As such, whatever comes of this project it can’t ultimately look like this.
- It’s just one modder doing a proof of concept map/video rather than being a concerted effort to remake Shock 2. Though he hopes it’ll be “the catalyst that gets a dedicated group together to do a full remake, but we’ll see what happens.”

Nothing may happen, as this is such a huge technical challenge – if Black Mesa Source take this long to get anywhere, I dread to think what a full-on Shock 2 remake would involve. But that’s OK. It’s just lovely to see this sort of thing and think ‘oh, imagine…’ from time to time, not to mention the simple pleasure of seeing familiar sights in a new context.

This is the meticulous work of one Mark Valentine, having taken him a couple of months to achieve it, and it’s only his second crack at Source map-making, having been inspired by the What If? shots of BioShock in the Cryengine. Oh, imagine…

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79 Comments »

  1. povu says:

    If only if only…

    Still, come on EA. Throw your legal team at whatever firm owns part of the System Shock IP, get it dealt with, and put that sucker on GOG. Copies of System Shock 2 are hard to find these days.

    • TheMrSolaris says:

      And don’t murder the franchise like you did with Syndicate..

      • BobbyDylan says:

        EA, remake a classic game without turning it into cow-poo? I think that’s going up there with world peace, a cure for all cancers and intersteller travel.

        That said, for anyone wanting to replay SS2 (like I am right now) use the SSTool to get it to work on Modern systems, and the HD texture packs, and HD models.

    • zavaro says:

      if I remember correctly, an insurance company owns the SS IP. EA only owns the trademark or something along those lines.

    • grenadeh says:

      Um? A) EA has literally always owned the rights to System Shock. They published System Shock 2 and have had the rights to the franchise since. B) They renewed them in 2006 during the development of Dead Space because, as we all know, Dead Space is basically a remake of System Shock 2 but with some details changed, and most of the complexity removed, not to mention third person. And, C) How dare you, no true fan would ever wish for EA to remake this game. EA will ruin all that it touches.

  2. Carter says:

    Does a guide exist for getting System Shock 2 running on modern OS’? Passed me by the first time and I’ve never been able to get it running correctly : (

  3. Casimir's Blake says:

    One of the greatest PC games in history, full stop.

    This is a cool achievement, and a nice homage. But it’s just not enough. There is a severe paucity of additional missions for System Shock 2. The gameplay is a nigh-on perfect mix of action, strategy, discovery / exploration, and “personal improvement through trial and error”. It is everything modern-day gaming is NOT, and it’s sad that no-one seems to want to make similar FIRST PERSON immersive sims any more.

    Probably because it requires too much talent and imagination on the part of the devs and the gamers they are targetting.

  4. airtekh says:

    Oh my, nostalgia overload!

    I fucking love Shock 2, it’s one of my favourite games ever. That there isn’t a digital version of this available is a crime against gaming.

    • LionsPhil says:

      If it were available, more people might see just how bad other games are in comparison.

      • Perjoss says:

        I know what you mean, but I like to think that Bioshock is a very good ‘spiritual successor’ to SS2. I’d still much rather the setting be on a large spaceship than an underwater city, but we can only dream one day the rights stuff might get sorted and we might see a true sequel or remake type thing.

        • USER47 says:

          To be honest, Dead Space if far better spiritual successor than Bioshock is. Neither game comes close to SS2 though.

          • zubbuz says:

            I really wanted to like Dead Space, but I really hate off-centre third-person shooters – they never feel right to me… They need to be FPS or centred third-person like the Assassins Creed games…

  5. ResonanceCascade says:

    Be it a port/remake to another engine or something else, something has to be done to save this game from it’s fate in IP hell.

    I’m generally very anti-piracy, but the System Shock situation is so dire that I don’t give a shit about legality at this point. I just want more people to be able to play this game. Even with all the patches and hacks, my copy still bugs out and crashes frequently on Windows 7 64-bit.

    A black market Source engine version sounds just fine to me, if someone bothers to pull it off.

  6. Godwhacker says:

    The many sings to us…

  7. TheIronSky says:

    I actually just started playing this for the first time yesterday. The original, that is. So far I’m hooked, but those infinitely-respawning cameras get to me.

    Anyway, that’s an awfully strange coincidence.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I don’t remember respawning cameras in either Shock game…?

      Monsters, yes. The devs wanted an area to never feel “safe”. (That said they never repopulated as heavily as their initial density AFAICT.)

      • TheIronSky says:

        The cameras respawn enemies infinitely. The cameras themselves don’t respawn.

        • fish99 says:

          The alarms will spawn enemies yes, but you’re not supposed to set them off :)

          Enemies do respawn anyway though, which is annoying but you can mostly disable that with an ini tweak.

  8. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    Look at you, [source] hacker.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors.
      How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

  9. gnodab says:

    >Important qualifiers before you get over-excited by that headline!

    Too late!!!!!!!!! Now I am sad.

    • Skabooga says:

      Haha, so true. Alec would have had to reverse the title and the above disclaimer to prevent me getting to excited.

  10. ResonanceCascade says:

    So here’s a question, as I know some lawyers float about RPS on occasion.

    If one were to secure a deal with Star Insurance Co. for the System Shock copyrights, be it buying them or licensing them (say, using Kickstarter money), would it be safe to make another Shock game as long as it wasn’t actually called System Shock, since EA has the (lapsed, but still registered) trademark on the name?

    Like, you call it SHODAN, but everyone knows that it’s SS3?

    Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    • LionsPhil says:

      According to this partial speculation, the insurers are (were) after royalties rather than an outright sale.

      Presumably GOG have already tried. They certainly know it’s wanted. :/

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Right, but if it were done as a Kickstarter, the community would give no fuck, since we would just self-publish online. The only middle man would probably be Steam, so we’d have low enough overhead to justify giving a cut of the gross to the licensee.

        The important thing would be getting the game made, not owning the rights.

        Hypothetically speaking.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I’m confused. If you’re talking a new game, why grab the old one’s assets? Isn’t all you need the trademark from EA?

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            I believe the copyrights include Shodan, the von Braun, all characters, etc. Pretty much everything of substance is owned by Star Insurance, unfortunately. It isn’t just the actual textures and such.

            GOG is presumably struggling because they need both EA and Star on board to re-release the game. I’d imagine it’d be tough to make all parties happy (including GOG) once all the smoke clears.

            Anyway, I just thought it would be an interesting idea for the community to try to either buy or license the copyrights and Kickstart a sequel or remake less the Shock name. As long as the licensing agreement wasn’t insane, I don’t see any reason why their refusal to outright sell the rights would be a big problem.

        • Hicks233 says:

          What does steam have to do with it?

      • Somerled says:

        What the hell royalties can they get without GOG or some other distributor on board? That goes for both EA and Star Insurance Whatevers. They may own a slice of a little money machine, but it’s worthless if they just sit on it. Even as an asset, it’s losing value without actual sales.

        Or is there somewhere that’s actually selling Shock copies?

        • Baines says:

          It is probably a matter of an “If it isn’t going to make at least $X for us, we’d rather it make nothing and no one has it” attitude.

          We, the consumers who are denied a product, hate this. But for the companies involved, it is seen as a way of not wasting money. You either draw a line somewhere, or get taken advantage of by any other company that is less giving. And if the amount of money is relatively minor, then you might have less incentive to make a deal. (Mind, the contrary is where the amount of money is so major that you have less incentive to give up the difference between what you want and what you are offered, leading to the same stand-off.)

          If you yourself are less giving opinion about the situation, you can look at it as the grouchy old man who’d rather have nothing than accept less than his demand.

          • Somerled says:

            I hate that grouchy old man. I hope some kids come and make a little too much noise outside his window for a while, ruining part of his peaceful afternoon. But not his whole day. I’m not cruel.

            On the other hand: Tiiiiii-ime … is on my side. Yes it is!

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          I figure one of the problems is that a System Shock game is worth making to some publishers, but not worth making as a licensed product, since it’s too costly. On the flipside, the insurance company probably figures that if a publisher thinks the game is worth making, then it’s probably a better idea to collect a piece of the pie than it is to just sell off the rights. Both parties figure (incorrectly in this case) that no deal is better than a bad deal, and thus, no one can come to an agreement.

          That’s my educated guess on what’s been happening, because there have definitely been multiple talks about getting those rights.

  11. Cim says:

    I’ve only replayed System Shock 2 six times. Seeing this, I think it’s time for the seventh.

  12. Hillbert says:

    Important qualifiers before you get over-excited by that headline!

    Too late, excited! Guaranteed sequel! HD remakes of the original! Modding! SHODANFACE!

  13. Yosharian says:

    Holy crapppp

    See, I’m wondering just how faithful these fan remakes can actually be. I’m waiting for the Half-Life source remake to see if it can actually be done properly.

    I suspect it’s a much harder proposition that it seems, to recreate an old game faithfully with newer software.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well, they were originally the full-time work for skilled professionals over several years.

      In theory, fan remakes can dodge the workload of designing it all, but most can’t seem to resist fiddling with that, either.

  14. shagen454 says:

    A remake of SS2 is like remaking 2001 Space Odyssey. There is no need it’s still awesome to play even on modern comps – unlike some games like Arx Fatalis that needed some help… thankfully there is Arx Liberalis!

    I mean one of the greatest aspects of SS2 was it’s engine. Watching the “smooth” footage of it in Source takes away from that sluggish anxiety of that engine.

  15. Hug_dealer says:

    System Shock as a series needs to stay dead and in our hearts.

    Nothing ruins a series like a villian they you cant take seriously anymore because they are consistantly thwarted like a cartoon coyote.

    Bioshock is the spiritual successor to system shock, and it shows. Granted i like a dark sci fi future, and system shock has it perfect, but i dont want to ruin the series with endless sequels. Lets do something different.

  16. celozzip says:

    system shock 2 with all the hi res mods installed looks better than this.

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah I don’t really see the point of this, it doesn’t really look noticeably better than SS2 out of the box, and SS2 is still perfectly playable with tools from TTLG (or using XP). Apart from the better physics, which don’t really feature in the game anyway, and smoother shadows, I don’t really see the benefit.

      On a side note, SS2 is probably the best game ever made, closely followed by the two Thief games.

      • Javier-de-Ass says:

        Isn’t he recreating it exactly, polycount and all. Not really a showcase for what a modern engine, not that source is very modern anymore, can make it look like. But then personally I also prefer the look of the Thief games and System Shock 2 to anything in the source engine.

  17. Ironclad says:

    What does it say about the original that, while watching that video, I remembered every container, ammo and other item’s location, turret and camera locations.

    I have only played SS2 twice.

    • Unaco says:

      “I have only played SS2 twice.”

      Was one of those times last night/this morning? That might go a ways to explaining it…

    • LionsPhil says:

      …that it had an absolute ton of backtracking*?

      (* Which, of course, established a strong sense of place.)

      • fish99 says:

        People always list that as a weakness, but I always thought it made the game more believable. In a scenario where you’re running all over this ship (technically 2 ships) enabling all sort of systems, achieving loads of different objectives against an enemy (the Many) who were trying to stop you, it’d be kinda implausible for all those things to exist in a linear A->B path. For that reason I was kinda disappointed in Dead Space and Bioshock when I realized there was no backtracking.

  18. Wedge says:

    Yeah… the original engine already allowed for high resolution textures and high detail models (too bad that pack was never totally finished). I couldn’t really figure a point to trying to remake it in something else.

    • markishome359 says:

      The Source engine is continually updated and is cross-platform, supporting every OS.

      Remaking a game in a current engine that’s continually updated, supported, and cared for is the safest, most versatile way to preserve a dying game for future generations, both of people and of hardware and graphics layers.

      It’s already disgustingly difficult and frustrating trying to get original, vanilla SS2 running under Windows 7. What about when 8 comes out? Or if you want it on your Apple or Linux computer?

      It’s not just about pumping out another HD remake, it’s about preserving game history. And if people want to do a graphical update as well (high-poly models, new tech and textures, etc.) it’ll probably be the only way younger gamers will play it. I’ve got some friends who love games, but are graphics whores, and *will not* play older games because they just can’t get past the graphics looking terrible compared to what they’re used to.

  19. Ging says:

    There’s such a vast scope for massive visual improvements by bringing it into any modern engine (beyond just high res textures and models) – quite a lot of which would do a bunch to improve the atmospherics (if done with care).

    Even relatively little things like having a proper 3D render of SHODAN to display on the screens (which is dead easy to do in Source – it’s exactly the same as when they show Breen on the big screens) would do a lot to make it look “newer” and thus more appealing to folk who have come into games more recently.

  20. Iskariot says:

    Aaaah the memories.
    I still own copies of both System Shock games.
    I will hold on to them forever.

  21. Shooop says:

    Watched a short playthrough on the related videos, and… Wow.

    That is Silent Hill levels of creepy. I missed out on this game in its heyday and now since I have Windows 7 I know it won’t run too well today. I’d definitely give a remake of this game a spin, it sounds absolutely nerve-fraying.

    • Skabooga says:

      I will attest that System Shock 2 is one of the scariest games I have ever played, the kind where I’m sitting in the dark sweating bullets and jumping at every sound. While perhaps not as absolutely scary as something like Penumbra or Silent Hill, for me it was at least in the same league. On top of that, it is just a fantastic game for so many other reasons as well.

  22. Shazbut says:

    The atmosphere in this game is like nothing else. I have vivid memories of looking out of one the windows of the spaceship and being emotionally affected out of nowhere by a strange feeling of beauty, fear and loneliness. But especially beauty.

    Let me say that again, in this game, I was emotionally affected by LOOKING OUT OF THE WINDOW.

    Edit: – In fact, now that I think about it, for me the only game to compare on that level was The Void.

  23. TheSlider says:

    And for those who like reading, I recommend this fanfic http://www.shamusyoung.com/shocked/

  24. Grey_Ghost says:

    “Important qualifiers before you get over-excited by that headline!”

    Too F’n LATE! You built me up, and then crushed me in a matter of seconds Mr. Meer… for shame!

  25. Bart Stewart says:

    Too late. Already excited.

    Although I’d prefer the brilliant original System Shock be remade, both for graphics and mouselook+WASD controls. My copy is still playable, but I’ve had to patch my original 320×200 version (the one without Terri Brosius as the voice of SHODAN) for graphics and controls and frankly the game’s a little rickety now and still hard to look at.

    This was too great a game to let it be forgotten. A remake with relatively modern visuals and controls would be superbly satisfying.

    Wouldn’t say no to a shiny new SS2, though.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Since you already own a copy, and the ethics are thus out of the way, run the System Shock Portable version instead, which has that patch preapplied and also the excellent voicework?

  26. Jackablade says:

    With regards to the high res character mod, did anyone ever get around to redoing that high res Cybernetic Nursemaid model? All praise to the chap who took the time and effort to model it up and get it working in the game, but the redesign lost a lot of what made that enemy so damn terrifying.

  27. muskieratboi says:

    And then it seems that five minutes later, he got hired by CrytekUK. :P

  28. spaceturtle120 says:

    I honestly still get goosebumps when I think about this game today and many of the iconic lines and moments through out it. “We sing the song of the many” “Look at you hacker” and of course the reveal in the first third of the game..

    If I had to pick one game to play forever, one game that stands out to me in my 15+ years of gaming as the BEST game, it would be SS2.

    Bioshock was a great game, but could not even compare to the story and immersion of Shock 2. I fear we will never get an experience like this again.