Sudo Shock: System Shock 2 Now On Linux

By Craig Pearson on April 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

How could we forget?

Just a few years ago, people were begging for the System Shock 2 legal situation to be resolved. It wasn’t a technical problem, but a legal death trap of rights that entangled its feet, keeping it just out of grasp as we all reached out to save it. And then it was suddenly in our hands, and we could all have the game on the digital distribution platform of our choosing. With that resolved, it seemed that the story of System Shock 2 was over. But wait *shocking twist music*, like a hand shooting out of a grave, there’s one final moment for SS2 to surprise us: a new update that lands it on Linux. It is available right now on Steam.

Blimey. It would be easy to dismiss this, but this is a 14 year-old game. The one thing that’s kept me from jumping on Valve’s Linux train is the back catalogue: new games will probably have an easier task of justifying a Linux port, but to take a game that was developed in the ’90s and make it run on not Windows (it already runs on Mac) is something I didn’t think would happen.

It’s probably an anomaly, but it gives me hope.

Also:

To celebrate SHODAN’s arrival onto Linux, everyone gets free content. Check your System Shock 2 installation directory bonus content folder to find original artworks, soundtrack, original pitch document, radio interviews and more.

So that’s nice.

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Top comments

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Craig, I believe the Mac/Linux versions are running using a WINE wrapper. A rather healthy number of legacy titles can be installed fairly easily using PlayOnLinux http://www.playonlinux.com/en which contains tailored WINE install scripts. Loads of GOG installers are supported (maybe even part of the reason why GOG have announced Linux support).
  1. phelix says:

    Whee!

  2. iDragon says:

    Considering the Mac ‘port’ is just running wrapped in WINE, I don’t think it’s that surprising it was eventually moved to Linux too.

    • Premium User Badge

      Craig Pearson says:

      Hmm. I was unable to test it–because Linux–but it does look like this is a WINE-port.

      • iDragon says:

        Admittedly, it no doubt needs extra testing to be sure there are no new issues on the new platform, but most likely not a major undertaking. It is of course still a good thing that it’s supported even if it’s not a full native port, of course!

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Running wrapped in WINE is a favourite activity of mine at 2am on a Saturday morning.

  3. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    This is actually pretty neat- I’d never gotten around to SS2 before, but have been playing it after acquiring it in exchange for CS:GO skins during the winter sale. While I’m not on Linux, I did also get the bonus content, which is a nice bonus- I really like the soundtrack. Hooray!

    • Premium User Badge

      Craig Pearson says:

      You are a joyful person.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The interview with Ken Levine is great, and not something I had heard before.

      Also, if you read the original design proposal, you’ll discover what Warren Spector named his studio after.

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    Craig, I believe the Mac/Linux versions are running using a WINE wrapper. A rather healthy number of legacy titles can be installed fairly easily using PlayOnLinux http://www.playonlinux.com/en which contains tailored WINE install scripts. Loads of GOG installers are supported (maybe even part of the reason why GOG have announced Linux support).

    • Premium User Badge

      Joibel says:

      Still, it’s a lovely thing that these are done so that everyone can benefit. This makes me smile, even if I have no intention of playing SS2.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Yus, I have nothing against it. And the lovely thing is that WINE wrapped installs will continue to work even after the games themselves stop working on the newest versions of Windows.

        • Premium User Badge

          neffo says:

          Yeah, it’s impressive how complete the Wine software is. Although there are some people that would argue this isn’t running natively (and isn’t a true port, etc). Those people forget that under a modern version of Windows, apps of this vintage run via a translation layer anyway. It’s called Windows on Windows (WOW).

  5. Casimir's Blake says:

    Brilliant news. But, are there still no new fan-missions? No sequel? No new games like it? No, there isn’t, even in 2014. SADFACE.

  6. staberas says:

    I object to the title of the article it should be sudo -s , Now, sudo make me a sandwich.

    • 2Ben says:

      Why on earth should it use -s ? Unless you’re using a different shell than the default, which is rather uncommon…

      • staberas says:

        In Ubuntu u must use sudo -s if you want anything to work right.
        My actual Fedora home server uses su only.

        • Arcadia says:

          Why would you need that for just one command? sudo wine shock.exe would work just fine. That said, you won’t want to do that anyway, running wine as root is usually not a great idea.

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          hellboy says:

          Never used sudo -s in my life personally, and so far so good!

        • LionsPhil says:

          The main reason to use -s is to get an interactive shell.

          If you’re running a single command, you shouldn’t be needing it.

  7. Rince Wind says:

    So, the buyers of the steam version now get the bonus material we gog.com user already had for a while? good for them, better late then never.

  8. archiebunker says:

    The GoG version runs great under WINE. I hope more old games come to Linux pre-wrapped, if only to encourage the less tech-savy gamers among us to take the plunge. Legacy games that run better in WINE than on Windows 8 are a definite +1 to Linux’s street cred.

  9. Tom Walker says:

    What the hell is going on with the system requirements? Not just on Linux, all OSes:
    – 1.8 GHz Processor
    – 2 GB RAM
    – 2 GB HD space

    Original version:
    – 200 MHz Processor
    – 32 MB RAM
    – 200 MB HD space

    I checked the sys. reqs. of the Steam client itself and they’re not as high as that, either. I guess they decided modern gamers would want it running at at least 9000fps.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Operating system, I’d assume. Current versions of Ubuntu/Windows won’t run on much less than that. I’m not sure you can buy licensed Mac OS X hardware lower spec than that.

      The original version is probably for running at 640×480, and WINE probably also adds some small overheads, although both of those factors should be tiny in comparison.

    • Pockets says:

      The original version’s smallest install size option ran the videos from the CD, which adds a few hundred MB. Maybe it’s just the specs of the worst PC they had in the office?

    • Zafman says:

      I have to say, my Duron 700 was struggling big time back then. Fighting the Many was quite a laggy affair. Adds to the difficulty level I suppose. ^_^

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I’ve actually noticed this before. I tend to shop around before I buy something – and also like to peek at user reviews and such – and I’ve noticed that very, very frequently, especially on older games, Steam’s ‘minimum’ requirements for a given title will be much, much higher than the requirements for the same game on GoG. As one person already suggested, I suspect it’s just a case of that being the oldest machine they’ve tried it on.

  10. Volcanu says:

    I often think this is probably the greatest game I never played. Due to being a wee lad when it came out and having very few shekels to spend on games I never picked it up, despite the rave reviews. I know I missed out big time.

    Now there is kind of no excuse for checking it out, but I’m quite reluctant given it’s extreme age and the important fact that it wont trigger an almighty squirt from my nostalgia glands the way some other old (and now clunky) games do.

    So my question is this. Have any other RPS-ers played it for the first time recently, and if so what did you think?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Only a few years back. It was great, although System Shock 1 was greater.

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        VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        Except in level architecture. SS1 levels were literally mazes.

    • Damn Rookie says:

      Yes actually. I played it for the first time at the end of January (soon after finishing Bioshock Infinite as it happens), as my computer at the time it came out originally was not up to it. Just to note, I added a few of the non ‘game changing’ mods (just a few of the recommended mods that up the resolution of some of the textures, nothing that alters mechanics or anything like that).

      Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was interesting to see where a lot of Bioshock’s (the first 2, and infinite) systems and features came from. It’s amazing how much of those games was a direct follow on from system shock 2 (and I presume System Shock 1 – I haven’t played it).

      I don’t think it looks that bad even now (with the few mods at least), and you soon stop really noticing that it’s a bit long in the tooth (the angular body models and what not). The re-spawning enemies made things a little tense at first, but you soon get used to them. You may have to tinker for a minute or two with the controls, as the default FPS controls back then were a little different to now, but that’s not tricky or anything.

      All in all, yes, I’d recommend it. Just keep in mind the game is from a different, slightly more difficult time. I sometimes forget how gaming has changed over the years, until I go back and play a game from back then – I fear modern gaming has made we weak… :-D

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I only played the demo on release – although I played SS1 somewhat nearer to its release so I still had some nostalgia potential going on. Played SS2 from start to finish for the first time, oh, a year ago mayhap?
      I can’t really tell you if it’ll be worth it or not, for you. All I can say is, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had with a game for years and years. No exageration.

    • Brtt says:

      I’m quite the opposite of a “first time played recently”, as I bought the game back then (I still have SS and SS2 boxes), but this might answer your question nonetheless: I play it every few years, and enjoy it all the same.

      It’s possibly actually the greatest game I’ve ever played, period.

      And this is leagues better than any of the sub-par tentatives of copy/reproduction that are the Bioshock episodes.

    • Volcanu says:

      Thanks all. I think I will give it a go! I did use to game a lot around the time it came out so I’m not so worried about difficulty or slightly funny controls…

      Cheers again

  11. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Just need a native version of Deus Ex and we can all switch happily!

    • archiebunker says:

      Not as tall an order as you might think. The New Vision Mod got the game running using OpenGL (and DirectX 11 but meh). I’d imagine porting it to Linux would be more of a licensing issue than a technical one. I’m guessing Eidos still owns the rights and is quite content to sit on them for the time being.

    • Geebs says:

      Wine (via a wineskin wrapper) runs thief 3 very happily on OSX (with the fan patch for widescreen); I would imagine you could wrap up your own version of Deus Ex pretty easily. Actually I think I might give that a try…Most GoG games work pretty well apart from Sacrifice, and that’s because Sacrifice hates everybody and everything.

      BTW the wineskin winery is very easy to use, and wine gets updated practically daily; people trying this may therefore find it works better in the longer term than using a pre-built wrapper.

      Edit: yup, the GoG version of Deus Ex works fine under Wineskin 1.7.15 under DirectX on a Mac with a GTX680 – even widescreen at 2560×1440 works absolutely fine. I would imagine Linux support would be just as good. Lemon-lime time!

  12. simulant says:

    I played Warframe for a few months and rather enjoyed myself. I got more fun out of it than some $60 games I’ve purchased. However it suffers from the same thing that many other F2P games suffer from and that is the carrot dangling in front of you, always out of reach. Or, more accurately, you can eventually reach the carrot but a new one immediately replaces it. The carrots become the main focus of the game and this detracts from all other aspects such as strategy and team play. Obtaining all the carrots requires vasts amounts of time and repetition so eventually you just want off the treadmill.

    You can always pay extra to get the carrots quicker but that’s not fun either.

    This represents a bit of a design dilemma. I think that the basic model for this type of game is broken. Carrots are not enough. For real longevity a game needs to be re-playable regardless of all the carrots. I think this is hard to pull off in a co-op PVE game. PVP fares somewhat better though I still find the carrots (unlocks) most games rely on to be off-putting. Instead of enjoying the game mechanics players become obsessed with unlocks until they eventually realize that they are the ones being played.

  13. Kaeoschassis says:

    Speaking of Looking Glass titles and legal deadzones, who’s up for a re-release of Terra Nova? Surely not just me?
    I swear I get more excited thinking about that prospect than about any game currently awaiting release… Unfortunately there seems to be no sign of it happening any time soon, and it’s otherwise practically impossible to find. :c

  14. captain nemo says:

    What a fantastic old game. Has both depth and atmosphere