Have You Played… System Shock 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

“Hello, may I be of service?” chirps a Protocol Droid and I bolt, finding a safe spot in a nest of crates and clutching my wrench tight. “Aww I’ve driven a client away,” I hear echoing after me, “I’ll likely be downgraded.”

I am a big enough babby that I’ve never finished System Shock 2 properly, only in its tension-defusing co-op. Even then, Looking Glass and Irrational’s FPS-RPG left me chilled by something as cheery as the greeting of an exploding robot.

It’s difficult to briefly sum up one of the finest games from one of the most fondly-remembered studios. Heck, Kieron spaffed several thousand words simply on wanting to ‘do it’ with the game’s antagonist. So, ah, System Shock 2’s pretty great, isn’t it?

Aboard a revolutionary new spaceship, everything’s gone a bit Pete Tong and your soldier wakes up mindwiped in a cryotube. Creeping through claustrophobic corridors, you find the crew’s mutated and murdering everyone else, friendly AIs are turned against you, and… there is entirely too much meat for a spaceship. It’s a battle of wills between a parasitic hive mind and their metallic mother who so loathes having to rely on you, a pathetic creature of meat and bone, as her agent.

The slow discovery of what happened – and continues to happen – is chilling. As you see more of the ships, travelling through living quarters, social decks, and labs, it only becomes clearer how doomed you are. Storytelling relies heavily on audiologs, but they’re largely solid and paint a rounded and eerie picture of things falling apart, rather than simply serving as the exposition bombs they’ve since become in games. Some enemies tell awful stories too, like the medbay nurses twisted into cyborg midwives to care for parasitic eggs. “I worry so about my little ones,” they’ll sigh when no one’s looking. The story is all around you in a town-sized ship gone to hell.

And the small things! Picking through chemical storage closets to find substances you need for research, picking a room for a persistent stash, all the interestings corners to explore, all the different ways to play, the video games to collect and play, that sound, that music!

Memory will want to smooth off rough edges. Its RPG side is largely filled with useless options, the weapon balance is wildly off, and its UI feels messy in the modern day. Some sections drag. A platforming section was made so much worse by the incessant grinding of giant gut teeth that… maybe that’s just wickedly clever design. I’d put up with far worse for something so splendid.

101 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Great game of all time.

  2. Sacarathe says:

    Played all the way through on coop, I do not recommend doing this with someone who was obsessed with this game. Talk about follow the leader, otherwise great game!

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yep, the co-op multiplayer feature doesn’t get mentioned enough. I played it right after it was released with my wife, on two computers in the same room hooked up via LAN. Great way to play the game. It probably minimized the scare factor a little, but I still remember lots of mutual “Oh Shit!” moments.

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    N'Al says:

    Naaaah.

    I mean, yes! Still not sure whether I prefer this or Shock 1, but both are so sublime it hardly matters.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Yeah, the midwives were great. Eerie whispers of “Babies must sleep…..babies must rest…” coming down the corridor. And suddenly, the spine-freezing shrieks of a pyrokinetic lab monkey right behind you.

    Looking Glass really were the masters of audio. Bioshock did carry on that part of the legacy quite well, I thought.

    • geisler says:

      I thought Looking Glass only had a very small part to do with SS2 (as most of them were already called Irrational Games at that point). Nevertheless, nothing you stated is false. The Thief games possibly had even better sound design.

    • Jay Load says:

      The sound design on this game was sublime. Every voice – a combination of great writing coupled with amazing vocal processing – chilled me to the absolute marrow. “Siiilence the Diiiscooooord”. Thief also used sound to amazing effect but I think the peak of Looking Glass’ capabilities, far above those of lesser dev houses, crystallized around SS2.

      I spent years trying to find all of the sound files extracted for me to play with but no joy beyond the soundtracks. Anyone know where they can be found or how to extract them from the main game files?

      • FaceHaver says:

        The sounds can be extracted from the SND.CRF and SND2.CRF files (which are conveniently just ZIP archive files with a different extension). Change their extensions to .ZIP and any modern file archiving program (e.g., 7-Zip) should be able to open them.

        Various ambient sounds, music, and enemy noises (my personal favourite is the Xerxes-obsessed security bot) are in SND.CRF; SND2.CRF is mainly logs.

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      Yeah the Cybernetic Midwives always creep me out something fierce. Especially in HD.

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    INCSlayer says:

    I played it in Singleplayer back in the early 2000s I was lucky enough to find a Sealed copy in a bargain bin at a local electronics store. I still regard it as one of the best games I have ever played

    • epeternally says:

      I found a used copy for $8 at GameStop, probably circa 2005. You would not believe how excited I was.

  6. dethtoll says:

    Arguably doesn’t hold up as well as it should 16 years on (mostly lingering issues with the UI as well as a few gameplay elements that were not executed as well as they should, namely hacking but also the RPG elements stick out like a sore thumb) but still a fine game in its own right with excellent use of sound.

  7. sincarne says:

    So I have a copy of this from GOG, and I’d like to experience the story, but avoid what I understand can be some very fiddly and tedious parts of the game. Any recommendations on how to do so? (In other words, how do I get the maximum enjoyment in the minimum time?)

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      gritz says:

      Just play the game, dummy.

      • sincarne says:

        Of COURSE! A plan that is BRILLIANT in its SIMPLICITY. Thank you for taking the time to put fingers to keyboard to share your insight.

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          gritz says:

          Godspeed you on your quest to figure how to play a game

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          Wisq says:

          Dismayed to find I didn’t have that guy blocked. Fixed now. Wow.

          • sincarne says:

            Er, me? I’ll admit that my reply was maybe a bit over the top, but block-worthy?

          • Jay Load says:

            No, no, I’m sure he means the douche-canoe who jumped all over you.

          • sincarne says:

            Good, although I am now regretting shitting the bed in such a fashion. Ah, well, sometimes things really get under our skins, and we have to live with the consequences.

            I’m grateful for the helpful advice I’ve received!

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            gritz says:

            Look, sorry if I came off as flippant, but System Shock 2 is not a game that requires some carefully plotted gameplay strategy. It’s a classic that’s almost universally acclaimed. Even the least optimal choices you make in your character upgrades are still perfectly playable, enjoyable, and do not add significantly to the time investment.

            Moreover, “just play the game” means “just play your game”. Part of the joy of playing a masterpiece like System Shock 2 is the discovery of how and why all the elements work together. Ticking off a few boxes because someone on the internet posted what is “optimal” undermines the hell out of that.

            If this was some obscure title with intricately complex character systems and immense punishments for suboptimal choices, it would make sense to do your homework before diving in.

            But it’s not, it’s System Shock 2! Just play it, dummy!

          • sincarne says:

            I apologize as well, I overreacted. But my impression is quite the opposite: I was given to understand this was a game that could potentially require a big investment in time, and be punishingly difficult if you picked the wrong skill tree, or over-generalized. I don’t want to do a run-around of the game’s systems to be able to get to the end, but I don’t want to inadvertently turn it into a slog, either.

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            basilisk says:

            It can be punishingly difficult if you only focus on the fancier stuff which is, as a rule, either mostly useless or extremely specialised. As people said, stick with the “boring” choice of standard weapons, hacking and some buffs for your melee weapons. Just use your common sense and you’ll be fine; the simplest choices tend to be the most useful ones.

            Don’t bother with PSI powers too much, because the low-level spells are nearly useless and the high-level ones require a huge investment. Don’t bother with exotics at all (except maybe the shard). Heavy weapons aren’t really worth it, either. Not for a first playthrough, anyway. Many of the skill upgrades are pretty useless, too, but you will often see that just from reading their description.

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      Skabooga says:

      Play on easy mode, choose the marine class, and focus your skills on standard weapons, repair, and hacking. The story truly is the thing about this game, but if you find yourself wanting a bit more challenge anyhow, Medium difficulty isn’t too bad. Or you could deliberately gimp yourself by focusing on exotic weapons, the skill analogous to Deus Ex’s swimming.

      • sincarne says:

        Cheers! Exactly the sort of tip I was hoping for!

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, the assault rifle in this game is the shortest path to godhood. Just feed it the right ammo for the situation and it’ll destroy all who oppose you more efficiently that even the sci-fi superweapons. Get enough repair skills to keep it healthy.

        (Honestly, the Laser Rapier, supposedly “improved”, got massively nerfed.)

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        gritz says:

        a. Easy mode strips the game of its tension, you might as well use cheat codes. Sure, story is important in this game, but the gameplay is just as important.
        b. Navy is a vastly better option for all the hacking and repairing and non-combat stuff you’ll be doing. Besides, you’ll be spending the first quarter of the game using the wrench.
        c. Swimming is super useful in Deus Ex, you can take advantage of it in almost every level.

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          Aerothorn says:

          The swimming argument is code for “I am just trolling, I don’t really mean it” :)

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            gritz says:

            I mean if you’re not exploring the water in Deus Ex, you’re missing out on a significant chunk of the game.

        • kud13 says:

          There are approximately 15-20 instances in DX where stacking swimming and Aqua Lung is actually useful.

          I used to be able to recite them from memory.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            One upgrade in Swimming is absolutely mandatory whenever I replay DX. Any more than that is admittedly wasteful.

      • fish99 says:

        Why easy mode? I always recommend hard for a first playthrough of SS2. They were quite generous with the difficulty settings IMO. Impossible is the one that’s actually challenging, hard is just a regular game.

        I would also recommend using the ini setting to turn off some of the random spawning, and maybe reducing weapon degradation a bit. Do that and nothing in the game is either fiddly or tedious.

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      Der Zeitgeist says:

      You might also want to disable weapon degradation, so your guns don’t break down after a certain number of shots (which always seemed unrealistic to me, anyway).

      I think you have to edit some lines in an .cfg-File for that, should be easy to find by googling.

      • Kefren says:

        I agree that they break down unrealistically fast (though you could come up with in-game reasons e.g. damaged in fights etc), but disabling that would take away a lot of the tension for me. Some of my favourite games involved a gun breaking mid-battle, and running to hide somewhere in order to repair it, or swap guns. And by the end game it’s no longer a problem, nothing breaks, as if you’re a master. You get that feeling of transition to cyber-god more if you have experienced the opposite end of the spectrum earlier.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Personally I didn’t find this necessary, but it helps if you’re carefully exploring everywhere for resources.

        (On that note, one of my favourite things about Sys Shock 2 was the slightly clumsy inventory interface that didn’t pause. Early in the game, ammo was scare enough that extracting the lone shell in broken shotguns enemies dropped was worthwhile, but also tense because you had to render yourself largely helpless to do it while Things continued to rattle and moan down nearby corridors. It actually had the same vulnerability tradeoff as actually have to stop to unload/load weapons. [I think some “enhanced” mod or other changed this, which is why you shouldn’t run with “enhancement” mods for games that are actually good.])

    • Kefren says:

      Play it on medium, and imagine you are really in the situation, make the choices you’d make. Too scared to run across the open hallway being patrolled by _something_, even though you can see a crate of goodies? Run. The other way. Fast. This game is about immersion, and the best way is to try and put yourself in Goggles’ boots, as the kind of person you think you’d be. Not going everywhere, not searching everything, is fine – it means replays can be different. I remember once being so afraid of leaving my safe spot under a desk that I didn’t leave for 15 minute.s I played the in-game pocket console instead, trying to distract myself for as long as I could. (Of course, I eventually had to leave safety anyway, but that sticks in my mind as a moment when I could almost believe I was really there). Most of all, enjoy the game! There are lots of add-ons, but as long as the game runs, I’d play it vanilla first time. Later options I used were:

      SHTUP link to systemshock.org
      (better in-game textures for objects/scenery)

      Rebirth
      link to systemshock.org
      (better monster textures – as long as it isn’t the version with silly big boobies on midwives)

    • theblazeuk says:

      Don’t lower to easy. You will miss out on the fun of being vulnerable, low on ammo and hunted if you do.

      However – take hacking (for extra goodies), take strength for those early bits where you’re ultra low on ammo (later to boost for space), only bother with standard weapons, take a bit of speed so you can dodge and run, take maintenance over repairs.

      Voila. Most optimised skills. Marine is best route for this.

      I stand by ‘play the game dummy’ though, honestly just play the game you will enjoy.

      • sincarne says:

        I guess I should have specified that it was skill/class type stuff I was after. However “just play the game” is great advice, if I don’t mind waiting to see the ending for months. I have a young daughter and new-to-me house, so gaming time is scarce.

        • LionsPhil says:

          You don’t want to speedrun this one. The best thing may be to wait until you have some actual gaming time again.

          >young child
          >new house

          …soooo maybe play it when the real-world year has caught up with the in-game one?

          • sincarne says:

            Maybe. The System Shock games came out during a time-rich, money-poor phase of my life, so when I finally got them on GOG, I was quite keen to play them as soon as I could.

    • sincarne says:

      Thanks all (with one notable exception). Advice very much appreciated!

  8. Eight Rooks says:

    Yup, I have played it. The visuals were mediocre at best even then, the weapon degradation is a pain, the ending is an appalling, shameful hack job, the balance as you say is all over the place… but my God it’s still awesome. And actually scary, not merely YouTube reaction video fodder.

  9. eggy toast says:

    I played about 30mins of it. I exited it because something came up, and I never re-launched it because it was so rough looking that I just didn’t feel the drive.

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      I was around for the original release but this reflects my recent experience with it. Makes me envious of those who can play old classics, overlooking naturally dated graphics!

      • GepardenK says:

        I play old games all the time, even ones I have no past with. If you can get a game to run in your monitors nativ resolution you are set. Just stick with said game for a few hours and if the astetic is good then your brain will adjust and suddently it looks better to you than many modern games with lesser astetic.

        I say with full honesty that games like Descent 1 and Thief 1 still look AMAZING to me

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Descent DOES still look amazing, though. While its visual style was arguably put together based on technical constraints, it’s a very strong, very memorable, very consistent style. Its levels are varied and have just enough sense of place that you can get immersed if you want to, while remaining mostly abstract. The ‘bots are crude and blocky but their designs have a ton of personality (the sound helps here).

          It’s even more of a treat if you run it in a modern source port. I haven’t even enabled most of the modern pretties that D1x-rebirth offers, just upped the resolution.

          SS2, meanwhile… is not a pretty game. I was a few years late to the party playing it, and I suspect I would have been sufficiently blown away had I played it sooner, but I was a lot younger then. In a lot of ways the dark engine games (I think that’s what they called it?) are a perfect example of how NOT to make a game’s visuals stand the test of time. The style isn’t terribly coherent and they mostly just shot for realism and hit miles off.

          I don’t even care, though. System Shock 2 is still one of the best games ever made. The visuals are just a means of communicating with the player, you barely even notice what they look like. Your mind fills in the gaps. I suspect that, as people have already mentioned, the sound design has a lot to do with that – I believe it’s the best in any game ever, and I’ll throw vegetables at anyone who disagrees.

          • Muzman says:

            As I said elsewhere, I find this odd. I think SS2 holds up, visually, quite well thanks to its clean lined Star Trek-ish interior design. There’s a lot less forgiveness necessary than something set in a contemporary or historical setting.

          • Fnord73 says:

            Tribes is possibly the best in capturing an early style of its own, I dont think I have seen any clones of that floaty-shooty style since.

        • Frank says:

          Ditto. I only tried Betrayal at Krondor, with its atrocious graphics, for the first time recently, and had no trouble enjoying it.

          Ditto Wizardry 8, though it could use a longer view distance.

  10. Ironclad says:

    Pfft, look at that scrub using a plasma thrower. Shotguns, assault rifles and grenades, with the trusty wrench to boot. That’s where it’s at, boys. I’ll have none of your newfangled psionics or “heavy weapons” nonsense.

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    Bluerps says:

    I have and I loved it, but it’s been so long that I remember almost nothing. I liked the character creation. I was freaked out by the first enemy you meet. I didn’t see the twist coming, when the villain reveals herself. I think that’s it.

    I need to play this again one day.

  12. Kefren says:

    One of the games I played more than any other. I actually got RSI after one early hours darkness bout in winter (my wrist really froze up – martial arts was agony for months).

    I would play as a different character each time (i.e. making choices that fit the role I wanted to play) – marine; hacker; scientist/researcher (no big weapons apart from exotic); psionic; engineer (mostly fixes and modifies things, bit of hacking). Each time felt really different as I had to come up with inventive ways of getting round obstacles. I also played the many excellent fan missions – some of which were substantial in size and playtime.

    One thing – it is often criticized for “unbalanced weapons”, i.e. some cost a lot more resources to learn to use (in terms of upgrades) and are not powerful enough to be worth it in the end. But I loved that. It was realistic – a jury-rigged new technology may not be as good as a refined auto-rifle, but it was the one my character of the time felt most comfortable with. I don’t want a game where everything is balanced – where the pros and cons even out and every weapon or choice is equally viable. That takes away any element of difficulty in choice, or making mistakes. I liked learning what choices helped more than others – and, sometimes, choosing the worse option on purpose, as well as by accident. That added to the variety. Please, let more games be unbalanced and chaotic and interesting. Balance is for games played in competitions. Lack of balance is for games replicating the chaos of a world invaded by disaster, where survival is based on decisions made under panic that you may regret later. That’s when stories get made.

    • GepardenK says:

      Thank you! Balancing is making single-player experiences soo boring. Why is this not addressed more?

  13. Krazen says:

    Even after all these years the voice work for Shodan is still the best of any game character. Truly terrifying.

  14. Colthor says:

    SS2 was my favourite game for ages.
    Normally I like to hack everything in games, so Last time I played without a single point in hacking. There are exactly enough auto-hacks (on Normal, at least) to finish the game.

  15. Shadow says:

    I didn’t play SS2 back in the day, so devoid of any nostalgia glasses, I find that the game hasn’t aged well at all. The couple of times I tried to play the sort of “remastered” version, it just didn’t hold me. I’m sure it was great 15 years ago, but now it’s just a clunky, decent game whose once vaunted immersion has largely evaporated with the passage of time.

    Maybe the graphics have something to do with the depleted atmosphere. There’s just something about primitive 3D which makes it age considerably worse than contemporary well-crafted 2D.

    • Muzman says:

      I find that a little odd, personally. Some games I get it. Even Thief, which is a stone cold classic, I understand why that graphics engine trying to do an olde worlde look dates a bit too fast. But SS2’s clean lines and Star Trek-y interior design holds up really well I find.
      The original character models don’t, but that was true when it came out.

      • GepardenK says:

        I gotta say I think Thief 1 has aged much better than System Shock 2. Thief, other than the obligatory annoying ladder, plays much better and smoother than most games even today. The ascetic is stellar and also much more varied than SS (or most other games for that matter).

        But I still think System Shock is perfectly playable today. It’s much more clunky than Thief (Just like its gameplay-partner Deus Ex) but after a bit of playing you’ll get used to it and it wont bother you anymore. SS still delivers some of gaming’s best survival horror experiences on it’s harder difficulties.

  16. TAIMAT says:

    still visiting it every once & while …may fav psi was the protective wall .. helped me a lot specially in the final fights .. this game is a masterpiece & the fan’s improved texture/models breathed a new life to the game

  17. FriendGaru says:

    I’m a huge hoarder in games. When I played SS2, I meticulously wrenched every enemy I could and kept ammo consumption to an absolute minimum. (I was also, unfortunately, a bit of a save scummer in my youth.) As I approached the endgame, though, I realized I had enough ammo and repair kits to blast everything in my path several times over and enough healing to soak anything they could throw at me while still having plenty to spare. The concluding hours of the game were much less tense for me.

    • kud13 says:

      I’ve had the opposite experience. I entered The Many with one rifle clip left. Every fight was tense, because I’d scarcely find the 1 replacement, with not a single extra bullet to spare.

    • Dorchadas says:

      This is exactly what happened to me, with the addition that I used Adrenaline Overproduction a lot and spent the points for the crystal shard. By the end of the game, I could one-shot rumblers and that huge pile of ammo and weapons in the elevator just sat there collecting dust.

  18. Stardog says:

    System Shock 1 is way better. It came out before Doom II and just crushes it feature and technology-wise.

    I don’t find SS2 very playable these days, whereas SS1 feels like a Metroid Prime game and has that addictive map clearing aspect to it.

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      Oakreef says:

      I was pretty stunned when I first played SS in 2013. “This was made in 1994????”. It really puts every other shooter for a good while after it to shame. I think Metroid Prime is a good comparison too. SS gives a really great feeling of exploration and upgrade progression. Is there any greater upgrade humanity could strive for than the ability to play missile command in their head’s up display?

      From what I’ve heard the sequel does not have a jetpack which makes it automatically inferior.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Now hang on a sec. SS1 and Doom2 are scarcely even in the same GENRE. They are both in first-person, they both feature guns. That’s basically it.

      They’re both games I love dearly but SS1 is sure as hell not the better game. Just a different game.

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    Oakreef says:

    I adore the first one but somehow I’ve still never gotten out of the starting areas in the second.

  20. Michael Fogg says:

    The game where you need to put several valueable skill points into ‘exotic weapons’ skill in order to do acceptable damage by bashing enemies with a jagged piece of space-rock. Also, where you collect piles of writhing worms into glass pitchers to use as ammo for your goo-spraying biogun. Yeah.

  21. peschi says:

    those damn monkey’s!

  22. vorador says:

    This is one of those games that has a lot of flaws, but the parts that came good were so good nothing else has quite come close.

    I wish this received a remake. Just to give it a new shiny coat of paint since it was never a looker, but leave everything else intact.

  23. Tarfman says:

    Didn’t have a clue about it when I picked it up way back when. Started playing not long after watching Event Horizon for the first time. Not a good idea. Nearly made a mess of myself the first time I ran into onĂ© of the midwives. A game has never scarred me so silly as this. Absolutely brilliant.

  24. Sin Vega says:

    Best audio logs in a game ever. A fan site has put them all together in chronological order here (link to systemshock.org) but beware of ALL OF THE SPOILERS.

    They were clever, complex, atmospheric, and occasionally horrifying. I’d dearly love to see a tv series of System Shock 2, focussing on the crew before the Event, the rapid breakdown, and the factions that sprung up and fought in its aftermath. Bronson only had about 6 lines (most of which were just shooting people) but had a great character arc within them. Delacroix was and remains the best video game hero ever.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I tried writing a script for that series, incidentally, but I only got as far as:

      “This is Dr Marie Delacroix…”
      (GUITAR RIFF)
      (EXPLOSIONS)
      (SCIENCE SHIT, I DON’T KNOW, LIKE, SPARKS OR ATOMS OR WHATEVER)

    • Sin Vega says:

      Also also: one thing it did particularly well, and as that chronology I linked shows, is getting across that its ship is a huge bureaucratic mess.

      Right away, communication breaks down and instead of everyone talking to everyone else across the ship, all aware of everything that’s going on, you wind up with whole decks completely unaware of what’s going on, too busy with their own local problems to even pay attention to the oddness going on elsewhere. There’s a real sense that everyone had their own lives, each deck and department had a proper function, and interacting only with a few others nearby.

      It’s a living place full of people. Well, it was, at any rate.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      And the best part is that the actors were mostly just in-house folks. This says a lot for how important good writing is.

      SS1’s audio logs are also surprisingly good. There are some more game-y bits but you still have that disjointed narrative, that sense of a gradual collapse and little human mistakes throwing everything further into chaos. You still have oddly great voice-work, for the most part. Most of the logs that stick out in my mind when I think of System Shock are from the first one.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’d rate System Shock 2’s audio logs #2 behind only these:

  25. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    I played it for the first time when it was re-released on Steam, around the same time I got a new 3D monitor (the crappy interlaced kind, with glasses).
    The flat textures, sharp models and the gameplay works surprisingly well with it. Most other games I’ve tried don’t.

  26. Shazbut says:

    The atmosphere is like nothing else. There is far more going on than horror and claustrophobia. There is a weird sense of almost…how can I say…security? Like being in the womb? The total confinement is almost serene at times, almost spiritual when the Many are talking to you, and the juxtaposition of that with the horror and fear triggers strange emotions I’ve not experienced in any other game.

    I don’t really know why it’s not in Bioshock or Alien Isolation, for example. I just know that it isn’t.

    • Shazbut says:

      Which is not to say AI didn’t have a cracking atmosphere too

  27. Grey_Ghost says:

    Yeah I’ve played it a whole hell of a lot. Vanilla, Modded, & High Definition Upgraded. Hell of a game.

  28. kud13 says:

    Played this after I got through Deus Ex, IW, Bloodlines and went looking for what spawned them.

    Superb game. Simply amazing.

  29. aoanla says:

    Played the demo (along with some friends of mine) as an undergraduate. Not one of us picked it up for various reasons (the more FPS inclined disliked the degrading weapons, I just found the cybermonkey things with pipes appearing behind me and bludgeoning me to be a little too stressful, thank you very much. Although the degrading weapons didn’t help with that stress either).
    From the reputation, I always wondered if I was missing out – but then I remember those bloody cybermonkeys.

  30. fish99 says:

    Best game I’ve played, just beating Thief 2 to first place.

    I’ve finished it about 6 times now I think, including a psi, marine and navy playthrough, plus I’ve beat it on impossible.

  31. Unclepauly says:

    WHAR IS THE SPOILER ALERT!

  32. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I never got to experience SS2 fresh, firmly stuck in consoles in the 90s I’m afraid, but I played it when it got the GOG release and I didn’t find anything too ‘scary’.
    Atmosphere-wise it fit the same niche that stalker fills for me, as in you’re constantly under threat from every possible angle and those moments of respite in the ‘safe zones’ stick with you forever.
    Plus i’m gonna be controverisal and say I loved the soundtrack and its 90s hacker sterotype vibes

  33. Layabout says:

    This article has reminded me that during my last playthrough attempt I got utterly stuck, and after spending 2 hours wandering around trying to trigger the next bit of progress I had to give up.

    I’ve never completed it in 5 playthroughs for one reason or another.

    I am however pretty bloody good at the first 75% of the game.

    • Layabout says:

      Right and now I’m downloading it again.

      You know this time… I might just do it.

  34. zylonbane says:

    I am so confused whenever I see people going on about how confusing SS2’s interface is. It’s cleanly designed, every button is labeled, there’s help text everywhere, nothing is more than two or three clicks away, and compared to most RPGs it’s a model of minimalism.

    Really, hold up a screenshot of SS2’s UI next to the WoW UI and tell me which one looks more overwhelming. Especially with some of the popular UI mods.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I think the usual issue is that people compare it to the UI in your average FPS. In which case it will definitely come across as overwhelmingly complex, perhaps needlessly so. I’m just guessing though, I’ve never seen any problem with it.

      Then again, I’m one of those people who shrugs whenever someone says SS1’s controls or interface are awful. They’re fine.

  35. kalzekdor says:

    I have literally spent *hours* playing Overworld Zero. When you game with friends who are sometimes wont to pause the game and disappear for an hour, it was a godsend that SS2 allowed you to futz around in your inventory while the game was paused. Including of course your MFD Game Player.

    “So, I found an ICE Pick. I can save this for the final boss fight… or I can unlock some games to play. Yeah, games.” Civilization as I know it has ended, the enemies of humanity are about to become unstoppable, and I’m just hanging out in Recreation playing video games.

  36. FrozenLiquidity says:

    SS2 is a great game unlike any other I’ve come across. I continue to fire it up when I’ve left other games from that era far behind. With the right mods and updates it doesn’t even remotely look its age and I haven’t even touched the fan missions.