L-look At These, Hacker: System Shock Remake Screens

That there System Shock remake Night Dive Studios got on the go after untangling and acquiring its rights? It’s jolly shiny! Those Polygon folks have a load of screenshots comparing Looking Glass’s original 1994 FPS-RPG with this new version and gosh, it’s made some interesting decisions. The architecture of Citadel Station is about the same, essentially built of big blocks and steep angles, but the detailing and textures are all hi-res and shiny and everything is glowing and bathed in bloom – a negotiation between modern graphics technology and the original look. Go on, git, go look!

“We have been in contact with members of the original System Shock team and any future iterations of the System Shock games, and by this I mean both new titles in the series as well as major updates to the existing games, will be very true to the spirit of the originals,” Night Dive CEO Stephen Kick told the Polypeople. That includes concept artist Robb Waters.

This System Shock remake is built on Unity engine. If you want the old things, hey, you can still buy the Enhanced Edition Night Dive released in September.

What do you make of it? I do sorta like the weird decision to stick with that unreal blockworld style, interpreting it wholly as an actual style rather than something limited by old technology (it was a bit of both, obvs). I wish it were a bit more green, though.

No word yet on when it’ll launch.


  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Oh wow! So frikken hyped for this! System Shock and Star Control and Master of Orion being remade. It’s like I’m dreaming!

    • Cinek says:

      The Wargaming Master of Orion won’t be a remake but rather a new game made on the same IP.

    • CaidKean says:

      Star Control also isn’t a remade but rather a reboot. It will be set in a different timeline and have a different story.

      Heck, there will not even be the same aliens and such since apparently the original founders of Toys for Bob own the right to the actual lore of the original two games.

      • CaidKean says:

        *a remake

        Damn you, lack of edit.

      • Detocroix says:

        Yup, all they’ve got is the words “Star Control”… They could have just called it Star Counter or Star Tre-… I mean Star Journey or whatever else, but they actually spent a lot of money to own a name and nothing else. Good business plan :D

  2. Vivian says:

    I don’t really see the point in just reusing the (very, very) old architecture as wholesale as that. It just makes it look like a texture upgrade. If you’re going to the bother of funding and performing a remake, you should actually, you know, remake it? Not just give it a lick of paint.

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      basilisk says:

      Well, reduced costs would be the obvious point; let’s not forget Night Dive is unlikely to be swimming in cash and this is a full-scale game we’re talking about here, not a small three-hour indie project. I still worry they might have bitten off more than they can chew, but I’m keeping my hopes up.

      But I also find it an interesting stylistic choice; recent games have a tendency to build very cluttered worlds, so a sparse one could be a welcome change.

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      I really like this kind of “faithful reconstruction” approach to “remake”, since they’re essentially just… remaking the original game while sticking as close to the source as possible. What you’re describing is something that i’d call “reimagining” instead of “remaking”.

      • Vivian says:

        Yeah but you can just replay the original if that’s what you want to do. With all of the fan patches and stuff it works perfectly fine. Which makes this a lot of effort to go through for… what, exactly?

        • Marblecake says:

          For people like me. I’ve never played the original and wouldn’t be able to enjoy it today due to its dated visuals. This actually gets me all tingly and excited!

          • Vivian says:

            Yeah, maybe that’s it. Ages ago, I went through a lot (well, a reasonable amount) of trouble to get hold of the original, and get it working, and having been a massive SS2 nerd it was embarrassingly close to something like a reverent experience finally getting to play it. But I’ve played that game now, a lot. It’s effin great, if you haven’t, so if a reskin is what it takes to get you in, fair enough I guess – but for peeps like me, who would like something, well, new or new-ish, I guess, something like Black Mesa or that cry engine animation someone did of SS2, this looks disappointing.

        • Procrastination Giant says:

          I don’t think “perfectly fine” is the common consensus, since it’s usually considered to be incredibly painful and tedious to play, even when fully modded with mouselook and all that – Visually it hasn’t aged well at all either, and as far as i know there really aren’t any graphical overhaul mods that really change that.

          I’d imagine that the main intend behind this remake is to turn it into a game that keeps as much of the original intact while actually being fun to play, by modern standards. Quite simple really.

        • Fenixp says:

          Console release. Appeal to Xbone/PS4/whatever else crowd.

          • ansionnach says:

            Good point. For me, the first System Shock is the better game, regardless of technology. I’d say that the SS2 interface was a backward step as having to switch control methods to handle inventory meant that you couldn’t do it while moving.

      • Sandepande says:

        Quite frankly this looks so much better than a simple hi-res patch that yeah, I’m sold.

    • Halk says:

      SS1 was awesome as it was. In many ways better than SS2.

      The weird architecture added a lot of appeal to it, so I am glad they just reproduce that.

      Really, all I want is modern controls, and hi-res graphics, Legend of Grimrock style. No further changes needed.

      • Halk says:

        Addendum: What they should also add is a clear objective system that tells you what you need to do when, what you cannot do yet, etc.

        Because SS1 was really confusing in that regard. It would tell you that you need to do something, but at that time it was impossible to actually do it, so you had to come back later, but there was no way of knowing that, etc.

        • wcq says:

          Call me a purist, but I don’t agree.

          I liked System Shock partly because to know what to do you had to explore, hack computer systems, read messages and listen to audio logs. You know, actually figure things out. You get the feeling that the game respects your intelligence.

          • Halk says:

            >You know, actually figure things out. You get the
            >feeling that the game respects your intelligence.

            I completely agree, and like this as well, but I am pretty sure that there were things the game never told you.

            For example how you could early in the game, without any warning, access the much too hard core area of the basement level where you were only supposed to go almost at the end of the game. How is the player to know whether he is dying there because he is doing something wrong, or because he isn’t even meant to be there?

            Or how you could not initially solve the laser objective, but had to abandon it and come back down to that level later.

            Maybe there were hints about these things somewhere, but that’s not how I remember it (but it has been a LONG time).

          • wcq says:

            Granted, it’s not like every detail is crystal clear in my mind either. I did play it just a few years ago, honest!

            I just feel that there’s a certain kind of game that benefits from being somewhat opaque. Another one of these is Dark Souls: it trusts the player to figure out a lot of things by NPC dialogue and other vague hints.

          • Replikant says:

            The game is more or less linear in its objectives and it is mostly crystal clear about it, too. You get instructions via comm-link and you get a pretty decent idea about what’s going on where and which dangers to expect by listening to the audio-logs and reading e-mails.
            People talk about the radiation in the reactor core and that you need a good protection suit for it(it should be pretty obvious anyway). You don’t need to fire the laser (actually you really shouldn’t) before you understand why and how you need to fire it.
            The only really annoying thing for me is the invisible mutants. Unless you happen to know about the laser-sabre, you are going to spent a lot time dead and baffled.

            All in all, though, System Shock is very much a save’n’reload game. There are some traps that you WILL die in the first time.

      • TonyM19 says:

        A straight remake please.

        I came back to this after SS2 (which I’ve been played through more than any other game) and just couldn’t get my head (or hands) around the controls. No options to re-map keys etc. It felt like you needed 12 fingers

    • shagen454 says:

      I agree, if they are going to stick that close to the original graphics then hopefully they are concentrating on beefing up the AI to be unlike anything on the market.

      • shagen454 says:

        Or just remake the original levels for fucksake & inspiration. Then beef up the AI to be the most sophisticated AI on the market with inspired levels. These guys should not be getting away with “remakes” of this game unless they are getting that fucking god damn AI insanely good.

        • Fenixp says:

          Wait, what? The original had terrible AI.

          • Replikant says:

            That depends.
            “THE AI”, the god of citadel station, is supposedly deadly smart (according to it).
            The actual game-AI of the enemies is a couple of rudimentary scripts (par for the course, back then, I believe).

          • shagen454 says:

            System Shock 2 had great AI for the time. Doesn’t really matter if we’re talking about the original or SS2, if anyone is going to touch System Shock – they better put fantastic AI in it. Otherwise, we’re going to have more people running to their nearest insurance company to buy out those sacred ip’s, model the maps in a modern engine and say “here ya go”.

          • Fenixp says:

            You mean as opposed to modern AAA titles which all feature fantastic AI? :-P It’s a remake, not a remaster. It’s supposed to more or less literally take the original and put it in a new engine, with new controls I guess (altho it would be nice if controls of the original were optionally kept)

          • Fenixp says:

            And if we can have more classic remakes, I’m a fan, great! The originals are not going anywhere so if the remake’s fucked you can still play those, and if it’s not, you have another game to play, win-win

    • epeternally says:

      On one level, I’m not too inclined to defend the studio with how ‘Enhanced Edition’ was nothing of the sort and a blatant cash in on fixes that had already been done by the community, but at the same time the biggest problem with System Shock is its wonkiness; I don’t think the core of the game really needs to be changed, it really is a good candidate for just getting a fresh coat of paint (and modern controls).

  3. Troubletcat says:

    I like the look of this. Although I never felt like the first System Shock was that good of a game (and I think this is how most people remember it, right? Like, it was an ok shooter but nothing amazing)

    I’d really like to see a proper remake of System Shock 2, although it’s not as necessary I guess. System Shock 2’s GoG release plays completely fine (at least by the standards of someone who gamed through the 90s) and looks dated but not awful at high res.

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      basilisk says:

      As a matter of fact, I remember it as probably the greatest game I have ever played, and the pinnacle of the whole “immersive sim” genre. It’s a lot more than just a shooter.

    • tomimt says:

      Original System Shock always was and remains, just like Ultima Underworld before it, a prisoner of its own time. Both of the games were ambitious, but those ambitons were always held back by what was possible with the current tech. I can see either game becoming much more playable with a modern engine than what the old engines ever were capable of.

    • Halk says:

      >I think this is how most people remember it, right?
      >Like, it was an ok shooter but nothing amazing

      Errm, what? It was anything but a shooter.

      Pretty much every single good idea of SS2 was already there in SS1. And many more that never made it into SS2.

      That’s why it is so sad that SS1 is so hard to access due to bad controls, and general confusion about objectives.

    • Replikant says:

      I never thought of System Shock as a shooter (as opposed to DOOM). It’s more of a “sneak up to the corner, lean carefully and take out that bloody cyber assassin before it throws you dead” kind of gameplay. Speeding through the corridors is a recipe for desaster unless you have amazing reflexes, imo.

      • Fenixp says:

        Without Mouselook mod you tak about 15 years to turn around in the original, so it was never even designed for run and gun gameplay, no matter your reflexes

  4. Text_Fish says:

    Personally I would have gone for a slightly more subdued style. Alien Isolation with the lights turned on, perhaps. I guess that kind of rubs against the cheesy-neon-punk-sci-fi vibe, but as somebody who played SS2 first all I really want is to be rendered numb with fear. The real test will be the sounds I suppose.

    • Halk says:

      >all I really want is to be rendered numb with fear.

      I am afraid then you will be disappointed. SS1 was not focussing on scaryness even remotely as much as SS2.

  5. Sinjun says:

    Glad this is happening. The original is practically unplayable and very hard to look at.

    • banananas says:

      “The original is practically unplayable and very hard to look at.”

      Hm, then I’m wondering how I managed to play through it two weeks ago, and having an amazing time with it… must be my age.

      Anyways, these screenshots are getting me very excited as well!

      • zal says:

        you may have played it repeatedly in the past giving you a basic familiarity with its mechanisms.. But hey maybe it was your first time through and that control style naturally took for you. I’d replayed it recently with a mouselook mod and found it passable but not amazingly controllable. playing it without the mouselook mod was a chore for me, back then and today. I’ll relish playing the same game again with a graphic pass and updated controls. so if thats what they do? excellent.

  6. Sandepande says:

    This looks brilliant. Just enough 3D tweaks in the tiles to make it look modern, but no need to rebuild the maps from scratch. Lovely.

  7. hurrakan says:

    Will it have co-op play over LAN (and Internet)?

    I played some of the original with my brother recently and it was good – but kept crashing quite regularly, sometimes causing us to lose progress. Eventually we gave up.

    • Halk says:

      >I played some of the original with my brother recently

      Errm.. wait, what?

  8. Monkey says:

    Chromatic Aberration, a remake does not make.

    But still excited

  9. Kefren says:

    This makes me happy. I still play the original, and find myself totally immersed. Even with the blocky graphics I will hide in a corner, and just take it all in, wonder how safe it is to proceed down the corridor. The way they are updating the graphics but keeping the architecture the same is fantastic. It will take the game I love, and the elements I enjoy, and just make them even more immersive. The station as this cramped space with system crammed in to all sorts of sub-floor spaces is perfect already.

    The one graphical element I look forward to even more is the updated enemy skins. The originals are so blocky that some of the horror is lost – it’s hard to distinguish between mutants and cyborgs, and different types, and what has been done to them by Shodan. (It was my one problem with Teleglitch). This will really help with that.

    One thing – the starting room shows the two cryo bed chambers, but I can’t see the beds. Even if the one you get off isn’t slid out, it should be visible under the glass. Ideally you would get off the bed, then it would slide back in, as a segue from the intro to the reality.

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    Neurotic says:

    “ROBOT BUDDIES” ahahahaha!

  11. kahki says:

    I’m actually surprised how good the screenshots look. Also count me in with those who prefer a faithful remake to a reimagination. I just hope all the crazy effects and such (e.g. the berserk patch hallucinations, slowing time, rear-view camera, roller skates) can be reproduced.

  12. piedpiper says:

    Still the main question remains: what will they do to music?

  13. Grey_Ghost says:

    Holy hellfire, it’s b-e-a-utiful!

  14. Geebs says:

    They really need to write a nicer SSAO implementation for Unity. Everybody seems to be using the same nasty shader which puts big haloes around anything within spitting distance of a wall.

  15. slerbal says:

    Looks lovely. I also want to chime in with the general consensus and say I approve of the remake rather than a reimagine. I always wanted to play SS! but came to it too late and found it just too tough to get into, but I will definitely pick this up for more SHODAN goodness.

    I replayed and completed SS2 again recently. Still an amazing game.

  16. Muzman says:

    There’s a bit of a standing joke around the forums about screenshots like this, unfortunately.
    There must have been at least a dozen mods and TCs and standalones looking to remake or update SS1 over the years. Fantastically ambitious, displaying some high skills and bottomless enthusiasm. All they leave behind is a few screenshots from workups of Medical and then they vanish.

    Hopefully these guys get a bit further.

  17. manny says:

    Wow the religious aesthetic in those new screenshots is staggeringly obvious, didn’t realize the religious angle in SS2, but now it totally makes sense. Very excited.

    • Josh W says:

      Interesting, I interpreted those windows not as stained glass, but as inspired by the emperor’s office in star wars.

  18. JiminyJickers says:

    I’m so keen to play this, release it now!!!

  19. rondertaker says:

    hnnnnnnnnnrgh hurry

  20. Maelig says:

    That robot in the last pic kinda looks like Alpha 5 in the Power Rangers.