Nightdive’s remake of System Shock has been delayed until 2020, but playing the 1994 original is a more tempting option now. Paving the way for immersive sims like Deus Ex and Dishonored, System Shock is an important part of the genre’s history, and after a surprise update yesterday it’s a far more playable one.
System Shock: Enhanced Edition is now a sharper looking game, expanded to widescreen and with modernised, configurable controls. Below, a trailer showing off what System Shock looks like, freed of its DOS-era jank. It’s also on sale, which is nice.
While System Shock: Enhanced Edition previously offered slight improvements to graphics and interface, this new version feels far more modern. It supports resolutions up to 4k, widescreen and variable field-of-view. It also integrates the Mac version’s higher resolution art. More importantly, this update makes System Shock far easier to play. Inventory and cybernetics management requires a floating mouse cursor, but nearly everything else can be done using modern, configurable FPS controls.
This suite of improvements comes thanks to Nightdive rebuilding the game from its original source code, which they released publicly earlier this year. Nightdive’s coding crew have now hooked System Shock’s ageing guts up to the more recent Kex Engine, created by Samuel “Kaiser” Villarreal. This engine was previously used in Nightdive’s remasters of Forsaken, both Turok games and as far back as Samuel’s solo effort to port Doom 64 to PC, so I’m interested to see where it (and its creator) crops up next.
The new Enhanced Edition also adds integrated mod support. From the renovated main menu you can pick from multiple user-made campaigns. The first of which – System Shock: ReWired – was updated yesterday with fully voiced audio-logs and repackaged for easy use in this new version of the game. It’s like two remastered System Shocks for the price of one, or just a free update if you already owned it.
While it hasn’t aged as gracefully as Doom, this is now the best way to experience System Shock, especially as Nightdive’s beleaguered remake is delayed until 2020. While it appears to be back on track now, its future looked grim for a while after plans to rework the game into a modern re-imagining (as opposed to a more traditional remake) fell through. In the meantime, here’s hoping for more of those mods.