Looking back on System Shock, one part inevitably stands out more than any other. SHODAN. The goddess of Citadel Station. With her words she turned a futuristic maze into a horrific hunter/hunted situation, where survival was about clawing back control and beating the machine at her own game. It’s an impressive achievement… but especially when you consider that really, she was little more than a few well written voice files and a world that let them temporarily seem like something more.
Since the start of gaming though, there’s been technology… and there’s been showmanship. One often gets mistaken for the other. We see advanced AI in characters that simply broadcast what they’re doing. A simple line of dialogue at the right moment can make a game. In Deus Ex for instance, being shouted at for going into the ladies’ wasn’t simply a cute bit of scripting, but its way of saying that it was always watching. And you were never going to know what it was watching out for.
Sometimes, characters just commenting at all can create wonders.