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System Shock (DOS)

90
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37741)
Written on  :  Dec 15, 2006
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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Summary

Your system has been shocked. Remember to Salt The Fries

The Good

In the year 2072, a hacker is caught trying to access secret files concerning Citadel space station, which is owned by TriOptimum Corporation, a massive corporate monopoly focusing on research, defense, and commercial manufacturing. Edward Diego, the arresting officer, offers to drop all the charges against him in exchange for a secret hacking job on SHODAN, the super-computer that controls Citadel Station. In addition, Diego gives the hacker a valuable military-grade cybernetic implant. SHODAN is hacked, removing its ethical constraints, and the hacker is prepared for surgery. Following the operation, the hacker is put into a healing coma in the surgical suite of the station's medical level, and after six long months, he awakens to find that everyone on board Citadel are dead.

The thing about System Shock that got me hooked into it is the superb introduction. It leads in nicely to the game, and you know straight away that SHODAN has gone berserk, and you know that you must do whatever it takes to stop it.

System Shock is an action/RPG game, in which you mainly control all your movements by keyboard or joystick, and manipulate items with the mouse. When you start a new game and select the difficulty, you are given tips on how to use the interface, and these tips may be confusing to any player, but fool around with the interface and anyone can get the hang of it. The interface is clean, with biometer and health and energy indicators across the top of the screen, and the action bar that occupies nearly half of the screen. Along the bottom sits the inventory selection and two multi-function displays (MFDs) on either side of the inventory selection. The MFDs allow you to display two bits of information at once. I like to display the automap on the left MFD, so that I can keep track of where I am going, and what areas of the level that I have not explored yet.

Your weapon is crap at the start of the game. You start out with a lead pipe, which can be best used to take out security robots and humanoids that attempt to rip your heart out. You can obtain more powerful weapons such as the dartgun, magnum, and the magpulse and use them to easily take out enemies on the first level of the game (there are ten levels, including a level “R”) but these prove less effective against enemies you later encounter in the game. I started using these weapons, but later I used such powerful weapons like the Skorpion, Laser Rapier, and Assault Rifle. I thought that these weapons were excellent against much tougher enemies. When enemies are killed, you can search them to find ammunition for weapons that you have picked up earlier in the game. If you take any damage from enemies, you can easily obtain a medipatch or a first-aid kid that will help restore your health to full.

But enemies are not the only thing you will worry about. You may step into a room where you can receive a large dose of radiation. Your health can decrease rapidly if you do not wear an EnviroSuit or carry some detox patches. Of course, if you carry heaps and heaps of these, you wouldn't need an EnviroSuit.

E-mails and logs can be picked up along the way, and these can be used to listen to crew members that tried and failed to thwart SHODAN's plans, but they are used mainly as a guide to knowing what you need to do in later levels. More importantly, they also outline the tasks that must be accomplished, including taking a laser off-line and setting the reactor to self-destruct. Listening to their voices is quite interesting since most of the time, they usually send their last log just before they are killed. SHODAN herself can send an e-mail to you, warning you to back off, but most of her communications are given through logs. During these logs, she asks her “children” to go to a certain area and guard it against intruders. Users of the CD-ROM version of System Shock can enjoy listening to her electronically-filtered voice. Users of the floppy version are not disadvantaged: although there is no speech for logs and e-mails, they can listen to every audio clip here.

The graphics have that futuristic feel to them, especially on level one, where you see state-of-the-art technology. SHODAN's children are well-designed, and they gave me the feeling that the world is going to be controlled by androids and mutants. The graphics are more detailed if they have a 640w resolution (CD version only). During the game, you have to enter cyberspace through a cyberspace jack somewhere on each level. It consists of a grid layout and tunnels to different areas of cyberspace, which is what it is supposed to look like. You will fight cyber-enemies, and collect gadgets and unlock certain security doors, which can only be done in cyberspace.

The sound and music, too, are futuristic. The androids make that robotic noise, warning you that they are coming your way, and deliver the same type of noise when they are killed. There are puzzles in the game, which I hate but you are given an opportunity for them to be solved without your interaction. On-line help is available, which I found very useful in locating hidden doors and security cameras.

The Bad

OK, I admit: I am a coward when it comes to playing System Shock. I have to spy on one of SHODAN's children from around the corner and make sure that I am not spotted straight away, giving me the chance to put a few shots into them, and not giving them the chance to shoot back. But before I do, I'll save the game at the point where I am not seen. The problem with this is most of the time, this technique does not work and when I load the game, I was spotted right away, and more often than not, take damage immediately unless I strafe left or right. It is not supposed to work like this.

I felt that Looking Glass did not put enough effort into the ending. It was just too short, and lasted under less than a minute. You do not hear SHODAN give her final speech when she has been defeated, nor do you hear authorities from Earth congratulating you on a job well done.

The Bottom Line

System Shock tells the story of a hacker trying to stop SHODAN and her plans to destroy Earth. In order to get to her, tasks must be performed to thwart her experiments which will ultimately destroy Earth. There are ten levels which the player must explore fully for any cameras or hidden passages. Cyberspace must be entered to get additional information and unlock doors that can only be unlocked from there.

Everything about System Shock is futuristic – the graphics, music, and sound effects. The highlight of the game has to be listening to SHODAN's voice, ordering her children around. There are two versions of the game: a disk version and an enhanced CD-ROM version. By playing the CD version of the game, I felt that its full speech gave me depth to the game. There are differences between the dialog and the spoken text, and for that reason, I wished that I had played the disk version first.