The year is 2072. A hacker from a Saturn colony breaks into computer system of TriOptimum Corporation and gets arrested. He is taken to the Citadel Station, where Edward Diego, a TriOptimum executive, offers to drop all charges against the hacker, as well as grant him a valuable neural implant, if he agrees to hack into SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) , the artificial intelligence that controls the station. The hacker removes the AI's ethical constraints and undergoes the promised implant surgery, after which he is put into a six-month healing coma.
The hacker awakens into a horrifying reality: with her ethical restrictions removed, SHODAN took control over the station, reprogrammed all robots and machines to suit her needs, and disposed of the crew members by either transforming them into mutants and cyborgs, or killing them outright. Rebecca Lansing, a TriOptimum counter-terrorism consultant, contacts the hacker and informs him of an even more terrifying possible future: SHODAN's plan involves using the station's mining lasers to annihilate all life on Earth. The hacker must explore and traverse the desolate corridors and rooms of the large space station, fighting SHODAN's minions on his way to thwart her maniacal design.System Shock
is a first-person shooter with puzzle-solving and light role-playing elements. The gameplay incorporates gradual exploration of the Citadel's ten levels, interaction with the environment, problem-solving, fulfilling objectives, and combat.
On his way the hacker encounters numerous enemies - robots, cyborgs and mutants, all of which can be fought back with a variety of weapons. Some of the weapons use ammo, while other have infinite ammo and instead draw on electric energy. Some weapons are more effective on certain foes - e.g. the dart gun only works on organic enemies, while the magpulse is best used against robots. Once killed, the enemies can be searched for ammo and other items. The player can also find items in crates, cabinets, corpses or just lying around on the ground.
Apart from weapons and ammo, the player can find patches (such as medical patches, which replenish the hero's health; berserk patches, which temporarily increase his strength but cause hallucinations; detox patches, which remove the harmful effects of radiation and biohazard; etc.), grenades of various kinds (EMP grenades are effective against robots, gas grenades are good for mutants, land mines can be used to set traps, etc.), battery packs for replenishing electricity, first aid kits for restoring health, and others.
Thanks to the hacker's implant he is able to install various pieces of hardware into his body, such as a booster which makes him go faster, or a head lantern to bright up dark areas. As the player progresses in the game, higher versions of existing hardware are found, which are more effective and useful. However, most hardware uses up electric energy while it is active.
At some places in the game, the player has to find a wall-mounted "cyberjack" to go into cyberspace in order to find helpful data, remotely open doors or unlock sealed areas, or give himself clearance to access off-limits areas. Cyberspace is represented as a 3-D wireframe place, where the protagonist floats around freely in three dimensions, shoots hostile cyber-guards with phasers, and collects files represented as colorful cubes.
The story of System Shock
is mostly told through e-mail messages the protagonist received, and electronic diaries (logs) left by various characters (as well as SHODAN herself), which are scattered around the space station. The game features separate adjustable difficulty settings for combat, mission objectives and puzzles. The CD version of the game includes full speech for e-mails and logs, as well as higher-resolution, more detailed graphics.
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The CD-ROM version adds SVGA modes, full speech for e-mails and logs, slightly improved intro/end sequences and a few other adjustments and additions.
If you engage the mining laser BEFORE activating the station's shields, then you'll destroy earth! And guess what? Shodan sends you an e-mail thanking you and inviting you to a celebration! The e-mail also includes a nice picture of a city being incinerated, but unfortunately the game restarts afterwards, so no robo-party.
's engine was derived from that of Ultima Underworld
, from 1992. Nonetheless it was more advanced that that of Doom
or Duke Nukem 3D
, featuring sloped surfaces, variable gravity, realistic physics, '2.75d' environments (with limited 'sector-on-sector', but otherwise 3D), functional camera viewscreens, weapon recoil, leaning and several other clever things.
References to the game
- During the end-game sequence, you hack into another corporate computer to grab some data. The data is info on some powered battle armor, which made its way into Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri..
- In the end sequence, the hacker breaks in the corporate network of a corp. called 'Tetracorp'. In System Shock 2, the name tetracorp is printed on a generic two-state switch. Kinda rough change of business..
- It is hinted in the Wing Commander and Crusader games that they are set in the same universe as System Shock. For example, an article in a "newspaper" from the Crusader: No Remorse box mentions an artificial intelligence and the Citadel station.
- The Hacker's employee number, 2-4601, is a reference to the inmate number of Jean Valjean, the protagonist in the novel Les Misérables.
- There is a reference to the movie Soylent Green in the game (although it's spelled slightly different). In level 3, Maintenance, there is a relay panel in the northern section called "Soylant Green Filtration".
There were rumours of a possible sequel, soon after System Shock
's release, but fans had to wait five years for System Shock 2
Information also contributed by
Stefan Pieratzki and
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #98 on the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- 2001 – #24 Top Game of All Time
- GameStar (Germany)
- Issue 12/1999 - #15 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
- PC Gamer
- April 2000 - #43 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games Poll"
- Power Play
- Issue 02/1995 – Best Action-Adventure in 1994