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System Shock 2

Moby ID: 590
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

In the year 2114, forty-two years after the events described in System Shock, a soldier joins the military organization Unified National Nominate (UNN), receiving the number G65434-2, and is shortly thereafter assigned to the military space ship Rickenbacker. This ship's duty is to escort the Von Braun, an experimental faster-than-light starship, on its maiden voyage. However, the next thing the soldier can remember is waking up in a cryo-tube on the Von Braun. It appears that both ships were infected with something so horrifying that nearly the entire crew was either killed or mutated into monsters. The soldier is contacted by a woman who identifies herself as the only human survivor. His first task is a rendezvous with this woman, for which he will have to traverse the monster-infested corridors of the ghost ship.

System Shock 2 is a hybrid of first-person shooter and role-playing game. In the beginning of the game the player chooses a career for the protagonist in the UNN. This choice grants bonuses to the protagonist's initial skills. Marines specialize in combat, navy officers can repair weapons and hack computer terminals, and OSA agents may begin the game with psionic powers. Notwithstanding this initial choice, the player may choose to learn any of these skills as the game progresses, spending acquired cybermodules to develop the main character in a RPG fashion.

As the hero traverses the corridors of Von Braun, he will have to avoid death at the hands of hostile creatures and robots on the way, acquire a variety of items, and complete missions to unlock new areas and advance the story. The game emphasizes survival rather than elimination of enemies; in many situations the protagonist is underpowered, and new enemies may appear in already explored areas.

Combat is done in FPS style, with both ranged and melee weapons. The ranged weapons can accept a few different types of ammo, each of them efficient against different foes, and can shoot in two firing modes. However, ranged weapons deteriorate quickly as the player character uses them, and will eventually break down after prolonged use.

Healing items, such as medical hypos and medikits, will save the hero's life, while other items will shield him from radiation, cure him from poisoning, or temporarily boost his attributes. The soldier can find armor to wear and implants which will amplify his skills, as long as their battery doesn't run out. There are also some alien items that the player has to research (which usually requires finding specific chemicals in the ship's chemical stores); researching weapons and items allows the player to use them, and researching enemies' organs makes it possible to deal more damage to them.

Apart from finding them lying around, items can be bought from "matter replicators" for nanites, the game's currency. Nanites are also used for cybernetic activities (hacking electronic systems), repairing broken weapons and improving them, healing the protagonist on surgery tables, and, after death, resurrecting him in special chambers found on most levels.

Cybermodules are received for successfully completing objectives or found during exploration. They are used to enhance the main character's attributes: the player can improve his strength, agility, endurance, as well as his cybernetics and weapon skills; psionic powers are also acquired in this way. Psi powers allow the protagonist to move objects from a distance, paralyze enemies, become invisible, etc. A special "psi amplifier" must be found in order to use them, and the hero spends "psi points" each time he uses a psi power.

Like in the first System Shock, much of the background story in the game is revealed by finding messages left by crew members before they fell victims to the mysterious infestation.

Spellings

  • 网络奇兵2 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

146 People (144 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 91% (based on 61 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 282 ratings with 24 reviews)

Join the mass

The Good
As a sequel to one of the finest PC games ever, this was as good as could be hoped, and is one of the few games to make me play it all the way through again after finishing it the first time. Using a modified version of the 'Thief' engine, it has a similar plot to the original game - you're a lone, cybernetically-enhanced human trapped in a corpse-strewn, hostile environment. It follows directly from 'System Shock', and there are many homages - the final level is a carbon copy of the opening level of the original, for example.

Where the presentation is good, it's very good indeed, and special mention must be made of the excellent sound design - the inhuman speech-sounds made by distant, prowling robots sends a chill down the spine. The gameplay sets a balance between action and exploration, and this is one of a handful of games to be genuinely creepy (another thing it shares with 'Thief'), and as you penetrate further into the belly of the beast the atmosphere becomes more intense and claustraphobic. It's a criminal shame that Looking Glass went under immediately afterwards.

Probably the best game of 1999, this is still excellent and still worth buying.

The Bad
Not much is wrong with this game. As with 'Thief', the graphics are sometimes crude, although there's a lot more going on in the game than in, say, 'Unreal Tournament'. The role-playing aspect is more-or-less pointless, as the majority of situations require no more than brute force. And the FMV cut-scenes are awful, being crude and unattractive - especially the final sequence which almost, but not quite, destroys the atmosphere. Apart from that, you want this.

The Bottom Line
An excellent modern sequel to a modern classic, this is up there with 'Thief'.

Windows · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2000

If you don't think games have the power to scare you, I dare you to play this one

The Good
The atmosphere, the atmosphere, the atmosphere, baby. I have never been as literally frightened by a computer game as I was by this one. Beyond that, the monster AI is quite good, in a they-really-just-make-a-beeline-for-you kind of way, and of course the graphics and (particularly) the sound are stellar, as one would expect from Looking Glass Studios. Much has been made about the fact that this game uses Thief's Dark Engine, but let me tell you that that all comes to nothing in the end. Making everything photo-realistic wouldn't have added a thing to this game. It's as completely immersive as anything you'll ever play.

The Bad
The story is slightly hackneyed (think Alien with only one person investigating the distress beacon this time--you), and I found some of the dialog on the recorded messages you discover lying around the ship a bit hard to swallow, although the voice acting is competent enough. Also, the weapons wear out far too quickly and there is not nearly enough ammunition to get through some areas unless you already know what to expect and conserve accordingly. Monster respawning takes place far too frequently--sometimes right in front of your face--as well, although that can be adjusted with a patch.

The Bottom Line
Worth its weight in gold to any fan of the Alien movies, RPG's, and/or shooters. Worth a look from everyone else if for no other reason than to see what is probably the greatest character ever invented for a computer game, Shodan.

Windows · by Jim Newland (56) · 2001

Nothing to shock you but the lack of quality.

The Good
After first time encountering the absolutely marvelous "Deus Ex" appearance, I easily fell under the words "Huh, Deus Ex is everything but original, real originality lies in System Shock 2", especially since both games are made by the same creator. I could easily made this whole review as a comparisson of those two games, 'cos both of them have so much in common, yet there's a huge difference when it comes to addiction to those two games. Instead, I'll just try to concentrate on describing this game in specific, without much comparing it around (but there'll be some comparissons further as you read, nevertheless).

Sure, the thing I usually fall for is good story, and this one seemed to have really taunting one, but no matter this could be called more adventure oriented game than pure action shooter, I could name some shooters with even more profound story with much better atmosphere, I'll name "Half-Life" for example. Now that's the game no man on Earth should pass. Okay, the story makes you choose one of thre classes to play as, a marine (concentrating more on a firepower and macho tactics), a navy seal (being more of a stealth man than the one of action, lockpicking instead of blowing things up), and a psi trooper (using more of psi boosts and powers), though no matter which class you choose, you'll be able to upgrade your charactr to use lockpicking, hacking or psi skills.

Okay, typical boring story, marooned on a huge scientifical ship, you don't remember anything for the past three weeks, and you've been just unfrozen. But there's no way to stop and ask for directions, as it seems that there's a big mess on the ship you're on. With a help of some survivors (or so you think in the beginning), you'll get a few directives that will save your life, and then you'll choose how to proceed any further. Seems that some strange experiments went off-the-hook on the ship, and you'll have to tame 'em. In the beginning it'll be less interesting unless you prefer having a lack of weapon arsenal, and running around all night long, and you'll have to search the ship for messages, logs, and thus finding out about the story and surroundings, and all the strange events that occured while you were god-knows-where.

I'm not sure why I put story under this section, I guess it varies a bit between good and bad point, so it's acceptable more or less. The atmosphere, on the other side, is quite impressive. I mean, nothing we haven't seen before, but it's spooky alright, and you can hear your enemies mumbling or walking behind the corcer or somewhere down the line ahead, so they'll hardly surprise you, but when/if they do, you'll jump back sometimes, that's guaranteed ;))

Okay, until I developed a touch for controls, I was a bit confused and thought that engine has some recoils on occasion, but seems it's pretty much okay, running fast enough, in multiple resolutions, and inventory and interface handling is quite easy once you get accomodated with all the terms. Some songs are also well suited for the atmospherical experience, but they only play on very certain places, and always on the same ones, though. Now let's see if there are reasons for not liking this game...

The Bad
As much as this game looks pretty fine graphically, and I'm refering to ship and the rooms only by saying that, characters, monsters and animals plain suck! Their low line of polygons is simply not understandable for 1999. I mean, "Jedi Knight" which was two years older had the same, or even better looking characters.

I never played original "System Shock", nor have ever seen it, so I cannot comment on that one, but I think that this is pretty cheap try on the sequel. I guess they tried to make a decent sequel, but if that's what they can call their best (and keep in mind that four years passed from the original game), then this kinda sequel can only be for those fans of original game, and barely for someone new. Newcommers to FPS world should better try "Deus Ex" or "Half-Life" for starters. Frankly, I never liked "The Thief" when I first tried it, either, so I guess I just don't like taht kinda graphic in general. It seems kinda too tall for me. I dunno, but this game really looks more tall than wide, and I know this is rather improper view for commenting upon a game, but once you'll start to play it, and see the 3D engine and how it looks form the inside, you may (maybe) just be able to spot that point. But if this was considered a good game, I wouldn't care about the graphic at all... however, I don't find this a good game. Not by a far.

Okay, now, does any of you enjoy having infinite monsters or enemies in any kind of FPS game? I think not, I mean, if we aren't allowed to have infinite ammo, why should they be infinite enemies, and how was that closer to reality? Well, it's not. I mean, you can barely break through some level and kill every monster and hybrid on the way, and getting low on ammo and armour, and then when you need to go back, the level is full of 'em again.

Oh, and one more thing... that SHODAN female badguy is by far the worst nemesis I've ever encountered. Not only she's stupid, but pretty much annoying. I don't want to go offensive to all those fans of original "System Shock", because maybe in original she knew grammar more, but it's pretty bad to see a computer that doesn't even speak properly. I mean, it's a computer, for Pete's sake! Computer is supposed to be something most effective and highest scientifican achievement, yet it's incapable of talking the way we could understand it. And then she want to play a God? Yeah right, what kinda God would have less abilities than we do? ;)) If you're searching for real computer AI nemesis, try battling CABAAL :)

The Bottom Line
I seem to have mentioned all the points, and no matter I've equally said good and bad things about this game, I'm still glad to have it under my collection, and will try to get the original "SS" as well. It's an interesting game, yet very annoying at some points, but worthy passing it once. However, I highly recommend trying "Deus Ex" instead. That game realy made a new standard considering such games, plus it has superb plot and atmosphere. Hey, did I mention that ending in "SS2" is like the worst ever to be found? Well, it is, seems like a cheap shot to make availability for a sequel. I hope they'll make none of it, though.

Windows · by MAT (240988) · 2015

[ View all 24 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Which SS2 am I playing? o__O Slug Camargo (583) May 20, 2008
Damn the Many... Unicorn Lynx (181769) Apr 3, 2008
No spawn and no degradation? Unicorn Lynx (181769) Mar 18, 2008
Just Finished, ITS AMAZING!! ricardoe Oct 7, 2007
System Shock 2 Expansion Pack on WinXP dave solin Sep 12, 2007

Trivia

Animations

In addition to using the Dark Engine, the game also uses some animations from Thief, most notably the zombified crewmen with the shotguns and pipes. They use portions of animation from the guardsmen in Thief, specifically when they walk around searching for your character, and when they run over to attack you.

Basketball

In Thief, part of the training mission included a little basketball court at the beginning of the game. In SS2, this basketball is carried over and is found up on a ledge on the 'street' level of the very first training mission. Go around the 'pillar' to the right of where you arrive on the street. You can mantle up to a sloped surface, and on the flat part of the ledge will be the basketball. Bounces very appropriately, too!

On the Recreation deck will be a basketball court, towards the last part to explore in the level. You have to be on the upper running deck to shoot, but if you make a basket with the basketball or even just clip the rim, you'll get a very funny email. Be sure to bring it up in your PDA, as it reads differently than it sounds.

Bugs (Spoiler!)

In a cutscene on Deck 4, the walls will drop away and a cut-scene will begin. However, you can still move around and if you fall off the platform that the room has become, you CANNOT get back up, short of killing yourself or loading your game! A neat little bug.

Cancelled Dreamcast version

There was going to be a Dreamcast version of System Shock 2, but it was cancelled

German version

The localized German version of the game was slightly modified for fear of banning. Some corpses were removed (e.g. a hanged man), and all blood was colored green.

Mods

The graphics for character models in the game was considered by many to be the low-point in the 3D Design. So some fans took it upon themselves to create unofficial high-res models which are known as System Shock: Rebirth and can be found at http://perso.wanadoo.fr/etienne.aubert/sshock/sshock_rebirth.htm

Multiplayer

There is a patch available for System Shock 2 which does not only allow adjustments of the respawning and weapon wear and tear, but adds a cooperative multiplayer mode.

Release

System Shock 2 was published by Electronic Arts instead of Eidos, which was Looking Glass‘ world-wide publisher at the time. This is due to the simple fact that EA held the copyright for the System Shock franchise -- the firm had acquired it with the purchase of Origin Systems.

Sales

Although System Shock 2 was rated a masterpiece by all major magazines, sales were only mediocre. Ironically, the game shared the same fate as its predecessor: Both games never reached a mass audience, partly because of bad marketing efforts.

Shodan

The voice of Shodan was done, as in System Shock, by Terri Brosius. She is the wife of Looking Glass Audio Director Eric Brosius.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2000 (Issue #188) – Best Sound Design of the Year
    • November 2003 (Issue #232) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • GameSpy
    • 1999 – Role-Playing Game of the Year
    • 1999 - Best Genre-Bender (together with Drakan: Order of the Flame)
    • 2001 – #12 Top Game of All Time
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #22 in the "Readers All-Time Top 50 Games Poll"
    • April 2005 - #39 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2000 - Best Game in 1999
    • Issue 01/2000 - Best Action-Adventure in 1999
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/2000 – Best Game in 1999
    • Issue 02/2000 – Best Atmosphere in 1999

Information contributed by -Chris, CaptainCanuck, George Shannon, Great Hierophant, M4R14N0, PCGamer77 and WildKard

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by robotriot.

Macintosh, Linux added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: xroox, JubalHarshaw, George Shannon, Unicorn Lynx, chirinea, Sciere, jlebel, dorlthed, DarkDante, Patrick Bregger.

Game added December 17, 1999. Last modified April 2, 2024.