System Shock 2

Moby ID: 590

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 91% (based on 61 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 280 ratings with 24 reviews)

Shockingly great

The Good
Have you ever had a complex relationship with a game, which started with hatred and ended with love? No? Well, then maybe it's just me. I've had quite a few of those relationships. One of the most notable ones is my love affair with System Shock 2. It took me such a long time to appreciate it that it was quite amazing that people had enough patience to listen to my never-ending whining: "What's so great about it... I don't like it... why does everybody like it and I don't...", without giving up and saying: "Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, the game sucks", just to make me shut up.

Actually, I don't really need to write another Good section about this game; MobyGames is full of positive reviews for System Shock 2. But my review should stress the game's greatness even more. Why so? Because actually such a game is not at all my cup of tea. Yet I ended up loving it. It takes a really great game to make me feel this way in spite of my own preferences.

The primary reason for my initial dislike of the game was its entire premise. I wasn't really into the whole "you are alone, now explore a huge spaceship without any characters and fight monsters" kind of thing. Even now, first-person shooters involving respawning monsters is hardly my favorite genre. I generally prefer games set in less claustrophobic environments and featuring more talkative NPCs. And that's a solid proof of this game's greatness: very little in its premise interested me, and yet I found myself addicted to it so badly that I needed a serious break (I didn't touch the game for two weeks at one point).

If you played the first System Shock you'll have a general idea of what to expect here. In fact, I'd say that the sequel improves upon its predecessor in terms of gameplay refinement. While the original game had certain RPG touches in form of modifications and item-gathering, it was still primarily a first-person shooter. The sequel has now turned into a full-fledged RPG, and in my opinion this was a commendable evolution. The gameplay became even more addictive than before, because in addition to all the exploration and the interaction possibilities the first game offered you, you now have a cleverly designed RPG system to occupy yourself with. You create and shape your character during the course of the game. You can steer it towards one of the three sharply defined "classes", which correspond to the traditional fighter, mage, and thief in RPGs, you can go for an all-around character who is moderately skillful in everything, or choose to mix advantages of either class the way you like.

If you think that this system is just a small addition to the FPS formula, let me tell you that it is much more than that. The role-playing in System Shock 2 is remarkably flexible, fitting the choice-driven design philosophy of the first game like a glove and enhancing it with the new mechanics. Above all, this system satisfies the desire to play the game in different ways. See that locked box? Can't hack it? Damn, gotta invest more points into hacking skills... but I have low strength, I can't carry enough weapons... so maybe invest more points here? Trust me, if you come to this game from a RPG angle (as I did), you'll be spending hours in front of those upgrade machines just trying to decide where to put your precious skill points. And isn't that the beauty of role-playing?

The amount of stuff you can do in System Shock 2 is overwhelming. You can research body parts of your enemies to gain advantage in battles. You can modify your weapons. You can hack into security computers to disable cameras. You can repair broken machines. All this require appropriate skills - and since, per RPG requirement, you can't have them all, you'll have to decide yourself which are the ones you need most.

But even without the RPG part, the game delivers tons of high-quality gameplay. It works wonderfully as a survival horror game - in my opinion better than most "real" survival horror games, because instead of clunky interface and maddening camera angles you have real issues to be frightened of: tough enemies, weapon degradation, hostile security system, etc. At the same time the game plays smoothly even when it turns into a regular first-person shooter. You have to be smart and use the right type of ammunition, as well as the right tactics against the enemies.

Another great feature that System Shock 2 has inherited from its predecessor is the high level of interactivity. Almost everything you see can be picked up or thrown away. The game satisfies a powerful instinct of the player, which is to touch and to grab everything he sees. What makes it even better is the fact that nearly every item is useful in this or another way. Since your inventory is limited, you'll have to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind, which once again leads to decisions and planning.

There are huge locations to explore here; along with quality, System Shock 2 delivers quantity. Even though it is set entirely in closed environments, you really feel there is a world here. There are so many areas to explore, including so many entirely optional ones, that the game manages to feel open-ended even though it is confined to such a seemingly narrow, haunting space.

Of course it wouldn't be the same without the fantastic level design. The space ship Von Braun, on which you will spend most of the game, is a magnificent piece of work. It is "alive" in the sense that it doesn't feel artificial at all. Sure, you'll see upgrade stations and other weird places "just for the game", but the overall feeling is that you are in a real location. The high amount of items for everyday use, their placement, the layout of the rooms, graphical detail - all this adds an incredible feeling of realism. The game's environments magically draw you into themselves. That is the chief reason for the game's extreme atmosphere.

Moving on to that: this game creates a unique environment that mesmerizes the player thanks to its impeccable level design and general artistic appreciation of the macabre. Granted, System Shock 2 is not entirely horror-themed, it lacks setpieces, and personally I found the atmosphere of the previous title somewhat more convincing; but even so, the game is guaranteed to glue you to the computer screen just because it draws you into its world and never lets go.

Most other games rely on graphics to create atmosphere; this one knows how to do it with sound. The music itself is perhaps not that cool (again, I liked the music from the original more), but the way it is used in the game, turning itself on suddenly, then leaving you alone when you least expect it, is great. But the true stars of the show are sound effects. They are simply impeccable and create an aural experience that is hard to forget. Anyone who has ever heard those hybrids muttering something to themselves knows what I'm talking about...

System Shock 2 is also a gripping tale masterfully channeled through the medium of a video game. Story-telling, and not just "story", is the key word here. Sure, the actual narrative has its great moments. The terrifying plot twist (a really terrifying plot twist if you've played the previous System Shock) in the middle, the interesting struggle between villains, the basic, but convincing concept of "technology vs. nature" philosophy - the storyline here is most certainly above average. But if you simply want to see such a story told through cutscenes in a video game, you'll find better examples in other titles. It is the way the story is told that makes it stand out. Most games tell you a story that happens now, at the same time as you are playing the game. But System Shock 2 tells a story that has already happened. You learn it by finding and reading audio diaries scattered all over the space ships. I know that the first System Shock did that first, but the sequel improves this technique by adding more details and a wider range of themes.

The beauty of it, of course, is the optional nature of the plot (you can ignore those diaries entirely and still complete the game, without understanding much of its story), and the fact that this technique can be implemented only in a video game, by fully integrating the story into the gameplay and making it part of the exploration process.

Thus the storyline, which can seem paper-thin if you don't bother to discover its parts, becomes rich and detailed if you construct it by careful reading of the logs. It's the "little" stories of the characters that make up for any trivialities found in the main narrative. Those include some really great moments, made possible by the "retro" technique - you'd read letters written by someone to his beloved woman, uncover plans that were made and ultimately failed, witness with horror how people gradually submit to the "call of the Many", have people who do not exist any more share with you their fears, etc. For example, a very memorable and touching moment for me was reading a diary I found on the body of a female cyborg I killed: a young girl is scared, because she was chosen to become a test subject for a certain scientific experiment... That's what the game does with such an "inferior" gameplay concept as "looting the corpses of people you kill"!

The Bad
The story that you uncover in logs is engaging because you experience it in a pure text form, like a book. The present story, however, the story that you experience as the protagonist, is structured in a rather unexciting way. The plot is built like a series of missions, all of which are just standard RPG quests, overbloated to a disproportional size. For example, you are told to go to a certain place; then you find out that the access is blocked, so you have to fix whatever is blocking it; for this you have to go to another place, which is in its turn blocked because... etc. It takes an extremely long time to come to the first real turning point of the plot; a simple mission to meet someone at a certain place turns into a monstrous assignment that will make the player explore several huge levels while impatiently waiting for the plot to advance. Unfortunately, you'll have to go through all this because, with all its gameplay flexibility, the plot advancement in System Shock 2 is absolutely linear.

Many players hated the weapon degradation and the monster respawning. Actually, I wouldn't mind either of them; but when put together, they are mighty annoying. It's bad enough not to be able to use your gun after just several shots; but it gets much worse when there are always new enemies popping out at you. Ammo is extremely scarce, and enemies who carry guns will drop them in unusable conditions. I played the game with the latest patch, which apparently corrects those issues, but monsters still respawned and weapons still deteriorated as I played. Either I did something wrong with the config file, or I should really shudder at the thought that it was even worse in the unpatched version.

The Bottom Line
Everything that was so great in System Shock is back again, with the fantastic addition of a real role-playing system. System Shock 2 doesn't get the extra points for originality and innovation as its predecessor, but it is nevertheless an absolutely amazing game in which storytelling, atmosphere, and gameplay are not only excellent each for their own sake, but merged together seamlessly to create a truly extraordinary experience.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2015

Falls just a little bit short of genius, but amazing game nonetheless.

The Good
System Shock 2 is a quite simply a great game, the sequel has perfectly captured the spirit of the original while delivering at the same time a whole new batch of gaming goodness. Surely the game's strongest point is it's abbility to draw you into a superbly crafted atmosphere. Just like in the original, this game puts you IN THE GAME like few others, and the terror you'll feel if you surrender to the fantasy is out of this world. The game uses Thief's Dark Engine, so as you may guess the sound in the game is simply spectacular, with surround effects and incredible depth (which only adds to the creepy atmosphere). The storyline is superbly crafted, and instead of being simply laid out for you to "sit and watch" it's sprinkled all over the game in the form of those wonderful logs, e-mails and even ghosts, forcing YOU to put the pieces thogheter and essentially making it much more rewarding when you finally achieve that "A-HA!" moment. A lot of creativity and originality has been placed on this game, and it shows. It manages to stay true to the spirit and at the same time add original touches like the psy powers, nanites, etc. moreover, the game is now much more of an obvious rpg with clearly defined stats, levels and experience in the form of cyb-aug chips. Something that I didn't really need, but that certainly gives the game a lot of gameplay depth.

Also I should mention that the game follows an interesting philosophical undercurrent throughout it's entire gameplay, that of technology vs nature. Which would have been made much more powerful if you had been able to choose which side to take, but still as it stands, makes a powerful statement (and without spoiling the sci-fi/horror theme).

Of course, no "good" part of a SS2 review would be complete without a mention of Shodan, it is quite simply priceless to be able to face her again. I'm sure that anyone that has played the original feels the same way about this, she's quite simply one of the most memorable characters ever placed on a computer game, and the opening sequence alone almost brought tears to my eyes...along with that familiar shiver! ;)) Terry Brosius once again voices her, and her job is priceless (ditto the rest of the cast, but we are talking about Shodan here!) and the way she's handled in the game is true to her nature, she's still Shodan, she's still a bitch, and she still rocks. Period. Plus, there's a little surprise at the end of the game that was really sweet. Thanks guys.

The Bad
Well for starters all the critter models be tactful, of the crap. The interface can give you some headaches at times (but still is way above the one in the original) but that's it.

The only great gripe that I have with SS2 is that it could have been more, much, much more. As I read on a review somewhere, "System Shock 2 is a game so good it's surprising it isn't better". That truly defines my feeling with the game sometimes, it's as if you were given a taste of this wonderful dessert and had it taken away from you before you could finish it. For instance, I know Xerxes could never amount to anything versus our beloved Shodan, but they should still have given him a stronger presence, he's just there to whine every now and then, and that's it, and speaking of Shodan, we don't get nearly enough quality time with her! Seriously, where are the hordes of robots sent your way to annihilate you? where is the villain that trapped you in rooms and sent you to her "Death Machine"?? Most of the Hal-ness of Shodan has been replaced, and though she's still mean and evil, I really wish we could have had more of that.

The biggest dissapointment in the game however, comes in the way it's placed. If there is something great about Half-Life is that it introduced us to a game where you are in the "middle of the party" so to speak. On SS2 you arrive and...the party's over, and this was great on the original but it feels sort of shallow in a post Half-life world. There are no npcs to interact with, you are the "sole survivor" once again and though it's cool to bear silent witness to the aftermath of the Von Braun and the Rickenbacker, I can't help but think how cool it would have been if you were there when it all happened. Obviously this responds in part to the legacy of the original, but still....

Other than that, I should add that the game isn't as non-linear as it's advertized to be, a fact you'll find out the hard way if you try to play the game being a tech nerd and avoiding shootouts, the final fight with Shodan is way too easy, and though I understand the need for the time gap between the two games, I believe it would have been infinitely cooler to play the game as the good ol' hacker. He's got more charisma than your nameless "Mr. Magoo" soldier, and it would have made your relationship with Shodan much more tense and interesting. Ah well, can't have it all!

The Bottom Line
Essentially SS2 is a fantastic game, which seems to have taken a couple of bad design decisions. Still you have to understand that they were dealing with more than just a sequel and as most people know, making a good sequel and a good game/movie/etc. don't always mean the same. The guys at LG and Irrational had to come up with the right balance to both honor the legacy of one of the greatest games ever made (which is one hell of a though act to follow!) and also come up with something original and fun to play. If you consider that, then yeah, they made a good job. Without taking that into consideration then...well, they fell a little short in both accounts. But make no mistake either way: the end result is way above average and System Shock 2 is a definitive must.

Windows · by Zovni (10503) · 2006

One of the best games ever made

The Good
First of all, I would just like to say that the graphics, especially the ultra-realistic-looking blood splatters (not including the character models) are great and it runs smoothly even on ancient computers. The ambience sounds and the creepy voices from both Xerxes and SHODAN all add so much to the atmosphere. The first time I played it, I entered a room full of dead bodies and such realistic blood and flickering lights. All was silent (except for the humming of the machinery). Suddenly I hear a grunting noise from behind me and I turned around and literally jumped out of my seat as a Hybrid monster began attacking me with his wrench. The game will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Excellent story and there are also many plot twists. Also, the many ways that you can play the game (such as hacking the security console so that cameras and turrets won't do anything to you, sneak past them or just blow them apart) gives the game a lot of replayability values. The level design is also really excellent. It looks as if people actually lived on the ship. There are some minute details that is in the game that just makes it seem so much more realistic. There are magazines sitting on people's desks and art panels (electronic pictures hanging on walls) that just adds so much to this awesome game.

The Bad
One really bad thing (for me) about this game is the amount of backtracking that is involved. Often if you wish to do something you have to go somewhere, go back, then go somewhere else, then come back again. This also means you have to be patient when you play the game since there is so much to do and so many places to go. The best thing is to review your PDF when you're stuck. There are serious bugs, like sometimes if you do a certain thing, the game will prevent you from moving further, although it doesn't tell you, no error messages, nothing. So sometimes you could be wondering for hours not knowing that you cannot advance anymore. However, you can get walkthroughs that tell you exactly where these bugs are so you will know what not to do during the game. This only happens once or twice so it's not that bad. Another thing that could be improved is the character models, although it is not that important since you don't see many humans in the game anyway.

The Bottom Line
If you like adventures or RPGs, this is a must get for you, just be sure to get a walkthrough that describes the bugs so you can avoid being stuck in the game. It is such a good game with an excellent story and I highly recommend this game.

Windows · by Black Death (6) · 2003

The greatest and most harrowing experience in games yet.

The Good
Ok, so I can do what most people did and pick out the individual aspects of the game. Which of course, is perfectly acceptable. Except this game transcends it's parts. The pure game experience is what it's about, the quality of the graphics and whatever just affect this and make the experience better or worse. I'll just mention some of these anyway: -The graphics have aged well generally. The lighting is still quite advanced and the look is very smooth. -The sound is the best in any game yet. I can't stress this one enough. Everything about the way this is structured audibly is peerless. The use of total silence, the haunting voice of The Many that drifts between speakers, SHODAN's bioelectrical crackle that accompanies hers, the squealing sound of many of the enemies...I could go on. Also the voice acting is really terrific. Dead serious, and cleverly changed when you know The Many has a hold on them. -The ship design is great. It looks the business, and the atmosphere created through the lighting and sound makes it believable. -It's an RPG. You can develop your character's stats. Albeit, not in a big way. -The AI is pretty intelligent.

So far, this game wouldn't be anything very special(ish). But it has a feeling and a magic that is impossible to describe. It's the genius of Looking Glass. The emotions that it brings out in you; fear, isolation, depravity, loss, paranoia...Ok, they may be the easiest of emotions to play with at this stage in computer gaming. We certainly can't do love yet. But they're so extreme it's incredible. It's a shattering experience, and there is no game like it. Plus; the immersion is SO great, you FORGET yourself whilst playing. You forget you're playing a game, you forget life. You are placed into this world and that is all that exists. If you ever feel really angry, play this game. It turns everything you feel into fear and survival. No game can do this except System Shock 2. Fact.

The Bad
Nothing is perfect. The stats system is not balanced well, some missions seem seperate and pointless in regards to the plot. The monsters are a bit cartoony. Rickenbacker was a little annoying to play and I wasn't to keen on the level design. And it doesn't build up to a huge crescendo at the end. There are tiny things that could annoy you but who cares? Given the quality of the gaming experience, any bad point seems like nit-picking.

The Bottom Line
It really IS genius because it has something that no other game has. Don't ask me to describe it. You can't ask a poet to explain every metaphor. Just play it. You won't forget it.

Windows · by Shazbut (163) · 2002

Play it coop, there's little original MP games out there

The Good
I'm gonna be brief on this one, as there are a lot of reviews for this game. As you may have read this game is superb in a lot of ways. It's a very proud role game: in contrast to the average, there is more than just kill or stealth, there is at least hacking and "psyching" too. The role factor is enough important that can make you play the game twice or even three times. There is also a very good story driven by a very well voice-acted journals; you even have two villains for the price of one and each of the levels will be different and full of surprises. Wow!, this is a hell of a game, and if you like complex games with good stories (with poor graphics though), this one is at the top, just read the titles of the reviews, there is no negative one, and "best", "great" and "ever" (and "scary") are usual words.

I'm going to talk about some concrete aspect of the game: I'm going to propose you to play it with friends. Think for a moment about multiplayer games, think on games that you have play MP or know how are their MP modes. I can count no more than two or three different type of multiplayer games, you have games like Unreal Tournament, some like Rainbow Six or Hidden & Dangerous 2 (very enjoyable game), that are based on killing the enemy or defeating him in some way, sometimes in very sophisticated ways. And there is too the games based on role playing (90% of them in some tolkien-esque world), with the MMORPG as the most usual type. But there is always something I have miss when playing some good game with a good story and it is that I can't play it with friends. Normally you play it at the same time as some friend and then you talk about it with him/her later, but it's not the same. Well, as far as I know, System Shock 2 is the only game you can play the SP levels in MP, I mean, you can follow the story playing with your friends. plus, it's a role-playing game, which means that every one of the player can play different and complement the others.

How many times have you play Thief, for example, and thought "it would be awesome if I could play this level with a friend as another thief"? or with Hitman, or with Deus Ex or with any other story-driven game or something-more-than-just-killing game? SS2 has it and it was one of my best gaming experiences. You know, every time you play some role-playing game, most of the time you wander what would happen if your character were different, imagine now that you have them all. In SS2 you can play the game in 3-4 different ways (not only kill and stealth), but you can also play it with 3-4 friends (no more than 4 possible) and make different kind of characters. When I played it, we were three, one "psi", one mechanic/hacker and one bad-ass marine. We played it with a voice software, so we could talk while playing. The experience was really fun, I remember once, when we entered some cutscene, when one of the villains (the biological one) tries to play with your mind I started screaming and the others started asking what was happening until they entered too. You can't have this kind of fun when your only tasks are killing and defending and little more.

The Bad
Well..., graphics and movements are very low in quality specially if you play it now. The rest is more than average.

The Bottom Line
This is, finally, a game that makes something as easy as letting the players play the main story both in SP and in MP. Of course, there should be more, like Quake II, for example, but, as a role playing game with a complex story, a frightening ambiance, different ways of solving problems and labyrinthic levels, this is an MP experience you can't miss.

Windows · by MichaelPalin (1414) · 2006

Sadly overlooked fps/rpg

The Good
System Shock 2 is similar in gameplay to the Thief series and Deus Ex. Like Thief, it behooves you to remain unseen and unheard. Otherwise, beasties will come a-runnin'. Especially if a security camera spots you. Like Deus Ex, it plays as a first person shooter with an integrated role playing system. So why is this game overlooked? Bad marketing I guess.

You play as the sole survivor of a horrific accident in deep space. From the beginning you have the option of being a gun-toting marine, mechanically minded naval officer, or a psi-enhanced black op. Using these skills, you will uncover the mystery of what happened to the ship's crew, fight apologetic human hybrids, and explore a huge spaceship.

This game is genuinely scary, in a Resident Evil meets Aliens sort of way. The class options do offer some variation in gameplay even though the game doesn't branch. Also, while the major "quests" are straight-forward, there are various ways of accomplishing them.

The level design is terrific. I really felt like I was in a working spaceship. The different monsters were interesting and scary. I liked how you could upgrade your character.

Finally, the inventory interface is very clunky at first, but soon becomes manageable. Really. No really, it does.

The Bad
In the future we can build ships to travel the stars, AI's to run them, etc, but it is impossible to get good lighting. This ship is a feng shui nightmare! It wouldn't be bad if you had a flashlight or flares, but gamma correction seems to be the only option.

Also, the weapons system is funky. You cannot use certain weapons until you have advanced your character's knowledge and physical ability to some extent. This makes sense for alien artifacts, but any drunken 15-year old can use a shotgun without first studying. AND (a big and) weapons break down left and right. You can barely squeeze off a magazine without having to do major repairs to your weapon. Luckily you can make it through most of the game with an all-purpose crowbar.

Finally, while the psi-dude character class differs from the navy and marine, the navy and marine guy ends up very similar at the end.

The Bottom Line
This game is a must for fans of the Thief series and those who enjoyed Deus Ex. It is a well-thought out action adventure game, that pits you against a fantastic sci-fi baddie!

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5398) · 2001

As engrossing as the original, at the minor expense of some originality.

The Good
When I completed System Shock 1, many years ago, I knew I wanted more; more of the same highly detailed game world, wonderful plot, and clever game devices (the minigames and cyberspace, to name two).

Shock 2 was worth the wait.

The environment was wonderfully done - at times, there was a feeling of anxiety and terror that I had not felt since playing the Thief series. It's rare for a game to have that effect - I approve. The email messages, voice logs, and other communications you would receive only added to the haunting atmosphere. The attention to detail the designers paid to their product was exceptional.

Shock2 had three career paths you could undertake, and as the game progressed, you could begin to blur the boundaries between character types. There was (usually) more than one solution to any given problem, and any given character type can successfully complete the game using his native skill set.

The two villians (Shodan, and The Many) fighting against each other, with you in the middle, was an excellent plot setting. Especially so on a derelict starship; there is a sense of lonliness, and at times helplessness in this environment, just as in shock1.

The Bad
There are only a few things things that I didn't really like:

While a nice touch, and a nod to the original, the minigames weren't as innovative as they were in the previous game (I mean, it's the same concept, reused). The game was sadly lacking in the large number of innovations that shock1 had, but that is only a minor gripe. I mean, one can only stretch limits so far.

My major gripe was with the endgame - it quickly turns into a Quake-like fragfest, completely ruining the stealthy, Thief-like feel to all of the previous areas of the game.

Oh, and one more minor point - while there are numerous plot twists, they are, alas, easily predictable and no longer surprises by the time they happen.

The Bottom Line
Well worth the price of admission, for such a detailed, haunting experience.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2001

Intense, pulse-pounding, and challenging. The essential survival horror game.

The Good
"Welcome to my world, insect." - SHODAN

System Shock 2 awakens the player in the midst of chaos and then leads them through a hellish nightmare as the only way out.

That is, of course, the beginning of why it ranks among the the greatest survival horror games of all time.

The main character wakes up aboard the badly damaged UNN Von Braun, a high-tech experimental starship. The voice of a lead scientist aboard the vessel communicating from an unknown location elsewhere in the ship is the only link to understanding the situation or, indeed, to sanity in general. And when, within the first minutes waking, the hero witnesses another survivor being brutally slaughtered by a zombie creature with the bare vestiges of humanity and a pulsing worm-like growth upon its neck, the full horror of the matter begins to dawn.

There are two goals in System Shock 2. The first is simply to survive. The second is to stop the hive-minded annelids known as The Many, who have already converted much of the Von Braun crew, from reaching Earth and assimilating and destroying the human race.

"They see you! Run...RUN!" - Annelid/Human Hybrid

The power of the survival horror experience comes from the struggle to survive. Mastery of the genre involves the proper balance of vulnerability and resource scarcity with the abilities and tools to succeed. At its best, a survival horror game should make the player hoard every bullet and judge carefully whether each combat encounter is worth the cost. The player should be vulnerable enough to always be on the thin edge between life and death. Yet with cleverness and tenacity, the player should have enough to cheat death even when everything seems stacked against them.

System Shock 2 succeeds beautifully at capturing the feeling of survival. No matter where you are, the feeling of never quite being safe never leaves you. And the further along you go, the more careful you become with your meager resources.

One of the defining moments of my experience with the game was when I found myself crouched in a closet in the medical deck, pistol in hand, listening to the tortured moans of hybrid zombies and the chattering of psionic monkeys in the corridors outside. As I rested there a moment, wondering if my foes might find me at any time, I contemplated my next careful move. There was no thought of running and gunning through, dominating the enemy. It was about surviving.

"They told me how to make this implant. They said it would make a better me of me." - Miller

Character creation and progression in SS2 is incredibly enjoyable. Indeed, it is even complex enough to inspire at least one more playthrough to try a different build.

At the beginning, players choose one of three character types, based upon different military services.

The Marine class is the bruiser. In a fantasy game, they would be the warrior. They are oriented around combat and will generally have access to more high end weapons than the other classes. Further, it is probably the easiest class in the early stages of the game.

The OSA class is a psionic powered operative. In a fantasy game, they would be a magic user. They are the least proficient with weapons, preferring to rely on psionic abilities. Similar to their fantasy counterparts, they have the most difficult time early in the game but become arguably the most powerful by the end.

Finally, the Navy class is the hacker. Of all the classes, they have the best affinity for technology. It is the most balanced class, since they also have decent weapon skills.

After choosing a path, the player goes through an enjoyable set of "career" choices which will effect starting stats. Then the game begins in earnest.

Throughout the rest of the game, the player molds their character build even further within these archetypes. This is done by upgrading specific abilities and attributes using chips that are found or awarded. I found this to be much less distracting from gameplay than the classic experience and level system.

"Glory to The Many. I am a voice in their choir." - Anatoly Korenchkin

System Shock 2's atmosphere and story are beautifully crafted. Every place in the game has its own tale to tell. Carefully arranged set pieces provide an unspoken narrative which is often chilling. More depth still is provided through the many audio logs found throughout the game, containing some of the most compelling voice acting in gaming.

Scene by scene, the story of The Many and the horror of their existence begins as a creeping menace, then builds to the point of howling crescendo. All the while, the intensity of the game itself increases.

The Bad
While the graphics of SS2 are certainly serviceable and in some ways attractive, it was also a weak point even for the time. The worst, by far, are the character models which are simply poor in the case of humans. Monsters and androids come out fine because of their non-human nature. But the human characters are far too abstract and polygonal.

I would not say the game was too short, but I wish there was more anyway. And that isn't really a complaint.

The Bottom Line
System Shock 2 is the essential survival horror experience. It is one of a very few games which truly deserves the title of "Must Play".

Windows · by Steelysama (82) · 2009

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

Scares the hell out of me

The Good
I love the story, the plot and the way it is presented. Finding all those small hints like audio-files, etc. keeps the experience very intense. The atmosphere created in this game is beyond description. I screamed and jumped up several times in my chair in front of the screen, because the way the enemies were presented and placed "scared the hell out of me". The level design and the tasks you have to fulfill are great, never boring and always an interesting challenge.

The Bad
It's extremely tough even at the easy level for a casual FPS-gamer like me. I really had a lot of troubles because of the sparse number of ammo. Sometimes the advices given by the advisor were a bit difficult to follow, especially because they changed all the time. But I suppose that's mostly a problem for beginner like me. The main problem with this game is: it's a time thief, it steels almost all my after work time.

The Bottom Line
System Shock is a wonderful experience for every gamer who loves to be sucked in into a virtual world. The immersion in this game is quite unreached and there are only a few games which give you such an intense experience of being in a virtual world.

Windows · by Caynreth (6) · 2003

Definitely the most immersive computer game ever made.

The Good
This game immediately stands apart from other games of its kind because there are none. It is completely different than any other PC game (besides, well, the original System Shock). Looking Glass has made masterful use of immersive sounds and interweaving plotlines in this game, which the player slowly unravels as the game progresses. The sounds are completely immersive, the depth and atmosphere they create are unmatched. The Shock 2 soundtrack also defies description, it is completely amazing. Looking Glass paid attention to every small detail and it really shows.

The Bad
System Shock 2 can be extremely difficult in certain places. Weapons also tend to degrade too quickly. The player should have some a priori knowledge of how different skills are needed throughout the game, as to make wiser choices about how to spend their cyber modules.

The Bottom Line
This game will scare you to death. Try and play it with the lights off, I promise you, you can't. You'll go to bed at night and you'll swear Shodan is chasing after you.

Windows · by w gibson (2) · 2000


The Good
The greatness of this game relies on three key elements: atmosphere, story and replayability.

As you might have read in the other reviews, the atmosphere is very good. Play this game with the lights turned out and the volume turned up and you won't know what hit you. There are very little games that are as spooky and freightening as this one. You can really feel the emptyness of the space ship (where the game takes place).

The story is brought through transmissions you receive. Although this might not sound as a good way to present a involving story, it is in this case. It all adds to the overall feeling of loneliness on the ship.

Because there are some many career paths and possible "upgrades" there are thousands of ways you can finish the game, this is really a game that screams to be replayed a few times.

The Bad
It might be a little slow at times (p2 300 with tnt2), although the graphics aren't that complicated.

The entire endgame is extremely hard and you should be very well prepared before you enter. There is however very little warning when this finale starts and almost no indication about the amounts of equipment you will need (a lot and very heavy stuff), so you might have to replay the game if you haven't watched out (or you could resort to cheat codes).

The Bottom Line
One of the best games ever, very good combination of RPG, action and adventure.

Windows · by Baxter (37) · 2001

Scary, frustrating and unbelievably good.

The Good
The game sets you as a soldier, fighting a battle for a doomed space ship. In the beginning of the game you're overwhelmed by the amount of character developing decisions you have to make, but in the end it really doesn't matter since so much of what happens in the game is in your own hands and not in the statistics of your character. System Shock 2 offers horror sequences, tough to solve puzzles, a lot of FPS action and RPG-style character development. It's very easy to get lost and become frustrated in that huge spaceship with all its dark corners and narrow passageways, but if you give this game enough time it will surely scare the living crap out of you and give you one hell of a pleasant ride, that's a promise.

The Bad
The weapon deterioration! You fired a clip with your pistol and the pistol fell to pieces. At least that's how it felt. Fortunately, an unsupported fix to this problem arrived on the internet soon after the game was released. It sure made the game better for me at least!

The Bottom Line
One of the scariest, most gruelling games of all time. The graphics were fantastic back in the day and it can still hold its own in this genre. It was actually only a few months ago that I managed to complete this game after having it installed on the same system since 1999!

Windows · by Mattias Kreku (413) · 2003

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


The Good
This is, simply put, the scariest computer game ever - period. It's not a hyperbole - in fact, it's understatement. As the not-so-lonely amnesiac survivor of starship Von Braun, you'll wake up from what seems to be surgery-induced narcoma to find that the ship has become hell - incarnate. Something horrible (no kiddin) has happened, and dead bodies litters the floors. Horrendous monsters now populate the gloomy corridors of the giant, multilevel spaceship - some of them looking as your old crewmates, others completely alien and surreal. And even more sinister presence haunts its spaces. To survive, your only guide are the voice logs and messages you find scattered on your path, and the voice of what sound like to be one of the few remaining humans on the ship, who urges you to join her at the higher level of the ship. As usual, nothing is like seems to be...

The best sum-up of how immersive this game was given back in 1999 on a Internet comic strip. One of the characters finds his roomie sitting before the computer, in terminal catatonic state, eyes fixed on the screen in fear. The other guy look at him, then the computer, then him again, and says "Playing System Shock 2 all night, uh? Oh well then, I'll go pee all over your things" and leaves the catatonic guy to his thousand yard stare.

How did they do it? The winners here are two - storyline (a superior sequel to 1994 cult hit "System Shock") and sound. Oh my - the sound of SS2. Don’t ever CONSIDER playing it without a decent soundcard and a great headphone (better if of the closed type). A surround system will give you a heart attack. The guttural, sometime threatening, sometime imploring voices of the monsters; the acting of the voice e-mails, slowly revealing the horror of last days of starship Von Braun; the click and hiss of the ship machines (the security cameras...); the echoes; the music... everything conspire to keep you on you toes for all the time. You’ll not hear a single sound without feeling your stomach jump. You not turn a single corner of the entire ship without fearing the worst - literally.

Of course, one of the reasons you'll fear the worst is that this brilliant RPG-FPS hybrid is very, very tough to play. You'll have plenty of choices for weapons - but these will break or jam very often, and on this game ammos are as rare and precious as water in the desert. Most of the time, you'll resort to play seek-and-hide (you hide, and the "others" seek...). In one particular moment, I found myself stranded in a dimly lighted office, with "something" (a very disgusting and pathetic "something") calling from me at the other side of the door. I knew that "it" was going to enter soon, and get me. I didn't have any more ammunition - I was helpless. The only thing I could do was hide behind a desk, not moving a muscle, hoping that "it" would go away. I felt so scared and miserable that it took me a while to realize it was just a game (and believe me - I'm NEVER scared, and I rarely play games). I stopped playing it was some time before I steadied myself to continue.

Even the little moments (when the action slackens and you can look around to understand what's going on) have an ominous quality. One voice message (for the initiate its the "Janet, I think she speaks in English!”) still gives me the goosebumps after all these years. And some of the cut scenes (the mess hall - or the rescue shuttle pad) are very, very effective. Where "effective" means one thing: scary as hell.

And then there's Shodan, Her Maleficent Electronic Majesty. Those who had already played SS1 will recognize immediately the old bitch's "qualities". For the newcomers, prepare to meet the scariest, meanest, craziest, subtlest and most devious villain of the history of computer games. She will toy with you, sometime will even give you some glitch of hope. But never turns the back on her, or you'll regret it.

As someone else said - there's only one game sequel I look forward to, and it’s SS3!

The Bad
OK, the graphic design of the characters is not very realistic - so what? BTW, if you're put off by this kind of things (you shouldn't) there's a very nice add-on with completely redesigned character graphics.

The only other no-so-nice thing you may say about this game is that the final levels are a bit rushed up (but the ending is GREAT). But believe me - the Von Braun levels are enough to keep you busy for a long time.

The Bottom Line
The scariest, best, scariest, most clever and scariest FPS & RPG ever done!

Windows · by luca signorelli (3) · 2004

More than a game, more than an experience.

The Good
This game is a brilliant RPG/FPS hybrid and the very best survival horror I have ever played. This game is actually scary. You constantly walk around with less than enough ammo while the supply of enemies is infinite, since they respawn. The story is splendid and the way the story is told is good as well. The final boss is <3 :) Just a quick explanation of my scores: My AI score was given on the basis of the AI being INTERESTING; not smart and challenging. It was fun to look at the robots walk around and stuff. I enjoyed it to the max, thus, a 5.

The Bad
The menu system could've been more smooth, I think. Other than that... I don't have anything to complain about, really. Oh, and the main character is really ugly, but you only see him, like, once.

The Bottom Line
A game you must've played sometime during your life, or your life hasn't been worth living. Nah, not really, but this game is a brilliant piece of art and a solid part of gaming history. Doesn't seem to have gotten the attention it deserved, though, which is a shame. Don't be disencouraged by the outdated graphics (Not that it bothers me, but I'm still amazed by the graphics of Pong, so...), focus on getting into the mood of the game instead. This game isn't just a good game - it's a good experience as well.

Windows · by Arancil (34) · 2007

An awesome FPS RPG and a worthy sequel to System Shock.

The Good
An intelligent plot, several character types with a wide variety of skill development choices, and multiple ways to solve problems make for a rich game with more replay value than the original System Shock.

For example, there are very nasty spider monsters late in the game. As a soldier trained up in heavy weapons, you can blast away at them. As a hacker trained up in cyber security, you can temporarily shut down the automatic defense systems and hack into gun turrets, making them your allies, then lure the spiders to where the turrets can shoot them for you. In some areas, you can run away from the spiders and climb a ladder, then shoot them safely from out of reach.

Graphics are quite good (and user patches are available to make them even better; I played with the patched installed). There is a LAN multiplayer mode, but I have not tried it.

NOTE: At the beginning of the game, outside just before the training area, there is a hidden basketball. If you pick it up, and then later in the game shoot it through a basket, there is an "easter egg" bonus.

The Bad
I found the system for training up in skills a little cumbersome and artificial; it detracted from the plot, although the skills themselves significantly enriched game play. Also the plot wasn't quite as good as SS1.

Cut-scene movies are a bit low-res by modern standards.

No matter what path you choose, there's only one ending. This seemed odd since there is a real choice to be made near the end.

Playing the game on higher difficulty settings can be quite grueling.

IMPORTANT: If you have a multi-CPU computer, then IMMEDIATELY after starting the program (before making any menu choices), you MUST open the task manager and bind the game to run on only one CPU. If you do not, it will crash.

The Bottom Line
A rich, complex, intelligent game that makes most other FPSs look moronic.

Windows · by Howard Landman (5) · 2009

One of the best (and scariest) games out there

The Good
Atmosphere and storyline were top notch. Whoever said storylines in FPS games didn't matter (like John Carmack), are dead wrong. System Shock 2 hit the nail dead on in the story department. From the creepy audio emails, to the ghostly "visions", this game oozes in fear and tension. The taunting audio emails from SHODAN are well worth the price of admission... The audio soundtrack in the game was also great.

The Bad
Looking back now, the graphics are a bit dated. But that wouldn't be fair, since this game has been out since 1999.

The Bottom Line
If you had to choose between System Shock 2, and Doom 3, place your money on Shock 2. While Doom 3 has the hype and slick graphics engine, Shock 2 makes up for it with it's atmosphere and storyline.

Windows · by Adam Wolfson (5) · 2004

The most thrilling experience you won't forget for your whole life!

The Good
Very good atmosphere, moody music, decent graphics showing the environments. The gameplay itself has transcended the meaning of a computer game! It's a thrilling experience of horror and it's really scaring! Absolutely marvelous game concept of a perfect mixing of FPS and RPG, with a top-notch plot and great presentation. The three character classes are truly diverse with unique abilities and different arsenals, providing the game with great replay values!!! Overall a perfect game.

The Bad
Character models quite blocky, showing the age of the Thief graphics engine. Too scary, not for the faint of heart :)

The Bottom Line
A game so close to perfection that has already transcended the concept of computer games! A must-buy if you like to be really scared, whether you like computer games or not. Absolutely a piece of digital art! And fans of both RPG and FPS will be especially pleased, while all players will be plasantly thrilled! Perfection...

Windows · by DarkTalon (156) · 2004

The scariest game ever made - not for the weak of heart

The Good
Atmosphere: you will fear the lonelyness, you will become paranoid as hell, and get really, really engaged in the game. With letters written in blood on the walls, alarms sounding, things exploding and falling appart without warning, dead bodies piled up everywhere, ghostly aperances forever re-experiencing their last moments of life, and distant screams and zombies mumbling in undead voices for you to come to them; either to kill them, or join them, or both. Even today, this game is has to be the scariest game ever made!

Story: At the heart of all the terror lies an engaging and evolving plot; something goes horribly wrong aboard mankinds first FTL inter-stellar starship, and the joruney of your dreams, has become your worst nightmare from hell.

Voice-acting: Will at times send chills down your spine.

Graphics: Similar to that Thief - not good, not bad, just in between; graphics is not really important in a game like this.

Gameplay: With sci-fi RPG-elements, a bit advanced but mostly easy interface, and several ways to complete different tasks: System Shock 2 is one of the better First Person Shooter / adventure games out there.

The Bad
At times TOO scary; but maybe that's a good thing?

The Bottom Line
This game is not for the weak of heart, but if you are looking for a good scare; look no further. This is quite possibly one of the best FPS-games ever made: better then Half-Life, better than doom, and unique even today.

Windows · by Stargazer (99) · 2003

Nearly as good as System Shock 1!

The Good
The Atmosphere is just incredible: There is no game that is as scary as this one!

Nice Storyline, some unpredictable events and Irrational Games reanimation of Shodan is performed quite nice!

There are unlimited ways to play the game - you can hack the Cameras, shoot them or just make yourself invisible through your Psi-Skills

The Spaceships look nice because of the Thief-Engine

Incredible Sounds: The voices of your enemies and all audio-logs you find are even more scary than the graphics

Very Complex

A lot of interesting missions

The Bad
For some people the complex mapdesign might not be suitable

The interface is nearly as difficult to handle as in system shock 1

The Enemies look quite poor

The Bottom Line
As Shocking as System Shock 1, this game is one of my all-time-favorites: Play it!

Windows · by Daniel Martin (12) · 2001

Attention: Threat Detected... Attention: Threat Detected

The Good
God only knows why the sequel to System Shock was released even after the original did not make enough copies. System Shock 2 takes place in 2114, which is 42 years after SHODAN was hacked on Citadel Station. The starship Von Braun, which is owned by TriOptimum, is claimed to be the first faster-than-light vessel in human history. But not everything is what it seems to be.

Before the game begins, you must do some basic training, followed by one of three advanced ones, than you have a choice of being in the marines, the navy, or the OSA. After the training, the real game begins. You are faced with the same situation of SS1. You are transported to somewhere, put to sleep in a cryo tube, then wake up in the medical deck with no memory of the past few weeks, realizing that something is wrong, as you see people dead on the floor and an evil alien race, simply known as The Many, running around all over the place.

You are also given a more cybernetic interface which is more advanced than the one in SS1. You can store more inventory, and refer to the map, find out what your current mission objectives are, and research items that you have found. But what you do in the game will depend on your profession, and the skills that you acquire for it. If you join the marines, you will spend a lot of time in the game shooting at everything (alive or not), but if you have joined the navy, expect to hack locked doors and security systems. If you are with the OSA, you get to develop psionic powers such as the ability to pull objects toward you, stop alarms, do more damage to aliens, and heaps more.

This game is basically about exploring. Explore all areas and you may accomplish a task given to you by a fellow crew member or SHODAN herself. More often than not, audio logs can be picked up. Playing these logs is important as door keycodes and secondary objectives are given to you, plus some rather interesting information about experiments involving monkeys and conversations involving other crew members.

You have an arsenal of weapons that you can use to take out enemies, and these include the shotgun, plus some energy weapons like the laser pistol and the EMP rifle. With the exception of these two weapons, ammunition is fairy limited, but unlike SS1 where you have to search dead corpses, you have something called a replicator, which allows you to buy ammunition for whatever weapon for a certain number of nanites, which can be lowered if you are able to hack the replicator. Energy weapons need to be restored using an energy unit.

Most of the enemies you meet have good AI. When they see you, they tend to follow you around all over the place like puppy dogs. What gave me the creeps is the protocol droid. Not only does he sway left and right while he walks, he looks hideous as well. The hybrids, the first enemies that you meet in the game, attack with a shotgun at first, then manage to throw grenades even when you are on a deck up. There are security cameras that actually do something, alerting The Many to your presence. They are able to find you, no matter whether you think you are hidden.

In almost every area that you go to, there is always machinery in each corner of a room, operating at its full potential. There are also flashing monitors that are similar to the ones in SS1. System Shock 2 is supposed to be scary, and this is demonstrated by the dark lighting in some areas, and the creepy music, as well as certain enemy sounds. Later in the game, you must perform tasks for SHODAN. Her voice sometimes gives me the creeps, especially when she stutters.

To distract you from your mission, there are mini-games that you may pick up along the way. These games have interesting objectives. (One game is an adventure where you must slay goblins, while another is a clone of Minesweeper where you must avoid revealing corn.) Also, these games look much better in your PDA than they do in the pissy 128x128 square that they are restricted to in the original.

The Bad
You get e-mails throughout the game which give you new objectives and some “cyber modules” which you can use to upgrade your stats throughout the game, and they play automatically. Playing them the first time is useless as you usually fight off enemies when they are playing, so you have to go to one of those quiet spots, and listen to them again there. Listening to them a second time is not worth it, considering that you have to get from point A to point B in limited time.

Even though they do not affect the game in any way, there are a couple of bugs. One of them allows you to jump out a window and go through a little spacewalk. If I do this, I fall down quite a distance and cannot get back inside the building.

The training is useful, but it would be better if there was an option that allowed you to return to the training immediately, instead of having to start a new game and do it again if you happen to forget how to do things.

I recently brought a copy of System Shock 2 which only lets you watch cut-scenes only once. Subsequently, the game just bypasses them, making me feel that I am actually playing a CD-Rip that has the cut-scenes removed from it. Installing the only patch to the game did not work, so the only way that I can watch those cut-scenes again is if I crash the game on purpose, forcing me to reboot the computer and starting the game again.

The Bottom Line
System Shock 2 is similar to its predecessor. You are faced with the same situation of waking up from a deep sleep to a massacre. Before that, you have to do some training, and this is really good because it lets you know how to perform certain tasks, and if you forget during the game, you can always go right back to the start and repeat the training. Also, SHODAN is back. Only this time, you work for her instead of against her when you get proper into the game.

I agree that System Shock 2 is scary. It has scary music and some dark lighting that gives the game its scary feeling. You also get to hear some scary e-mails. So in conclusion if you are going to play the game, then be prepared to be scared.

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2006


The Good
Scared the pants out of me. . . and scared the pants out of friends next to me (and they were just watching me play!!!) Basically any game that has zombies literally apoligizing for crushing your skull gets a "best of" vote from me!

The Bad
How dare you ask if theres anything to hate about this game. . . okay compared to other games the graphics are a wee bit less. . . though thats nitpicking since its surpasses Quake 2 in graphics, comparable to Half Life graphics. . .

The Bottom Line
The scariest game in the world!!! Play it with 3d sound, a full thermos of coffee, at 2am and with all the lights off! BEAT THAT!!!

Windows · by Mark Cuarto (4) · 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 (240185) · 2015

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Scaryfun, Alsy, Big John WV, vEK, Yearman, SlyDante, Jeanne, jean-louis, PCGamer77, durplu pobba, Wizo, Terok Nor, Plok, Patrick Bregger, Tim Janssen, vedder, BurningStickMan, lights out party, Gianluca Santilio, Tomas Pettersson, ti00rki, Riamus, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), Jess T, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Joel Segerbäck.