System Shock

aka: Alien Commander
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(prices updated 10/1 1:13 AM )

Description official descriptions

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.


  • システムショック - Japanese spelling
  • 시스텡쇼크 - Korean spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Average score: 89% (based on 23 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 187 ratings with 22 reviews)

This game creeped me out!

The Good
Atmosphere... or should I say, atmos-fear... Running around alone in Citadel Station with your only contact with people being the occasional email from Earth and logs of the former inhabitants of the station, you start to feel really paranoid. I don't really like first-person shooters, but this game has everything that I like about gaming in it. It's also customizable so that you can easily get through the aspects of the game that you dislike. I think you must have the CD-Rom version of this game if you want to enjoy it. The graphics are good on the CD-Rom version, instead of fuzzy, and the sound is amazing. SHODAN's voice still echoes in my memory... The gameplay is good, with the ability to lean, jump, crouch, and run. I'm generally not a big fan of first-person shooters, but this one really gets you into the game.

The Bad
Cyberspace. It's uninspired. Luckily for me, I can turn the rating down on this. If there was a better cyberspace interface, I'd have enjoyed it, as it allows you to solve puzzles in some new ways.

The Bottom Line
When I bought this game, it was a used three-pack of games called the Origin pack, which included Wing Commander 3, Bioforge, and System Shock. I didn't know anything about System Shock and just considered it a bonus. I put the game on my computer and tried it (the non CD-enhanced version). I played for about 5 minutes and didn't even get out of the first section... I wasn't impressed. A few months later I tried the CD-Enhanced version, and after about 5 minutes with this version I was hooked. I don't know of any game that's ever gotten me so engrossed within its game world. One of the best games I've ever played.

DOS · by Shiek of Geek (14) · 2001


The Good
What did I like...? I learnt English practically for this game! A subject hated and vilified suddenly had reason to be learnt for, to read the logs and understand what happened on this doomed station! The atmosphere is simply breathtaking. It is difficult to really hook me up, but this one does it. I recently acquired GTA San Andreas and the Doom 3 expansion, but simultaneously I managed to get System Shock (more than 11 years old) working on my Windows XP. Guess which one have I played whole last week?

The Bad
SPOILER Even if I played through the game for 3 times, then skipped two years without it for technical reasons, continuously thirsting for it, then replaying it once again, I am hoping that the escape pod will blast off this time. It doesn't, and I fear going back onto the station shaking violently from the reactor set on destruct. And I still cry out loud when a security robot is around the corner firing on me totally unexpectedly. Then have nightmares about SHODAN taking over the real Internet or jettisoning me through an airlock. I wrote two games of my own totally in honor of System Shock.

This is the only game that causes me to feel real world emotions, and I don't like to be manipulated.

The Bottom Line
A RPG with a decent bit of action, with an absolutely addictive and realistic-feeling horror plot. Go over to to fetch it, and see forums on how to run it in a P4 box. Then prepare to experience a true masterpiece.

DOS · by Balint Farkas (3) · 2005

Outstanding game, truly remarkable for its time

The Good
I still find myself wishing I could play this game from my (misspent) youth. Immersive, tremendous storyline, controls, intelligent, and often truly creepy game. I've never played a better single-player game 17 years later.

The introduction to the game was incredible, the logs of (soon-to-be-dead) crew members was so well done. Atmospheric and central to the game. The sense of space and isolation was a core draw for the game as well. The sound, for the time, and music were also unprecedented and COOL. I recall the graphics being great, but I remember the sounds and music more.

And SHODAN, come on, what a super villain. That voice is STILL creepy and just evil.

The Bad
I never got all that much into the cyberspace aspects, which seemed somewhat dated even back then. Very minor complaint.

The Bottom Line
I WISH this game could somehow be re-made or something similar and as equally immersive come out on the market. In fact, I keep looking for the "next System Shock" but have yet to find it.

DOS · by Mark Gibson (1) · 2011

[ View all 22 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Video review DJP Mom (11318) Oct 21st, 2010
Finally completed Unicorn Lynx (180489) Oct 18th, 2008
Voices? Unicorn Lynx (180489) Apr 3rd, 2008


CD version

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.

Ending (Spoiler!)

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.


System Shock'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.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #98 on the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
  • GameSpy
    • 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

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Ashley Pomeroy, dasfatso, DreamWeaver, PCGamer77, Stefan Pieratzki and Zovni

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by xroox.

PC-98, Macintosh added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Thorpe, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, MrFlibble, firefang9212, somato.

Game added January 6th, 2000. Last modified August 23rd, 2023.