Classics: System Shock 2

I finally finished System Shock 2 today after gathering enough guts and I'd say the praises it received is not without merit. It is a fine example that games has to have heart for it to be a classic. It has absorbed me from the very beginning and did not let go until the end. I'll list what I like about the game below:

Pros:

  • The atmosphere is palpable.
  • The game really has a feel of cohesion to it. Every element of the game complements each other. It's like a team held a meeting, put all their ideas on the table, merged it all together and achieved a singular vision of what the game should be.
  • The game is tense and outright creepy.
  • Superb voice acting makes every audio log compelling to hear. It also helps that much of the back story from the logs add to the player's immersion.
  • The sound design is also one of the best in gaming. If there's an enemy around the corner you could hear them from a distance and know their position just by the sound blaring through your headphones. It keeps you on your toes.
  • Skill upgrades provide a sense of progress and encourage experimentation.
  • Rewards exploration of the world plus the level design is varied and interesting throughout. Once I finished exploring a certain level I instantly have a sense of the place and know it like the back of my hand which is a great feeling.
  • Enemy design is very impressive. Facing a cyborg midwife has ALWAYS sent chills down my spine.
  • SHODAN is one of the best antagonist to ever grace video games.
  • Combat is fun in a Skyrim clunky way. Depleting enemy health bars is thrilling and gives a feeling of relief.

Cons:

  • Respawning enemies and they can visibly turn up out of thin air.
  • Some upgrades are more useful than others

I wholeheartedly recommend this title for anyone who wants to be immersed in a beautiful and twisted place. Don't forget to check out some essential mods like the SHTUP as it will enhance the resolution of the texture making the graphics easier to swallow.

12 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by RedCream

I finally finished System Shock 2 today after gathering enough guts and I'd say the praises it received is not without merit. It is a fine example that games has to have heart for it to be a classic. It has absorbed me from the very beginning and did not let go until the end. I'll list what I like about the game below:

Pros:

  • The atmosphere is palpable.
  • The game really has a feel of cohesion to it. Every element of the game complements each other. It's like a team held a meeting, put all their ideas on the table, merged it all together and achieved a singular vision of what the game should be.
  • The game is tense and outright creepy.
  • Superb voice acting makes every audio log compelling to hear. It also helps that much of the back story from the logs add to the player's immersion.
  • The sound design is also one of the best in gaming. If there's an enemy around the corner you could hear them from a distance and know their position just by the sound blaring through your headphones. It keeps you on your toes.
  • Skill upgrades provide a sense of progress and encourage experimentation.
  • Rewards exploration of the world plus the level design is varied and interesting throughout. Once I finished exploring a certain level I instantly have a sense of the place and know it like the back of hand which is a great feeling.
  • Enemy design is very impressive. Facing a cyborg midwife has ALWAYS sent chills down my spine.
  • SHODAN is one of the best antagonist to ever grace video games.
  • Combat is fun in a Skyrim clunky way. Depleting enemy health bars is thrilling and gives a feeling of relief.

Cons:

  • Respawning enemies and they can visibly turn up out of thin air.
  • Some upgrades are more useful than others

I wholeheartedly recommend this title for anyone who wants to be immersed in a beautiful and twisted place. Don't forget to check out some essential mods like the SHTUP as it will enhance the resolution of the texture making the graphics easier to swallow.

Posted by LackingSaint

Funny thing about the voice-acting, that was before the whole big thing about how academy-approved VAs were the only ones allowed to do work in games, so a lot of that voicework is done by developers. I think it's all the better for it, it somehow sounds more natural when it's not clearly work done by an actor.

Anyway, couldn't agree more, one of my favourite games.

Posted by RedCream

The devs did most of the voice work? That's amazing! This just made me admire them a lot more. Kudos and respect to them.

Posted by demontrace

System Shock 2 is one of those games that I can never forget, have played through multiple times, and still think is one of the greatest games ever made. It did so many things so very well that I just don't see it ever being beat, unless a System Shock 3 comes around that truly improves on the previous game in every way. From the voice acting, to the combat, to the different characters to play as, to the enemies themselves, it was absolutely incredible. I STILL have some of the songs from that game in mp3 form that I never get tired of listening to.

I will agree the respawning enemies were a major drag, but was something I could handle. If anything, the respawning enemies just made the game more tense and scary. It was one of the games that would legitimately scare me at times. Cyber Assassins were cool and yet incredibly deadly, and scary just for how they could be so very quiet and unleash major damage to you. The midwives were indeed very creepy. I hated facing them. Every enemy had it's way of forcing you to take them seriously. I really miss that game. I wasn't even sure if it'd still run on my current computer. I still have the disc, and miss that game so much.

Edited by Tennmuerti

1 major knock I carry against that great game to this day is the story contrivances/pacing. Many a time you are given a simple objective that is then stretched into several levels because going from A to B involves a dozen plus breakdowns, lock downs or what have you. A single elevator ride that took hours. ^.^ At times it felt like you were playing mr. fixit in that space station.

Posted by RedCream

Yeah the objectives do drag out a bit and most of the time you're just looking for keycards or codes for a locked door but the exploration and mystery are so engaging that I didn't mind it at all. In fact I think the length of the game is perfect. Enough to get the players invested but does not overstay its welcome.

Posted by MurderBunny

System Shock 2 was the main reason i did not like Bioshock. It always felt like a worse version of System Shock so i could never appreciate Bioshock for what it was.

Edited by BeachThunder

Cons: The ending was ultra-dumb and bad :(

Aside from that though, I fucking love SS2; I seriously hope we have a sequel bestowed upon us...or at very least, SS2 should be made available on GOG or Steam...(sigh).

Oh, and the music really does not fit the game at all...

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Posted by RedCream

I thought the music gave the game the right kind of futuristic vibe to it which added to the atmosphere.

Yeah I can agree that the ending was really ridiculous. The way the character said "nah!" nonchalantly is kinda funny and maybe a proper revenge on SHODAN for belittling you all the while but at the same time it was not in keeping with the tone of the whole game at all.

Posted by BeachThunder

@RedCream: Well, it could have been futuristic without sounding like shodan was constantly running a cyberpunk rave party. Something like Dead Space would have been fantastic.

Oh and while I'm here; all of this is awesome:

Online
Posted by Irishdoom

Those guys were so legitimately scary. SS2 is one of my favorite games of all time.

Posted by believer258

@Tennmuerti said:

1 major knock I carry against that great game to this day is the story contrivances/pacing. Many a time you are given a simple objective that is then stretched into several levels because going from A to B involves a dozen plus breakdowns, lock downs or what have you. A single elevator ride that took hours. ^.^ At times it felt like you were playing mr. fixit in that space station.

Bioshock also had that issue.