A little history lesson from Weaver first
System Shock 2 is probably one of the most iconic games ever created, and is usually regarded as the game which shaped the first person shooter genre. It was released in 1999, and was co-developed by Electronic Arts, Irrational Games, and the now defunct Looking Glass Studios. It was originally meant to be a stand alone title, but EA had it turned into a System Shock, a lesser known game released in 1994, sequel when they signed on as developers.
It was incredibly well received, winning dozens of awards, getting high ratings from critics, and even winning seven Game Of The Year prizes. Sadly, no sequel to System Shock 2 is on the horizon due to copyright issues. For some unknown reason, EA allowed the copyright to end, and the rights to the System Shock name is now in the hands of an insurance company. Such a sad end. But, huzzah, it's spiritual successor, BioShock, lives on.
So, how about a little bit on the game itself now?
Of course, you want a review of System Shock 2. Well, let me start off by saying one thing: This game is an unforgiving little bastard. One mistake and you'll end up with an Annelid Rumbler tearing you in half, or a Cyborg Midwife feeding you to her egg clutch. Like many games of its era, System Shock 2 does not hold the player's hand, and it WILL laugh in your face if you screw up.
The storyline itself is fairly standard, as far as storylines go. You are an unnamed soldier who wakes up from some form of stasis to find that he must save the ship from unknown invaders. The invaders in this case are
The Borg The Many, a hive mind species hell bent on absorbing all 'biomass' (Read: Anything that moves) into their collective. As they have already done with the majority of the crew of the Starship Von Braun and UNN Rickenbacker.
Now, I'm not going to spoil too much of the story of the game, so I'm going start talking about the gameplay itself now. It is hard. Even on easy, it is quite a difficult game. Resources are scarce, weapon ammunition must be conserved like it is gold, and although the enemies you meet early on are fairly weak and easy to defeat with a few blows to the skull with a sturdy wrench, as the game progresses, you will find yourself walking out of the Quantum Bio-Reconstruction Machine more and more as a Hybrid or turret pops up from where you least expect it to and brutally end you.
Seriously, fuck those turrets. At least the Hybrids are nice enough to give away their position...
Anyway, the game's upgrade system works off Cybernetic Modules that you get from completing objectives that the voices in your head give to you. Since there was not enough disk space for friendly NPCs back in the 90s, and no way to stop you from caving in their polygonal skulls with a wrench, you never actually meet the god-like beings giving you your orders, and they exist only as e-mail (E-mails? Seriously? It's 2114, what the fuck, science?) messages occasionally received when you stumble in the right direction. The Cybernetic Modules must be coveted and spent wisely, since they are an incredibly finite resource. You may end up sinking all your points into hacking to get past the Von Braun's annoying as fuck security systems, and later on lament the fact that you forgot to choose a weapons skill as an angry maintenance droid crushes your skull like an egg.
So, Weaver, what is your overall opinion?
I want to like System Shock 2. I really, really do. But, and I'm ashamed to admit this, I cannot get through the game without cheating up some ammo every now and again just to get me through it. It is that difficult. The storyline is great, the world is great, the background is great, but the gameplay can be compared to sandpapering your nipples, it is painful and ultimately pointless, but for some reason some people like it and go back for more.
Reviewed by Nihilus Nix Naught