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PC Games (Games)

The Making of System Shock 2 97 97

The British gaming magazine Edge, which has teamed up with the website Next Generation, offers up a piece looking back at the creation of System Shock 2 . The cult classic storytelling horror-themed FPS has survived as a popular and often-referenced game despite the eight years between now and its release. The piece covers the reasons behind that popularity, as well as the 'horror' of an inexperienced team taking on a dauntingly high-profile task: "The original System Shock was one of the games that made Levine want to move into the videogame industry in the first place. What made it so special? 'The feeling of being in a real place,' he raves. 'The feeling of a mystery, of unraveling it - not in an adventure game way, but in the context of an action game. You arrive and... what happened? That's a really good storytelling mechanism.' Austin Grossman and Doug Church's original idea from Shock was something Irrational expanded in its sequel. 'In Shock 1 you were a specific guy, you had a backstory,' Levine notes. 'With Shock 2, I started you out with the classic 'wake up with amnesia'.'"
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The Making of System Shock 2

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  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Friday October 12, 2007 @05:36PM (#20960537)
    When Bioshock came out, I heard the hype, and was prepared to delve into the amazing awesomeness that Bioshock apparently was. Especially considering how good System Shock 2 was. So I expected that it would be as good as SS2 or better.

    I installed it and began playing.

    About two hours later I was bored out of my mind at the console-ized, dumbed-down mess that was Bioshock.

    I reinstalled System Shock 2.

    I played the entire thing through again and loved every second of it. System Shock 2 is without a doubt one of the best games of all time, worthy of any top 10 list as the best FPS-RPG ever. Probably even better than Deus Ex, though that's a hard comparison to make for sure.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday October 12, 2007 @05:55PM (#20960725) Journal

    The reason it was so good was that for the first time in a game, you weren't in a game. Doom shared that a bit, was one of the first games you could just play without reading the manual. Doom was "real". What I mean by that is that a door looked like a door, worked like a door. Med packs were clearly visible and so on. Compare this to say a driving sim, where you do not have working mirrors, you can only see straight ahead, you have to drive by jerking the wheel hard left or hard right. Doom was "natural".

    System shock was not, but it is the first game I remember where you really felt part of the world. Since then I learned that EVERY fps that you are alone. Think about this, even in Alien VS Predator, as either the alien or the marine, you are alone. Not so in System Shock. At one point you are reading mails from someone trying to find a safe spot, as you progress you are getting closer and closer and hope to find them alive. You don't offcourse, solo FPS is solo, but still, for a moment you felt like others were in the space station with you. A magic moment in a PC game. Perhaps even better then actually having an AI with you, this woman never got in my way, didn't commit suicide, didn't get stuck, yet I felt she was another human in this alien world.

    But this is about System Shock 2 right? Can I be honest? Didn't like it as much as the original, it was too much. I would have preffered they spend more time on the bugs and less time on the three different main classes and all the various options. Nice and all but endless choice is too often an excuse for not enough flesh in the story. Shodan is back? Yeah, okay, she was nice and crazy and all but we knew her already. There was no shock. Also, the first time you were a hacker, so no wonder you were a bit crap in the beginning with combat, this time you are a soldier, so why do you still suck?

  • by complexmath (449417) * on Friday October 12, 2007 @06:07PM (#20960835)
    System Shock 2 was far better than Deus Ex, in my opinion. For one thing, System Shock 2 felt quite nonlinear, while Deus Ex railroaded the player through the game from start to finish. Also, Deus Ex contained some racist content that had me considering just uninstalling the game for a while. Not to mention System Shock 2's unbelievable use of sound, fantastic level design, etc. It's easily in my top ten FPS games of all time along with System Shock 1, Thief 1 & 2, Ultima Underworld, Half Life 2, and various others I can't think of right now. But Deus Ex may not be on that list.

    As for Bioshock, I recently started playing the game and have been enjoying it quite a bit. I agree that the interface is more like a traditional FPS than System Shock 2 and thus "dumbed down" I suppose, but still more complex than Half Life and similar more pure FPS variants. What I really enjoy about Bioshock, though, is simply the realization of the concept within the game world. How often do you get to explore the shattered remains of a dystopian world inspired by an Ayn Rand novel? About my only potential issue so far are the few scripted "scare" scenarios I've encountered. I'd have preferred if they had been done in such a way that they at least didn't feel quite so scripted. Many of the scariest moments in System Shock 2, for example, were simply an artifact of situations I found myself in and the excellent sound work in the game--the ability to hear critters nearby but not know where they were, etc.
  • by thegnu (557446) <> on Friday October 12, 2007 @07:20PM (#20961523) Journal

    I'm not saying that it's a bad game, I'm just saying that that sentence is logically contradictory.

    I'll save GP some time:
    Dumbed-down is not the same as less complex. Dumbed-down is not the opposite of complex. Dumbed down means 'Made More Stupider' whereas less complex means 'not quite so intricate.' GP was indicating this point, and stating that it had plenty of artistic and stylistic merit in its own right. Doom is not Risk dumbed-down. Doom is Doom. Risk is Risk.

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"