Weeklies

Game: "System Shock 2"
System: PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 1/28/2008

Review: System Shock 2 is one of the creepiest, most atmospheric games I have ever played, and because of that it also remains one of the most memorable. In this first-person-shooter with role-playing elements, you play a soldier assigned to spaceship UNN Von Braun, and you've just woken prematurely from a cryo-stasis tube with no idea of what's happened during the last few weeks of space travel. You quickly piece together that the crew of the ship have been "infested" by some unknown alien entity that operate in a hive mind and try to make your way off the ship and destroy the entity known as "The Many". Throw in the insane and sinister Artificial Intelligence SHODAN, who remains the best video game villain I've ever countered, and you've got yourself one hell of a game.

What really makes this game so amazing is not the gameplay or the graphics (which are quite dated by today's standards, but there's an update patch made by fans that at least makes them tolerable), but rather all the little details that exist simply to enhance the setting. You'll be walking through the lonely Medical Bay, bodies strewn everywhere and dangerous mutants stalking the corridors, when all of a sudden you'll see a ghost in front of you, reenacting some horrible experience that led to their death. Believe me when I say that it's enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, because you'll already be freaked out by the sparsely populated halls that strongly suggest an enemy that was until very recently still human could come shuffling around any corner.

You'll also find audio logs scattered throughout the ship left by various crew personnel, and through these you will begin to piece together exactly what happened on the Von Braun. And they're not just random individuals you'll only hear from once either--you'll begin to collect different logs by the same people and the gaps in their stories will slowly fill in. The voice acting on these logs is very well done, and many of the ones that occur in the later stages of "the incident" are quite unnerving.

As good as the sound on those audio logs is, it pales in comparison to the sound design of SHODAN. Whoever came up with that eerie, creepy, just plain evil voice should get nothing less than a medal and an endless supply of blowjobs, because it is my favorite thing I have ever heard in any video game, ever. It's so fucking good that I'm really at a loss for how to even do it justice describing it, but it's the kind of thing that if you heard in real life outside the context of the game, it would make you shit your pantaloons, no doubt. You can find samples of it online if you're really inclined, but my advice is to experience it in the game--don't spoil it ahead of time.

This game is easily in my "Top Five Games of All Time" list, but that's not to say it's without flaws. The weapon degradation is annoying and unnecessary (though there are patches that can remove it), and at the end it all just sort of falls apart, leaving you to wonder what happened to this great game. Evidently the designers didn't have as much time to spend on the last section of the game as they'd have liked. After coming along so far and being amazed every step of the way, it's nothing short of an epic disappointment to see how this game ends. For that reason I cannot give it the "Five" that I'd like to give.

So it should speak highly of the rest of the game indeed when I say that, despite this, any gamer worth his or her salt needs to experience the other 90% of the game. It really is that fucking good. Younger gamers who may not be familiar with this game but know Bioshock should know that without this game, Bioshock wouldn't exist. This is Bioshock's granddaddy, and fans of creepy games really owe it to themselves to check this one out.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Funky Dynamite
Jan 28th, 2008, 03:18 PM
What do you mean it all just falls apart? I thought the ending made plenty of sense, apart from the unanswered question of "why hasn't System Shock 3 been made yet?"

Also, it's a shame that Bioshock didn't borrow more elements from this game.
OH GOD
Jan 28th, 2008, 03:26 PM
I didn't think the weapon degradation was THAT bad, but yeah it could have been toned down a bit. Plus, some of the weapons are severely underpowered (fusion cannon and laser rapier, I'm looking at YOU.)

The sounds in this game are what really make it though. I love the creepy stuff the cyborg midwives say when they're looking for you after you've run away from them, especially.
Funky Dynamite
Jan 28th, 2008, 03:30 PM
Second on the underpowered weapons. I was so excited to get the exotic weapons, but then I realized that they were nowhere near as effective as the assault rifle. In fact, none of the weapons were really as good as that gun.
OH GOD
Jan 28th, 2008, 03:42 PM
i guess that was their justification for requiring your standard weapons skill be maxed out before you could use it :/
Funky Dynamite
Jan 28th, 2008, 04:42 PM
And that's why it's a waste to spend it on heavy or energy. Laser pistol? Pfft.
OH GOD
Jan 28th, 2008, 04:55 PM
well, the grenade launcher can be pretty handy, but that's what, level 1?
Funky Dynamite
Jan 28th, 2008, 05:02 PM
Bah, the pistol is the thinking man's grenade launcher.
Freelance Product Tester
Jan 28th, 2008, 05:48 PM
I can't wait for the next *Shock game. What do you guys think it'll be called? NanoShock? CryoShock? I'm thinking NanoShock.
From the Home of MST3K
Jan 28th, 2008, 06:22 PM
I love this game so much it hurts.
Everyone's Arch-Enemy.
Jan 28th, 2008, 06:40 PM
The wrench was my workhorse weapon for the majority of this game. I went with the Navy class so I ended up switching between good ol' wrenchy and the Laser Pistol. When it's on rapid mode, it sucks, but when you change it to fully-charged mode you can take out some pretty nasty shit in one or two shots. Saved my ass more than once. This is the be-all, end-all of creepy games. No other horror-themed game creeped me out as much as this one did, and I still play it regularly.
Spiral Out
Jan 28th, 2008, 10:41 PM
This is on my short list of the best video games ever made. I agree that no horror game has ever topped the creepy-factor of System Shock 2. The atmospheric sound design sells it most of all.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 29th, 2008, 12:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Boogie View Post
What do you mean it all just falls apart? I thought the ending made plenty of sense, apart from the unanswered question of "why hasn't System Shock 3 been made yet?"

Also, it's a shame that Bioshock didn't borrow more elements from this game.
Oh, it's not that it didn't make sense (I clarified my sentence in the review), it's just that there was a severe dip in quality at the end, in my opinion. The whole bit when you enter The Many and then take on SHODAN just seemed half-assed compared to the rest of it. It really gives off the impression that they ran out of time on the development side of things. A game like that deserved a better final few stages.
Funky Dynamite
Jan 29th, 2008, 01:05 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Protoclown View Post
Oh, it's not that it didn't make sense (I clarified my sentence in the review), it's just that there was a severe dip in quality at the end, in my opinion. The whole bit when you enter The Many and then take on SHODAN just seemed half-assed compared to the rest of it. It really gives off the impression that they ran out of time on the development side of things. A game like that deserved a better final few stages.
No way, man, no way.

Spoilers!
Forum Virgin
Jan 29th, 2008, 02:32 AM
System Shock 2 was a fantastic game, glad you guys share the same view. Great review (:
Emu Emu is offline
Level 29 ♂
Jan 29th, 2008, 12:06 PM
The laser rapier and other exotic weapons do suck, but all of the weapons were inferior to a few charged cryokenesis shots.
Forum Chaos Lord
Jan 29th, 2008, 02:32 PM
SS2 is easily one of the scariest games of all time. I remember playing it and being scared out of my goddamn mind by it; only Resident Evil's remake on GCN and Silent Hill 3 really provided anywhere near as much creep-factor.
All expenses to Thailand
Jan 29th, 2008, 02:49 PM
I finished this last night, and I mostly agree with Protoclown about the ending.

Spoilers!


The game never really scared me as it does a lot of people, but it did have all-around really great production value, and as has been said before the sound design was fantastic. I enjoyed it!
All expenses to Thailand
Jan 29th, 2008, 02:52 PM
AFTER REVIEWING THE THREAD I REALIZE I AM MISTAKEN

Spoilers!
OH GOD
Jan 29th, 2008, 03:06 PM
yeah that cutscene is especially jarring if you've been playing the whole rest of the game with the improved character model patch, your dude looks like he's got a triangle for a face
Forum Virgin
Jan 29th, 2008, 03:09 PM
Interestingly enough the voice of SHODAN was made by the sound designers wife. So he may actually get blowjobs... from SHODAN herself.
pickled
Jan 30th, 2008, 07:08 PM
After playing Bioshock, I've been meaning to play this game for a while.
Forum Virgin
Jan 30th, 2008, 09:34 PM
Ah yes, I remember this game.

I remember the laughs, I remember the shocked exasperations of "OH ----!" *BLAM BLAM BLAM* "Dude, you know you can't sneak up on me like that... Now give me your liver."

But if there's one thing I'll remember forever, it would be finally discovering to hold the button down to use the Viral Proliferator. It was toward the end of the game, just before the last chapter, when it happened. The effect was so awesome I just had to exclaim:
"YOU MAH NEW BEST FWIEND!"
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Jan 31st, 2008, 11:25 PM
yea, i think this was made by the same people who made the bioshock i think.
theyre seriously disturbed.
but their ghames are excellent
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 1st, 2008, 06:38 PM
Sorry Doc, I gotta disagree...I thought the ending was very weak for a game that was so insanely good up to that point.
Funky Dynamite
Feb 1st, 2008, 06:56 PM
So what would have liked to see, ignoring the obvious questions raised by the last-minute cliffhanger at the end of the ending video?
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 3rd, 2008, 01:23 PM
Better level design, for one thing. It just seemed like the last couple levels were just sort of half-assed.
Forum Virgin
Jun 11th, 2008, 03:47 PM
SHODAN's voice has got to be among the top five freakiest things I've ever heard.