Doubtless among the best games ever made, System Shock 2 is a superior RPG/FPS sequel to the 1993 classic. Anyone who has played and liked the original game needs to try this game. Even those who did not play the first and are looking for something mesmerizing and scary will enjoy this. |
In the time of System Shock 2, around forty years have passed after events in the first game. After the close call of super-computer-gone-crazy SHODAN, the governments have banded together under the United National Nominate (UNN) to oppose megacorporation Tri-Optimum and other large companies. An uneasy peace now exists. When the game starts, you are at a UNN base. You go through some training missions, and the tutorial is very easy to learn and controls quick to figure out. The interface of SS2 makes controling your character easy: one hand on the keyboard to move your guy and the other on a mouse to look around and pick things up will serve most people well. Joysticks are supported, and it is suggested that you learn some of the hotkeys in the game to save yourself time and effort.
After the training, you get to pick a branch for your character – either the Marines, specializing in heavy weapons, the Navy, strong in lighter weapons and hacking (close to the original game), and the new OSA, which allows you to use your Psionic ability to attack your enemies. During the game you can gradually learn new skills and improve your base stats to become more effective at the discipline you have chosen (it's best to focus than spread too thin).
There are so many good things about System Shock 2 that I can only really touch on the major ones. The graphics are the same as the Thief games, with strong contrasts between light and dark and creating an immersive environment. As you plod through the ship, picking up the pieces of what happened and trying to stop whoever – or whatever – has taken over, you find logs from the dead crewmembers, like in the first game. The voice acting is wonderful and adds to the immersion. The enemies are numerous and the AI very smart, with mutants attacking you straight on while assassins try to pick you off from dark corners.
The sounds are – oh my God, the sounds! I played the first System Shock with the volume down, but you can NOT do that in this game. The sounds are critical to your survival. You can hear enemies aproach, listen for the whine of a security camera, turn around in dread as a you hear a turrent pop up. All these effects make for a game that is VERY scary, the scariest game I have ever played. You will hesitate as you open each door and peek around each corridor, wondering what horror is waiting for you. A full stereo surround system is needed for getting the most of it.
Other elements also make System Shock 2 a classic. The plot is fantasic, told to you through the logs and e-mails and some scattered cutscenes. It is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. The shooting aspect blends in nicely with the RPG elements as you need to decide when and how to improve your character for survivability, though it's difficult to get into any total dead ends. There are about a dozen weapons and numerous other chemicals, items, and implants that you can pick up and use. Different difficulty levels and the three military branches give the game a good deal of replay value. Finally, the game supports multi-player in which you can play with other people co-operatively.
System Shock 2 is a must-play for anyone who likes FPS, RPG, or a well-written adventure game. Be warned, though – this game is VERY scary! I've reflexively thrown my mouse many times when a monster suddenly attacked me from nowhere. Like the original, System Shock 2 deserves to go down in computer gaming history as a classic. Two thumbs WAY up, and a well-deserved induction into our Hall of Belated Fame.
Reviewed by: Soulblazer