System Shock 1 Marathon Comparison Episode 3
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 6/8/23 1:04 p.m.

System Shock Marathon Comparison & talkthrough Season 1: System Shock 1: Enhanced Edition

Episode 3: Mutagen Herd part 2

Forward: This part was originally just the return to maintenance but episode 2 was too long for the story page so I had to add the groves to this section too.

Act 5(from EP2): Kraidle of Life – Executive Level: The Groves

I take Diego’s private jump pad back to the elevator and head down the other passage here. It leads to Alpha Grove, which we will tackle first. Most of the groves are counted as level 6 despite loading a new area so dying there will send you back to the pattern buffer on level 6 if you disabled cyborg conversion.

Welcome to the groves! They are the origin inspiration of Arcadia in Bioshock: forested biodomes that serve as oxygen supplies to the Space Colony Citadel/Rapture as well as hydroponics labs and public parks.

Due to technical limitations, there’s not a lot of foliage here and unlike Ultima Underworld, there’s no water & no swimming either, not counting small puddles. WHY? All they had to do was copy Ultima Underworld’s swimming system and it’d work fine (it uses soft-hotplate polygons similar to liquid wading in Build engine games, Strife and Brutal Doom, so called as they’re ouch sectors you can still sink into using camera and sprite tricks), especially as System Shock 2 has swimming in it. I hope the remake version of the groves adds proper water features to the groves and maybe other swimming areas too like a leisure pool on level 6 and cooling ponds for the reactor or something.

I explore the grove, destroying cameras and killing mutants until I find the second best energy weapon in the game down an elevator platform in a systems control area.

This is the Ion Rifle. A laser rifle that deals a ton of damage even on medium settings. Until we get the plasma rifle, we have no reason to use any other energy weapon.

Plant mutants sling poisonous spiny seed pods at us but are weak to flechette fire. The grove jettison enable switch/safety interlocks are in a red room to the south near the central junction of the grove. We need to find 2 other rooms like this before we can try jettisoning Beta Grove. I push the button and return to the executive level. Delta Grove is to the north of the cyberspace terminal. On a shelf here is the next aug: night vision eyes. Unlike Deus Ex again, Night Vision in System Shock doesn’t suck because it covers the full screen, not a tiny portion in the middle of it.

Delta Grove feels a bit more shrubbery than Alpha Grove and we have those nice bridges and the overlook with the two chairs. Something I had no idea I could do until I watched a System Shock 1 video recently (or was it one of streamer Onolumi’s streams?) is that you can climb the bushes and vines on the walls like ladders or pipes. Behind a baby Christmas tree up here is a boombox playing the sound of crickets and frogs around the grove.

After hitting the switch and returning to the main level, I head down to the reactor level to use the surgery machine: I’ll need it for what’s coming up.

Oh yeah, forgot about HIM. Security 2 bots are the peak of the robot forces SHODAN has and the worst to fight. They’re strong, tough and have a chaingun for a head. Most stronger weapons can destroy them quickly like my AR, Magpulse, Ion Rifle and two later ones we’ll find in due time. Normally this robot by the elevator is waiting for us on our return journey but I returned sooner than intended to heal. There were going to be even worse Security 3 bots as well but they were cut. Count your lucky stars!

This is it. Beta Grove. Here we go.

This is why as of those write-ups I’ve started calling SHODAN’s mutagen virus the Orange Death: that sickly orange biomass growing on the walls from infected plant life and possibly dead mutant animals including humans. Don’t die in here or let your suit run out of power. If the latter happens, your hazard suit will no longer protect you from the virus and the biohazard count will skyrocket. If you die in here, you succumb to the virus and mutate, the result being we still get shoved in a Cortex Reaver chassis as our game over screen. In other words, there’s no pattern buffer for us until we leave the grove.

I guess the virus infesting the grove is similar in one way to the deadly neurotoxin Andrew Ryan used to kill the trees in Arcadia, forcing us to find a way to resurrect them.

Following the rolling hills, I come to an upgrade for my automap aug that reveals radiation and biohazards on the map. There’s a shaft nearby in the metal area that leads to an ammo cache and a grav lift out. The ledges here lead to a door blocked by SHODAN level security but I’ve destroyed enough cameras to enter. There’s 3 security 1 bots here guarded an upgrade to my jump jet boots.

This staircase bridge is weird. What is this, Rise of the Triad? The jettison enable switch is easy to find so you don’t actually need to spend that long in here. I flip it and head back down so I can go to Gamma Quadrant, munching on some detox pills as I go. Going to Gamma, I throw the switch and…

Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. This is why I’m splitting this episode into 2 parts as we now have a lengthy return trip to the Maintenance level to deal with. Next episode, we fix the relay and launch the grove...which is now unlike on my log.

Act 1 (for real): Defend THIS! – Maintenance Department: Quadrant Maintenance Access Tunnels

Last time on the System Shock Marathon comparison write-ups, we explored most of the other levels and started setting about jettisoning Beta Grove in order to prevent SHODAN using the Orange Death mutagen virus as a weapon on Earth. There’s bad news however, as seen just above.


“Greetings! You’re asking yourself, “Is this a trap or just a dead end?” You shouldn’t ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim higher. Try this: “why am I here?” “Why do I exist?” And “What is my purpose in this universe?” (Answers: Cause you are. Cause you do. Cause I got Psychokinesis Powers and you ain’t got any)

Notably unstable, SHODAN.

PS, If things around here aren’t working, it’s because I’m laughing so hard.”


So we have to return to the maintenance level in order to fix the power relay. That diagnostic computer by the CPU server node should help. Sure enough, there’s a diagnostic log there like a crash report in order to check the error.

Good luck reading that map telling us exactly where the relay is. It’s fun to explore all the mazes in each quadrant and look at all the machinery. The relay analyser is where I found that double crawlspace. It says to replace the broken interface demodulator. And now we know what the cache of them in the middle workshop is for.

Beta Quadrant contains several relays, forcefield monitors, routing controllers and airlock safety regulators. Gamma Quadrant has a “temporal distortion monitor”, plasma flux monitor, gravity regulators, planetary research databank, more relays, auxiliary power monitors, xenobiologic detection grid control and life support. Sight pills and night vision come in handy on this level. Delta Quadrant has redundant databanks, sewage processing backup control (at least that hints there are toilets in this place!), coolant regulators, energy conduits, more life support and relay 428. Before I repair it, I check out Alpha Quadrant.

Anyone else reminded of banshees by how the invisible mutants appear completely black in night vision? Alpha Quadrant contains more energy conduits, more relays, iridium transfer control, more life support, more coolant regulators, air purification backup control, food replication backup control (hinting at the existence of Star Trek replicators like in the sequel) and my personal favourite:

No wonder Trioptimum’s soy sauce and lentil soup tastes like pork chops! I always found this part really funny, like cannibalism is just accepted in System Shock’s universe. They could also be referring to the original soylent green from the original book “Make Room! Make Room!” which actually was just made from soy and lentils, nor was it the focus of the book.

I return to relay 428 and replace the interface demodulator. Now I can go upstairs again and pull the lever.

But first, I take Abe’s head and jam it into the retinal scanner behind the SHODAN level security locked door now that I destroyed enough cameras to break her control on it.

Kryten: Logically, sir, there is only one way you could possibly have opened that door. I feel quite nauseous. — Where is it?

Lister: Where’s what?

Kryten: [horrified] Oh, sir, you’ve got it in your jacket!

Lister: I got us out of the hold, didn’t I?

Kryten: Sir, you are sick! You are a sick, sick person! How can you possibly even conceive of such an idea?

Lister: Hey, shut up… or I’ll beat you to death with the wet end.

Kryten: Sir, if mechanoids could barf, I’d be onto my fifth bag by now…

I’d have used an actual clip but I can’t find one anywhere. Inside is a cyborg drone of whom we haven’t seen since the Research Laboratory as well as a level 2 hazard suit to protect against radiation and a log from SHODAN on the floor. There is also an ammo, health, grenade and battery cache inside the cupboard nearby.

The systems authorisation code is the numbers we were recording next to each and every CPU server on those levels. I will reveal what they are for in due time. As soon as I return to level 6 and flip the master jettison enable lever, SHODAN sends a team of security 1 bots to kill me.

She also releases the virus mutants in that one cell we saw on level 2 but as there’s nothing inside, we have no reason to go back there unless we forget the CPU code digit, which is a real possibility now with the KEX engine version of Enhanced having that map notes bug.

See you 92 light years from here, ya mugs! I’m sure this isn’t gonna bite us in the ass within the next 42 years.

Next mission is stopping SHODAN from downloading herself into Earth’s internet as Parovsky warned us about.

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