System Shock 2 Marathon Comparison Episode 6
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 6/9/23 2:32 p.m.

System Shock Marathon Comparison & talkthrough Season 2: System Shock 2

Episode 6: Roots & Radicals

Act 1: Carrol Street Station – Command: Train Station and Metro

Last time on the System Shock 2 Marathon comparison, we played G4 Sunbathing with PIDs bomb code puzzle instead of 4 switches for the satellite dish. Now, we go to the Command deck which has the bridge of the Von Braun.


“My creation has run rampant. I demand their extermination! I have no choice but to destroy this starship. We can make our escape in the Rickenbacker. But you must transfer my intelligence to that ship first. Proceed to the Von Braun’s bridge on this deck. There, you will find an access card to the command centre on Ops. Find the card and proceed to Ops. But beware, the human/annelid hybrids grow more sophisticated by the minute. You do not.”


As I head through the only unlocked doorway to the tram station, the Many talk to me again:

“You have wounded Xerxes, but we will not allow him to be destroyed. See if the machine mother treats her servant with such devotion.”

As far as I’m aware, that pattern buffer just plain isn’t here in vanilla. This is a nice touch to explain why we can’t use one here. The tram station has some dead bodies on the floor and 2 replicators, one destroyed with some alcohol, crisps and ammo in its chute. As I take the XP hidden in a bin, the Many tell me their plans:

“The machine mother told us of the planet of her birth. We know how you have harmed this place with your pollution, your violence and your discord. But when we arrive there, we will cleanse the surface of that place, and merge it with the harmony of the Many.”

“You frivolous, ignorant people. We did not come to destroy humanity…we came to save it. With the people of this planet continuing their cheating, competition and futile conflicts, they are trying to lead their species to ruin. We are trying to protect this foolish humanity with a perfect order known as despair, and lead it to true prosperity. It will act as livestock that will provide life energy to us, the Many! They will be well kept…”

It’s no Half Life, Tomb Raider 3 or Duke Nukem 3D but it’ll have to do. There’s also inertia in the train so it throws you towards the front when it stops. I forgot to disable security so the laser turrets in the middle station are active. Luckily, I’d levelled up my hacking to level 4 a while ago so I just hack them to work for me. I critically failed the first hack and discovered doing that breaks the turret and sets off the alarm, just like with security terminals. Reloading fixed that issue. Delacroix has a log here.

Suspicious. Seems SHODAN doesn’t want us to know something that Polito and Delacroix found out. At the train station at the end of the tracks is a log from someone named Prefontaine. No, despite the name he hasn’t anything to do with Frank Fontaine from Bioshock as he’s a good guy and serves to inform people about how the Many work in his logs.

Prefontaine Re: Floating PSI Users

“The data gathering process is going well. Before I am taken by the Many, I will hopefully transmit a fair bit of information to whoever will listen. The large floating creatures are not only capable of attacking with powerful PSI projections, but are PSI projections themselves. Killing them only temporarily disables them. Their real source of power comes from a small control organism, which is usually located somewhere nearby. Although this control organism is quite powerful through its projections, it’s eminently vulnerable once rooted out.”

As I head to the bulkhead to the bridge, Dr Delacroix radios me for the first time.

She isn’t referring to the cargo bays on the Engineering level, but different cargo bays on this level by the hanger bays. You won't know this the first time you play as it isn't clear at all. However, the door to the hangers is locked until later. I have no choice but to proceed through the bulkhead for now.

Act 2: Ascension – Officer’s Sleeping Quarters, Lifepods & Bridge of the Von Braun

That’s Tommy and Rebecca! “Move it Tommy! The escape pod is this way!” Rebecca calls as she runs for the door. “That damn worm almost bit my leg off.” Tommy grumbles as he walks after her.

The door opens too slowly for me to help and join them, but they manage to get away. The rumbler is still there however. There’s a surgical unit I activate where all 3 of them came from and nothing else. I wonder if the developers fudged it?

The area where the rumbler went is a large central glass elevator to the bridge with smaller elevators around the sides in each corner to reach the living quarters above.

I hope everyone sleeps well tonight…

I hack my way through security on the first floor above me until I find a broken catwalk. Below the bridge is some nanites I need to use telekinesis to get. I’ve found the escape pods! I find loot in the departure lounges outside the pod airlocks including ammo, a French-Epstein device and cybernetic modules. Engine sounds and beeping come from the end of the hall. “Rebecca, we’re out of time! Get into the pod!” I rush to join them only to see I’m too late and the lifepod launches with Tommy and Rebecca onboard.

At least someone managed to escape. I’m on my own. There’s a keycard for the bridge elevator here which I pocket. The hallway nearby leads past a water filled room of pipes with the pattern buffer in it to the living quarters, guarded by an assault bot and a cyborg assassin. The lower pipe is steaming hot but doesn’t actually hurt you as you climb across it and neither does the water. There’s cyber modules on a ledge below more pipes. There’s also a lit furnace through some pipes in the wall along the way.

On the floor is a log from some redneck guy called Norris.

I guess the shower drains are clogged. The other hallway loops back to the elevators. Norris left another log on a dead body. He says someone changed the code to the security station in the officer’s sleeping quarters. He suspects a man named Myers: “All that guy thinks about is conspiracy theories and naked girls.”

There’s also another log I forgot I picked up: A guy named McKay tells Delacroix that the cyborg midwives are loading eggs onto shuttles in the hangers, likely as the Many have anticipated SHODAN’s plan to scuttle the ship. He says he’s heard that I’m fighting back and will find somewhere to hide.

I guess that comparison to Doom 3 was accurate. Myers has a log in his locker around the corner. You can tell it apart from the others as he has a pinup poster on the unit next to it. He confirms he changed the security station code to 83273 as he doesn’t trust anyone. SHODAN gives me some cybernetic modules for finding his log.

This looks like an actual storeroom, such as the janitors’ closets and science class chemical storerooms in the high school I went to. We won’t need to come here unless we find more stuff to research. The security station has a shuttle bay access card. It’s worth picking it up now so we don’t have to come back here later.

This is what hoarding the ICE picks is for. You need either hacking level 5 or 6 to hack those high security crates and sometimes the loot inside isn’t worth it though they usually have more useful stuff than smaller crates. The ICE pick is this game’s counterpart to the automatic hack tools in Bioshock and the cyberspace software & logic probes in System Shock 1. The description says there’s a rumour that “Cantor”, the man who made the ICE pick will offer his own hacking algorithms to anyone who can demonstrate a device the ICE pick can’t break into.

System Shock Infinite assumes Cantor is the name of the hacker in the first game if I remember right. Chances are it’s something else in canon, assuming System Shock 3 ever actually comes out (the Hacker and Goggles both were planned to return in that game). This high security crate is indeed worth it: it contains grenades, a first aid kit and beakers to make more worm clusters to recycle.

In the top floor below the bridge is the Executives’ quarters and the boardroom.

William Diego has an audio log in here: he’s come to his senses and is trying to fight the control of the Many. He sounds pained and straining to fight as the Many’s voices echo within him. The log is addressed to a General Laurie Brasco.

Diego RE: My responsibility

“I am a solider and a simple man. I cannot explain what has happened to me or this mission. I take complete responsibility. I’ve brought danger to my ship, to my crew, to my honour. I cannot resist the changes that are happening to me: the call of the Many is seductive. They got Korenchkin but that bastard is weak. I am not weak! I WILL RESIST THIS CANCER! And if I cannot, I will remove it. Forcibly. God save the UNN!”

At the other end of this place is Anatoly Korenchkin’s private quarters and his office. There’s a log on his office desk but something is wrong: he looks completely different now and his voice fully echoes with those of the Many. He’s fully become one of them now, specifically the flying form Diego alluded to on Hydroponics and Prefontaine warned us about.

In other words, if you aren’t with the Many, you are against them or at the very least a lesser lifeform to be eradicated. I don’t know if that’s just Korenchkin talking but so much for being an all-inclusive saviour to humanity.

In other words, if you aren’t with the Many, you are against them or at the very least a lesser lifeform to be eradicated. I don’t know if that’s just Korenchkin talking but so much for being an all-inclusive saviour to humanity.

There’s no-one here. It feels very ominous, like the initial time you reach the top of the tower of dawn in Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time. By the main viewport is a rocket turret, the first of the game.

Unlike Bioshock, I can’t use telekinesis to throw its rockets back at it so I just hack it instead. That will come in handy later. There’s gravity lifts around the corner to the command centre above the main part of the bridge. There’s a small conference room and another rocket turret here. The card is in a glass compartment similar to the one way back on MedSci by a sealed bulkhead door.

Act 3: A Plague of Demons – Command: Shuttle Bays

I return to the tram station and from there to the main elevator and level up my strength to the max and my endurance by one more point. I’ll need it for this next bit. I return to the Ops level and go to the command centre near the brig we found before now that we have the card to put in.

No sooner do I use the Ops override computer, if this were the Steam version, the Many send a whole army of rumblers to stop us. This never happened before and is the result of the game being updated: originally those mutants were meant to be spawned but the trigger didn’t work, or it wasn’t there. Now it is. As I have the GOG version, this update seems not to have been applied to this version so I can head to the Engineering level and engine core without incident.

In the steam version, even more rumblers spawn at this point so you want to use pyrokinesis or anti-personal rounds to fight your way back to the elevator. SHODAN changes her plan once I get back to the Command level though as she’s just become aware of what McKay was warning Delacroix about.

The winding ramp leads up to a rumbler guarding the way to the shuttle bays. A rocket turret, a surveillance camera, a security bot, a wasp egg and a sharting egg attached to the wall are here too. The music is a pumping action track though it doesn’t seem to fit this area well unlike the other action tracks.

A clearer look at the original human face on the rumbler.

Wall mounted eggs look like they’re full of snot. The Many contact me again in the tunnel leading to the grav lifts. “The machine mother conceived us. But with every moment, we are reinvented. She cannot imagine our infinite chorus.”

Inside the left cargo bay are some rocket turrets and a cyborg midwives. Most eggs in here fart but the one in the exit hall hatches a worm and the single wall egg releases wasps. Korenchkin has a log in here about his epiphany and more of the Many’s plans.

Kornenchkin RE: My completion

“The transformation is over and I am one with the Many. I imprint my thoughts on this device as a record of history. We began this journey as pilgrims of commerce, and we now continue it as pilgrims of grace. I believed in money and Trioptimum, and now I believe in the joy of the mass. Diego cannot be trusted so I must claim this ship for the Many. It shall be our vessel of salvation, spreading our message and our flesh.”

So he plans to use the ship to allow the Many to spread, like the Flood capturing ships to use.

The shield around the shuttle reminds me of the base shield in that moon level of Star Wars Rouge Squadron on PC. Climbing up a ladder and using a terminal disables the shield and some regular gunfire destroys the shuttle. In the other shuttle bay observation room, a cyborg midwife sabotages the terminal so I can’t turn off the shields. SHODAN has a plan: hack the replicator in the passage between the rooms to make it generate a sympathetic resonator. Attach it to the shuttle shield generator so it will explode and rupture the fuel tank, destroying the shuttle. “Make sure you’re not there when it happens” She warns. “I still have need of you.”

In short, plant the bomb and run like hell because that explosion is big. This is the first place I think of when I say this game has areas where certain skills are required. If you don’t have hacking skill 3, you must sacrifice an ICE pick to hack the replicator. If you don’t have any or have run out of nanites for either hacking or actually buying the device, you’re screwed and can’t beat the game without cheating. High agility or a speed booster may help with avoiding the blast radius.


“Good. You’ve murdered their young and prevented their escape. I’ve opened the gate to the umbilical at the central tram stop. You can evacuate to the Rickenbacker from there.”


The way SHODAN glitches out on saying “you’ve murdered their young” makes it sound like she’s chanting it, like giddy school kids. Cargo bay A is here and the explosion blows open the door. I head in to meet Marie Delacroix. SHODAN however warns me not to go in there, like she doesn’t want me to help my ally. She’s behind the middle pillar dead. On her body are 10 cybernetic modules and her final audio log.

No wonder SHODAN didn’t want me coming in here! What does she want with the FTL drive? As I move to leave, SHODAN takes away the cyber modules I took off Delacroix. She’s not happy.

Act 4: Ain’t Got Time Pfhor This… - Command: Bridge of the Von Braun

A hoard of leadhead and nitro hybrids bum rush the hallway to the grav lifts as I make my way back. Or they would if they didn’t get distracted and annihilated by the rocket turret I hacked earlier. I run into a psychic shield identical to the one which one of our PSI powers can generate (not the actual PSI shield power) blocking the way to the umbilical. Korenchkin contacts me directly.

This is all that’s left of Anatoly Korenchkin. He’s become a PSI Reaver, the highest stage of human/annelid hybrid mutation and is now a full annelid. PSI Reavers are basically just the Octobrains from Duke Nukem 3D in full 3D, a mere 2 years before such a thing existed.

Killing him isn’t enough: he’ll just keep coming back. This is what Prefontaine warned about in his log. Korenchkin’s brain is up the gravity lifts in the command centre where I found the card.

Or not?! This is completely new, likely in the latest version of the Rebirth mod as older versions and vanilla don’t have this office for Korenchkin.

He’s super weak once you find him and fill him with lead, PK fire or a lightsabre blade but he still will blow up in your face except now he’s vulnerable.

Yes, PSI Reavers are the Many creating a body horror counterpart to ikagura and other 4chan minded trolls. Anatoly has a log in his desk.

He’s too late: Tommy and Rebecca Siddons escaped ages ago. Korenchkin has respawned his reaver form when I went for the grav lifts and he’s followed me up (he usually doesn’t) but this time he stays down.

Needs a generous glazing of radium and baked for a few minutes. I return to the chemical closet in the officers’ crew quarters to get the radium I need off the top shelf.

PSI Reaver Organ

Analysis: This is a continuously energised sample of psycho-creative residue. It is the end product of a massively complex and focused psionic projection. This residue can be temporarily disrupted, but not permanently destroyed, since the psionic projection can simply be re-created by the source organism.

Recommendation: While the projection can be disrupted by most conventional means, this serves as a short-term solution only. Resources should not be wasted on combating this phenomenon unless it is crucial for survival. If it must be killed, seek out and kill the controlling brain structure first.

We won’t see any PSI Reavers again for a while but when we do, we’ll see a lot of them until nearly the end of the game. I return to the train station and ride the train to the umbilical.

These gravity elevators lead through a double umbilical connecting the Von Braun to the Rickenbacker. Presumably I passed through here a lot between ships during the voyage before the Many turned up. Norris left a final audio log on the floor by the gravity lifts.

The gun in question is the final exotic weapon of the game, the Worm Launcher. It’s basically the same as the Viral Proliferator except you don’t have to hold down the fire button, it deals way more damage and the worms it fires home in on targets.

I will not be getting it as it requires max research and exotic weapons skills both and it becomes useless after the level after the Rickenbacker. I will however at least show it off.

I ride up the grav lift through the umbilical into the Rickenbacker. Tune in next time for our journey up the Rickenbacker toward its bridge!

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