System Shock 2 Marathon Comparison FINAL EPISODE
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 6/9/23 4:00 p.m.

No introduction this time. Let's just go.

Act 7: Conclusion

So there you are. Other than Duke Nukem 3D, Strife and Half Life, you have one of the first 3 games us Windows users got to see things Marathon and Pathways into Darkness did first, as well as similar themes to Marathon. Itís been a fun ride. Letís list all the similarities between this game, Marathon & PID we can, just like in the first game. What will we uncover this time?

1. GUI and controls (PID & PID Aleph One)

2. Non-linear levels with different exits we have to use to go back & forth between (PID)

3. Rampant AI with ambitions of godhood (Marathon)

4. Earthís governments go to war with another power whoís actions at another planet in the Sol system killed a lot of people (Marathon)

5. Cyborg protagonist (Marathon)

6. Sensory deprivation tanks (Marathon)

7. A colony ship travels to the Tau Ceti star system on its maiden voyage (Marathon)

8. A corrupt, high ranking crewmember smuggles dangerous cyborgs onto the ship with intent to cause a mutiny and take over the colony (Marathon)

9. The rampant AI calls another party to Tau Ceti, triggering an alien invasion (Marathon)

10. Text terminals at the start of the game and subtitles for audio logs (Marathon, SS2ís text terminals are gameplay tips only and eventually stop appearing)

11. The ability to examine all items we can pick up to learn more about them (PID)

12. We are encouraged to collect alien artefacts for research so as to learn about the aliens and the secrets of the universe. (PID, we actually do the research ourselves in System Shock 2)

13. Status screens for player progression (PID, SS2 now includes an objectives tracker and records terminal text you read as Help menu items)

14. Is an FPS RPG with weapon skills, experience points and money (PID, SS2 is a traditional Ultima, Skyrim or Dark Souls style RPG while PID is more like a first person JRPG and unlike PID, money is actually used)

15. Pattern buffers (Marathon, technically PID as well if we assume save runes work the same way)

16. Psychokinesis powers emitted by an object we hold in our hand and are related in some way to the bad guys (PID)

17. All human NPCs are dead or die when we meet them and we have to piece together what happened to them all (PID)

18. An item that makes us faster (PID, also in System Shock 1 where it behaves just like PIDís one but I forgot to list it)

19. A formally friendly AI that gets compromised and taken over by the bad guys (Marathon)

20. Radiation mechanic (PIDís gemstone & Marathonís major ouch sectors for Pfhor jelly)

21. Poison mechanic that does not wear off on its own, requiring a specific antidote (PID)

22. Hazards on the floor that damage you when you walk over them or otherwise get too close (PID)

23. Powerups in the form of cybernetic implants (Marathon)

24. Defence robots and/or turrets which go berserk and fight against us (Marathon)

25. Dangerous areas the crew have no choice but to pass through (Marathonís lava rivers and Galaxy Quest hallways & lifts, SS2ís coolant tubes)

26. Seemingly friendly NPCs who run up to us and explode (Marathon)

27. Characters who end up joining the chaos they sought to evade, willingly or otherwise (Marathon)

28. A mission where we have to recover and install a replacement circuit board (Marathon, reused from SS1)

29. We have to play levels in the opposite vertical location to where we need to go first (PID)

30. Lightsabre weapon (Marathon Eternal)

31. Captured crewmembers forcibly turned into cyborgs and made to serve the aliens against their will (Marathon)

32. The aliens reproduce using eggs (Marathon, though we never see actual Pfhor eggs: the ones in-game are actually pupae according to the devs)

33. A mission where we have to use certain machines or terminals to prevent or at least slow the spread of an intrusive entity throughout the ship (Marathon)

34. A grenade launcher weapon with several different types of grenades, one with lower splash damage but a bigger boom (PID)

35. Alternate ammo types (PID, reused from SS1)

36. Alternate fire modes (Marathon)

37. Venomous spider enemies (PID)

38. Invisible monsters (Both)

39. We end up working for the rampant AI if we have any hope of saving the ship (Marathon)

40. Weíre encouraged by our AI boss to get a certain item to help us fight the aliens (Marathon. Durandal has us get a device that presumably lets us interface with Pfhor pattern buffers & health/shield stations. SS2 has us get exotic weapons)

41. We can find and use alien weapons though we donít fully understand how they work (Marathon, but we research said weapons in SS2)

42. Flying swarm enemies who canít be killed and must be dealt with another way (PID)

43. Incredibly annoying wasps (Marathon)

44. A very basic target range (Marathon)

45. A nuclear fusion based weapon (Marathon)

46. A mission that revolves around setting up and activating a satellite dish to send a warning message to Earth (Marathon)

47. A mission that requires us find and/or remember a code to allow us to complete a major goal (PID, reused from the first game)

48. The Von Braun logo looks like the Marathon one tilted on its side with the shaft in the bottom centre filled in.

49. Large hulking monsters that seem to be nothing but muscle (Marathon)

50. A secret that requires we combine a certain thing at the very start of the game with a similar thing in the late game (Marathon, except unlocking Hats Off to Eight Nineteen is a lot more involved than playing basketball as is the reward of said multiplayer map)

51. A third party causes the main antagonistís slaves to rebel against them (Marathon. Remember on level 5 in the aforementioned secret, the monkeys said they were the ones who turned the Many against SHODAN)

52. The aliens plan to invade and take over Earth once the colony ship is dealt with (Marathon)

53. Floating aquatic looking enemies who shoot ball lightning and come with even stronger variants (PID)

54. A level that takes place on the bridge of the colony ship (Marathon Eternal and Marathon Redux)

55. A level and/or section of a level taking place in a shuttle bay (Marathon)

56. A mission where we must kill every example of a given enemy before we are allowed to leave (Marathon)

57. Confusing as hell level design that does not make the ship look like anyone could comfortably live or work there (Marathon, SS2 has the design of the Rickenbacker or at least what we see of it)

58. A level where we go outside the ship into total vacuum and have to deal with lower gravity (Marathon, cut from System Shock 2)

59. Hostile characters that really make us think about the human condition and how violent & self-destructive we are as a species (Marathon)

60. A puzzle where we must use lifts or objects on lifts to make a staircase to the exit (Marathon)

61. Levels with lower gravity (Marathon. System Shock 2 has the Rickenbacker level 2 with the gravity reversed yet still feeling lighter)

62. A working radar screen on the bridge of one of the ships (Marathon Eternal & Marathon Redux)

63. A level where we are sent into the enemyís source to kill their centralised controller (Marathon)

64. A level inside a fleshy nightmare full of infected monsters and sphincter doors, where we are antagonised by a major villain serving as the monstersí brain before blowing the place up. (Halo 3 ÖJust a minute! THATíS CHEATING!)

65. An alien entity in the game has an oesophagus that terminates in a womb instead of a stomach (Marathon)

66. The rampant AI we are working for wants to exploit technology that folds time & space and rewrites reality and/or opens holes to new ones (Marathon)

67. The main antagonist corrupts reality into their image, intending to consume it all and take over whatís left (Marathon Infinity)

68. A final level (or levels) thatís a corrupted remake of the previous gamesí inside Null Space (Marathon Infinity Vidmaster challenge)

69. The final boss is a tall AI based woman with wires for hair and powerful attacks (Marathon Eternal new versions)

70. The protagonist is not really a silent protagonist but we never hear him speak outside very specific circumstances (PID & Marathon)

71. The ending sucks balls and ends on a cliffhanger that was never resolved, preferring instead to focus on spiritual successors with the potential brand new game in the series running into serious hot water. (Marathon. System Shock 3 went to Tencent & is rumoured to have been cancelled and Marathonís teased new game is a Void Bastards or Destiny clone with none of the soul)

72. Jokes and memes in the credits (Marathon)

73. A mod was made to carry on the story, including time travel & timeline hopping and shares its name with an official game in a rival series. (Marathon. Marathon has Marathon Eternal/Doom Eternal, System Shock has System Shock Infinite/Bioshock Infinite)

I never expected the list for System Shock 2 to be this big. It puts even the System Shock 1 Marathon Comparison List to shame. Across both games thatís a grant total of a whopping 107 similarities between them all, and only slightly less if we subtract duplicates appearing in both games.

Next is another point that needs covered: System Shock 1ís comparisons to Marathon are purely a coincidence and itís easy to think the same for System Shock 2 as well. However, I played Bioshock Infinite first and playing this game after seeing comparisons to Marathon here as well as those I thought were coincidental in Bioshock Infinite, Iím not so sure. Iím calling it now: Ken Levine is a Marathon fan and deliberately put references to it in his games, both for his own spin on them and hoping non-Mac gamers like me would track down the source once they find out and enjoy it as much as he did, giving the trilogy much needed exposure to DOS/Windows gamers.

Hereís a list of comparisons to Marathon Infinity and/or other games or mods in the series I saw in Bioshock Infinite:

1. They share the same title, Infinite being another form of the word Infinity

2. Both games feature time travel/timeline hopping as major plot points

3. Parts of Infiniteís story is told through literal analogues to terminals in the form of Voxophones (record player audio logs instead of tape recorder or CD player ones from the other Shock games) and Kinetoscopes (silent movies based on a real form of very early television set). Marathon 2 & Marathon Infinity were going to add video terminals but they were cut, though the code remains in the game unused. Similar case for security camera terminals like Duke Nukem 3D & System Shock 1, which in Bioshock Infinite take the form of telescopes.

4. We have nightmarish dreams at certain points with cryptic hints to our past (implied in Marathon, definitely the case in Bioshock), some of which reveal an apocalypse we get to witness later. In Marathon Infinity, we witness this apocalypse first and can see it again in a different timeline via the secret levels.

5. We time travel sideways in time (technically diagonally in Marathonís case) to see a total of 3 alternate timelines, looking for a solution that can stop the main antagonist who wants to turn the world into firewood to burn. In our original timeline, these events didnít exist due to being stopped at the source.

6. The main antagonist is at war with another faction rebelling against him but the latter side have grown too heavy handed in their methods and wind up a different shade of evil even if a lesser one as a result, similar to the US & UK responses to the War on Terror (Marathon Eternal, which in that particular game was a plot point I missed completely until I read about it years after I first played in 2013)

7. We are forced to help an antagonistic character (but not the main one) take over from their masters which spans at least 2 timelines before they turn on us.

8. We are aided by similarly time travelling entities whose ďadviceĒ solely consists of being cryptic and annoying the player character (not necessarily us as well in Bioshockís case)

9. Some enemies are heavy hitting cyborgs turned against their will and forced to serve the bad guys as combat slaves. Marathon has the stalker tanks, Bioshock has firemen and handymen

10. Some enemies are robotic defence drones & turrets used by the bad guys. Marathon 2 had a level where we turn the drones to our side using a computer virus though that isnít in Marathon Infinity, Bioshock Infinite lets us ďhackĒ turrets, flying turrets and motorised patriot robots using the Possession plasmid.

11. The main antagonist plans to destroy the world using his power and technology. At one point, we are taken to the future and see he has succeeded, everything we know and love is being consumed by almighty idiots. In Marathon Infinity, this happens 4 times, once per timeline except the final one. The only way to stop him is to go back to his source and erase the son of a bitch from existence (sound familiar?). In Marathon Infinity, we do this by trapping the Wírkncacnter in a black hole using the same terraforming station the Jjaro Yrro used thousands of years before, before it can escape via the sun itís currently trapped inside being forced into supernova. In Bioshock Infinite, we commit assisted suicide at a key point in our past because the antagonist is an evil version of us.

12. The main antagonistís actions drive people in the bad future insane by the time we get there. In Marathon Infinity, itís at least 2 major characters and we only read their last words in terminals. In Bioshock Infinite, the only insane main character is lucid by the time we meet her and is trying to undo what she did, being the reason weíre in the future (and alive at that point in the game) in the first place. The rest of the insane ones are regular mooks and we have to fight them at several points, especially if the children turned into insane living security cameras spot us.

13. An item we find in a failed timeline (or rather another time period in that same timeline) is required in the present to help a major character find the solution to a major enemy. In Marathon, itís saving Durandalís primal pattern/memory chip when we are forced to kill him by Tycho, saving his life which we install into Thoth in the successful timelime/future of the current one so they can merge and find out how to stop the Wírkncacnter in the present. In Bioshock, itís an old Elizabeth in the bad future giving us the notes CAGE for the whistler organ statues to summon and control the Big Daddy Songbird so we can give it to Elizabeth, allowing us both to use Songbird to destroy a syphon machine, unlocking Elizabethís full powers.

14. An existential ending taking place in a singularity where our partner character muses on the concept of fate, our role in all the events leading up to now and ending with us finding out a massive revelation about ourselves. In Marathon Infinity, the ending is shit because itís still technically a cliffhanger that was never resolved, despite the ending taking place at the Big Crunch. In Bioshock Infinite, the ending is better because we survive our fate and wake up in a new timeline where we likely earned our happy ending, with our daughter now free to explore the universe and all alternate ones with her powers and even escape it. Thereís apparently a sequel in the works too but unlike Marathon it just might be good. Letís just pretend the DLC Burial at Sea never happened because Episode 2 is a difficult, bleak, plot hole infested fatberg clogging up the Bioshock pipes.

15. The hardest difficulty level is super unforgiving, requiring intimate knowledge of the levels and mechanics to survive and at times it stops being fun. (vacuum levels, Hang Brain, Aye Mak Sicur & Vidmaster Challenge in Marathon Infinity and the System Shock 2 style money requirement for revival on death, expensive items in vending machines, harder combat and the potential to screw yourself out of any revives at all in the final fight in Bioshock Infinite)

That makes 122 similarities to Marathon and PID across the Shock series as a whole not counting duplicates. At the end of Bioshock Infinite, Anna Dewitt says ďthereís always a man, always a lighthouse, always a cityĒ setting up the story formula for Bioshock as a whole while also pointing out the idea of constants and variables, but it could also refer to potentially entirely new universes in other games that just happen to have those constants.

For example, Space Colony Citadel in System Shock 1 could be seen as both a lighthouse and a city. Ken Levine thought so too at it was going to appear in Infinite but in the final game, itís unused and can be found floating out of bounds in one of the levels. Tau Ceti V could be a lighthouse for System Shock 2 except the city that is the Von Braun crashed on the rocks, which would be the Many.

In Marathon, the lighthouse could be either the Earth Wírkncacnterís pyramid or Jjaro technology found on Mars and its moons (especially if we count Doom as a stealth Marathon prequel like I do) and the city could be either the Marathon itself and even the ruined cities left behind by the Sípht on Lhíowon. We could also count the Pfhor cites in Eternal & Rubicon and maybe even the Jjaro Shield World too. Naturally, the protagonists of all those games are men.

The possibilities of potential crossovers have fuelled fanfics between all the games, such as Goggles and the Tears I linked above and the mod System Shock Infinite which was referenced in Episode 4 and used as an example in the comparison lists here. Will we even get new mods across all the games that combine them all to the same extent as System Shock Infinite? Maybe even a Super Smash Brothers style multiplayer crossover that plays like an Xbox Unreal Championship or 2007 era build Team Fortress 2 clone? The only thing we have for that last one so far is the Doom mod Quake Champions: Doom Edition where Marcus Jones and Durandal are playable characters. It seems to be limited mostly regular FPS games only though.

With that, we come to the second opinion corner. Still no Civvie though and Grimbeard & That Trav Guy havenít caught up to this game either at time of writing. First up is Charlaton Wonder who compares System Shock and Bioshock.

Something tells me he doesnít like Bioshock Infinite very much. I love it and consider it just as good as the other two. Next is the Nth Review who delves into interesting stuff for both games. I had to save it for now as doing it at the end of season 1 would spoil this game. Grab some fish & chips for this one and a few rounds of beers: this is a whopping 2 hours long and he covers stuff from both games. Remember to Salt the Fries!

I donít agree with his stance on first person platforming as itís always been good with the only 3 exceptions being Ultima Underworld 1+2 (no Mouselook outside mods), vanilla classic Doom (no vertical looking full stop plus strong gravity and sprint of faith gameplay ala Marathon) and Perfect Dark (similar to Doom but worse, even with vertical looking)

After that, we have a new contender: Max Derrat.

Next we have the one youíve been waiting for: Mandalore! His video is the source of the alternate art Iíve been using as I like it better than the official box art.

Then we have Viking Boy Billy who wanted to add his game playing notes when he played, for between finishing these writeups and posting them, he has now beaten it.

- You start off in a monorail car in front of your place of employment. Where did they get this idea from?

The main difference to Half Life is that the train doesnít move and an actual scenic tour level set on Earth would just be a waste of time, as we spend the entirely of the main game in space. Thereís no reason to show off the game world on Earth much.

- This whole tutorial and choose-your-own-adventure stat roll area is kinda cringe. My character got attacked by a tiger in the space navy and gained extra endurance points.

Disagree. It ainít cringe at all: On the training side, tons of games do this sort of thing. I mentioned Tomb Raider in Episode 1 but other examples include Half Life, Sonic the Hedgehog, Deus Ex, Mario and Mother. On the stat roll side, we have a mystic woman in a Renaissance fair asking Voight-Kampff test questions in Ultima 4 and Fallout 3 has the GOAT exam.

I think the reason you gain extra health from the Gorilla-Tiger mutant encounter in the Io survival course is because the stat roll follows JRPG/PID logic where you gain experience from enemy encounters and level up stats when you gain enough e.g. from tough enough enemies, which the game proper doesnít do.

Medsci floor

- Coming from the first game, the presentation and controls of the HUD and the gameplay have seen a massive improvement, without sacrificing the depth or soul of the original. Saying thatís an achievement is an understatement. The audiolog character portraits have stylized art and the voice acting is a bit more professional.

- Apparently thereís PSIonic technology now, which seems out of place after the SS1. This was originally going to be a different game before it became SS2, so the PSI abilities and the annelids might be a holdover from that game, reworked into SS2.

Interesting take. He may be right. I always thought it was because SS1 ran on an engine similar to Ultima Underworld 1+2 (not the exact same engine) which is why it controlled similar and the RPG elements in this game were merely adding them back when the first game didnít have them, psychokinesis being the System Shock answer to Ultimaís magic, but less of an arse to learn and cast.

- Weíre led to think that Xerxes became a rogue AI like Shodan, and his mutants are running amok on the ship. Thatís what we would probably think, if we didnít see Shodanís face on the gameís box art.

- Are these Shodanís mutants? Maybe, but theyíre different from what we saw in the first game. We could chalk it up to technical limitations of 1994, but somethingís still off about them. These things talk, try to hit you with wrenches, and have a tube connecting their head and chest.

Itís hard to tell as the graphics quality in the vanilla game isnít the best compared to Tomb Raider 3, Half Life or Unreal, but that tube is supposed to be a worm.

- Fighting is deliberately terrible in this game, like they were taking notes from Biohazard and Silent Hill instead of Quake. The wrench is slow and awkward to swing, hitboxes are easy to miss, and the enemy AI moves in erratic ways to throw you off. The guns are a lot easier to use, but ammo is scarce, and youíll waste a lot of rounds until you figure out to use the AP clips on turrets.

Itís running on an engine designed for stealth gameplay as opposed to survival horror, but SS2 wasnít designed for stealth, though the Thief system is technically still in the game.

- The cameras in this game start beeping, and a siren goes off with swarms of enemies spawning in.

- Xerxes says something strange. He asks us if weíre working with ďher.Ē Who, Polito? Then he tells us ďsheĒ tried to wipe out our species. That has to be Shodan. We havenít met Shodan yet and as far as we know, she was destroyed 42 years ago in the citatel, so what is he talking about? Thereís a blood smear on the wall ďRemember CitatelĒ that clues us in on a literal sign with big red letters that itís connected with this somehow.

- You can take a shortcut back to the first map, but I didnít go through the new door. I thought it would lead to another map I wonít need to get to until later.


- When weíre about to enter the storage area, we get a strange vision. In most cases I would say a cutscene randomly interrupting the player is a bad thing, but this is different. The player never had their gameplay intterupted before this, and it never will after it. Youíre suddenly looking at this fleshyÖ pillar, in a cave with a vore aesthetic. Monsters you havenít seen yet are standing around, and you hear a voice saying things that seems to have no context so you donít know what theyíre talking about.

- The shotgun zombies have a tendency to back away when you try to melee them, and the execbots explode in your face.

I guess the protocol droids do sort of look like exec bots.

- Hunting for a code in the crate maze should be boring, but itís so creepy and tense.

- Once again, you can take a shortcut to get the power on, but I took the long way. Not for lack of trying. I didnít want to deal with the turrets in that long tunnel on the shipís bottom. If you go through the corridors youíll see that they are clean now and you wonít get radiation poisoning.

- The floors of the Von Braun are a soft reboot of the floors from the citadel. Our first floor was the medical area, and the Engineering, Storage, and Reactor floors of SS1 all got conglomerated to the bottom floor in SS2. We will see floors for science/research, Executive, Ops, and the flight deck, and the Security floor has its place taken by the Rickenbacker. And of course, a last level with a Geiger aesthetic and one to represent a cyberspace reality.

Pretty much. Bioshock did something similar but with a few differences: ďtrainingĒ would be the bathysphere ride and welcome centre. Then we start off in Medical, proceed to maintenance/storage (the fisheries & Fontaineís hideout), groves (Arcadia & Farmerís Market), Executive (Fort Frolic), Engineering/Maintenance & reactor appear to be merged with Hephaestus, Reactor & Bridge for Rapture Central Control and the parallels sort of break down in Olympus Heights/Apollo Square before coming to Research in Point Prometheus/Proving Grounds and finally Bridge again for Fontaine.


- We find a bunch of empty beakers in drawers. Will we be able to put something in these, like Zelda? Yes, but I didnít figure out what we can put into them until much later.

- We hear a voice telling us babies must sleep, etc. etc. Is this Shodan? It doesnít sound like the shodan voice I remember, but itís been 42 years. I would say she must be dead, butÖ. her face is on the box art.

Thatís the Many (mainly their brain). They seem to follow a similar speech pattern to SHODAN, though the mixture of different voices of different sexes reminds me more of Ahriman in Prince of Persia 2008.

- This is the first floor you encounterÖ. the spiders. This is the most hated enemy in the game. Theyíre small and if they bite you, you get toxic poisoning, which doesnít wear off. I repeat, the toxic condition does not end, until you use detox hypos or die. Medical beds wonít cure this status. So if a spider touches you, you might as well be dead.

Surgical Units donít cure poison? Hot damn, that isnít good! I never knew that before. Even more reason to hoard antidote hypos.


- This is a special moment, and while the twist was enhanced by foreshadowing, it got spoiled by Shodanís face being on the box art. We all knew going in it was a matter of when, not if, Shodan will make her appearance. Because her face is on the box art. And now I can stop running ďShodanís face is on the box artĒ into the ground. The twist has been revealed.

- For what itís worth, they brought Shodan back in the smartest way possible. I have my gripes about dead characters coming back, but the grove that got injected from Citatel had one of Shodanís nodes. The grove moved through space at almost half the speed of light until it hit Tau Ceti V, leaving an impact crater that was found by Anatoly and Diego and they brought a bunch of alien eggs inside. Shodan survived the surely cataclysmic, mass-extinction earthquake caused by the impact by going into sleep mode. The virus mutated into the annelids and revolted against her, but Polito and Delacroix took Shodanís chip to study, woke her up, and took her advice fighting the Annelids. Shodan wrote fake emails from Polito, I guess, to get a robot to put your character into cryosleep, give you a bunch of cyber implants, and erased your memory of this. Instead ofÖ making a brainwashed cyborg for Shodan to directly control without having to order them around and watch?

Later on she calls you her avatar, which calls back to the final fight in SS1 when she tried to download a copy of herself to the hackerís brain.

I see where youíre going and I agree. She didnít think that through did she?

- Shodan is in-character here. It wouldíve been easy to mess her up after the 5 year gap between games, but sheís the same shodan we know and love.


- We get introduced to the cyborg assassins in the lounge here. In SS1 they made no noise and relentlessly hitscanned you. Here they make an obvious noise an creep around. The first ones you see come into the room and ignore you in plain sight, then go hide in the bathroom. What are Shodanís cyborg assassins doing here? Theyíre not Shodanís. They were foreshadowed in one of Anatolyís logs that he got them as extra muscle against the von braun should they get into a fight.

- Thereís a big deal of getting a keycode to open the door in the garden, but itís just a morgue, like the audiolog says. You can find an armor here, and some modest items, but thereís nothing that special here.

- The multi-picture hunt is an excercise in pulling your hair out. You likely passed by most of them before you knew the code was a thing, and some multipictures are in places you wouldnít expect, like multipictures that fell off the wall.

The most obvious one is in the mall, in a room full of five other multipictures. This place has the worst respawning enemies, and this leads you to believe you should come back and keep trying the other multipictures lined up with it.

- In the keypad locked room in the crew quarters we findÖ a weird looking alien weapon. Thereís also a crystal. Both of these require points in both Research and Exotic to use, and for that investment, the worm launcher doesnít have ammo, and you donít know where to get ammo until you find a random beaker of worms somewhere. After a lot of time away from the game thinking with refrigerator logic, you may finally discover that you can fill empty beakers with the piles of worms that give you toxic status.

After all that, the worm launcher isÖ pretty unrewarding. Itís ok, but itís not the devastating superweapon youíd hope for, or even really useful at all. Itís as underwhelming as the firemace in heretic, and the beakers get consumed when you reload the gun, which is anti-logic.

- We face our first rumbler in the basketball court, and itís a pinky demon. But it moves awkwardly when you melee it like all enemies do in this game.

Vanilla rumblers do look like Pinkies. I never thought of that before. Lore wise theyíre basically zombie Drinniol: all muscle, always hungry.

flight deck

-Weíve come to expect everybody to be dead when we meet them, but we get a surprise sight of Suarez and Rebecca making a getaway here. It feels like we finally get some slim relief when they make it out of the Von Braun in the escape pod, but this happy ending is going to get corrupted.

- You immediately get an email from Delacroix to find her in cargo bay A, and I know Iím not the only one who went down to the engineering floor to look around in cargo bays 1A and 2A. Rumblers and Cyborg Assassins have already spawned in the engine room at this point, and I ran into those looking everywhere possible. Turns out thereís another cargo bay A on the flight deck floor.

- You get 10 modules from Delacroixís corpse, only for Shodan to take them away.

-Anatoly has turned into a little brain thing that creates projections of mini-nihilanth. Hey, this came after half-life, thatís what the thing looks like. We get an audiolog that he doesnít want Suarez and Rebecca to escape. Weíll find out why that is at the end of the game.

Good point. I likened PSI reavers to octobrains but Xen Alien Controllers and the Nihilanth makes sense too.


- Welcome to the land of the cheap and the home of the research items to waste your time. You start with a ladder to climb (ladders are your worst enemy in this game) to get immediately gunned down by a surprise turret behind you on a ladder. This place isnít as tough as the last two maps in SS1, but it pulls no punches. And thereís no quantum entanglement chamber, if youíre not a scummy savescummer who cares about that.

- Youíll find an implant with Diegoís corpse that makes toxins heal you. HALLELUYAH. Was this how he resisted the Manyís mind control? Or did he cut the worm out of his body? Itís unclear.

- On the bridge Shodan just weirdly exposits how she erased your memory and gave you your implants.

- Diego left a worm cannon on the bridge that requires 6 research points, which is a cruel joke because it also requires 6 in exotic. I couldnít use it. There might have been a research-boosting implant, but I dropped it somewhere.

The Many

- If you didnít bring the anti-radiation suit (which you didnít), youíre going to have to buy the PSI radiation sheield and put on a worm armor. You canít survive the radiation swim you need to take to destroy the worm cluster without either of these.

Earlier in Episode 8, I did just that with only PSI Rad Shield and a bunch of rad hypos. You donít need the worm skin but if it helps, it helps. I prefer not to use it as if you use PSI, it drains your points and then it drains your health once PSI is at 0.

- This boss fight is crazy and gives you no time to stop and change ammo types.


- This is a nice callback to SS1, but the scenario of Shodan using the FTL drive to manipulate space and reshape reality is totally bonkers.

- If you didnít invest in hacking, all you can do is ragequit and start the game over.

Thatís why ICE picks exist in the game: to bypass the minigame assuming you hoard them. The shields can also be destroyed with gunfire but itís a waste of time and I never do it so I donít know how strong they are exactly.

- Our protagonist speaks his only line in the game - his only word in the game - his only syllable, a guttural vocalization of his blase rejection of Shodanís ďJoin me and we will rule togetherĒ speech. This is awesome, ludicrous, and stupid all at the same time.

I can list how: Goggles speaking: awesome. SHODAN pulling funny faces and warbling herself to death: ludicrous. SHODAN surviving by taking over Rebecca and System Shock 3 never coming: stupid.

- I thought I got the bad ending, but thereís nothing you can do to stop Rebecca from turning into Shodan. Then you get unceremoniously booted to the menu. Did I just play a video game, or read the ending of a goosebumps book? This ending sequence was pure cheese after a whole game worth taking seriously.

Other than liking Goggles speaking and laughing at the faces SHODAN makes when she dies, I didnít like the ending either.

Next we have a letís play of the game by Canadian Letís Player/Livestreamer Psychedelic Eyeball. Some people may know him from the Something Awful Forums and/or Retsupurae, I know him from his solo letís plays starting with the original Rise of the Triad. (I needed his help to beat El Oscuro, which I didnít need for the remake as ROTT 2013 El Oscuro was merely hard as opposed to cryptic)


Finally we have Onolumiís streams for the game just like the last one. I havenít seen all of her last episode as I was too sleepy but I intend to watch the rest via her archive. Her response to the scary bits including SHODANís reveal is priceless!


And lastly I end off with the System Shock 3 trailer, giving us a glimpse of what we could and should have.

Thank you for reading all this way. It may be a while before I do Tour of Duty style write-ups like those again. I definitely want to do Doom, especially as the latest games use Marathonís storytelling method and Iíve always seen Doom as a stealth prequel to Marathon, even if that wasnít id or Bungieís intention. I might do Halo 2 as well if someone else doesnít beat me to it. (hint hint, nudge, nudge) Thank you all for your time. This is Lion O Cyborg signing off.

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