System Shock similarities
Posted By: AnaphielDate: 6/26/01 2:35 p.m.

In Response To: Are the System Shock games... (archon)

: I think I remember hearing the marathon community discuss the PC system shock
: games before, but I don't remember what was said. Have you guys ever
: noticed the similarities between the 2 system shocks and marathon games?

There are numerous similarities between the System Shock and Marathon series. Both feature deep and intelligent storylines, rampant/insane AIs, and a very tense, dark, scary atmosphere. Think Deus Ex crossed with Marathon and you have a general idea of the atmosphere and game mechanics. The System Shock series was made by basically the same team that brought us Thief:The Dark project and Warren Spector, who of course created Deus Ex.

System Shock takes place on an orbital habitat called Citadel Station which has been taken over by an insane AI called Shodan. Shodan has created an army of biologically-engineered and cybernetic creatures (including mutated and augmented members of the Citadel crew) and is planning to wipe out all human life on Earth. You play a hacker aboard Citadel station who must defeat Shodan's plans and eventually destroy her. The emphasis is on hacking and stealth, but there is a healthy dose of combat as well. Shodan makes Tycho and Durandal seem about as crazy and scary as Bob Newhart.

System Shock 2 takes place 40 years after the events on Citadel Station, aboard the first human starship, the Von Braun, shortly after it's arrival at Tau Ceti. The player awakens from stasis to find the ship in chaos, with most of the crew dead and evidence of a violent struggle everywhere. the ship's automated systems have gone berserk, including the ship AI (of course), and the cooridors are patrolled by crewmembers infected with some alien parasite (and worse). The story unfolds through a series of emails, voice messages, and recorded logs that the player comes across while travelling through the Von Braun to reconnect with the surviving crew. Without giving away too much of the plot, the player soon finds himself being manipulated by a certain insane AI, and it's not always clear who is really benefitting from the player's actions. Sound familiar?

System Shock 2 is quite similar to Deus Ex in that the character has skills and abilities that can be augmented through training and experience. The game can be played as a straight shooter (it's tough, though, as ammo and weapons are scarce), or by using stealth and hacking skills, or ideally by combining the two approaches. A huge number of items, weapons, and skills give this game real RPG-style depth, and allow the player to develop the character and play the game in a style of his/her choosing.

Levels are huge and incredibly realistic and detailed. It really feels like a derelict starship. The use of darkness, eerie lighting and some thoroughly scary ambient sound adds to the tension, and you never feel safe as monsters reenter areas you might think you've secured. Hell, the *ship* is trying to kill you. Marathon is probably the only game I would put in the same category as SS2 in terms of pure atmosphere, engine limitations considered. Best sound and voice acting I have ever heard in a game, and the use of the players PDA to store and organize the huge number of messages and logs used to communicate the backstory and mission details is by far the best such gameplay device I've seen.

In case you can't tell, I highly recommend these games. There is a good, active System Shock fan site at the link below, with all the information you could ask for about the games, fan art, downloads, etc. And hey, you can find SS2 for around $15 these days.

System Shock 2 Fan Page

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Pre-2004 Posts


Are the System Shock games...archon 6/26/01 1:13 p.m.
     System Shock similaritiesAnaphiel 6/26/01 2:35 p.m.
           Thanks for the review (nt) *NM*Hamish Sinclair 6/27/01 4:25 a.m.
           Almost forgot...Anaphiel 6/27/01 11:33 a.m.
           Re: System Shock similaritiesAben Zin 6/27/01 2:05 p.m.
                 Re: System Shock similaritiesAnaphiel 6/27/01 2:28 p.m.
     Re: Are the System Shock games...Hamish Sinclair 6/27/01 4:24 a.m.
     Re: Are the System Shock games...Andrew Nagy 6/27/01 6:37 a.m.

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