The Quest for System Shock 2, Part Two

This place is wrong, all wrong. I had taken out the security camera, but the infected kept coming for me, as it was too late. The alarms had gone off, and a security station wasn’t in sight. I was doomed. When did I save last? Is this a good place for me to save? This is a stupid decision. Did I activate the vita chambers? They aren’t really called “vita chambers,” but Bioshock burned that term into my brain!  Oh good, I survived. I don’t like this eerie machine hum I’m hearing. Just what in the hell is going on on this horrible ship?

These are all thoughts that went through my head while I was playing System Shock 2. I haven’t completed the game, but I’ve put enough hours into at this point that I feel like I can talk about it. This isn’t a review, so I don’t have any reservations about saying that, but before I go any further I just wanted to make it clear. That being said, this is a really cool game, albeit one buried under a lot of dated gameplay conventions and balancing issues. I don’t think I will be finishing it, though from reading a little bit into what goes on a little further in, a part of me wants to keep going. It’s just that the gameplay itself is holding me back.

As a game that stands on its own, System Shock 2 is great. Despite its problems and balancing issues, I enjoyed the atmosphere it presented. The world presented to me in it was decidedly creepy and just roaming around the ship left me feeling uneasy a lot of the time. It didn’t matter that the game was 13 years old. It oozes creepy atmosphere and the closest thing I can really compare it to in that regard is Dead Space. Dead Space takes place aboard a space ship where everything has gone wrong. The crew is mostly dead (or dead-ish), and your protagonist is mostly left alone to figure it all out. I’ve heard reports and rumors over the years that Dead Space actually started out as System Shock 3, but the rights issues quickly took care of that. Having finished Dead Space and played a large amount of System Shock 2, I definitely see the resemblance. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two, but I can see some sort of lineage there, split mostly in favor of Bioshock, with a small amount going to Dead Space.

I spent so much time in this game reloading saves in hopes of getting through whatever trouble lay ahead of me. At points it became incredibly cumbersome, and after a while, annoying. This is where the game really shows its age, but I still tried to push further into it. I see what people really enjoy in this game, and for that, I know it’s an awesome piece of gaming history, but I’m so happy to know that a lot of these issues were ironed out by the time Bioshock came around. I do wish this game could get a proper rerelease of some kind, be it on Steam or god forbid, XBLA or PSN, but I do think some tweaks would be very necessary. PC gaming has come a long way, though games like this, Half-Life, and Deus Ex all showed that there can be much more achieved within the confines of the first person shooter.

This is much shorter than I originally hoped it would be, but I don’t really want to keep reiterating the same points. System Shock 2 is a really cool game, albeit very much a product of its time. I don’t plan on going back to it, but I’m glad that I got to experience it, at least for a few hours or so.

NOTES: This was originally supposed to be posted last Wednesday, followed by Monday. Between the trip to Seattle and being without an internet connection, I haven’t been able to really post anything. I feel like I’m a little behind, but I really just wanted to get this out the door before I move onto talking about PAX and other games in the following days. With that in mind, next update will be about PAX, and will come on Friday. See you then.

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