System Shock 2


Image taken in game, System Shock 2, by Evan Rosser

Evan Rosser, Columnist

System Shock 2 is a game that was brought to us by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios, back in 1999. Only recently has it been re-released on Steam. For such an old game, many will claim it pioneered the role-playing cyberpunk survival horror story of many games; Dead Space, Deus Ex, and even BioShock are called spiritual successors to it.

System Shock 2 combines the genres of First Person Shooter (FPS), Role Playing Games (RPG), and Survival Horror (SH) in a cyberpunk world to create an unforgettable experience. The game opens in 2114 with you as Soldier G65434-2, training on the Rickenbacker, a military grade spacecraft. You begin by selecting your branch of military (Navy Seals, Marines, etc.) and continuing with a four year training program. Each year offers three different courses, but only one may be chosen. Each course furthers one specific skill for your character such as weapon handling, repair, hacking, and so on. This process of building your character continues for three years (three selections of traits). However, when you reach the fourth year, you awaken with amnesia from a cryotube to see the spacecraft falling apart and the fun begins.

Once you awake, you are forced to think and act fast to avoid being sucked out into deep space or torn apart by what appears to be your own crew. Shortly Dr. Polito begins contacting you and guiding you through various situations and puzzles until you reach the main deck while explaining how the crew and ship were mutilated. ‘The Rickenbacker was assigned to escort the Van Braun, a ship with faster than light capabilities, when they responded to a distress signal near the planet Ceti V. It was there the rescue team discovered strange eggs and brought them aboard the Van Braun to be studied. These eggs infected the crew members of both ships and morphed them into what was known as the ‘Many.’ They slaughtered the remainder of the crew. By the time you reach the main deck of the Van Braun you are confronted by SHODAN, a malevolent female artificial intelligence that has taken control of the ship. From here the story begins to unravel and SHODAN begins to ridicule you as you progress trying to find her source and discover the truth behind the Van Braun’s and Rickenbacker’s incident.

Throughout your journey between both the Rickenbacker and Van Braun, you learn to use an array of energy and bullet based weapons that can be modified or repaired depending on what skills you chose to focus on. Along with your weapons, you are given a choice of Psi abilities. These abilities are very similar to the ones seen in BioShock, but strongly focuses on telekinetic powers to move objects, start machines, or crush your enemies. As you progress you begin earning experience points which can be assigned to specific skills, such as weapons, hacking, endurance, etc. in order to enhance them and make your character stronger. However, System Shock 2 requires that you make a balanced character that can use every skill included in the game if you wish to finish the game. Another unique feature the game offers is the use of hidden and scattered audio logs, which each offer another person’s perspective of the game’s story. This allows you to piece the story together yourself with a deeper understanding, or just run through it scratching the surface.

System Shock 2 is truly a revolutionary game when it comes to first person shooters and survival horror. It offers an in depth and lengthy story with the tradition Irrational Games plot twist. If you want to see it for yourself and see what becomes of the characters, you will just have to play it yourself.