System Shock 2 begins with you being unfrozen from a long cryogenic sleep aboard the Rickenbacker, a security spaceship assigned to tail the Von Braun on her maiden voyage. Apparently, the Von Braun has been infested by an unknown alien race and has converted the crew into relatively intelligent zombies. You must gather bits of audio clips along the way to figure out what happened to your crew and, more importantly, how you can rid the ship of the aliens. Rely on your skills training from either the Navy, Marines, or OSA to guide you on this difficult path. This 3D title offers unbelievable graphics, as the Thief engine is utilized to provide mouth-watering environments and character skins. The astounding graphics, varied RPG elements, and fluid action make this title worthwhile.
It has a nice, creepy atmosphere- but not many scary moments, and a nice RPG system; the story is well paced, and voice acting is pretty good for the time it was released.
But it's not perfect as some say: from a technical point, the game is average compared to it's contemporary engines (e.g. Half-Life or Unreal).
Monsters and people look too square-shaped, and while they may scare you with their sounds, their look washes away the fear. Sound is also average, some sounds (like the pistol) don't feel right. Gameplay wise, the game forces you, no matter which class you pick, to invest the in 'HACK' skill, because most ammo and health goodies -scarce and needed items- are inside locked crates which need to be hacked in order to be opened. Most PSI powers (magic-like) aren't really useful e.g. Why should I try to be invisible when I can destroy that security camera with a single attack?
Summary: it's creepy, it has one of the best villains (SHODAN), a great story and it's fun overrall, if you don't mind the negative spots mentioned above.
The best game ever made. With inspiration from movies like Alien and Event Horizon, System Shock 2 is incredibly atmospheric and disturbing.
You fight your way through deformed, mutated humans and aliens.
You can focus on stealth, guns or "magic".
By picking up audio logs you unveil the fate of the Von Braun and Rickenbacker crews.
Just an incredible experience from start to finish. Although Deus Ex is often hailed as the quintesential FPS/RPG, I think this is a lil bit better, in my opinion, thanks to its atmosphere and to the more accesible nature to the gameplay. The best in the shock series.
I consider myself to be a person of few words, so I'll try to keep this short and in small points.
System Shock 2 is the sequel I didn't ask for and I sure as hell didn't want either. The blend of FPS-RPG elements seems haphazard at best and very clunky in implementation. The gameplay doesn't help either. The Dark Engine clearly wasn't meant for head-on combat (as exhibited by the Thief games where combat is mostly avoided) but unfortunately the player is forced to combat enemies all throughout the game. The pacing isn't very good either; I spent four hours just trying to get off the first floor I started on. The story is okay in most areas and I did like the concept of The Many, but the ending literally ****** me off to no end because it ruined an otherwise satisfying sequence and basically turned the entire game into one big joke. However, the voice acting for characters, the textures, and the sound design was top notch, just like the first game. Now comes the points on why this isn't a very good game and some points on it being good:
- Gameplay is clunky and very bad in some areas (guns constantly breaking in the beginning and the middle section of the game, movement is awful and feels very awkward compared to other games at the time, melee combat is also literally the worst thing I have ever experienced in a game like this; I fail to understand how you could be standing in front of someone and miss with a melee weapon, etc.)
- Skills are often split into seperate skills for absolutely no reason other than to overly-complicate things (Why is maintenance and repair seperate skills? Doesn't it take some maintenance knowledge to be able to repair something and vice versa?)
- Story is alright mostly, but the ending is quite possibly the worst videogame ending I have experienced in quite a long time. (The comedic relief was completely out of place and ruined the whole ending sequence turning the game almost into one big joke.)
- Pacing isn't very good. I spent four to five hours just trying to get off the medical / science (and engineering) deck to be able to explore the rest of the damn ship. After finally getting off those floors, the game started to pick up again but falls flat once again once I reached the Command deck and boarded the Rickenbacker. The Many's flesh home also suffers from being terribly boring and monotonous (kinda like Half-Life's Xen section) and also slightly ridiculous at the same time!
There are some good things about this game however:
- The voice acting is excellent for the time and is top notch just like the voice acting from the first game was.
- The textures are great and the level design is alright, but somewhat monotonous as I managed to get lost a few times.
- The sound design is excellent, nothing more to say.
All in all, this isn't really that great of a game, and I don't understand how this overshadows the first game so much. The first game is superior in literally every way. I might have missed a few things so I might come back and edit this review later.
FPS, RPG, Sci-fi and survival all combined in a very good game. The magic thing is that these are combined, but are still as complete as in a pure FPS, a pure RPG or a pure survival game.
e.g. the RPG part of this game is even better than the one in Deus Ex, with possible upgrades on weapons and technical abilities, characteristics and all the psionic powers that can be compared to magic spells. You also have to identify items and of course to hack many systems.
The excellent atmosphere is the other top point of the game (think Alien). You really feel uncomfortable, nervous, claustrophobic. Also, the storyline being introduced via recordings that you'll find here and there is perfect.
But there are several bad points, the most important one being the enemies respawn system. In some places, enemies respawn at about 10 meters from you, 10 seconds after the previous enemy is killed, and no good reason is provided for that to happen. Pretty boring, and pretty bad way to increase the game duration IMO. Also, the two last fights are not that hard, once you know how to do them.
Still, a must-play for Deus Ex, Bioshock, Alien movies or Half-Life (especially the 1st) lovers.