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Default System Shock 2 - Available from GOG and an Interview

February 15th, 2013, 11:48
Ding, ding, ding!! You WIN!!!! Yes, a shooter is little more than a VERY dumbed down RPG!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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February 15th, 2013, 11:49
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
Yes, up to a point. I understand why you prefer System Shock, but all those things are unusual in shooters, aren't they? Even if the shooter is somehow inspired by the older RPG/Action RPG or whatever System Shock is labeled. I don't see why Bioshock was dumbed down just for being a FPS. Unless that's it, it is dumbed down for being an FPS…
We're talking about System Shock 2, not System Shock.

I'm not talking about genres. I'm talking about Bioshock and System Shock 2.

You can call them whatever you want, but I consider Bioshock a dumbed down System Shock 2.

Ken Levine was a key figure in the development of System Shock 2 - and he was the lead behind Bioshock.

The project was always - CLEARLY - meant as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2. You can watch some of the earlier Gamespot interviews - and you'll find that the original concepts were much closer to System Shock 2. But, as time went on - and the budget bloated - they had to dumb it down and make it appeal to a wider audience, with familiar shooter mechanics and forgiving gameplay.

That's not spelled out, obviously, as that would be very bad PR. But it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see how Bioshock happened.

So yes, Bioshock is a shooter more than it is anything else. I don't particularly care for shooters.

If you prefer straight-up shooting to something more cerebral or with a slower pace like System Shock 2 - then it makes sense that you would prefer Bioshock.

To each his own, as they say.

Note that I'm not saying you have to be dumb to play Bioshock - as that would be a stupid thing to say. All I'm saying is that the gameplay mechanics and the overall design is a dumbed down = simplified and more accessible version of System Shock 2. It's not "just a shooter" - as it's incredibly obvious where it gets its non-shooter elements from.

Levine failed to learn from Looking Glass. Well, he didn't - because he made the game a huge success, and LG went down because they were too innovative and their games weren't accessible enough as a result.

After I got over the massive disappointment of Bioshock being basically just an atmospheric shooter with a handful of half-assed RPG elements - I rather enjoyed it. Well, right until the "twist".
Last edited by DArtagnan; February 15th, 2013 at 12:01.
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February 15th, 2013, 12:08
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
I didnt like the story, setting or atmosphere of bioshock I think that was the killer for me since the gameplay wasnt that great either. It was just too stupid and unbeliavable imho. Nazies in the bottom of the ocean? Right…Its like saying that "Iron Sky" had good story and setting.
I didn't have a problem with how believable it was. It's fiction after all. Story, setting, and atmosphere are all completely subjective. I thought the setting and atmosphere were on par with the SS games. The story, well…not so much.

They're games from different eras though. Bioshock was probably as good as we could have hoped for in 2007. There was never any chance that Irrational Games was going to make it as complex as either SS game.
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February 15th, 2013, 12:35
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
I didnt like the story, setting or atmosphere of bioshock I think that was the killer for me since the gameplay wasnt that great either. It was just too stupid and unbeliavable imho. Nazies in the bottom of the ocean? Right…Its like saying that "Iron Sky" had good story and setting.
Whether story and setting are believable or not makes critiques on human nature,piracy,video gaming industry no less valid.Main story line might not be brilliant but if you listen audio log and every Andrew Ryan speech you will understand what is Bioshock all about.Gameplay could(should) have been deeper,but game most be linear or "would you kindly" simply make no sense.
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February 15th, 2013, 12:42
Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
Whether story and setting are believable or not makes critiques on human nature,piracy,video gaming industry no less valid.Main story line might not be brilliant but if you listen audio log and every Andrew Ryan speech you will understand what is Bioshock all about.Gameplay could(should) have been deeper,but game most be linear or "would you kindly" simply make no sense.
That has nothing to do with linearity.

Spoiler – Possible spoiler
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February 15th, 2013, 13:17
The project was always - CLEARLY - meant as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2. You can watch some of the earlier Gamespot interviews - and you'll find that the original concepts were much closer to System Shock 2. But, as time went on - and the budget bloated - they had to dumb it down and make it appeal to a wider audience, with familiar shooter mechanics and forgiving gameplay.

That's not spelled out, obviously, as that would be very bad PR. But it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see how Bioshock happened.

So yes, Bioshock is a shooter more than it is anything else. I don't particularly care for shooters.

If you prefer straight-up shooting to something more cerebral or with a slower pace like System Shock 2 - then it makes sense that you would prefer Bioshock.

To each his own, as they say.

Note that I'm not saying you have to be dumb to play Bioshock - as that would be a stupid thing to say. All I'm saying is that the gameplay mechanics and the overall design is a dumbed down = simplified and more accessible version of System Shock 2. It's not "just a shooter" - as it's incredibly obvious where it gets its non-shooter elements from.

Levine failed to learn from Looking Glass. Well, he didn't - because he made the game a huge success, and LG went down because they were too innovative and their games weren't accessible enough as a result.

After I got over the massive disappointment of Bioshock being basically just an atmospheric shooter with a handful of half-assed RPG elements - I rather enjoyed it. Well, right until the "twist".
I will explain better why I pointed this out. It was just the use of the expression "dumbing down". I just think it is being used too much and usually misused (it's not the case here, because Bioshock, as you say, was meant as a spiritual successor to System Shock and, at some point in it's development lost the RPG elements and went to become a shooter - although a shooter with something more than the usual shooters). Again, I also don't like shooters, I don't like Bioshock and I was not contesting your comparison between both (I didn't even know that bit about Bioshock being supposed to not be a shooter at some point). But whenever I read something was "dumbed down" I get nervous - specially because I don't agree with the point of view that the older games were more "cerebral" just because the game mechanics were more complex. Well, they were more cerebral in the arithmetic, management and economics kind of way. Anyway, that's not my kind of cerebral. Deep storytelling was never the biggest thing in videogames, neither in the 80s, 90s, nor nowadays, but that's besides the point.
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February 15th, 2013, 13:31
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
I will explain better why I pointed this out. It was just the use of the expression "dumbing down". I just think it is being used too much and usually misused (it's not the case here, because Bioshock, as you say, was meant as a spiritual successor to System Shock and, at some point in it's development lost the RPG elements and went to become a shooter - although a shooter with something more than the usual shooters). Again, I also don't like shooters, I don't like Bioshock and I was not contesting your comparison between both (I didn't even know that bit about Bioshock being supposed to not be a shooter at some point). But whenever I read something was "dumbed down" I get nervous - specially because I don't agree with the point of view that the older games were more "cerebral" just because the game mechanics were more complex. Well, they were more cerebral in the arithmetic, management and economics kind of way. Anyway, that's not my kind of cerebral. Deep storytelling was never the biggest thing in videogames, neither in the 80s, 90s, nor nowadays, but that's besides the point.
I understand what you're saying.

Personally, I agree it's an overused expression.

That said, I'm one of those people who spend an unusually large amount of time picking the right words for the right context.

Doesn't mean people will agree - and I do tend to be abrasive and harsh, but the words are very carefully selected.

Bioshock is a very fine example of how dumbed down is most appropriate - at least in my opinion.

But there's a vast difference between a game being "dumbed down/accessible" and the people playing the game being dumb or ignorant.

Some people get defensive when you call their favorite games dumbed down - and I'm not sure that's a very appropriate response.

Also, I DEFINITELY think most games were more "cerebral" in the past - meaning you had to invest more of your brain to succeed in whatever challenges you encountered.

That was just a natural consequence of catering to a less broad audience.
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February 15th, 2013, 13:48
I understand what you're saying.

Personally, I agree it's an overused expression.

Bioshock is a very fine example of how dumbed down is most appropriate - at least in my opinion.
As I said in my previous post, after reading your reasons to call it a dumbed down version of the earlier game, well in this case the expression "dumbing down" was called for. As it is, usually called for, when people say that for some years mainstream Hollywood productions are dumbed down. Yes, usually they are.

But there's a vast difference between a game being "dumbed down/accessible" and the people playing the game being dumb or ignorant.

Some people get defensive when you call their favorite games dumbed down - and I'm not sure that's a very appropriate response.
True, but not my case.


Also, I DEFINITELY think most games were more "cerebral" in the past - meaning you had to invest more of your brain to succeed in whatever challenges you encountered.

That was just a natural consequence of catering to a less broad audience.
This is the part where I disagree. Well, not quite a disagreement, but I have a different point of view. Maybe some games were more cerebral in the past (certainly not all) but in the way solving equations is a cerebral activity. I like to maintain a healthy cerebral activity, but I would rather read a book than solve some mind puzzles. But those are personal choices, personal tastes.
What really annoys me is the hipster mentality behind the whole "dumbing down" meme in videogames. Gamers always had a special place in their memory for the classics, but on the last few years (2 maybe 3, not sure) things went a little worse. When someone says this or that game is "dumbed down", usually they mean it the same annoying hipster-blasé fashion that could be translated as "that's too mainstream, dude". The same is valid for the love of old school games. Most times someone praises old school games I almost can read between the lines the message "I totally digged that before it was cool". So, that's it. Just one more thing - I certainly am not directing this semi-rant to you. I was just explaining why I don't link the "dumbing down" thing.
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February 15th, 2013, 13:49
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
That has nothing to do with linearity.

Spoiler – Possible spoiler
I might be wrong and seeing meaning that isn't there but I think quote isn't just about gaming it's about blind obedience for "just cause".Why would I think that and why I think phrase"would you kindly" is perfect fit is for long topic and more suited for P&R part of forum which I tend to stay away from.Point of my previous post was there is more to bioshock that meets the eye initially.
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February 15th, 2013, 13:52
Originally Posted by MigRib View Post
This is the part where I disagree. Well, not quite a disagreement, but I have a different point of view. Maybe some games were more cerebral in the past (certainly not all) but in the way solving equations is a cerebral activity. I like to maintain a healthy cerebral activity, but I would rather read a book than solve some mind puzzles. But those are personal choices, personal tastes.
What really annoys me is the hipster mentality behind the whole "dumbing down" meme in videogames. Gamers always had a special place in their memory for the classics, but on the last few years (2 maybe 3, not sure) things went a little worse. When someone says this or that game is "dumbed down", usually they mean it the same annoying hipster-blasé fashion that could be translated as "that's too mainstream, dude". The same is valid for the love of old school games. Most times someone praises old school games I almost can read between the lines the message "I totally digged that before it was cool". So, that's it. Just one more thing - I certainly am not directing this semi-rant to you. I was just explaining why I don't link the "dumbing down" thing.
Yeah, again, I agree it's an overused expression

I'm not taking your position as a rant - and I can sympathise with it.

However, we're probably not quite in the same place in terms of HOW overused the expression is. The people behind the expression might be annoying "l33t wannabes" - but I find that it's sadly a very appropriate expression in many cases, even so.
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February 15th, 2013, 15:54
I didn´t like Bioshock, it was easy, you could kill anything with your wrench (repeat after Vita chamber), no Stress, no Fear factor, boring gameplay due to too much Ammo and to light in the RPG department.
System Shock 1 & 2 are still part of my favorite games list, the strong points already being said before, but the main difference was that was the sense of loneliness and danger that I´ve felt in that games.

I don´t think the term of "Dumb Down" is inappropriate for the games in general, I´ve just finished Amalur (I try to finish everygame I start) and I felt the experience very Hollow, and Amalur is the Typical Dumbed Down game of now days. I got bored of reading every dialog line (the first in a game) and just followed the circles to complete some quests and I didn´t have any dificulty in completing them.
I miss the RPG´s where you had to read to find clues and then think about what you just read just to pass some choke point in game (yes I prefer a little linearity in games than total "Do what you want" that permeates the Elder Scroll franchise).


I Miss the games Like SS1&2, Arx Fatalis (I liked dishonored) and Ultimas (Uderworld included), I miss the challenge from that RPG´s.
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February 15th, 2013, 17:35
In the end I think the lesson is lightning doesn't usually strike twice. SS2 was a hard act to follow. Levine dressed the mechanics up in different clothing and it worked pretty well.

I don't think the mechanics were dumbed down, I think he got the difficulty and intensity wrong. The game was a fair bit easier and the new Ayn Rand clothes didn't quite fit.
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February 15th, 2013, 19:32
Actually, from what I've read, SS2 was a "dumbed down" SS 1. Noticing a pattern?
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February 15th, 2013, 20:46
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Actually, from what I've read, SS2 was a "dumbed down" SS 1. Noticing a pattern?
Yes, other than improved graphics, SS2 was a small step back from the first game.
As I recall, System Shock was the first game with a real time physics engine, created by Seamus Blackley. I still remember being amazing by dropping a cylinder on the floor and watching it roll down a ramp… I was easily amused in those days.

SS2 had “streamlined” physics, simplified controls, fewer ammo types, missing cyberspace element, no dark areas to explore, more action, less hacking, and the environments were simply less “dense”. Nevertheless, SS2 was superior to BioShock which suffered from a bad case of consolitis.
Last edited by Vindicator; February 15th, 2013 at 21:02.
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February 15th, 2013, 21:09
Deus Ex is much more of a spiritual System Shock successor than Bioshock.
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February 15th, 2013, 22:08
Originally Posted by Vindicator View Post
Yes, other than improved graphics, SS2 was a small step back from the first game.
More of a step sideways- SS1 had pretty much zero RPG mechanics so while things like cyberspace were gone you did get something in return. You didn't have to choose upgrades or the like in SS1, you just installed everything no loss no foul, which was certainly not the case with SS2 where you had to pick your upgrades carefully.

You've got a bit of rose tinting for SS1- a good game to be rose tinted about- you don't get cylinders rolling down a slope, you get a flat bitmap sliding down. Very advanced for its time, but not more advanced than SS2. In some ways the comparison is like that between Alien and Aliens, both very good just different approaches to a similar premise.
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February 15th, 2013, 22:18
The primary reason System Shock is superior is the non-linear level design. Most of Citadel station is open for exploration from the early stages - and you can complete the various subgoals in the order of your choosing, for the most part.

I consider System Shock one of the best "dungeon" designs of all time - with a very elaborate and logical layout. I love how you can "discover" the story in your own way, and that every bit of exposition isn't forced down your throat as you progress in a linear fashion. That's EXACTLY how it would be - if you were to find yourself in a similar situation in reality.

Beyond that, System Shock doesn't suffer from having the awful "The Many" level of SS2 - and I'd say the plot is very tight - where as SS2 is a bit of a stretch.

Considering time of release and design innovation - SS2 simply isn't in the same league as the prequel.

That said, I do prefer the RPG system of SS2 - and I consider that a significant improvement.
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February 16th, 2013, 00:58
Originally Posted by bubasmelo View Post
I didn´t like Bioshock, it was easy, you could kill anything with your wrench (repeat after Vita chamber), no Stress, no Fear factor, boring gameplay due to too much Ammo and to light in the RPG department.
You can increase the difficulty and disable the Vita-Chambers in the options menu.
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February 16th, 2013, 01:21
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Actually, from what I've read, SS2 was a "dumbed down" SS 1. Noticing a pattern?

So here's a thing. If a bunch of Codexers and RPGwatchers met up with Gamasutrians, would there be an explosion?

I mean, is a lot of what the old-school fans (me included) like considered bad, unstreamlined design in professional circles now? Is what's being taught at Digipen and Carnegie Mellon and becoming accepted as pretty much design gospel basically the stuff we call "dumbed down"? I usually see accusations tossed about cynically going after the lowest common denominator to grab more cash, but I wonder if the reality is that it's increasingly becoming "that's just how you do elegant design in games, duh."


edit: <blows the Rampant Coyote man horn> Hey, you're in the middle of all this and know more about the people coming up through the pipeline. Is there any truth to this?
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February 16th, 2013, 01:52
Originally Posted by Bedwyr View Post
So here's a thing. If a bunch of Codexers and RPGwatchers met up with Gamasutrians, would there be an explosion?
Now ain't that a new internet recipe how to construct a nuke?
Such stuff should be illegal, I tellya.

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