System Shock 2 - All News
Friday - May 17, 2013
System Shock 2 - On Difficulty: A Few Hours With System Shock 2
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a new editorial of the first few hours of System Shock 2 from the perspective of a new player.
Shock 2 reveals just how potent and atmospheric it is to be pathetically weak. It creates a bleakness that’s unachievable by just painting your backgrounds grey-brown and having the gruff post-apocalyptic super-soldiers shout curse words as they trot ever forward. It’s a bleakness that’s not superficially aesthetic, but intrinsic, and overwhelming. I really am overwhelmed by it. My heart is heavy when I think about carrying on playing this obviously excellent game, knowing what an ordeal I’ll be putting myself through.
Where I’m left is divided on how I feel about that. Perhaps it’s my frame of mind at the moment, perhaps I’m getting old, perhaps I’m growing weak. But that just doesn’t strike me as the most appealing notion.
Yes, so jeer at me, condemn me, cancel your subscription and petition in the streets that I have the temerity to write about videogames. I deserve it. But I do want to stress that I’m not settling for the status quo.
System Shock 2, as incredibly difficult, incredibly intense, and incredibly unnerving as it is, has strongly reminded me of what I’m missing from games. Explained to me why I bounced off BioShock: Infinite like it was made of space-rubber. I don’t want everything reduced down to a left or right mouse button, binary choices along predictable skill trees. I loved Dishonored, but Dishonored was a piece of piss. I was a GOD in that game, a GOD amongst puny underlings, crushed beneath my might. And that was probably the major thing wrong with it. Games just aren’t difficult enough, are they? Sure, you can turn the “difficulty” up, but that just makes it harder to get stuff done – not actually harder. A difficulty level doesn’t change the philosophy of a game. So no, I confess, SS2 is over a line for me that I once never had. But it’s revealed a pathway I long to be walking down in more games. Just, maybe, not this one?
Except that I just went back and played a bunch more.
Thursday - February 14, 2013
System Shock 2 - Available from GOG and an Interview
System Shock 2 can now be purchased from Good Old Games for only $10.
Rock Paper Shotgun has an interview with Stephen Kick of Night Dive, who secured the rights and worked on the release, and Guillaume Rambourg at GOG.com.
RPS: The story of the System Shock rights and trademark has frustrated people for years. As I understand it – and I may well be wrong – Looking Glass retained the rights while EA held the trademark. When Looking Glass ceased to be, the rights passed to Meadowbrook Insurance Group and without both, the series cannot be revived. What negotiations, with any parties involved, have taken place in order to secure digital distribution rights?
Stephen Kick (Night Dive): The rights are still held in a very complicated tangle and going into all of it makes for very dry reading. The short version is that negotiations began in October of last year. I pitched the rights-holder with the focus being on the digital distribution of System Shock 2 and–as much to my surprise as anyone’s, possibly–here we are today.
Guillaume Rambourg (GOG.com): We, of course, have been working on getting System Shock 2 on GOG.com more or less since we started operations, and we were absolutely thrilled when Stephen contacted us from Night Dive indicating that he was able to secure these rights.
Tuesday - February 12, 2013
System Shock 2 - Rumour: to be Released on GOG & later Steam
Gamebanshee have news that System Shock 2 maybe getting a new digital re-release.
According to a recent report from Flesh Eating Zipper, citing unnamed sources, Irrational Games/Looking Glass Studios classic System Shock 2 has finally managed to escape license limbo, and will be released on GOG and Steam thanks to the efforts of Night Dive Studios.
Wednesday - September 26, 2012
System Shock 2 - Thief 2, Unofficial Patches
I've bundled these together rather than writing two, essentially identical, newsbits. Vurt writes in to point out Unofficial Patches that have been released for System Shock 2 and Thief 2. The fixes enable the games to work well on modern hardware - including widescreen support - as well as a slew of other fixes. The patches originate from "Le Corbeau" on the French forum Ariane4ever but we'll pick it up from the TTLG forums, in this thread. Kotaku also has a newsbit, with some brief impressions. A snip from the lengthy patch notes:
- Added windowed mode
- Added single display mode option - no resolution change between menus and game
- Added ingame support for all common resolutions, including widescreen
- Added support for 32-bit color
- Textures can now be automatically promoted to 32-bit, improving quality and effectively eliminating the palette limit
- Added UI framerate cap option to avoid GPU fan spinning up in UI
- Added DDS/PNG image support
- Added full 24/32-bit TGA/BMP image support
- Increased the maximum number of frames allowed in animated textures from 20 to 99, and increased the allowable filename length for animated textures (before the underscore) to support more than 7
- Animated texture rate can now be specified via a material file for that texture
- Fixed a bug where Transparency property didn't (correctly) apply on objects that contain transparent polys
Saturday - August 27, 2011
System Shock 2 - Subsite @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee writes they have set up a subsite for System Shock 2, including a walkthrough and database:
Within this small section of the Internet, we've prepared an annotated walkthrough, a character creation guide, tech skills, weapon skills, psi powers, O/S upgrades, audio log summaries, enemy profiles, an extensive equipment section, and a whole lot of other content for you to pore over when you find yourself returning to the classic. And if you haven't yet scheduled a replay, you should.
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
System Shock 2 - Sketchbook @ Irrational
Irrational has kicked up some concept art from an original sketchbook back from the early development of System Shock 2.
Wednesday - March 24, 2010
System Shock 2 - Analysis: Structure And Spoilers
GameSetWatch have an article on System Shock 2 written by Gamasutra editor Chris Remo. The article's topics include Design, The Power Struggle, The Relief, the second half deals heavily in story details.
Looking back, it's astonishing that an action game would ask so much of its player. That System Shock would be released the year after Doom, and System Shock 2 the year after Half-Life, illustrates a level of genre exploration now effectively extinct.
There are systems related to stats and skills and inventory management and research and voice logs and more. (The player must even input access codes manually. Remember when game manuals had "notes" section -- and they were actually useful?)
It is utterly understandable why many of these intricate, sometimes unwieldy, mechanics have fallen out of favor in modern action game design since their late-1990s/early-2000s heydey (Deus Ex being another important example), and it's arguable if they are necessarily better than the streamlined form they take in successors like BioShock, but there is something truly rewarding about mastering such a complex piece of design.
It's possible such a phenomenon could only have existed in that particular time and on that particular platform, when the audience for developers like Looking Glass and Irrational was a concentrated solution of PC gaming devotees, willing to deal with so many control inputs simultaneously because their platform of choice itself was such a cutting-edge but demanding piece of machinery.
There's a nice parallel there: The unabashedly wonky cyberpunk worlds of Shock 2 and Deus Ex could never quite achieve the same resonance in today's more accessible multiplatform world.
Monday - February 01, 2010
System Shock 2 - Secrets @ Irrational
The return of the Irrational site and regular updates brings a nifty background feature on System Shock 2. Titled What Might Have Been, the piece describes some of the ideas they had that were dropped:
Zero-G vs. Technology
“Originally, the level that would become The Many had the player traverse from the Von Braun to The Rickenbacker on the outside of the hull,” says Levine. “We thought it would be a really cool mission because it would change everything the player was used to by introducing a zero gravity environment as well as changing the behavior of all the monsters.” The technology in 1998, when System Shock 2 was in development, really didn’t allow for such grandiose ideas unless it was a major feature in the game. Levine remembers chatting with Lead Programmer Robert Fermier to discuss the level and being told, “Dude that is going to be a huge amount of work for it to work properly.” A feature specific to only a single mission of the game didn’t fit into the schedule. Levine adds, “It was good that it got cut. If you don’t have the resources for it, you can’t make it that good.”
Source: Blues News
Saturday - October 13, 2007
System Shock 2 - The Making Of @ Next Gen
The Making of System Shock 2 talks to Ken Levine about those early days with Looking Glass and how System Shock 2 came about:
Neurath’s offer was incredibly open. Looking Glass had, in making Thief: The Dark Project, developed its own in-house engine. All of Irrational were experienced with it, having all worked on Thief. Why not make a game with it with us? Any game you fancy, really. “We immediately started designing,” Levine recalls.
“The three partners sat down, and we ended up with a game design which was basically our design for Shock 2, but in a totally different world. It was a kind of Heart Of Darkness story, with a military commander gone crazy and your mission was to go to this crazy spaceship and assassinate him.”
Saturday - April 28, 2007
System Shock 2 - Soundtrack "Released"
A few forums are discussing the System Shock 2 soundtrack, which has apparently been liberated by a former SS2 developer. I wouldn't normally trust something uploaded to megaupload but quite a few people have already tried it and reported the file safe and authentic. Here's the original post at the TTLG forums:
After seeing so many fan interpretations of the SS2 soundtrack I figured I would upload the real soundtrack ... real as in "ripped from a CD that Eric Brosius burned."
What differences are there from the existing SS2 Soundtrack versions out there?
1) These are the real arrangements created by Eric himself, authored as full soundtrack songs and burned as an album. It's not a fan interpretation or anything else short of the real songs from the real composer.
2) This was personally crafted by Eric Brosius from the original audio, meaning that unlike the 22khz audio files from the shipping game this release is CD quality.
3) The audio quality is much higher than what's out there; I've ripped this from the original CD and have encoded it at 320 q0 mp3.
Basically, this is not only the best quality version of the soundtrack, it's the version of the soundtrack that Eric Brosius himself created. It's not a fan compilation; this is the real deal.
And in case you have any doubt, remember that I'm the one who also posted the real Thief: Deadly Shadows soundtrack here.
Thursday - March 15, 2007
System Shock 2 - 2007 Upgrade @ Gnomes Lair
A lot of people will be familiar with the System Shock 2 Rebirth project but this article at The Random Gnomes' Random Lair (nice name) has a guide to several mods to bring SS2 up to "2K7" standards. Here's the intro, which aptly describes why SS2 is so good:
System Shock 2 is better than Deus EX, more elaborate than any of the Thief games, scarier then Resident Evil and quite frankly more engrossing than the whole porn DVD collection of planet Earth. In short, it's a fantastic game. A brilliant one too. I mean, it's even got itself a Gamespot retrospective. Unfortunately though, what with being almost retro, its graphics have started to age and their late nineties 3D engine simply doesn't look that scary anymore. Oh, and WinXP, minor gameplay and sound problems have also managed to creep up.