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System Shock 2 - Analysis: Structure And Spoilers

by Woges, 2010-03-24 01:03:09

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.

Information about

System Shock 2

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released