This review of System Shock comes from the December 1994 issue of PC Home. The game is so associated with the CD version and its full speech (including Shodan of course), it’s sometimes forgotten that it initially came out on floppy which is what is being reviewed here. I’ve never actually played this version and may have to try it some time. The reviewer loves the game except for the sound which I would put down to the floppy version except he doesn’t like the music which didn’t change. To be fair a lot of MIDI soundtracks could sound terrible if you didn’t have the right hardware and there were a whole lot of options available back then.
The big Origin news in recent weeks has been the launch of the System Shock Remake Kickstarter. I’m late enough to get around to looking at this that it’s already funded but with only 3 days left some more money certainly wouldn’t hurt the cause. It’s not all that far into the stretch goals which is a clear sign of the reduced enthusiasm for Kickstarter these days if you ask me. I’m as jaded as any by certain previous Kickstarter experiences but there have certainly been some notable successes. This is one project I was always going to get behind as soon as I heard about it.
The remake is being done by Nightdive studios who have been responsible for several old PC games getting GOG releases, including the enhanced version of the original System Shock which most of us thought would never get a rerelease before it happened. They are already far enough along to have produced a demo which I thought I should have a go on before forking over my cash.
The demo comes with all the usual pre-alpha warnings but is surprisingly polished. What I really didn’t expect from this was how it’s instantly recognisable as System Shock. It’s an entirely playable first portion of the original game remastered into Unity. All of the rooms and environments are all the same yet at the same time massively enhanced. The pitch talks about producing System Shock as you remembered it, rather than as it actually was. It’s quite the trick to pull this off but I’d say the demo excels – it’s quite a bit better than I remember it in truth. If the rest of the game carried on in this vein, it would be well worth the asking price.
The demo doesn’t go very far of course and is over in about 10 minutes. This is perhaps a little unfortunate as anyone who hasn’t played the original might wonder what all the fuss is about. I’ve little doubt the demo is mainly going to appeal to those of us who were around for System Shock the first time around but that was always going to be the people putting in the lions’ share of the funding.
The stretch goals include all sorts of extra content which is something I’d really like to see. I can go back and play the original System Shock any time I like. I would love this to add something new to the mix so I’m hoping for a last minute rush of backers. It strikes me that the pitch has done everything right at any rate so I’d heartily recommend anyone to give it a look before the time runs out. I won’t get too excited about it yet as I know how long these projects always take to come to fruition but I’m really looking forward to playing a new System Shock and with System Shock 3 also on the way we now have two of them in the works.
By far the most I’ve ever had to pay for any of the books on this site was the official System Shock guide which is apparently rare enough and in enough demand to put prices through the roof. It was also the only official Origin guide I was missing as I recall and I wasn’t going to be put off. While I was hunting for that at a half-decent price, I ran into another unofficial guide written by Bernee Yee, System Shock – Strategies and Secrets, which by contrast cost next to nothing despite being twice the size:-
This unofficial guide was published by Sysex in 1995, and clocks in at just over 200 pages. It’s largely written from the point of view of a character construct A.I. that the hacker acquired before being put to sleep for 6 months, although this pretence is largely dropped by the time it gets to the walkthrough stages. The guide is full of original artwork of varying quality with most of the pages being spent on the walkthrough. It also has all the other sections you would expect on the likes of enemies, weapons, general strategies etc.
The original System Shock guide always did seem a little small. The maps are larger and clearer here and the extra pages give a little more room to flesh things out with this guide acting as a replacement for the manuals to some extent. It hardly makes full use of all those pages though so it’s a close run thing as to which is the better. What sways it for me is a brief interview with Doug Church right at the end which is well worth a read for anyone interested in the game.
The pdf is a little on the unnecessarily large side but the guide is now scanned and available with all the others either on the downloads page or from here.
This is a 32 page pullout from the September 1994 PC Format. It’s the first entry in their collector’s series which featured companies like Microprose, Lucasarts & Gremlin. Since it’s on here, it goes without saying that this first volume is entirely on Origin:-
It includes a brief history of the company, interviews with Richard Garriott and Chris Roberts, previews of coming games (with Warren Spector interviews) and a look back at the Ultima and Wing Commander series. There is so much misinformation in the Ultima history that it beggars belief but there is plenty of good content in here otherwise. According to the Ultima 8 article, at this time Garriott saw the Avatar as being separated from the human plane and more of a supernatural being in Ultima 9 and already had an Ultima 10 plot ready to go.