Bioforge, System Shock CD & Wings Of Glory Demo Tape

I have my freshly delivered VFX-1 sat here which I’m dying to try out but unfortunately I have some work and other things to do before I can start setting it up. I should hopefully manage an hour or two tonight and might post my first impressions tomorrow. In the meanwhile and by way of filler, I thought I’d post this VHS tape of demos for 3 Origin games.


The tape has gameplay videos of Bioforge, System Shock and Wings Of Glory which loop over and over and was presumably used in either a store or show to market the games. I’ve uploaded a complete loop to Youtube but I didn’t spot anything unusual in there so it’s not the most exciting viewing. It is at least relevant for today since two of the games are supported by the VFX-1 and I hope to try them out later.

The tape includes the entire end sequence from Bioforge, which is surprising as I would have thought was something of a spoiler to people you were trying to sell the game to.

System Shock Demo

I got this demo from the November 1994 CD Gamer Cover CD. A quick google didn’t turn up anywhere to download it other than an abandonware site that expects you to register and presumably pay, so I’ve uploaded it to here.

This is the demo for the floppy version of the game and includes the entire first level, minus the intro sequence. There wasn’t room for a sound installation program (just how short on space were they?), so there are instructions in the readme for setting up the sound manually. The demo has the full choice of difficulty levels. I probably should have gone for easy, given that I’m not allowed to save at any point but I left everything on normal.

I’ve never actually played the floppy version of System Shock. It’s a game that made the transition to CD so flawlessly that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t designed for CD in the first place. I’m hard pushed to think of another game that managed the transition as well.

Going back and playing the floppy version now, the obvious differences are the lack of speech and no option for SVGA graphics. Both of these do take away from the game but I was soon hooked once again despite this. The controls are the same confusing mess but I got the hang of them far more quickly second time around, and it’s one of those cases where they are intimidating at first but actually work quite well when you have them learnt.

An entire level takes some playing through. I remember the layout vaguely but it’s not like Underworld where I know where every item is. I made my way slowly through and must have explored nearly all of it before I found myself being gunned down in seconds by an unseen opponent. I’d got all the access cards to get off the level and must have played for going on an hour to get that far. I should probably have headed straight for the exit to see what happened in hindsight.

I can’t say I spotted any differences to the final game on the way, although the readme mentions a reduced number of opposition and textures. This is a huge demo and should be enough to convince anyone to give the game a go even if they don’t make it all the way through. For some reason, it didn’t convince me at the time. Maybe the controls put me off, or more likely my PC simply wasn’t quick enough. I was definitely expecting another Underworld and didn’t get it which was also an issue. Whatever the reasons, I never actually played System Shock until a couple of years back at which point it became one of my favourite games. Having got this far in the demo, I’m strongly tempted to go back and play through the whole thing again. I would seriously enjoy having another run through, but I’ll leave it for now and have a look at the Wings Of Glory demo instead.

Day 154

As soon as I walk onto level 9, I get another video email showing the bridge separating from the rest of the station. There is no running back to the escape pods now.

Right in the middle of fighting a cyborg I get another email showing the rest of the station blowing up.

Level 9 is a decent size – I thought I’d possibly just walk straight into the final battle but its not that simple. I don’t know all this yet but there is a central area where I need to enter cyberspace and battle Shodan. At the moment I haven’t got access to this. I need to hack into a panel in another room using and isolinear chipset. This room is behind 3 force walls which have to be turned off one by one. The 3 walls are controlled from 3 different areas which I have to work through one at a time.

The first area I enter is a maze like room full of cyborgs.

Walking around here nets me quite a few hardware upgrades – I think all the best equipment can be found somewhere on Level 9. I don’t find the switch to open the force wall but I didn’t realise I had to look for it at this stage.

Elsewhere I do find a cage containing a mutant which I have to teleport into, killing the mutant and grab the isolinear chipset which I will need later on.

The second area I explore is another maze this time full of little robots that explode when they get too close. There must be a couple of dozen of these scuttling around in here and they appear to keep respawning. This is probably the most dangerous area on the level.

This time I find a screen showing the force wall and I have another puzzle to solve to open it up.

I find another one of these panels in a strange room to the south. There is a central area and with a load of niches around the side (most of which are closed). I have to run between niches killing robots and pressing a button in each niche which opens another (with another robot), until eventually the center raises giving me access to remove another force wall.

At this point I spent a while looking for the last screen which was in the first section I explored. I find it in the end and open up the remaining force wall.

I’m half expecting a final battle with Shodan in this room but its devoid of cyborgs when I walk in.

I use the isolinear chips on the panel and nothing appears to happen whatsoever.

A bit more exploring and I realise the middle of the map has now opened up. There is a highly radioactive area full of yet more cyborgs. I use a reflex booster + a berserk and clear it out.

Right in the middle is a final cyberspace node which I use to begin my final battle with Shodan.

The final cyberspace area is the largest yet and much more complex that anything I’ve seen before. There are many alternate routes through and loops that lead you back to where you have already been. In the same manner as level 9 in the real world I can get upgrades for most of my software by exploring carefully. One my first attempt I stumble into Shodan nearly straight away.

The final battle with Shodan is a little strange. I lose some of my ability to control direction and get pushed around while Shodan bounces around the room not doing much. All the meanwhile my screen is filling up pixel by pixel.

When the screen fills up I’ve lost the game and have to try again. Second time around I explore cyberspace a bit more and make sure I have the best equipment. I just fire constantly at Shodan this time and although there is no visual evidence I’m having any effect it must work as the final cutscene starts.

My reaction to the end of the game was a definite “Is that it?”. The final battle was a real anti-climax as was the cutscene which followed it. The rest of the game is of course more important than its ending but its nice to have a feeling of satisfaction when you’ve battled through the whole thing. The rest of the level leading up to that was decent enough however so things could have been a lot worse. I prefer this to the sort of ridiculously difficult final boss that you spend hours trying to beat (I’m thinking of Omikron here). I just expected a bit more from a game that had been so good up to this point.

It’s not going to put me off System Shock – I can see myself going back and playing this again at all the highest difficulty levels at some point but for now I’m getting straight on with the next game.

Next: Wing Commander 3