System Shock 2 – Day 6

I start out searching for artwork and the missing athletics keycard. I find the keycard on a body that I’d somehow managed to miss in the crew quarters first time around.

I head for the athletics area and see a huge fleshy creature in the middle of basketball court. For some reason it doesn’t move at all and I bludgeon it to death with impunity.

Through the next area is a swimming pool complete with a floating body.

In a small room off here is a spot for a power cell. As luck would have it I’m carrying one of these around so I use it here but I have no idea what this achieves.

I find the transmitter soon afterwards but I’ve not seen any more artwork yet. I must have missed some so this means trawling around the level again looking for pictures.

Much later I find this in the crew quarters – just one more to find.

The final one is in an art shop in the mall. It’s on the second level which is why I missed it first time around.

I head back for the transmitter. I’ve only got two possible orders to try the numbers in and the first one works out.

Shodan still can’t manage to wipe out the infestation and wants me to help her gain complete control over the ship. She activates the lift I saw earlier to the command deck and sends me up there.

The command deck has a simple tram system that carries me between 3 stops.

When I get to the end of the tram journey I see two survivors trying to get to the one remaining escape pod. They are chased away before I can get off the tram.

I follow after them and arrive just in time to see their pod escape. They have left behind a bridge access security card.

I use this card to access the bridge elevator where I’m greeted by another giant mech.

Once through the mech, its straight to the bridge. This place looks a lot more advanced than most of the rest of the ship.

I find the password breaking gadget I’m looking for behind some smashable glass.

I then trot off and use this in the right place to give Shodan complete control to the ship. She decides that she will be unable to wipe out her children as they have infested every corner of the ship. We are going to have to blow up the Von Braun then evacuate to its support ship the Rickenbacker.

This next stage of the game involves me being sent all over the ship to carry out tasks. First off, I have to go to the engine core to start the self destruct for the ship.

Shodan gives me the code to do this and thats stage 1 done.

This opens up a new area for shuttle access on the command deck so I head up there. I need to stop the infestation escaping from here by blowing up the shuttles. When I arrive a midwife is tampering with some sensitive equipment which doesn’t look good.

There are two shuttle bays here. The damaged equipment would have dropped the shield of one of them. I can still destroy the second shuttle at least and it only takes a few shots to blow it up.

I need to destroy the shield generator for the first shuttle. Shodan tells me to hack the nearest replicator to produce a gadget which will do the job.

I do this then run away as quickly as possible while it does its work.

A few seconds later and the second shuttle is destroyed.

I need to get to the umbilical leading to the Rickenbacker. I’m told to go to the middle tram stop but when I get there my passage is blocked and I get a message to go and meet up with one of the aliens on the bridge. This doesn’t sound like a trap at all……

When I arrive on the bridge, we don’t even go through the formalities of a chat before I’m attacked. I’m expecting something of a boss fight but it turns out to be really easy. I just hide behind a console and lob a few grenades out until its dead. This opens up my route to the Rickenbacker.

This route is well guarded and I have to carefully edge past a load of turrets.

My first task in the Rickenbacker is to destroy 15 eggs containing some new sort of super-mutant. These eggs are spread all over the base and will take a bit of finding.

I do a lot of searching around taking out any eggs I find. I also discover this gravity reversal switch. Throwing it seems like a good idea and nets me 20 modules but it doesn’t affect my immediate area.

I explore for a while taking out eggs. There are more defenses than ever but nothing much new. There is one area of the ship with a hull breach and I also have a puzzle involving raising and lowering missiles to create a path. The difficult bit here is jumping onto the first missile. There seems to be a problem in the engine at times with jumping and it takes a few attempts.

I find my final egg and head for the next part of the Rickenbacker.

This is where the gravity has been reversed. I walk into a church which now has an upside-down cross.

I find some potentially useful alien armour but I need to research it before I can use it. I’ve no idea if I’ll see any more chemical rooms or if I should go back but decide to press on.

When I get deep enough into the Rickenbacker, Shodan tells me that the infection has spread and now surrounds the ship. I have to head right into it for all that. She also seems to almost be getting fond of me and how I am becoming closer to her as I improve my cybernetics. I don’t entirely like where this is going – I was expecting her to turn on me before now and I’m not sure I expect a happy ending.

The infection is surrounding the windows here in a giant fleshy mass. I notice now in this screenshot that there was another permanent upgrade panel which I didn’t take advantage of.

This is due to being attacked on all sides.

In the end I take the easy option and run for the escape pod and launch myself into the fleshy mass.

I must be nearing the conclusion of the game now but I have to explore this place first and figure out how to destroy it.

Shodan can no longer maintain contact so I’m on my own. A lot of the tunnels are under water which is radioactive. My first first attempt at exploration leads to fatal poisoning. I was really tempted at this point to push on to finish the game but I decided to leave it for another night rather than rushing through.

When I’ve been playing this game, I’ve often thought how similar it was to Doom 3, with its email logs, sound design and the like. Now I even get a fleshy infestation taking over the station. I know Doom came first but it’s probably got less in common with its sequel than SS2 does – it’s similar enough that Doom 3 feels like a bit of a rip-off now. I’m actually quite a fan of Doom 3. While clearly being a technology showcase, it was still a game that generated a fantastically scary atmosphere. Years earlier SS2 has managed the same thing only with a far more interesting storyline and a load of RPG elements and gameplay options thrown into the mix.

SS2 is a game that would really justify another play through. The storyline isn’t always easy to follow as it comes at me in short emails in a somewhat random order. I do like this system for all that – the only snag is when one message gets cut off by another or if a monster attacks I tend to miss whats being said. It’s not always that quick or easy to find the email you missed so I do feel like I’ve missed elements of the story on the way through. Having the interface in a resolution it was never designed for probably doesn’t help matters here.

Aside from the story there are whole areas of abilities that I’ve ignored while playing this. I’ve not upgraded psi-powers at all instead concentrating on tech, weapons and combat skill. Even at this late stage in the game I’m a long way from maxing out most my stats even in these areas although I am clearly much more powerful than in the early game.

I’m curious to know where things are going at this stage, its still got me guessing. Clearly I’ll be attempting to destroy the infestation but Shodan will still be alive. I’m half expecting to end up being controlled by her due to my ever upgraded implants. An entirely happy and conclusive ending looks really unlikely.

System Shock 2 – Day 5

There’s only one place to go on Level 4 for now and that leads me straight to the dead body of the woman who has been helping me out over email.

The walls slide away and I’m suddenly face to face with Shodan. This scene is incredibly atmospheric and I’m surrounded by her creepy multiple voices. I’d go as far as to say this moment would potentially be one of the best in gaming if I hadn’t already guessed it was coming. I’ve been expecting a twist somewhere along the way and it wouldn’t have been a System Shock without Shodan in it.

Shodan has been masquerading as the dead woman in order to build my trust. She elaborates on the backstory and tells me how the “aliens” from the world below are actually her creations that were jettisoned off Citadel station in SS1. They have turned on her and she wants me to help her take revenge and kill them all off. I have to get her access to more of the ships systems the Xerxes is currently controlling.

I find a new weapon which has been created by Shodan’s “children”. It’s another melee weapon but presumably more powerful than any of the usual ones. I need some skill in exotics before I can use it.

To override Xerxes control I need to track down 3 red cyborgs which have a computer chip each which can override one system. I’m given these details in a log I find. I don’t realise it at the time but this room has one of the red assassin cyborgs in it. The room also has a load of exploding crates which keep crashing down. I hide round the corner and the crates kill the cyborg off for me.

Aside from the assassin cyborgs I’m also running into these guys who throw grenades at me. Provided I can get close up quickly they aren’t a big threat.

I find the first of the computers I need to override but can’t do anything with it yet as I need one of the other two chips.

I keep exploring and find another chip and also run into giant spiders. These are extremely tough and best taken down at a distance. They have a toxin attack which is extremely nasty. As far as I can tell toxin never wears off in this game without the use of an anti-toxin hypo so I take them down with a shotgun while contstantly backing off.

I start overriding the computers and also upgrade my exotic skill so I can use the crystal shard. It possibly does a small amount more damage than the light sword but nothing major.

After a lot of walking around I finally find the final red cyborg and although it runs away I manage to get enough hits in to take it down relatively easily.

The final computer I have to override is very nearby. This opens up the next level to me.

Level 5 is the recreation deck. Shodan wants me to get access to a transmitter that has been set up here.

When I get here there is actually someone still alive but he is behind a glass screen and I can’t reach him yet. He breaks off from talking to me.

The reason why is presumably the biggest robot I’ve had to fight. This one fires huge and fairly slow energy balls which do splash damage even if they don’t hit me directly. I use my usual tactics and it doesn’t prove to be much stronger than the earlier yellow robots. I look around the area afterwards but if anyone is still alive I don’t find them.

I’m told in a log I find that someone has hidden a code in the artwork on this deck. I can use the art to flick between pictures and sure enough I find part of a code.

The recreation deck includes a garden area (which given the limitations of the engine doesn’t look much like a garden but its a change from metal panels.

I’m really building up my stats and upgrade my energy enough to be able to use this energy weapon. This fires the same giant blue spheres that the robot was using on me earlier and these take out nearly anything electrical in only a few shots.

Level 5 is very large and consists of some quite varied areas. I find a large square room with another elevator –  the elevator I’ve been using only went up to floor 5 but it looks like there is at least one more to go. For now I can’t use this elevator though.

I find a hybrid alien/human weapon but I’ll need to research this before I can use it. For now I have no idea exactly what it does.

The recreation area is complete with a cinema….

… and a shopping mall. I get to pick another permanent upgrade here and go for increased range weapon damage.

I also find another piece of artwork with a bit more code. I must still be missing one or two fragments of the code so I’ll try to find where these are next. I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around looking for something new to do in this session. I think I’ve seen most of the deck I’m on but there is an athletics area which I haven’t been able to enter due to not having the keycard. I don’t think I’ve missed any artwork (although it’s not altogether unlikely) but I must have missed this keycard somehow. I might search through my logs and see if there are any hints.

Since finding out her true identity, all my emails with instructions/congratulations have been coming from Shodan herself. I can’t help but feel that this can’t work out well in the long run but I don’t have a choice for now. She is certainly less than complementary about my species. I’m still a bit unclear exactly what Shodan is doing here in the first place. I suppose she must have escaped to the planet along with her children some how but I’m unclear on this. Maybe I will find out more later. I have seen logs talking about Diego carrying on the families work.

SS2 has for the moment settled down into a pattern of me exploring each area looking for for access cards, codes, cyborgs, etc… There isn’t a huge amount of story and I’m possibly having to do more searching around for items than I would like. The tasks on each level are all slightly different but the method is ultimately the same. I kind of miss the cyberspace sections from SS1 also which added a bit of variety to the mix. I think I’m ultimately going to prefer SS1 over SS2 although there won’t be a big distance between them.

System Shock 2 – Day 4

A bit of examination of my notes leads me back to the radioactive area of the ship where I need to try to get access to a storage area using a keycode I found in a log. My friend from level 4 gives me a keycode to another storage room also.

I find her storage room first and among other things this nets me a radiation suit which I could have done with earlier. This doesn’t stop all radiation poisoning but it helps a lot. I’m struggling with inventory management by this stage. I’ve been increasing my strength + I have a brawnboost implant so I’ve nearly got the maximum number of slots but space is very limited. This becomes more of a problem throughout today’s session forcing me to make choices on just what I need to carry.

I find the other storage room without difficulty nearby. This one is full of shelves.

These contain circuit boards. What I need to do here is grab the one described in the log I picked up and take it to the bridge .

Once I get to the bridge, I shove it into the panel I noticed before and this resets the fluidics controls.

I head for fluidics and use these controls which should vent off all the radiation from this level allowing me access to a new area.

Sure enough the previously locked door is now open.

I’m told by email that I need to activate both the ships nacelles. This is a simple job of pushing a couple of buttons.

I find an interesting log in here. Along with others, during today’s session I finally start to get a better idea of whats going on. There is more than one force at work on this ship it seems. This log speaks of being contacted by an A.I. that offered to help the situation. The crew are being infected by an alien parasite picked up from a planet they explored. This parasite mutated and then controlled them. One of the crew members elicited the aid of some sort of A.I. that mysteriously offered to help – this no doubt will be linked to Shodan. It appears that the two are on opposite sides and I’m caught in the middle. I’m half expecting my ally on Level 4 to turn out to be Shodan herself or a minion. Of course I may have all this wrong but thats the fun of not knowing. Even if I’m right there must be more to it than I know at this stage.

I get the nacelles on line and this finally restores power allowing me access to the lift so I hop in and head for level 4.

Of course nothing is that simple and the lift tube is blocked by an organic growth so I can only get up to level 3 – hydroponics.

I quickly stumble across a room containing a chemical which I can use to kill off the growth. I’m told over email that I should research this and given the needed mods to buy the upgrade do it. I don’t fancy running straight back to one of the old levels to upgrade having just got here so I continue exploring for now.

Every level has at least one new enemy so far and this one has giant eggs which could be straight out of alien. These explode and either poison me or release a parasitic worm when I get too close.

Along with the eggs I find an environment regulator. I’ve been told there are four of these and I need to use the chemical in each one to kill off the growth. I discover now that I can’t actually use the chemical until I’ve researched it though so I’m going to have to buy that research skill.

I continue looking around for somewhere to buy the research skill. On the way I discover another of those permanent upgrade panels. I choose a skill this time that means I heal more from a hypo. I also buy the research skill in here but I need chemicals to carry out the research. I try the room on Level 2 first but this doesn’t have one of the chemicals I need.

I head back to level 3 and get to see more ghosts, this time showing someone being deliberately infected against their will by one of the parasites.

I find this levels chemical room and the chemicals I need are in a closet at the back guarded by another new enemy – a half robotic midwife. My wrench has been serving me well on this level and I’m also starting to collect a reasonable supply of ammo now. This has been one of those games that is extremely difficult at the start but gets easier as you improve your stats and equipment.

Now that I’ve researched the chemical, I can use it in another environmental regulator which I find. I’ll need to get another 3 vials of it to clear the level.

I also use the research to examine some unidentified items that enemies have been dropping. This yields a better than expected reward as learning more about their anatomy means I get a 25% damage bonus against specific enemies as I now know where to hit them.

There is a collapsible floor down here that allows me access to a new area. There have been quite a few areas like this where I can smash a window and jump through to get into a locked area and the like. It somehow never feels like a forced puzzle though – it’s more just a case of being able to explore in your own way.

Using modules I received for clearing some of the growth I buy myself enough energy weapon skill to be able to use a lightsword I’ve been carrying around for a while. This isn’t a bad weapon but I’m pretty disappointed in truth as it doesn’t appear to do hardly any more damage than the wrench.

I run into more giant yellow robots which I thought I take a screenshot of since I lost yesterdays. They die in 3 or 4 strokes from the sword but the best policy is to get enough hits in to get them low on health then back off, swap to a gun and take them down from a distance to avoid the explosion damage.

I’m a lot better equipped now than I was. I’m sticking to melee weapons most of the time so I have ammo when I need it. I’ve also picked up a laser which gives me free ammo provided I can find a recharge station.

I pick up an assault rifle down here which I haven’t actually used yet but I’m assuming it will come in handy later. I’m really struggling for inventory space by this point.

I get to clear more growth down here. I’ve found all four lots of the chemical vials by now so its just a case of using them all in the right places.

Clearing out all the growth turns out to be fairly routine. There are a lot more enemies to cope with and plenty of the exploding eggs but I’m far more able to cope with them now and I find and use the final regulator quite quickly.

This clears the lift and I head up to level 4 where I should find out a bit more if I can meet up with woman who has been emailing me.

I feel that I really got somewhere in SS2 today for the first time. I’ve got a much better idea of whats going on, I’m not struggling to stay alive nearly as much and I’m progressing much more quickly. SS2 has got me hooked entirely now and if I had the time, I’d sit down all day and play it to the end. Despite what I said yesterday about it not being so obviously split into levels, its resumed the old formula now I’ve fixed the lift. SS2 still presents a pretty convincing ship to explore though and there has been plenty of variation in the levels so far in the manner of SS1. So far SS2 is everything I would have hoped for in a sequel. The variety of ways to play the game is unprecedented. I don’t think there is anyone out there who has ever made this sort of game except Warren Spector.

Speaking of WS, Natreg pointed me at a series of lectures given by him in the comments for Day 1 which I downloaded and watched most of the first one last night. From what I’ve seen so far, I’d strongly recommend anyone with an interest in the industry to have a look at these. I’d have had a whole string of questions had I been there – I wish I’d had classes from people like this back when I was a student. It got me thinking and I figured I’d put down a few of those thoughts here. I’m liable to ramble on a bit so if you just want to know about SS2 I’d skip the rest of this post…..

It’s fascinating to hear WS talk about his design philosophy. It’s very similar to the sort of thing you might hear from RG. He talks quite a bit about wanting to create player-authored games as opposed to roller coaster style games. This was certainly one of the central themes with nearly everything Origin made. I agree with him entirely most of the time but I wouldn’t single out the likes of Tim Schaefer for criticism for designing roller-coaster style games. Psychonauts was a far better game than most of those on his list of player-authored games and I’d class it as one of the best games released in recent years. I can see where he is coming from in terms of games reaching their potential as an art-form separate from that of movies but I reckon the most significant thing is whether a designer is making decisions on their game based on his/her principles of what makes a good game, ahead of what will make the game profitable, whatever those principles are.

He mentions wanting to give the players moral choices which I’ve seen creeping into a few mainstream games such as GTA4 and Mass Effect. I’m all for this but not necessarily with the clear cut choices/consequences he describes – they have some value but looking at the end of Deus Ex for instance, it felt more like a slightly frivolous way of adding on three alternative endings. I just saved before I made the choice and tried all three and while the choice itself was interesting it was too simplistically carried out. This sort of choice needs to be woven into the overall game influencing the gameplay throughout and not just the ending. Ideally you shouldn’t even be aware that you are making that choice until you see the consequences. This is what Ultima 4 was all about and its this sort of mechanic that really gets you to consider your actions constantly rather than a blatant one off choice. The Pandora Directive would be a good example of a game that managed to pull this off to some extent, with a whole string of choices throughout the game influencing the character of the protagonist, his relationships with other people and the ultimate ending of the game. Not only does this give you the feeling of truly having an influence on the story but it adds replay value.

In terms of fulfilling his design ambitions, I’m not sure that his earlier games don’t at least match the later ones which is interesting given that at one point he reels off the costs of some of the games he’s made. Martian Dreams cost $275,000 to make, Deus Ex – Invisible War cost $12,000,000. His next game is costing $25,000,000 – its these costs that are killing off creativity. He may have the desire and influence to still be able to make large games his way but hes one of a very select few. I have to ask if the improvement is worth the money – Martian Dreams is not 45 times worse than Invisible War. I’ve said it before but the ever increasing technology is what is dragging down gaming more than anything else. Even as it is I wonder if there would there be a limited market these days if someone were to turn out a series of old-school style RPG’s for say $5 each? Given the costs mentioned even at that price the % profit margin on each unit would be many times that of a AAA-title so you wouldn’t have to sell that many copies to make money. This is more or less Telltale’s business model (adventure games instead of RPG’s) and it looks to be working out well in their case.

WS also talks about bringing gaming into the mainstream. I’m not sure this isn’t already happening to some extent – sure its not as big as TV or movies but its hardly the province of just geeks any more. I’m not sure this isn’t part of the problem with the industry. It’s a bit of an elitist view but the average person who was using a PC back in the late 80’s/early 90’s was likely to have a certain level of intelligence and games had to appeal to this target audience. As gaming got more mainstream and consoles started to take over the target audience got dumber and the games went the same way. He talks about the idea of his games being literary novels compared to beach novels. Reading requires a degree of effort in the first place. A better comparison might be a Hollywood blockbuster and an art-house movie. The problem with trying to make an art-house movie is that only a select few will ever pay to see it no matter how much the critics like it whereas something like Terminator 4 appeals to a broader audience potentially including the art-house crowd.

He also talks about having to recreate the camera in effect for every game he makes. This got me thinking if at some point in the future the technology will ever level out and this wouldn’t be necessary. We could end up with one universal engine that was used for every genre. In this situation, after a while libraries of textures, models and scripts would be built to an extent that the technological aspects of a game would be nearly irrelevant and the design would be everything. It might not even be that far away, we are already at a stage where games are so expensive to make that 80% of them don’t get their money back. PC technology will presumably continue to advance as quickly as ever but I don’t know if I can see games in 15 years time costing 45 times more than they do now which is the implication comparing Martian Dreams and Invisible War.

I’m optimistic that the gaming industry is improving but it is still in its infancy and it could go in any direction. It has to be said that having played a load of the better recent titles in the last 2 months, they still pale compared to something like SS2. The industry desperately needs people like Warren Spector as despite the growth in gaming there were probably more worthwhile titles being released 15 years ago than there are today and a lot of the people who made them have been forced out of their jobs. I agree entirely with WS that gaming will have to change in the future and there needs to be a much wider range of ideas being used than there are currently but there is no way this change is going to be driven by the publishing giants that are running the show at the moment. To stick with the earlier analogy, Hollywood doesn’t make art-house movies – at least unless the directors name is big enough to sell the product on its own.

I’ve not looked at them yet but for future lectures in the series, WS invites guest speakers from the industry to speak. Of particular interest to me are Hal Barwood and Richard Garriot. If they are all the same length as this first video, its going to be weeks before I watch them all but I expect to learn a bit along the way.

In other news, I noticed on my lunch break that I got a mention on back on May 20th – fame and glory at last! Actually it probably ranks alongside my other claims to fame of being on ITV’s Scrumdown in the 90’s, getting in the news as a “British mountaineer” who got gassed with Carbon Monoxide at an Austrian lodge, or appearing in Custom PC magazines reader’s drives. I’m not into fame and glory anyway (although money is always good) but I am curious to see what, if any, reaction it got on the forums there. Unfortunately they are blocked from work so I’ll have to find out later. My motivation for writing this blog has always been the simple one of wanting to play the games and making a record as I do it (basically a gaming diary) but I’ll admit to being curious as to how many people ever read my ramblings on here. I expect there aren’t many of you out there but thanks to using a blog server where I don’t have write access other than to post I’ll never know.

I’ve managed to wander seriously off topic in this post. I’ll get back on track with the next one and am looking forward to getting some hours put into SS2 this weekend although I do have a wedding to attend which is going to limit my time.

System Shock 2 – Day 3

I’ve managed to misplace a few screenshots inbetween writing this post and getting around to uploading it so I’m starting in text only…

I nearly don’t notice it but a panel on the wall allows me to pick a permanent upgrade to my abilities. There is a whole raft of choices here but I go for a 33% bonus to wrench damage since I seem to be using the wrench more than anything else. I was the same in Bioshock. Ammo is seriously rare so far in this game and I simply don’t have any a lot of the time. I’m also running into new enemies such as a giant yellow robot. I run in close and give it a good wrenching and this works better than I would have expected although it does blow up with the last hit and I take a load of damage.

The area with the robot nets me an access card and I use to get into R & D. I’ve been sent in here looking for a guy called Watts who is allegedly still alive. I’m not actually expecting to find anyone alive as I remember them all dying just before I got there in SS1 but this guy manages to survive a few seconds at least and gives me the access code I need to attempt to restore power. This code gets me to maintenance access right back near where I started the game and this leads me down to a new level.

The new level is seriously radioactive and my first job is to try to fix this. This levels new enemy is a modified droid which sounds friendly but explodes the moment it gets anywhere near me. I’m still struggling for a strategy with these. I can blast them at distance but they take a good few shots. I really need some more ammo.


My search leads onto the cargo bays and I get a strange vision when I enter of a fleshy world and I’m asked why I don’t want to be a part of it. I really don’t know what to make of this but I’m sure I’ll find out more later.

I gain access to the bridge of the ship from one of the cargo bays. The guy in charge is called Diego and is a descendant of the Diego in the original game. It looks as though he has been carrying on his work in some way. I also hear about an object picked up from a planet but I don’t know what it was.

The bridge has a system monitoring unit which I could apparently attach some piece of hardware to if I had it. I expect that I’ll be back.

After a lot of wandering around I discover that one of the cargo bays to the South which I’d thought was a dead end can actually be reached by bashing in an upturned desk thats blocking the route. There is quite a lot of destructible scenery in SS2 which is something I need to bear in mind I guess as you don’t expect it in a game this old. This new bay contains loads of robots in storage.

This cargo bay is pretty huge and spread over 3 levels which can be accessed with cargo lifts. Quite a few of the robots aren’t in storage and it takes me a while to work my way through them all. Eventually I clear the place out and somewhere along the way I pick up the access card I need to get into the northern cargo bays.

Searching the northern cargo bays nets me the keycode I need to get into engineering back on the radioactive level above.

There is yet another code in here for another new area.

Apparently to get rid of the radiation I need to use the fluidics controls but Xerxes has already blocked these off so I’m told to look for an alternative.

I’m finding this game quite difficult to write about so far – I played for two hours last night and I’ve not got all that much to say here for all that. Either its the fact that I’m out of the habit after two months off or its the way the plot is being drip fed to me. There hasn’t been a lot of story yet, most of the time I’ve spent on this has been just exploring the ship attempting to gain access to new areas. There has been quite a bit of side story and there is easily enough there to keep my interest up but its hard to see where its going for now.

SS2 is clearly split into levels but not in the same way as SS1. Each level varies in size and it never really feels like I’m moving between independent levels (even though I am). I’ve been backwards and forwards so much between them all that it almost gives the impression of being one big map. I like both approaches for different reasons – this is more realistic but its easier to get confused and lost. There are enough little differences between this and SS1 for it not to feel like a rehash of the same thing. The big improvement to SS2 is the atmosphere generated by the game which is just excellent. This is mainly created by the audio which is amazing for a game of this age. The sound effects are clearly designed to create unease and just hearing the wet slaps of cyborgs wandering around is far creepier than it has any right to be. I partly blame my new headphones which completed my PC upgrade last week.

The other aspect is that all the enemies in this game are quite powerful and I can die very easily. In this sense SS2 doesn’t play like a FPS at all. Despite my implants, I’m definitely not an all powerful killing machine. From now on I’m going to concentrate on building up my physical stats and then move onto weapons and see if I can’t do something about that.

System Shock 2 – Day 2

I’m told by my friend on Level 4 that I need to gain access to the medical area to start up the elevator. I need to recharge a power cell to get in there though which means looking around everywhere in order to find a charger. In the first room I look in I find this guy who seems to have gone for the better alternative to becoming a cyborg.

Right next to him is a regeneration chamber. This is just like SS1 in that it revives me when I die but I have to activate it first. There is a small charge of 10 nanites, I suppose if I can’t pay this I die off for good but I’ll try not to test that theory.

I find more bodies as I search around and the station and a message in blood referring to Citadel Station from SS1.

The stations A.I. Xerxes starts to taunt me. He appears to be a male equivalent of Shodan.

Aside from these guys I also have to cope with ghostly images that appear every now and then. I’m told that this is a byproduct of my psi enhancement.

I’ve been picking up strange objects from some of the cyborgs on this level. I can research these (or could if I had the skill) to discover their use. This research requires various chemicals which come from rooms like this one. I suppose there will be a room like this on most floors.

The recharger doesn’t take a lot of finding. I do have to fight a load of cyborgs plus a couple of gun turrets to get this far.

I continue exploring the level rather than heading straight for the lift. I find a strange little monkey creature that attacks me on sight. I’ll be seeing a lot more of these later.

The power cell allows me access to a lift to the medical section.

There are some medical tables down here which I can use to fully restore my health at the cost of a few nanites.

There are also a load more of those monkey things. They throw some sort of psychic charge at me and are annoyingly difficult to hit with a wrench given how small they are. They only take a hit or two to drop though so they aren’t too tough. The monkeys were brought on board for experiments and it seems that the ships A.I. has been tampering with them.

After another hour or so today I’m not much wiser but I’ve explored a bit more of the base. SS2 is very atmospheric so far and for some reason I’m finding the low polygon cyborgs a lot scarier than the highly detailed animated corpses from Dead Space. The way they tell me to run away or kill them while I’m bludgeoning them with a wrench is strangely disturbing.

I’ve been collecting a few upgrade modules as I’ve gone through but with the myriad of options its extremely difficult to know what to upgrade. I’m having to choose almost randomly as there is no way to know whats coming. I do like this level of complexity and while this is clearly an FPS it’s possibly feeling a bit closer to being an RPG than SS1 did from the little I’ve seen so far. SS2 is already growing on me and I must be getting used to the graphics as they are starting to look quite good. I think I’m going to enjoy this game a lot more than any of the modern releases I’ve been playing.