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Reviewed: System Shock 2
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Irrational Games / Looking Glass Studios
Genre Type: RPG/FPS
Price: $49.95
Required System: P200, 32mb Ram, 4mb Direct3D Accelerator, 200mb HD, Win95+
Reviewer's System: PII300, 64mb Ram, TNT, Win98
Related Games: Thief
Overall Rating:
Author: Chris Kim       Date: August 27th 1999
Page: 2

No what others may say about this game, not one other game can really be related to this game. It really kicks the butt out of any other game that even tries to compete in the same ballpark in nearly every aspect. It's not the anything that players haven't seen before, but it's the unique approach that is taken with merging both RPG and FPS elements into one game. Just like a RPG game, the player is given a choice of player one of three characters, all with their strengths and weaknesses. The three classes are: Marine (basically a fighter) with strengths in weapon use, Navy (basically a thief) with strengths in hacking type skills, and OSA (basically a wizard) with strong PSI powers. Depending on which character is chosen, the game can turn out to be completely different, even though everything in the game remains the same. Unlike many games, the game starts out with the option of letting the player go through a set of training missions in which the player is tested for the various skills required to play the game. These training missions are quite adequate to actually get into the game and play it, rather than getting killed a million times because of not knowing what to do. The game actually starts out with the player being disrupted in the cryogenic freezer onboard the ship Von Braun, the first ship ever to be able to travel faster than the speed of light. However, something has terribly gone wrong aboard the ship, the computer controlling the ship has gone haywire and everything has turned from bad, to worse. Immediately stepping out of the freezer, an email will come from Polito that the reactor outside is unstable, then another email tells the player to move out of the way. Soon enough, the reactor explodes and creates massive damage. When looking around, there are tons of blood stains, dented walls, and broken fixtures, this can't be good right? The player is given the freedom to roam the whole place and find out what the world of System Shock beholds him. And what is to be found? Tons of world to explore and danger at nearly every corner he turns. The whole ship has been blown to pieces wherever the player travels around the ship, various degrees of damage including body corpses, blood stains, broken fixtures, ripped/damaged walls, short electrical wire, and other signs of havoc. It is quite evident that the game really focuses on the horror aspect of what has occurred.

Training for Pistols
What Training Course to Take?
Oh, This Isn't Good...

Targeting gameplay is one key factor in the game, with total immersion of the player in the world is the biggest parts of the game. The gameplay is so surreal and interactive that it actually makes the player feel like he is in the universe. Not one game has ever done this to me, the game that came the closest to this was Descent 3 which was also in respect, an awesome game. But what really separates this game from others are the RPG elements that were so well refined into a completely different style of gameplay. This new interface is completely different, but is very well executed. Summed up, the game plays like a Diablo with Quake mixed in for flavor. It's kind of hard to describe related games to it because it is so unique. Like any other RPG game, there are the three character classes, along with abilities and statistics. The typical weapons ability belongs to the fighter, which has strong ability in most weapon areas: melee, light, heavy, and special. Melee weapons include hand to hand combat, which is a lot different than in other games. Melee includes combat with special timing, running speed, backing speed, and other many aspects. Melee combat is the way that most combat will be executed due to the fact that ammo is not kept all on the weapon, but both weapons and ammo are stored in inventory, limiting the amount of ammo and weapons that can be carried at all times. The other weapons include the other ammo types of weapons such as pistols and grenade launchers. These weapons are also very different from other typical FPS games in that all aiming is done 100% manually without any help of auto aim. Getting back to the inventory, having limited space in inventory adds a TON of strategy to the game, not only are players left with how to store inventory, but what to store as well. Because inventory is limited, only certain weapons, ammo, and accessories can be carried at a time. This will allow the player only a few choices as to what weapons to carry. Ammo for weapons is also extremely rare, often ammo is only found in old damaged weapons which maybe found around the deck which other crew members were trying to defend themselves with.

Looking Into a Cargo Bay
An Unsuspecting Hybrid
Massive Murders

On the RPG side of this game, the game also relies heavily on the statistics of characters with Strength, Agility, Endurance, and other statistics. Experience in the game is technically the cyber modules. These cyber modules are received from Dr. Polito once accomplishing a task or getting to a key spot on the deck, which are spent at upgrade stations found around the decks to upgrade the various statistics. These statistics include all of the abilities and strengths of the character including weapon use, OS (yes operating systems) upgrades and technical skills. Technical skills are used to manipulate certain objects found around the ship. Such of these include security systems and modifications of weapons which can be used a lot to the users advantage. Being able to hack the security system will allow direct access to certain rooms and containers which have locks on them and disabling the security system which will go off if the player is spotted by security cameras triggering a two minutes siren where a massive amount of hybrids come rushing towards the player. Operating systems are built onto the console that the player has been equipped with. Various abilities such as having melee damage have 50% more damage or having 5+ total hit points. Modifications of weapons can be used greatly to one's advantage, several new options can be added to weapons to make them have totally different abilities such as having grenades exploding on contact or having them explode after rolling for a while, or having a pistol have a burst of three shots instead of one shot. PSI powers are something that are really cool, which is pretty much the equivalent to magic or mana in other typical RPG games. With 35 different PSI powers with various levels of strengths, one can become quite strong with PSI powers. Using the PSI amplifier, various bursts of energy can be executed to perform various tasks such as attacking or relocating an object to obtain it. Also another cool thing are these "steroids" which boost the character's statistics for a certain period of time for an extra boost.

Gotta Decontaminate Myself!
Lower Level is Flooded
Mini-Map

Enough with the fancy features and cool abilities of the game with special inventory system and other things. Is the game actually any fun? Yes, it is totally fun, but also hell of a scare at the same time. The player explores the decks of the Von Braun with missions in mind, Dr. Polito will give missions through email, and more and more of the plot will be revealed through the emails, logs, and believe it or not, holucinations of ghosts onboard the ship. These logs are found all over the ship anywhere from a recovery unit to a dead body. Completeing these missions involve a lot of careful thinking, planning, and strategy. The game seems to have chain reactions as to how the game runs, if one event occurs, that event will trigger another event. Such as if a hybrid is attacked or a loud explosion occurs, the attention of many other surrounding enemies will be alerted by this and enter the room where all the comotion is coming from. As mentioned before, all the game is based around missions, within these missions, a lot of interactivity occurs with side tracked things also going on. The player cannot just run around with a weapon equipped an expect to live longer than one minute. The game requires a lot of patience to play, without this game experience will not be a good one. The fact of living is also a big factor, instead of getting infinite lives, the player must reactivate reconstruction machines which in a sense resurrect the player with only about 1/3 of their full life capacity, which makes the player want to live without getting killed.

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Added:  Friday, August 27, 1999
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 2/4

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