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Reviewed: System Shock 2
Author: Paul Scherbak       Date: December 6th 2000
Page: 2

It's true, I could use this space and your patience to bash this game into the game. I could talk about it's unoriginality, but why? Who ever said more of the same was a bad thing? This is a game that is reminiscent of Freespace, Tie Fighter, and other classics. It may not be anything new, but it is something we already like, so who cares. You fly missions from start to finish (literally, more on that later), with innovation making cameo appearances, but not enough to really make it stand about recent games. The game is interlaced with many CGI movies that are of excellent quality, as you would expect from a Chris Roberts game. The opening movie was so good I watched it twice! Those damn commies are at it again, and destroy an allied base where they were supposed to sign a treaty (nice, eh?). The player takes the role of a volunteer pilot at the beginning of a war with a very bleak outlook. Most of your missions are escorts, which require you to keep a certain capital ship alive, which sometimes is no easy task. I must admit, some missions are rather tedious. In one, you have to protect you're carrier from torpedo attacks coming in from all directions. It was fun the first time, but after the eight times it took me to beat it, I was very frustrated. But, it's not the first game that has irritated me, so we'll continue to give it the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, some missions show innovation and fun on the level of Freespace 2 and it's ilk. In one particular mission, you find yourself sucked into a wormhole and into the center of an enemy fleet. When it comes through, this game has a few amazing missions, but not enough to make it truly great. If I had to pick one element that was keeping this game from being one of the best space sims on the market, it would be poor level design. The levels are pretty much all the same (most missions toward the end require you to go in, dogfight, shoot turrets, blow up torpedoes, dogfight, leave). This game feels like it c ould have been revolutionary, but was thrown together in favor of leading into FreeLancer.

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

One of the first things you notice, is the way the non-flight interface is done. Traditionally you have had a view of the ships main section (with hangar, sim room, etc.). Not content to go with the flow, Roberts created a truly interesting take on where you spend your time sitting around. Instead of looking at the ships innards, you go to your quarters between missions. Your room has everything from a CD player, to a simulator, to a fish tank! You can even watch the news to follow the war effort in more detail. You can also access pilot kill rankings, which you slowly climb over the course of the game. When you feel like hitting the cold deep of space, you walk out the door to the briefing room. You actually watch from a first person perspective as your character navigates hallways to his seat in the front row of the briefing room. One of them has you walking by an engineer who gets jolted by a loose wire, and as you go by you can hear him mumble "Thanks for stopping…" Classic!

The next place you go is the briefing room. You walk to the front, and take a seat while your CO, briefs you on the current mission. This is all in CGI, with the expected videos and voice-over. After listening to your boss babble about the mission you get to choose your ship and load out. The ship's you get to choose from range from crappy to super cool, but you have to have rank to get the better ones. Rank is acquired through going above and beyond in missions, like blowing up certain things that weren't on the mission plan, or keeping non-essential ships alive, and whatnot.

Looking Into a Cargo Bay
An Unsuspecting Hybrid
Massive Murders
All this blowing up is set to a rather interesting plot, although it is never fully realized. On their way to sign the Balma Treaty (which will end decades of conflict), the whole bad guy fleet decloaks and blows up the allied base Pearl Harbor style. The good guys never had a chance. With most of the Allied Fleet destroyed, and all prisoners killed (grrrrr), the player volunteers for service aboard the ANS Reliant, an old carrier brought out of retirement for the war effort. And that's where the game starts, not super original, but interesting none-the-less.

Flying in the game is a real treat. You blast of (later in the game, you catapult, which is super cool), and then warp out to your destination. Battles are intense as wave after wave of enemy wings come at you. Flying over the surfaces of massive capital ships or bases (even inside them), the battles heat up. The torpedo killing can get little tedious if you fail the first time or two, but there is a real since of accomplishment when you do finish a mission. On the flip side, losing a mission will leave you very disappointed, sometimes even angry that those damn commies got the best of you. I was, however, disappointed that the non-player characters weren't built up enough. I didn't feel any remorse when killing old squadron leaders that had turned traitor, neither did I get upset when I lost wingmen.

Gotta Decontaminate Myself!
Lower Level is Flooded
And to kill all those turncoats and bad guys, you get more weapons then you can shake a stick at. From projectile cannons, to high-tech laser beams, your primary weapons are taken care of! The effects are also spectacular! Missiles aren't left out either! By the end of the game you will have more then a dozen missiles to outfit your ships hardpoints with. Everything from the anti-capital ship "Jack Hammer" to WWII style fuel pods which increase you afterburner fuel level. You even get to choose where these weapons go. With the exception of your primary guns (which are already on the fighter), you get to decide what goes on every single hard point your fighter has.

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Added:  Wednesday, December 06, 2000
Reviewer:  Paul Scherbak
Page: 2/5

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