Cyberpunk Review » System Shock 2

May 26, 2008

System Shock 2

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 1999

Developed by: Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios

Published by: Electronic Arts

Platform: Windows

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Rating: 10 out of 10


I never forget a face. Sometimes, I wish I could.

When the original System Shock was released 1994, most probably didn’t realize what new grounds would be broken in terms of first-person shooters. Five years later, history would repeat as a second Shock would not only improve upon the original, but totally raise the bar for games to come. Shock 2 raised the stakes with improved 3D graphics, new weapons and abilities, a cooperative multiplayer option, and a new story with enough twists to keep you playing until the end.


The post-Citadel story. TriOptimum tried their best to keep the events aboard the Citadel space station under wraps, but word eventually leaked out about Edward Diego, his hacker, and SHODAN. The outrage caused the formerly ineffectual governments to form the Unified National Nominate, the UNN. They fight TriOptimum using the most powerful weapon they have: bureaucracy. TriOptimum started fighting back with their corporate-military forces. Eventually, a truce was borne of a stalemate between TriOptimum and the UNN, but technological advances slow to a crawl as many blame the UNN for Earth’s slow death.

Then, a major breakthrough: A device that warps time and space around it enables faster-than-light travel. A joint TriOptimum/UNN deep-space venture is solidified as the corporate starship Von Braun will be traveling with the UNN Rickenbacker riding piggy-back, literally. The launch occurs in 2114, some 42 years after Citadel.

Five months into the mission, the tandem receives a signal from Tau Ceti V. An away team from the two vessels return from the planet’s surface with artifacts and what appears to be large egg-like cases.

That’s when things go fruit-loopy…


Three years before launch… You arrive at the UNN Recruitment Center with hopes of being onboard the Von Braun/Rickenbacker when they make history. Before that, however, you will have to go through some training to prepare for the possible dangers you will face. Newbies should take advantage of the Basic Training area to familiarize themselves with the game’s controls and interfaces. Then it’s off to Advanced Training where you can experience some of the fun things you’ll do with the three branches of the UNN military machine. From there, it’s off the shuttle bays where you will be taken to a station to begin a three-year training program of three one-year tours of duty where you can build up your stats in weapons, technical skills, physical attributes, and maybe some psionic skills.
Ramsey Center
Here are the three military branches of the UNN:

  • Marine Corps. The few, the proud,… the trigger-happy. Marines shoot first and ask questions latter, and are happiest when they have a big gun in their hands, and it doesn’t matter if the gun shoots lead slugs, concentrated energy, or explosives for those festive occasions.
  • Navy. Dealing with the high-tech machinery to sail the seas of stars requires some high-tech abilities, and these future midshipmen are the researchers, maintenance crews, and hackers of space. They practically wear their geekiness… and their pocket protectors… on their sleeves.
  • OSA Taking their cues from MK-ULTRA, the Majestic Twelve, the NSA, and the Freemasons, the OSA takes “psychological warfare” to a new level as their ranks are highly trained in psionic abilities that would rival Professor Charles Xavier himself.
  • Your adventure aboard the Von Braun/Rickenbacker tandem actually begins in a cryo-tube with some military-grade implants and memories lost due to a computer glitch. Dr. Janice Polito contacts you, wanting you to meet her in her office on deck four to discuss what has happened to the two ships and how to correct the problem. Getting there won’t be easy.


    Cyberspace gives way to connect the dots. One important change in Shock 2 is the lack of cyberspace sequences, although there are the VR booths in the training center. Instead, an odd game of ‘connect the dots’ is used for hacking, repair, and weapon modification. If you choose to ‘play,’ you need to light three dots or ‘nodes’ in a straight line to succeed. There may be a node outlined in red (ICE nodes) that require extra caution, as causing these to go dark will cause an immediate failure. What that failure entails depends on the device.


    Research… and destroy. Another change is that some items require research. Some items only give information on how to best kill enemies. Others require research before they can be used. There are chemical storerooms where you can find the chemicals you may need to complete your research.
    Chemical storeroom
    A worthy successor. Like Quake was to Doom, Shock 2 is a worthy successor to the original Shock. A trip through the corridors of the Von Braun/Rickenbacker tandem will show you how it improves on the original.

    And if you’re up for it, you can check the next page to see how this classic shocker can creep-n-gross you out…


    Page 2: More Screencaps –>>


    This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.


    May 27, 2008

    Sx said:

    One of the best games ever. Highly innovative, and actually, today’s games can’t keep up with this old game, even the latest bioshock, which lacks all the RPG, coop, and cyberpunk elements…

    If you never played this game before, try it with a friend in coop, pure fun.

    To enhance the experience, there are plenty of mods to upgrade the graphics and the textures. try

    Get the SS2 mod manager, which will make everything simple, and use the SHTUP6 (high definition textures), Rebirth beta 1, and then try some improved and balanced gameplay mods, most famous are Straylight ADaoB v0.2.8 or Pops D&E. There are literally dozens of other mods to try though, so pick what seems fun for you.

    Enjoy this masterpiece ;)

    toro said:

    I agree, this is a masterpiece.

    May 28, 2008

    Cakedollar said:

    Ah man, this game brings back memories. I especially liked the ending, which set things up for a 3 game, though I doubt they’ll ever make one :(

    Mások írták - Worldshots said (pingback):

    […] System Shock 2-t ajánl a Cyberpunkreview […]

    May 30, 2008

    toro said:

    June 8, 2008

    tume said:

    Oh HECK yes!! SS2 with the mods enhancing the graphics and sounds etc..and running vista = heaven. :)

    June 11, 2008

    Krang said:

    Very good game and decent review!

    It might be an idea to link into its cyberpunk elements (of which it has many)

    July 2, 2008

    Solidus said:

    I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily better than BioShock but i would still consider it a great game.

    July 8, 2008

    Anon said:

    SS2 is what convinced me that video games can be pieces of art.

    Gigabyte Eschaton said:

    Pshaw! “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” proved that years before SS2

    January 31, 2009

    bara said:

    First time I found this game, I dropped it (after being killed multiple times
    by hybrids in the first level) for a while. Somehow didn’t find out, how to
    play it…

    In the mean time played Deus Ex.

    Recently I found it in the corner and gave it a second try. Now beside DeusEx
    it is one of my favorite games ever!

    I really like the game-play with its all RPG elements, the litle details e.g. the nethack-like minigame and scavenging for
    useful items and information in wide levels to go on instead of just killing enemies in tunnel like levels…

    June 12, 2009

    idlewoodarian said:

    Amazing crossover between RPG, FPS and survival horror. One of the greatest atmospheres I can think of from a videogame. You just feel so lonely watching the stars and the black space through the windows, knowing there must be a zombie waiting for you in the next hall.

    July 31, 2009

    Felix said:

    Great atmosphere and story indeed. But I’ve never played it through because I was always stuck. At the time of release it was too difficult for me and now that I can figure it out and am not so scared and awe-struck anymore, I have no clue how to accomplish certain mission goals and my skills are more or less useless. I probably should have started with an easier difficult standard but still… this game beats me. I’m tempted to say that the mechanics are awkward and messed up.

    November 23, 2009

    Skrýmir said:

    I actually like this game far more than Deus Ex, and that’s saying something because Deus Ex is one of my favorite games. This game was definitely alittle prettier, be it simplicity but still the over all appearance comes together better than Deus Ex, making it alittle more Emersive. I enjoyed the plot alittle more as well, Despite the multiple options you had in Deus Ex, you still only had 3 endings, it led to a lot of replay value when it came to which NPCs you still had around and who was where, but in terms of being Coherant, since sometimes plot points from other ways the game could be played would mesh in Deus Ex. System Shock 2 advances at a smother pace. and you don’t have to deal with JC’s boring voice. In terms of actually cyberpunk philosophy though Deus Ex takes the cake as it has Rapant AI’s as well. Xerxes and Icarus are very similiar.

    January 20, 2010

    X-Tech said:

    10/10 Best game.

    November 22, 2010

    Vanilla said:

    Probably the only game which could have a chance in a staring contest against Deus Ex. I actually played nothing but Quake, pretty much from 1996-2000, but I heard that this was good and ‘borrowed’ it from a friend. After playing it through the first time I fell in love with it. I played it in 2001 (I think) and have been through it about 5 or 6 times since. It never gets boring. More atmospheric and claustrophobic than any other game out there - because you can’t conjure those properties with graphics alone, although most of todays delevopers don’t really care.
    Legendary Game

    March 27, 2011

    Djinii said:

    @Vanilla: You are absolutely right, SS2 still is the best FPS/Survival/Horror i have played, and i have played - like you - since the 90’s.
    Absolute classic!!!

    March 28, 2011

    Anonymous said:

    I am still not able to get my copy of SS2 working on Windows 98 or XP. Any hints ? Or is there a version that works under Windows XP ?

    April 26, 2011

    Katalyst said:

    Hey Anon,

    Systems Shock 2 is quite fickle to get working on many systems these days. I do not recommend Win98. XP should be fine but the real challenge lies in the hardware. Your graphics card may not agree or, if you have a dual core make sure you set the affinity for System Shock 2 to only one core (0 or 1). The dark engine does not seem to like Dual Core XD.
    A good place to look for more help is . Everything you need will be there :)

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