Tuesday, May 05, 2009

System Shock 2 (1999)

After this replay, SS2 still holds up as one of my favorite games. I really like the mix of FPS and RPG thrown together. The story is good, the level design great and sound is excellent. I like the small details such as being able to lean forward/left/right and even climb boxes along with the GUI, HUD, Map and all the other bits of the game. Maybe its the C64 simmer/RPGer in me, but I wanted games like this and Deus Ex to continue the FPS-RPG hybrid mesh instead of the streamlined games we get nowadays (Get off my lawn!)

Once you slap on some of the texture upgrade mods then game looks really nice for being from 1999. The levels flow well and it does feel like you are on a ship. Even though its basically the same local for the whole game, I never got bored. Enough tension and little changes depending on which deck helped keep the pace going. Audio is excellent in both the environmental sounds and audio logs from the ship mates. At first I wasn't bugged by the enemy audio since I'd played it before, but over time it started to creep me out again, especially when there were multiple enemies getting close. So much gaming goodness is packed in this game.

I meant to play this time as the PSI guy, but I can never do it. I always end up a Hacker with lots of the Marine weapon skills. I even thought about cheating in some modules to pump up my PSI skills just to play with them. I didn't in the end, though I did do the 'Easy' mode when picking skills to stretch my module usage out, then going back to 'Normal' during play. After a certain point, I never have PSI due to drinking to get health back and didn't want to waste inventory space on PSI boosts. I like to spend my points and time in hacking and modding weapons.

This game doesn't feel old and I had just as much fun with it as other newer games. It adds to my belief that the current quest for ubergraphics pulls to many resources from other aspects of a game and the need for a wider audience acceptance waters down modern gameplay. Only part of the game I don't like is the 'Body of the Many' but its nowhere near as bad as Half Life 1's 'Xen' levels. It sort of made up for it by the next level's homage to System Shock 1 with the old school graphics look and cyberspace feel.

For the replay I did use the texture upgrade mods that are out there: SHTUP Beta6 and Rebirth Beta 01 - Complemented Version. They really make the game still look nice to play through. I also used the dark engine widescreen mod Darkwidescreen v6r2. I used SS2 Mod Manager v1.1 to help manage the mods. I did the no weapons degrade and no respawn both in the mod manager and manually in my ini. I've downloaded a few of the fan made campaigns from Strangebedfellows, a SS1/2 mod site, but have yet to try them.

I need to play SS1 someday as I never have played that one.

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