After many delays, the long-awaited version of one of the best FPS games has been released. The original will soon celebrate 30 years since its original debut. The question, therefore, is whether the creators of these diaries gave us a reason to celebrate or, on the contrary, to weep.
Sci-Fi FPS for PC (post console) ● Price: 950 CZK ● Single Player ● Age restriction: 18+ ● No Official Check
For those who don’t know the original game, and there probably will be many, here’s a brief summary. You’ll take on the role of a hacker whose mission is to reduce the ethical constraints of the local artificial intelligence aboard the space station, ominously named Shodan. Of course, this action has rather unfortunate consequences. Shodan rebels against his creators, killing the station’s crew and threatening to destroy all of Earth. And it’s up to you to make him happy again. Ideally in the form of a good dose of lead by the drug.
New System Shock is a classic FPS reminiscent of, for example, the latest Prey or new episodes of Deus Ex. This will surely excite many gamers. On the other hand, I must add that it is quite clear that the original game was released in 1994. As a result, many of the mechanisms here look quite old and outdated. But let’s take it in order.
The core of the game is action plus puzzles and environmental exploration. Unfortunately, the fights are not very lively. Various monsters and their mechanical counterparts will usually attack you in a straight line. As soon as they see you, they will immediately run to you. Eliminations are then pretty monotonous, you’ll often fall back and slash your opponents with fire. If you don’t have a bullet, you run around them with a wrench, shoot them and try to avoid enemy attacks. No tactical combat, monsters don’t take cover, they just blindly crawl towards you.
The action is therefore quite repetitive and boring. The respawning of enemies in already past parts of the map also contributes to this, which in my opinion is unnecessary and distracting. However, each level can be turned off by minimizing the security level. That means shooting all security cameras as well as computer security centers.
On the other hand, the arsenal for destroying enemies is quite variable here. Gradually you will find both melee weapons and all kinds of firearms. Various energy pistols, classic shotguns and rifles as well as a number of different grenades etc. The problem is, the gunplay is pretty poor as well.
You will not see spectacular executions or amputated limbs. The feeling that you have a truly dangerous way to end lives is completely absent. Kvéry somehow looks plastic. So gunfights are pretty weak and certainly not the most fun System Shock has to offer.
More interesting is the discovery of the space base itself. There are a number of gadgets and gizmos that can be used or discovered around you. The levels are filled with both stuff and various texts and audio recordings that deftly introduce the player to an interesting plot. Usually they will also tell you the very important information needed for the next procedure. Additionally, you can collect most of the found items, recycle them and then sell them for credits. These are then used to buy ammo or drinks and food to replenish energy.
“The game does not guide you, and here you have to touch and find everything yourself. Where to go? What to do? It’s up to you.”
Exploration is an important part of the game here. To begin with, we hop onto one of the many decks of the local station. The game does not hold you by the hand and you have to touch and find everything yourself here. Where to go? What should we do? It depens on you. The levels are quite wide and you have the freedom to move between them as you wish. Sometimes you’ll come across a locked door, but it’s okay to cross over to the other side and come back with the necessary key.
The next step is to use the mechanism known from classics such as Doom (the first). You collect access cards in different colors. You then use them to unlock previously inaccessible areas. But sometimes even that is not enough and you have to solve a puzzle. Connect circuits, discard electricity, etc.
Other times you have to venture into cyberspace. At that moment, the whole visual changes and the game starts to resemble old classics like Descent 3. That means you control a small virtual module flying through space. Here you fight other modules of all types and colors as you search for a way to break the blocked door and thereby open it. These mini-games and puzzles are quite fun and often quite challenging. Items change, new ones are added so they can give you a decent amount of work from time to time.
The environment of the space station is also interesting. The atmosphere and processing are reminiscent of old sci-fi movies. There are monitors, lights and lights, and various other hi-tech retro equipment all around you. The style is pleasant and refreshing, but after a while the motifs begin to repeat themselves and lose their appeal. More variety wouldn’t hurt.
But what really matters is your archenemy, the artificial intelligence Shodan. He’s absolutely demonic. His voice gives you goosebumps, and whenever he speaks to you out of the blue, it’s clear that a real mela is about to erupt. Shodan prepares various traps for you. At the same time, he comments on the events at the station in a timely and menacing way, gradually revealing his gruesome intentions. The main villain is just fun. You will definitely enjoy a lot of fear and suffering with Shodan.
“But the most important point is your archenemy, AI Shodan.”
As for the graphics, they are quite stylized. Different detailed views break up the image and remind us of the old original. However, from a greater distance, objects appear sharp and sophisticated. It’s definitely not a visual realm, but the graphics are adequate and won’t bother you. Unfortunately, this does not apply to character models. Monsters look ridiculous sometimes. They really do not cause fear. In addition, several of the same models change over and over again, which does not add originality. On the other hand, there are quite a few types of enemies. From different types of mutants to cyborgs, robots etc. But as I said before, intelligence is out of the question. As soon as they see you, they will move towards you or start shooting at you. I didn’t notice any more complex behavior.
I have to admit, most of my complaints are about the original game. He has aged a lot. The mechanisms and principles that worked in 1994 cannot survive in today’s fierce competition. It would be nice to add some tutorial or optional features for today’s players. For example, you won’t find a to-do list anywhere. It wouldn’t hurt to write down what I should do and where I should do it. The map can show better help. For example, in which area are the items/cards needed to complete the task? A diary with important codes and information would also be helpful. At the same time, there may be items that can be turned off at any time. A player who wants a challenge will not miss anything.
Also because of these reminders, the new System shock is designed for hardcore gamers who don’t mind wandering around the space station for dozens of minutes trying to find a card, device or computer that will take you a little further. To be honest, I quite like this style of play. Reminiscing about the good old days when games didn’t make things easy for gamers brings refreshing tears.
It requires perseverance, strong nerves and careful exploration of the environment. What a difference compared to today’s intense shooter games that try not only to be accessible, but also effective, action-packed, and shower you with new and other stimulating and flashy scenes. So, at least for me, the bet on the creators’ minimalist and nostalgic approach worked. Even a certain obsolescence, a return to the roots can be perceived as an original game element today.
System Shock is a very special game. He’s definitely not perfect. Still, it left a deep impression on me. Like the last game Clash: Artifacts of Chaos. There are so many bugs, big and small, in both titles, sometimes they’re frustrating, sometimes frustrating, sometimes you’re nodding to the development team’s strange decision. On the other hand, both games really get under your skin. And once they catch you, they won’t let you go. And it’s actually much more than just a perfectly polished but vicious and empty game that you’ll soon forget. Because if you give the Shock System a chance and try your hand in the first chaotic hours, it will reward you abundantly and you will not forget it.
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