System Shock 2 Review

Craving some cyberpunk games after watching Altered Carbon? Or perhaps you’re getting impatient waiting for the release of Cyberpunk 2077. Well, System Shock 2 is an oldie and a goodie that will fill a cyberpunk, horror and first-person shooter void. Read on for our System Shock 2 review.

Developer: Irrational Games, Looking Glass Studios

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X

What Is System Shock 2

System Shock 2 - SHODAN
System Shock 2 – SHODAN

System Shock 2 is a survival horror game that was released in 1999. The game is a sequel to the 1994 PC game System Shock and also serves as the spiritual predecessor for the Bioshock series.

This horror game is set in a futuristic cyberpunk environment in which players attempt to curb the outbreak of a genetic infection that has plagued their starship. System Shock 2 has role-playing elements to its gameplay that enable players to level up certain traits of their character, such as psionic and hacking abilities.

System Shock 2 has received almost unanimous critical acclaim and has won several ‘Game of the Year’ awards. It has been a highly influential title in the horror and first-person shooter genres, and is also seen as a pioneer among the field of cyberpunk games. Its success has left many wanting more, and there is hope for a System Shock 3 release date being announced soon (more below).

System Shock 2 – Story

System Shock 2 - Gameplay
System Shock 2 – Gameplay

System Shock 2 takes place in the year of 2114 in a cyberpunk setting abundant with futuristic sci-fi elements. After responding to a distress call on the planet Tau Ceti V, crew of the experimental starship are taken ill after becoming infected by the strange eggs that they found in the outer Solar System world. The disease ends up killing most of the crew aboard the ship.

You take on the role of a soldier who awakes in a cryotube on the Von Braun. The player character suffers from amnesia and has no recollection of past events. The protagonist is contacted by another survivor who demands that you meet her. Getting there is not easy, though, and you must fend off your infected ex crew members.

When you eventually find Dr Polito, everything is not as straightforward as it first seemed. You encounter SHODAN, an AI supercomputer that played a prominent role in the 2072 demise of the Citadel Station in the first game of the series.

Without exposing too much of the game’s plotline, the game subsequently follows the soldier’s attempts to stop SHODAN from destroying the main computer of the starship. Along the way, you will encounter other characters and experience some unexpected plot twists in relation to SHODAN. The ending is both intense and satisfying and will most likely stay with you long after completing the game.

If you’re enjoying this System Shock 2 review, you might also like our article on the best horror games of 2018.

System Shock 2 – Gameplay

System Shock 2 - Review
System Shock 2 – Review

The System Shock 2 gameplay combines role-playing and survival horror elements to create a vibrant first-person shooter title. As with most FPS games of the era, you will do your fair share of strafing to attack enemies, yet the RPG elements add an extra dimension. The ability to upgrade your character and develop certain traits make this survival stand out among the crowd.

Perhaps the first thing you will notice is how smooth and impressive the graphics are for a 1999 title. The game engine in System Shock 2 allowed the developers to create some cool and colourful futuristic environments. These vibrant sci-fi visuals make for some of the most impressive designs of all cyberpunk games in the genre, and still holds up well today.

The audio in the game is equally impressive. Every piece of music seems to aptly fit the circumstance, creating atmosphere, tension and action at the appropriate moments. Another great feature is the accountability of noise. Enemies respond to both the sound and visibility of your character. Couple this with an impressive enemy AI, and the game’s combat necessitates skill and thought to get the best possible outcome.

System Shock 2 – The Good

System Shock 2 Graphics
System Shock 2 – Graphics
  • Story: This System Shock 2 review has already mentioned how good the story is, but it’s worth repeating. The game is intense, engaging, scary, and though-provoking all at the same time. The game has been referred to as a more adult version of Doom
    and F.E.A.R, and it’s hard to disagree.
  • Production: The production value in this game is stunning considering its age. Smooth textures, haunting audio and effective audio all combine to create a futuristic sci-fi design to make all cyberpunk games envious.

System Shock 2 – The Bad

  • Blocky figures: Despite the graphics and visual setting being pioneering for cyberpunk games, the character textures fall short. The polygonal blocky masses of human really stick out against the highly-textured backdrop. Yet, though noticeable, some still say that this only adds to the charm of the game.
  • Monotony: Other criticisms have been levelled at the game’s repetitiveness in parts. A lot of the stages of the game involve finding keys and navigating mazes to progress. Rinse and repeat.

Games like System Shock 2

If you’ve already completed the game and are looking for a similar fix, there are plenty of other titles out there to try. Here are some more games like System Shock 2:

  • Deus Ex
  • BioShock
  • Dead Space
  • Anachronox
  • Prey

System Shock 3 Release Date?

Due to the success and cult status of this cyberpunk game, many fans have been calling for a sequel. As of yet, there is no System Shock 3 release date, but fans can have reason to be optimistic. In early 2016, one of the producers for the first title in the cyberpunk game series, Warren Spector, announced that he is working on the third instalment.

Fans of the franchise can thus be hopeful of a System Shock 3 release date announcement in the not too distant future.

Blog of Games Rating

You can probably tell from reading this System Shock 2 review that we are fans of the title. 20 years after its initial release, this is still one the best cyberpunk games around. In this System Shock 2 review, we give the game an impressive 9/10.

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If you enjoyed reading this System Shock 2 review, you might also like our Resident Evil 2 remake review.

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