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System Shock remake review: a delightful surprise

TriOptimum Corporation may have unleashed murderous AI upon the world, but as I picked up a dead corpse as I prepared to vaporize the hundredth empty soda can and food wrapper, I couldn’t deny that its Had an A+ recycling program.

system shock One of the rare video game remakes that can actually be more brilliant and more complex than its source material, and I didn’t expect it to still be so much fun. The game is an almost beat-for-beat reproduction of the 90s Looking Glass classic, a great beginner first-person shooter. But developer Nightdive Studios has updated the original with a sleeker visual style and some new gameplay elements. It’s a complex, sometimes frustrating experience that can’t replace its predecessor but offers a strikingly similar flavor.

system shock Takes place in a retro-future where the year 2072 looks a lot like 1994 and is primarily set on the sinister megacorp Trioptimum’s space station, the Citadel. A hideous TriOptimum forces a hacker to flip the “don’t be evil” switch for Citadel’s AI SHODAN, who (with my full endorsement, honestly) declares himself a god. SHODAN sets up a veritable matryoshka of plans to destroy humanity, ranging from space lasers to a bizarre virus. As the hacker, you have to thwart each of his moves and destroy him in the end.

It looks a little different.

Original system shock Less widely remembered today than its sequel, system shock 2and spiritual remake, bioshock, and it’s significantly less accessible – as of the 2010 mod, it requires about half of your keyboard to move. But it has a distinctive feel that none of its successors have reproduced. It’s a stylish and action-oriented yet highly methodical entry in the survival horror canon, focusing on navigating a labyrinthine multi-level structure where SHODAN always seems to be one step ahead.

in both versions of system shockalmost any given living The enemy is simpler than cracking the puzzle box of Citadel Station. A typical objective might work something like this:

  • Hear about some of SHODAN’s flamboyant omnibus plans, often from SHODAN himself, who loves to taunt you as much as he hates humans.
  • Roam around whatever level of Citadel Station you’re on, fighting an ever-growing horde of mutants and cyborgs, as well as some robots that let you fill out the game’s map and focus on the invention of the printed circuit board Will consider It has many closed doors.
  • Loosen SHODAN’s grip by shooting security cameras, flipping switches, activating resurrection stations, solving hi-tech Spell puzzles, and jacking in cyberspace arenas that act like a similar trippier version of climbing,
  • look around for giant screens with numbers, and For God’s sake, Write them down — you’ll need them.
  • Realize you need an item from a different level and repeat all the previous steps there.
  • Stumble across an audio log describing the exact solution to stop SHODAN’s plan and learn that you’ve already accomplished it by interacting with every object you see on the station – unless you’ve flipped the wrong switches in the wrong order. Let’s not flip it, in which case congratulations, the Earth is doomed.

I’ve played system shock Too many times, and the remake still felt like being pulled in too many directions at once. I don’t know how confusing new players will find it. Mapping the Stronghold requires one hell: the hardest mode requires you to complete the game in five hours—even tighter than the original’s seven hours, which most players took for granted. Admittedly blisteringly fast – but my normal-difficulty play took about 25 hours. The in-game map is a bit more detailed than before, but frustratingly, you can no longer type notes to remind yourself of codes and item locations. (Nightdive tells me that an update will at least let you have multiple icon types and colors.)

Remake combat evokes classic system shock For good and for bad. There’s a large selection of weapons, including traditional guns and futuristic options like the series’ trademark laser rapier, which is ridiculously deadly in this iteration. You can quickly swap them out with hotkeys, making it easy to take advantage of their unique strengths. But enemies dodge your attacks until they’re dead, so the guns always felt weak by modern standards. The early game is filled with mayhem that feels like swinging a bat at a very angry chunk of raw hamburger. It’s jarring, and I don’t know how intentional it is, but it fits the punitive spirit of the series — at least it’s not system shock 2, where your guns degrade every few shots. And that has a lot to do with how well Nightdive adapts the original game’s visual language and intricate level design.

You will probably be substantially revived in these medical bays.

remake is hard system shock Interest for players to make backtracks, not only to access new parts of a level, but also to manage the most complex inventory Tetris I’ve ever encountered. Much like the original, your central inventory is likely to run out of space by the middle of the game. The remake adds a cargo elevator that you can find somewhere in each level – a clever variation resident Evil-style storage box – but it’s only big enough for a few guns or a few aid items. I ended up throwing every other shiny object I didn’t need right away on the floor outside an elevator like some kind of lonely cyberpunk bowerbird.

On top of that, there’s a new recycling system that gives you even more items to keep track of. The Citadel contains a huge amount of junk, and you can pick it up to recycle it for large gold novelty coins that let you buy alternate weapon mods. The catch is that there’s only one recycler per level, so you either have to move everything there or “vaporize” it into more compact scrap which you can give away for about half the reward scrips. (The one regrettable exception to all of this is Trioptimum’s surplus of human skulls, which someone has thoughtfully distributed in crates throughout the station. Skulls are useless.) Oh, and the recycler’s compartment is tiny, too—literally tiny. Less than one is deemed to be unable to fit redeemable. Thing.

All this is creating current system shock Features: The original game let you pick up junk for no particular reason, and the sequel has a handheld recycler that’s great for accidentally vaporizing important inventory items. It’s more inconvenient than either system, yet strangely satisfying and ridiculously hilarious. My hacker may point the finger at the middle of society, but when it comes to taking out corporate litter, they are model citizens. If yours doesn’t, that’s probably okay; I bought almost every mod I could get my hands on and still ended up with a huge pile of coins.

The levels aren’t exactly like the original, but they’re just as complex.

These changes do not make the game feel existentially different, and the levels, while not a one-to-one copy of the original, are often very similar. The biggest update is the look of the game – which is gorgeous.

Night Dive captures the sinister corporate restrictiveness of the Citadel, from its fake-looking wood paneling to unnecessary high-tech buttons on the furniture. The game is full of stark and dazzling corridors whose ominous glow would make Thomas Kinkade jealous, and its enemies retain the high-concept weirdness that early shooters excelled at. (Why would an AI turn a human into a screaming doll-faced pterodactyl or an invisible beach ball that spits toxins? Why No?) It bears some similarities to the recent wave of indie boomer shooters, but unlike many of them, it hardly mimics the graphical limitations of the ’90s. Its cyberspace sections have gone from bare wireframes to gleaming metal mazes, and parts of the Citadel — like a set of domed garden groves — are eerily beautiful in a way no ancient PC could render.

The remake doesn’t have the aesthetic intensity that makes up its parts system shock So compelling, though. Its shadowy levels, such as the station’s maintenance rooms, are no longer so dark and disorienting that they require planning every move. Its music is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t match the driving techno earworms that the original burned into my brain. Its enemies mumble themselves awkwardly as they move around, and SHODAN is once again masterfully played by his original voice actor, Terry Brosius. But it overall sounds like a lesser attempt at a nerve-wracking soundscape system shock 2Although there is nothing to be ashamed of for failing to beat some of the best horror audio design of all time.

It’s still easier than checking my email.

Until a few months ago, I wasn’t sure this remake would ever exist. Originally funded on Kickstarter in 2016, its developers put it on hiatus a few years later, citing serious creative difficulties. Nightdive is not best known for making games; It mainly reissued hard-to-find classics, and its last major development effort was a badly panned remaster. blade Runner adventure sports. I have seen system shock mistaken for remake system shock 3A Doom sequel whose rights are now owned by Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent.

But the end result is a pleasant surprise. where is january dead Space relatively recent horror game, was a beautiful update to the new system shock Feels neither affectingly retro nor thoroughly modern, neither lo-fi indie nor blockbuster-big. This is one of the most downright weird labors of love I’ve seen in years. And like SHODAN, if you embrace its unorthodox values, it will reward you — on somewhat painful terms of its own.

system shock will be released on PC on May 30th via Steam, GOG and the Epic Games Store.

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