System Shock was not a commercial
hit, that being said many still feel it is one of the greatest game that has been made. While created in 1993, it is normally in the top 50 lists of many game magazines
. To start with the main character is known as a "hacker
". While "hacker" is used in a bad connotation when you start to play he seems to have become a white hat
hacker instantly. Over the game it is true you must utilize this knowledge to break into computers, so this can be forgiven.
System Shock has a moderate control scheme, perhaps the scariest enemy ever and an excellent story.
The story of System Shock is complex. The intro to to the game informs you that while breaking into the Tri-optimum computer network you were caught. Instead of prosecution, they hired you to work on an AI called Shodan and in return give you Neural Cyberlink Upgrade (you literally become a cyborg). The opening dialog gives you an idea that Shodan tries to stop your reawaking. As you awaken from the healing process, the station is silent.
At the time of publication there wasn't a game like System Shock. System Shock failed monetarily due to being too outside the norm. It also was weakened due to the fact that Doom was released a year before and the graphics are "worse". Some players will consider that the game is better, rawer because of that fact.
System Shock has voice acting for e-mail and logs, another feature not seen often in the early 90s. The game's other fault is that the full version required a Cd-Rom when other games were on three to four floppies. Today the game shines if you can make your system run it.
A shining feature of System shock is that there is changeable difficulty, to start the game you must first choose your name (not a major plot point). Then you are allowed to choose how hard you want the plot, the cyberspace, the fighting, and the puzzles to be. Each difficulty is graded on 1-4 and can be set separately of the others, 1 gives no challenge, while 4 gives impossible level challenges in all but puzzles.
As stated before this game is what Resident Evil wanted to be, though in a different way. It starts of slowly at first you will walk through a couple rooms, killing a few of Shodan's creatures. Slowly Shodan will notice you and talk to you. Her speech is as the evilest and vilest villianess that you hope to hear. "You insolent bug. When my children bring you to me you will know pain." "You may have destroyed these nodes but I will make sure you can't destroy another." Quite often the enemies AI is just plan mean when it talks to you, taunting and crude.
When playing through you will feel like the AI is a real person and you are fighting against her. By the time you reach the final level you are scared silly about fighting it out with her. In addition each of the enemies are hard the first time you met them, but then you find their weakness and it eases up.
Overall I would have to say that this is one of the best games of all time. If you have played System Shock 2, this game will make you understand the story. If you haven't and enjoyed Deus Ex but can take a loss of graphics, attempt to try to find System Shock, as it is a lost treasure.
And if you get the message about salted fries. Search the Internet, it means your computer is too powerful to play it, but can be fixed with a simple command that I can't remember.
NB: Windows 2000 has created 2 new major problems with this game. The first is that you will need to find a sounds card emulator for 16 bit (assuming you have something more powerful. This can be found by some guys who produced a small program called vdmsound.
Second is the "salt the fries" error about memmory needed more VCPI memory (what I have been told) this can't be gotten on Windows 2000, so you can't play, except a hacker named Mok has created a alternate executable to run that will solve this problem. Thank god, Shodan will continue to be hunted!
Vdmsound can be found at http://ntvdm.cjb.net/ and will work with many old games.