back to article System Shock

We've come along way since Looking Glass Technologies released System Shock in 1994, which earned it the distinction of being first first-person game with an engine able to render sloping walls. Before then, gaming environments were limited to verticals and horizontals. System Shock by Looking Glass Technologies Making …


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  1. Richard Wharram

    Never really got into it.

    But Ultima Underworld II was my life :)

    Before the internet made everything too easy I had found secrets and powerful items throughout the game such as this beast:

    (can't check the link at work, hopefully it's ok)

    On my second playthrough I made myself complete it without ever sleeping (in-game) and I think I only used 14 hours, game-world time to do it.

    Hurrah for old games :)

  2. Greg J Preece

    I just bought System Shock and System Shock 2 off eBay (cost me a packet for mint copies), and I've been dicking about with Redguard/Arena. Was going to play the ES games first, but now I just wanna shoot people to crap techno.

    Perhaps Antiques Code Show should be renamed God Bless DOSbox

  3. Filippo

    System Shock was awesome, but System Shock 2 was even better. I wish they made System Shock 3 instead of Bioshock - Bioshock was good, but not as good as the SS series.

    1. Jerome 0

      Too true - Bioshock was atmospheric and beautiful, but in terms of gameplay it was massively dumbed down in comparison with its predecessors.

    2. 1Rafayal

      I also wait with baited breath for System Shock 3.

      I have seen a few mentions of it here and there on the Interweb.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        System Shock 2

        SS1 was good, if a bit complex to play, but SS2 was simply awesome! It had real atmosphere matched by few other games. Weapons that degraded and had to be fixed, with limited supplies of ammo, were so different to the usual endless machinegun strafing in other games. I too have waited far too long for SS3, with much more anticipation even than any Duke Nukem news.

  4. davew_uk
    Thumb Up

    Superb game, one of the best ever - and still playable on modern PCs thanks to DOSbox. Google for "System Shock Portable" and thank me later.

    1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge

      Thanks, the CD is still in the desk drawer from last time i tried to run it under XP

      I'll try it on the Win7 laptop tonight.

  5. Sooty

    People who never played system shock, missed out on one of the brilliant moments from teh sequel... Where you find yourself in the first level of System Shock.

  6. Alastair Dodd 1
    Thumb Up

    Better than the sequel

    as far as I am concerned - excellent game which also had areas of different gravity and the engine did appear to be in fact full 3D, not just sloping walls! The Sprite enemies let it down, but still awesome.

    Great game, now that is one I'd like them to remake with new graphics.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agree. It's okay going back to abstract or cartoony graphics - no problem with Defender or Sonic the Hedgehog - but when it's supposed to be an immersive world it's difficult to revert from the quality of the most recent game you've played.

      Something like this remade with a new engine would be of more interest to me than just another FPS or Fallout DLC.

      Classic films get remade, albeit often with somewhat patchy results, maybe we're at the point where games could be done the same way. System Shock, Baldur's Gate - things with good writing.

      Or is this being done already (officially or unofficially)?

      1. RoboJ1M

        Your crow bar would be no match for the army of lawyers that would descend on whoever tries to do System Shock 1 or 2 HD.

        There's a reason they didn't do System Shock 3, too much legal red tape.

  7. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Fond memories

    of system shock.... the first game I bought after buying a PC and a copy of doom.

    The best part was after inputting the fiendish to find code to the self destruct.

    Just make my way back upto the shuttle bay and its game over.... oh fek... a big boss baddie... ... <gunfire> right in the shuttle and hit the launch........ oh double fek.... she's borked the shuttle.... what do I now? with the self destruct countdown ringing in your ears....

    1. Originone

      I still beat you SHODAN.

      Giddy with joy as I enetered the shuttle thinking I had finally defeated SHODAN and escaped i was not emotionally or mentally prepared for this turn of events my response at the time was to pull the plug on the PC and declare:

      "I still beat you SHODAN!"

      Truely one of the greatest games I have ever played in so many ways.

  8. Dapprman

    Don't touch that button ....

    o.k. confession time, who else pressed the big red button SHODAN was determind you should leave alone to find you'd just wiped out half the earth on his behalf ....

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Reverse psychology? Really now. You monster.

  9. cphi

    The. Greatest. Game. Ever.

    I reckon I could still navigate Citadel Station blindfolded :)

  10. Sean Inglis
    Thumb Up

    System Shock / SS2 were masterpieces, a leap up from the environment that Doom et al offered in geometry (is that really a translucent bridge!) and in the flexibility your character had to lean round corners, peak over edges etc.

    Sneaking around in the dark and jumping out of your skin with headphones was a rewarding and genuinely memorable experience, and the soundtrack and in-game sound effects were perfectly matched, whether creaking self-destructing service robots or psychotic vending machines.

    I can still feel a sense of amazement at finding a hoverboard late in the game and seeing it transform the gameplay and present the environment in a new unexpectedly fluid way.

    Still got the PC version sitting on my shelf.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    new one to review

    any chance of reviewing the likes of Dungeon Keeper or the Grim Fandango? Most of the reviews are either adventure/fps...some more variety would be nice (and if you haven't yet played DK, please do - you won't be disapppointed)

  12. Ravenger
    Thumb Up

    Mouselook mod is available

    I love this game, it was way ahead of its time, but the UI is pretty awful as it was designed before Quake and Duke 3D made mouselook the standard FPS interface.

    Luckily there's a mouselook mod which makes it much more playable for modern gamers, and the mod also lets you re-define the keys too.

    1. Greg J Preece


      Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme. URL? The controls infuriate me.

  13. SpaMster

    Remember getting this game when i was about 13, took me a good year just to figure out the controls and what i was actually supposed to be doing! Still a great game though, i loved it even if i didnt have the foggyist idea how to play it properly :D

  14. Kurgan

    A great game

    One of the best games I have ever played.

  15. Neil B
    Thumb Up

    A true classic, although I have stronger memories of the equally amazing sequel.

  16. W.O.Frobozz

    True Classics

    System Shock was groundbreaking but man, I loved System Shock 2 like no other game. Only the original Deus Ex comes close, and it misses the "creep out" factor of having one of those Cyborg Midwives sneak up behind you out of the darkness. And Shodan's "reveal" in System Shock 2 still gives me chills. They really don't make games like this anymore, and if Bioshock is any indication, I hope System Shock doesn't get a modern "re-making" for the console world. "Glory to the Many!"

  17. W.O.Frobozz

    Oh and I might add....

    ...there was System Shock and then there was the CDROM edition of System Shock that had the voice work of Terri Brosius as SHODAN. That makes all the difference...if you're playing without her voice, you're missing a whole lot.

    System Shock 2 with full surround sound (the Dark Engine kicked serious butt when it came to audio) is something to experience.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, memories

    I do miss playing system shock. I would love for System shock two to be re-released with a better engine - maybe with Half-life's AI for the bad guys....

  19. Ian Stephenson Silver badge

    Girl from Ipanema elevator music

    Still can't get it out of my head!!!!!


    1. John Vreeland

      I was fighting for my life against crazed, murderous re-purposed humans when I managed to finally find the elevator. The door closes on a rabid monstrosity who until that moment seemed sure to beat me to a lifeless pulp. Then the monster is gone, techno music stops, and Girl From Ipanema starts playing. Best song in the whole story.

  20. intuneontime
    Thumb Up

    System Shock has always been my favourite game (since I first played it as a kid at least). Funnily enough one of the lead designers also worked on a bunch of other great ones including the Thief, Deus Ex and Ultima Underworld series:

  21. Tony Proudlove


    Pedantic, but it's a simple pipe. It looks like a pipe, and in three of the screenshots it even says WEAPONS: PIPE.


    This isn't Gordon Freeman.

    I'm glad I wasn't the only person who found the controls difficult. I missed the game when it first came out but bought it a few years later as a budget re-release. It was fun, but the patting your head while rubbing your tummy control style spoiled a lot of the enjoyment for me.

    1. Spoonsinger

      PIPE!!!!!! :-)

      Indeed. Loved the game but this was a really really really bad article about it. (Bit like an eight year schoolchild's 'what I did over the weekend' essay).

  22. Lord Midas


    I never played either of the System Shock games!! :(

    Call myself a gamer? Pah!

    I was too busy dicking around in the delightful 'Headshot' worlds of Unreal Tournament and Quake II.

    Ahh, thems were the days, eh?

  23. defiler Silver badge

    Fantastic game

    Beta Grove put the shitters up me, and Edward Diego's reappearance at the end was magnificent. I suggested calling my son Edward Diego, but was overruled (probably just as well).

    They offered me a job at Trioptimum. It never occurred to me to accept. Old habits die hard.

    Keep the fries salted!

  24. LoopyChew

    Ultima engine

    I'm fairly certain Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, which used a precursor version of this engine, also had sloping walls and floors. It was certainly fully 3D and allowed for non-rectilinear walls.

    This game was the bee's knees back in the day. For some reason I remember some of the robots towards the end indicating their presence by uttering robotic garbage that sounded like "the world is a big headband" to me.

  25. John Vreeland

    A remake would require

    A remake would require not sticking to the email repository and allowing more interaction with survivors. I recall only one or two extremely short cut-scenes in the original of living fellow survivors, and one single-track email conversation with another survivor who is dead when you reach her, but the technology is certainly out there now to allow them to join up with the player.

    Interactions with well-scripted, (simulated) living people were perhaps the only thing this game lacked, as you spent almost all of it rummaging around through dead people's email files.

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