System Shock is a classic. It defined an era of gaming, paved the way for one of the best received sequels to grace the genre, and it did this with health bars. It did this with alternative mouse functions, more menus than a modern Sims game, and not one tutorial for its dozens of mechanics. By every metric in the industry today, aside from games funded on kickstarter, System Shock would go against every acceptable convention. In an era where we no longer find game manuals in physical cases – if we even get physical cases – System Shock is a game that sports 47 pages of instructions (including a glossary) and a reference card for helpful reminders. If the industry standard is indicative of what works today in gaming, System Shock should be a blemish. But it’s not. It’s challenging, it’s different, and it’s worth playing again. Being that this game has been dissected time and again I’m not going to go into a full review of System Shock so much as just touch on what Night Dive brought to the table in terms of changes for the Enhanced Edition.
The graphics have quite obviously been improved across the board, with smooth textures shown from an increased resolution. The rough edges in the programming have been sanded out, as well, and many of the old glitches are gone; previously a victim to an age in gaming where patches were unheard of, but games still managed to function out of the box somehow anyway. But, most importantly, the Enhanced Edition is supported. Fresh, downloaded functionality counteracts the biggest barrier between the classics and our modern machines; spotty backward compatibility.
“If you haven’t played System Shock before, there’s never been a better time. Whether you’re into shooters or RPGs; or just want to experience a cyberpunk romp with a good beat, this one is for you.”
And, honestly, that compatibility was all that was needed. We played through the glitches. We put up with the graphics. System Shock isn’t just a great game ‘for its time’, but a great game by its own right. The levels of the ship depict open worlds in miniature, filled to the brim with creatures not spoiled by hype. And the music, an electronic set list that ranges from Trent Reznor’s repertoire to arcade racing title in terms of tone; wholly fitting of the cyberpunk aesthetic. There are few negatives, other than the sore fact that this game must be scored a little lower than it deserves for the sake of the fact that the sequel somehow manages to surpass what was already outstanding. If I had any complaint, it’d be the current dodginess of getting the game to run through certain conflicts of programs. But, even then, I’m reaching.
If you haven’t played System Shock before, there’s never been a better time. Whether you’re into shooters or RPGs; or just want to experience a cyberpunk romp with a good beat, this one is for you.
*** PC Code provided by the publisher ***
- Deep, challenging gameplay
- Superb soundtrack
- The best version of a classic
- It’s not System Shock 2
- Some compatibility issues