System Shock 2 is the sequel to Warren Spector's 1994 action-focused first-person role-playing game System Shock. Set in the twenty-second century, the player assumes the role of a nameless soldier aboard the military starship UNN Rickenbacker while it serves as the defensive escort for the maiden voyage of humanity's first faster-than-light starship, the Von Braun. The game begins as the player is brought out of cryogenic stasis with no memory of the last several weeks to find the ship in ruins, devoid of intelligent human life, and overrun by a host of hideously mutated, feral former humans who refer to themselves in garbled speech as "The Many".
Over the course of the game, the player discovers what has happened by making their way through both ships and uncovering clues left behind by deceased crew members. Several months into the flight, the Von Braun encounters a distress call sent from a planet in the Tau Ceti system. The events that follow over the next several weeks result in The Many's infiltration of both ships and a potentially-apocalyptic exploitation of the Von Braun's FTL stardrive. In a mid-game plot twist, players also witness the resurrection of the first System Shock's antagonist, the malevolent rogue artificial intelligence named SHODAN.
The game begins in 2114, forty-two years after the original game System Shock. After the protagonist, Soldier G65434-2, joins the United National Nominate, he is assigned to the military spacecraft, the Rickenbacker. This ship is appointed as the maiden-voyage escort of the Von Braun, an experimental starship capable of faster-than-light space travel.
After a couple of months into the journey, the ships respond to a distress signal from the planet Tau Ceti V. A rescue team is deployed to the surface of the planet where they discover strange eggs throughout the entire facility and nearby area. The eggs suddenly infect the rescue team and integrate them into an alien communion that calls itself The Many. Upon the rescue team's return, the infestation takes over both ships.
The soldier awakens in a cryo-tube in the medical wing of the Von Braun with amnesia due to a computer malfunction on the systems. He is immediately contacted by another survivor, Dr. Janice Polito, who guides the soldier to safety seconds before the medical wing depressurizes. Dr Polito implores the soldier to meet with her on Deck 4. As he makes his way to his objective, the soldier battles the infected crew members; all the while The Many communicates telepathically with the soldier to join their collective.
After the soldier restarts the ship's engine core and incinerates everything in the elevator shaft, he reaches Deck 4 and discovers Dr. Janice had been dead for some time. He is confronted by SHODAN, an evil artificial intelligence that caused the devastation on Citadel Station in the previous game. She reveals that she has been posing as Dr. Janice to gain his trust and is solely responsible for creating The Many. They are the results of her bioengineering experiments on the denizens of Citadel Station. Forty-two years earlier, an unnamed hacker ejected the grove that contained both she and her experiments into space to prevent them from contaminating Earth. When the grove landed on Tau Ceti V she went into forced hibernation which allowed The Many to grow beyond her control. SHODAN issues an ultimatum: The soldier must help her destroy her creations or die.
The soldier tries to regain control of the main computers, but ultimately fails. SHODAN informs him that destroying the Von Braun is their only option but he must transfer SHODAN's consciousness to the Rickenbacker first. While on route, the soldier briefly finds two survivors, Tommy Suarez and Rebecca Siddons, who flee the ship on a working escape pod.
When the transfer is complete, the soldier travels to the Rickenbacker and learns both ships have been infected by The Many's source: a giant mass of organic tissue. The soldier enters its mass and destroys the core from within, stopping the spread of the infection. SHODAN congratulates the protagonist and informs him of its original intentions: merge real space with cyberspace by subverting the reality-altering mechanics of the Von Braun ship. The soldier confronts SHODAN in CyberSpace and defeats her.
The final scene of the game shows Tommy and Rebecca receiving a message from the Von Braun. Tommy answers, telling the soldier that they will return but Rebecca isn't feeling well. She is heard speaking in the same voice as SHODAN.
Soldier G65434-2: The player character, and the main protagonist of System Shock 2. Depending on which branch of the military the players decides to choose, they will either be in the Navy, Marines, or Psi-Ops.
SHODAN: SHODAN makes a terrifying return as the main antagonist in System Shock 2. Unsatisfied with how her "God experiment" went in the creation of The Many, she manipulates the protagonist to clean up her mess.
XERXES: XERXES is the AI aboard the Von Braun. XERXES gets co-opted by the Bio-mass of the Many and helps them run riot on the Von Braun. Later on in the game, SHODAN assimilates his AI core.
Dr. Marie Delacroix: One of the only people left alive on board the Von Braun. She is the main liaison between the protagonist and the corrupted environments and creatures of the crippled Von Braun and Rickenbacker.
Dr. Janice Polito: SHODAN mimics her voice over the radio transmissions to the protagonist in order to establish trust. Once this has been established, the protagonist discovers Dr. Polito's body on the Ops deck and finds out that she has been dead for quite sometime and that he was following SHODAN's orders all along.
Capt. William Bedford Diego: Captain Diego is the son of Edward Diego, the vice-president of TriOptimum Corp from the first System Shock. He is the Captain of the UNN Rickenbacker, the military battle-cruiser escort for the Von Braun.
|Standard Weapons||Ammunition||Skill Requirement||Firing Modes||Description/upgrades|
|Bullets:||Standard 1||The Pistol is one of the most useful weapons in the early part of the game, it does a fair amount of damage and needs a low amount of skill to be used, it's effective against most enemies, as long as the appropriate ammo type is used.|
|Slugs:||Standard 3||The shotgun deals a good amount of damage and the ammo isn't as rare as many other weapons. It is effective against flesh-based enemies at close range.|
|The assault rifle is one of the best weapons in the game and the best of the standard category. Its damage is comparable to the pistol with a 25% damage bonus and features automatic fire and a wide magazine. It can kill many strong creatures with a few shots if the appropriate ammo is used.|
|Energy Weapons||Recharges||Skill Requirement||Firing Modes||Description/upgrades|
|Battery||Energy 1||The laser pistol is a weak weapon, it does only a small amount of damage on normal mode, but can be set to overload to increase damage. One of the main features of this weapon is its essentially infinite ammo (the weapon can be recharged at a power station).|
|Melee||A powerful melee weapon, despite being less effective against flesh-based enemies. It is more powerful than the standard wrench.|
|Battery||Energy 6||The EMP rifle is very effective against mechs, but useless against flesh-based enemies. It is effective against mechs and, like the laser pistol, can be considered to have infinite ammo.|
|Heavy Weapons||Ammunition||Skill Requirement||Firing Modes||Description/upgrades|
|Grenades:||Heavy 1||The grenade launcher is the most versatile weapon in the game, in the sense that it can use a wide variety of ammo types. It also has the ability to cause splash damage to nearby targets.|
|The stasis field generator can be used to freeze a target in place for a certain amount of time.|
|A powerful heavy weapon that, if used in close range combat, can not only deal damage to enemies but can deal damage to the player as well.|
|Exotic Weapons||Skill Requirements||Firing Modes||Description/upgrades|
|Melee||This weapon is the only truly useful weapon from this category, it's the most powerful melee weapon of the game, it does a high amount of damage and like the onter melee weapons its own uses are limited by its range.|
|None||The wrench is the likely the first weapon the player acquires and can be considered one of the most useful as it does not require any skill nor ammunition.|
|Psi 1||The Psi Amp isn't a proper weapon, but it allow the player to use psi skills. It can be used as a weapon as long as the player is equipped with the proper powers. However, the psi powers are not as useful as some of the higher end ranged weapons, thus making it a questionable choice of weapon.|
|Strength 2||Defense 20|
|Strength 3||Defense 50|
Anti Toxin 10
|Strength 4||Defense 30|
|Strength 6||Defense 40|
System Shock 2 was noted for the original aspects of its design, including the usage of found crew member audio logs as a narrative device. These voice recordings tell the story of what happened aboard the Von Braun and in some cases document the horrific transformation of the crew into mindless, savage agents of The Many. This method of storytelling allowed the story to flow at the pace of the player's progress, instead of sweeping the player along by force. The game is also noted for its atmosphere and tension, and to this day it ranks on many critics' lists as one of the scariest games ever produced. Despite the game's critical acclaim, piracy and a lack of marketing resulted in lackluster sales, and System Shock 2 is known today more as a cult hit than a commercial success.
Although it wasn't a huge commercial hit, a lot of game mechanics and ideas were refined and used many years later in its critically and commercially acclaimed "spiritual successor" Bioshock (including audio logs to push the story forward, plasmids in place of cybernetic upgrades, and almost similar mid-game plot twist regarding the player's antagonist). Deus Ex, another well received game of System Shock franchise creator Warren Spector, also used many of the ideas of it's predecessor, most notably cyber augmentation and strong, skill-based RPG elements fitted into FPS gameplay. GLaDOS , the main villain of Portal is often considered to be an homage to SHODAN, as both AIs are "female" and have a similar manner of speech.
Although many years have passed since its release, System Shock 2 still has many devoted fans and modding community. The most known mods are Rebirth, which replaces some of the game's original NPC 3D assets with new, fan made, high-resolution models, and SHTUP, which updates the original textures of the game with newer high-res versions. The ability to utilize these complex, high resolution assets is a testament to the versatility of the Dark Engine, which SS2 and the original Thief were built on. The community is also responsible for high number of fixes and tweaks, which help to run SS2 on newer operating systems and video cards. The main "base of operations" for the community is Looking Glass Studios' forum, even though the company itself ceased to exist on the 24th of may, 2000.
On February 13th 2013, it was announced that the System Shock rights and trademark (notoriously caught in a complicated legal triangle for many years) had finally been secured by Stephen Kick of Night Dive Studios who approached GOG with an aim to releasing the title on the popular digital distribution service, with a later Steam release likely, thus marking the first time in many years that the game can be bought legitimately without the need for second-hand copies or legally dubious downloads. As is customary for titles released through GOG, the game has received bug-fixing polishes and has been adapted to run natively on modern versions of Windows with little set-up required on the customer's behalf.
As of May 11th, 2013, System Shock 2 is now available on Steam with better compatibility to make it work on the latest operating systems while still allowing user-made modifications to be applied. It also contains additional material such as the game's soundtrack, maps of the Von Braun, and the original pitch document for the game.
The music score for System Shock 2 was composed by Josh Randall and Ramin Djawadi.
|Track #||Song Title||Running Time|
|01||Irrational Games Logo||00.12|
|02||Med Sci 1||03.28|
|03||Med Sci 2||03.51|