Missing in Action: System Shock

Before calling EA out for not resurrecting the System Shock franchise after a 12-year hiatus, Bits n' Bytes provides a short retrospective for the two excellent FPS/RPG titles in this new "Missing in Action" editorial. A snippet:
To start, the original System Shock was developed by Looking Glass and produced by Warren Spector (of Deus Ex, Ultima Underworld, and recently Epic Mickey fame), who had previously worked on the Ultima games, and System Shock was a spiritual successor to the first-person Ultima Underworld in particular. The original floppy disk version was reasonably well received, but it received a major shot in the arm when the CD version came out, featuring digitized speech that really upped the ante, in no small part thanks to Terri Brosius' performance as SHODAN. The voice was enhanced with stutters and pitchshifts, making it sound like your SoundBlaster was getting ready to go supernova every time she talked.


The game did well enough to warrant a sequel several years later by the upstart Irrational Games. However, the game was released in the wake of Half-Life's earth-shattering success and went largely unnoticed until BioShock was released in 2007 and billed as a spiritual successor to System Shock. While it certainly took a lot from System Shock (and Irrational won't let you forget that they made System Shock 2), let's just say that Atlas/Fontaine didn't make quite the impression that SHODAN did. In addition, the RPG elements were largely removed to make the game more palatable to a less hardcore audience and allowed infinite respawns (which certainly was not the case in System Shock 2, as a respawn cost precious nanites). The game featured RPG mechanics in a first-person shooter format and allowed you to pursue different paths as a marine, you have better attack power, as a naval officer you have better technical skills, and as an OSA agent you get psionic powers. The game's complexity gave it replay value and freedom that its successors lack. The only down note System Shock 2 hits is a cheesy, terribly conceived ending that reeks of being rushed out the door and meddled with by executives. But I won't hold that against it. I was so exhausted by the end of the game that I could forgive the fact that the main character's only dialogue is a flat (Nah).