System Shock Retrospective

Resolution Magazine has drummed up another interesting article, this time "resurrecting" Origin and Looking Glass' 1994 classic, System Shock. The intro:
SHODAN's pretty much immortal, when you think about it. No matter how close she comes to being destroyed, she'll only ever revert to a spec of data stored on a hard drive somewhere. SHODAN exists because we made her, and taking her life away would mean reverting to the inferiority of yesterday's technology.

So it's an odd experience to be playing a game about technophobia and the future of computers, now we're that much further down the road of digital progress. System Shock's a game that sat between Doom and its sequel on the early-shooter release schedule, born of an era when the technology to power something deep and involving simply wasn't available.

Or was it? System Shock may look crude on the outside, but revisiting it 15 years later leads to a surprising discovery. For all the low resolutions, blocky, primary-colour textures and sprite-based enemies, Looking Glass' seminal FPS/RPG still works beautifully. Its heavy stylisation transcends digital horsepower. Its presentation still takes over each and every sense in turn. System Shock in no way feels 15 years old. It's as modern, polished and captivating as anything you like. There's a lesson there somewhere.