Zero Punctuation: System Shock 2

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themilo504:
Boy am I glad I didn't buy this game, since it seems to include everything I hate about old school pc gaming, in particularly I hate it when games become unwinnable forcing you to either save every 10 seconds or look up a guide.

The game records audio logs and has a digital notepad which records your objectives. There are also maps and giant signs which point to each facility. I went through the entire game on my second playthrough. I always had enough ammo to get to where I needed to go. I was never ambushed because I only opened my inventory with my back to a wall with a one exit room (there are plenty of these) and mutants generally went HURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH before they attacked. You can go through the entire game with a couple of pistols and a wrench on normal. If "unwinnable" means "I have to think things through sometimes" to you, then yes, the game is completely unwinnable.

emissary666:
It's already been mentioned twice, but GOG did all the hard work and had SS2 months before Steam. I was disappointed when I saw that SS2 was now on Steam as well and am disappointed in Yahtzee for crediting Steam.

Yeah, it's the crediting Steam thing that annoyed me a bit. SS2 was one of those legendary games that everyone seems to reminisce about, but is impossible to experience nowadays. Then GOG made it current again by bringing it back, and yet, when a few months down the line Yahtzee takes advantage of the "current" status again, BAM! Steam logo in your face!

RyQ_TMC:

emissary666:
It's already been mentioned twice, but GOG did all the hard work and had SS2 months before Steam. I was disappointed when I saw that SS2 was now on Steam as well and am disappointed in Yahtzee for crediting Steam.

Yeah, it's the crediting Steam thing that annoyed me a bit. SS2 was one of those legendary games that everyone seems to reminisce about, but is impossible to experience nowadays. Then GOG made it current again by bringing it back, and yet, when a few months down the line Yahtzee takes advantage of the "current" status again, BAM! Steam logo in your face!

Most people here don't know about GOG because they aren't old enough to remember most of those games. Not that it's a good excuse.

From now on I will call the Xbox One the X Bone!

RyQ_TMC:
I'm gonna be "that guy" and say that GOG.com had SS2 before Steam. I'm guessing implementing the DRM took that extra month or so longer.

Magmarock:
But GOG released System shock 2 ages before Steam and if it wasn't for the guys at GOG going through all the legal trouble, Steam wouldn't have it either.

emissary666:
It's already been mentioned twice, but GOG did all the hard work and had SS2 months before Steam. I was disappointed when I saw that SS2 was now on Steam as well and am disappointed in Yahtzee for crediting Steam.

Look, I love CDPR as much as anyone but it was a dude named Stephen Kick, of a small company called Night Dive Studios, who secured the rights to distribute SS2. With CDPR having been trying to get those rights since they launched GOG.com (and SS2 has always been the most requested game there), they were just the logical choice for Kick to deal with and make the distribution of SS2 happen.

The always excellent Rock Paper Shotgun on the subject.

Presumably his deal with CDPR wasn't meant to be forever exclusive (and they aren't that kind of assholes anyway, which is why we love them), so he took a similar deal to Valve and now SS2 is on their front page, getting more of the attention it deserves.

tardcore:
I have a feeling that pretty soon the only things PC gamers will have to do is play MMORPGs, MOBAs, and reminisce about the old days. And will be looked upon by the rest of gaming society as akin to the savages from the novel Brave New World.

Half the complaints are probably due to poor ports, delayed release dates and trying to use a controller for fps games the other half is snobbery.

I'm not sure why Yahtzee chose to review this game. I "get" his other retro reviews like Half-Life, Silent Hill 2 and Shadow of the Colossus, good and bad things alike. This just feels uninspired.

Dude, that techno music is some of the best music in gaming!

Sure, it doesn't fit the atmosphere really well, but...

I didn't get much further (I hit the allocation wall really early), but I still enjoyed the hell out of the time I spent playing it.

EDIT: By the way, if you think that the "while playing Minesweeper" remark was just a joke... it wasn't.

A couple of details the review missed:

- The multiplayer was actually added in an official patch, it was not something that a modder added.
- Yes, the game seems difficult, but the game included a manual with lots of very specific details and hints to alleviate the difficulty. I know, right? How crazy to actually read a manual.
- The Rebirth mod which showed the cyborg midwife's breasts was later updated with a more appropriate (and more scary) version of that model.

I really want to watch this, but haven't played SS2 yet. One question:
Has this review any spoilers?

TheSniperFan:
I really want to watch this, but haven't played SS2 yet. One question:
Has this review any spoilers?

Sort of. None that will surprise you if you've ever watched a sci-fi horror movie.

lacktheknack:

TheSniperFan:
I really want to watch this, but haven't played SS2 yet. One question:
Has this review any spoilers?

Sort of. None that will surprise you if you've ever watched a sci-fi horror movie.

Thanks, but I think I'll just play it first then.
I *think* I can hold off a week without ZP.

Co-op was added with an entirely official post-release patch. It's not a mod.

Because, you know, once upon a time games were updated and added to for free.

TheSniperFan:

lacktheknack:

TheSniperFan:
I really want to watch this, but haven't played SS2 yet. One question:
Has this review any spoilers?

Sort of. None that will surprise you if you've ever watched a sci-fi horror movie.

Thanks, but I think I'll just play it first then.
I *think* I can hold off a week without ZP.

(Not actually a spoiler) It's safe to watch it after you reach Janice Polito's office.

It's so nice to hear a review of SyShock2 that isn't all choirs and "under-appreciated sleeper hit"s and "best game evarrr."

Don't get me wrong, it has a great atmosphere and storyline, especially for the era from which it emerged, and I've given up trying to convince anyone who loves it like a cocaine sandwich that it isn't awesome, but at the least it should be acknowledged that she has some flaws, she does.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
System Shock 2

This week, Zero Punctuation reviews System Shock 2.

Watch Video

How DARE you talk shit about SS2's soundtrack =p

Yahtzee reviews one of my favorite games ever (the original "System Shock" still ranks as #1, although Yahtzee commented that it hadn't aged well and unfortunately he's right. Still an absolute classic.) Bliss.

A couple of things:

- "A" and "D" turn? No they don't... at least not on the CD copy of the game I've owned since 2000 or thereabouts...

- When you buy this game (and you absolutely should, it has simply the best story and characters of any game I've ever played, including all three "Bioshocks") check out the protocol droid doing the Macarena in the third tour choice room.

- You can finish the game with just about any combination of skills, except JUST energy weapons (can't kill the Heart of the Many) or JUST melee (can't kill the final boss). "Hack", "Standard Weapons" and "Maintenance" are almost game-breakingly useful.

- I've finished this game about fifteen times, total, each time with a different set of skills. And if that sounds obsessive to you, all I gotta say is: I'm the guy who finished "Super Street Fighter 2" on hardest difficulty with sixteen "perfects" in a row on a console with no way of saving your game.

- Dr Polito is probably the best character in videogames, ever. She has personality, purpose, a truly great character arc, and a heartbreaking end. (Bear in mind you never even MEET Dr Polito... all of this is done in audio logs.) Seriously, I could write pages and pages on why this character is so freakin' great and why she has such an emotional impact.

Marik Bentusi:
Huh, well that was lukewarm. Don't think I'll be getting this one after all.

After pre-purchasing DXHR I finally pulled myself through DX1, and while it had some nice things going for it, dear lord had the basic gameplay aged poorly and oh my god that story and setting is so incredibly cheesy. I could see the stuff people really liked about it, and would've liked it if some of those elements would be carried over to modern times, but I dunno if that knowledge was worth playing the game.

So after he gave Systemshock 2 an even harder time I'm pretty reluctant about this.

Yeah, I had too many problems with "Deus Ex" as well. SS2 stands up just as well today in every respect except graphically though; and, angular polygons aside, it still looks pretty good.

Callate:
It's so nice to hear a review of SyShock2 that isn't all choirs and "under-appreciated sleeper hit"s and "best game evarrr."

Don't get me wrong, it has a great atmosphere and storyline, especially for the era from which it emerged, and I've given up trying to convince anyone who loves it like a cocaine sandwich that it isn't awesome, but at the least it should be acknowledged that she has some flaws, she does.

Oh yeah. The final stage is a letdown, and wrap your head around this one (seriously, anybody who hasn't played SS2 and intends to, ever, DON'T read this:)

Also I LOVE the music for the most part, but some (the maintenance corridors on the lowest level for example) seems to be misplaced in the actual game. Although that med-sci music from the hallway with the armoury and viewing lounge just gets me every freakin' time.

teebeeohh:

Almack:
Some times I feel like it was a good thing that I only started gaming in the mid 2000s and missed games like these otherwise I might not have stuck with this hobby.

just out of curiosity, how exactly would system shock 2 turn you off gaming?

Probably because just about everything after JA2, SS2, and PS:T has been a bit of a disappointment? That is how I feel, but I maintain some hope.

FightingFurball:
I finished SS2 several times...

So did I. The key is to decide on one or two weapon types early on and ignore the rest (you can dabble in the other skills a bit, especially on the lower difficulty levels, but there just aren't enough cybermodules in the game to be proficient with all of the weapon paths.) I tend to go with a Psi/Energy combination, but many people swear by Standard Weapons.

Also, get your Hack skill up to level 4 ASAP. Once it's there you can leave it alone and focus on other skills for a while, but being able to hack turrets makes things much easier.

asap:
The main thing I remember is how fucking dreadful the music was from that shit game. Maybe it was trying to make me fear the robots more due to their ability to torture me with sound. Don't understand why people liked that game so much as its boring and poorly balanced with only a few interesting points with the game world. Thank god for modern shooter controls.

Always nice to meet someone else who didn't like it. About the only thing I was scared of by the end of it was the idea that the scriptwriter was still at large.

Having just played the game for the first time last year, I can safely say that it's one of my favorites. It's a little rough around the edges, and some people might not be able to get past some of the dated visuals, but as he said; it's got some unbelieveable depth.

I always wonder if people actually watch the videos or just glaze through them and pay attention to the parts that fit their preconceived notions. It's pretty obvious that he liked the game, but reading half of the responses you'd think he hated it.

I am surprised that he made pretty much no mention of SHODAN though, it's kind of like not mentioning Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite.

Man I wish someone could make SS1 one SS2 engine
Or at least replace those horrible 2D sprites with some form of 3D models
2D character models don't mix well with 3D environments
At least in my head
2 games deserve to be upgraded to 3D character models
System Shock and TES2:Daggerfall
Going through TES2 was like eating delicious dark chocolate ice-cream with glass shards in it
While it is extremely tasty, you can't enjoy the taste because of all the blood in the mouth and crying

Windknight:
Loved this, and the original, though the original is pretty cumbersome.

Am I the only one distinctly creeped out by the idea that someone seriously wanted bare breasts to ogle on a horrifically mutilated fusion of woman and machine? Seriously, those things are not meant to be sexy.

It is more of a total enemy model overhaul
As far as I know with a few mods the game looks quite good
(one mod for enemy models, one for item weapons, other for environments, etc.)

Best fucking game of all time. The Many is what would happen if The Thing could talk.

octafish:

teebeeohh:

Almack:
Some times I feel like it was a good thing that I only started gaming in the mid 2000s and missed games like these otherwise I might not have stuck with this hobby.

just out of curiosity, how exactly would system shock 2 turn you off gaming?

Probably because just about everything after JA2, SS2, and PS:T has been a bit of a disappointment? That is how I feel, but I maintain some hope.

hm
i really don't get that logic, everything since my childhood has been a disappointment, as a kid afternoons after school would last forever and everything i did that was cool was SUPER DUPER AMAZING OVER THE TOP AWESOMESAUCE. Sure, my life was also enriched by a lot of things but those usually come with a nasty helping of new problems.

and what is PS:T? i really have no idea and you can't google that because all it gives you is pacific standard time. thanks ogoogle.

I beat it!

Granted, the ending was complete shit, the devs apparently lost their original end-game ship code in a fire, so part of me thinks that alot of people love the game because the mid-game was totally awesome but they never saw how far it fell towards the end.

As far as the start goes, yeah, the skill system is really rigid and uncomfortable. It does a great job of showing vulnerability, but it was a massive turn-off. It took me 3 times to get to the creamy center of this one.

teebeeohh:
and what is PS:T?

Planescape: Torment - it was kind of a big deal back in the day, I think a recent kickstarter based on it smashed some sort of record^_^;

So I have to ask, was that "secret racist" quip an allusion to this Mitchell and Webb skit?

TheMadDoctorsCat:

- I've finished this game about fifteen times, total, each time with a different set of skills. And if that sounds obsessive to you, all I gotta say is: I'm the guy who finished "Super Street Fighter 2" on hardest difficulty with sixteen "perfects" in a row on a console with no way of saving your game.

I have to ask, 1) How did you do it?
and 2) Why do you hate yourself?

What the...? You use Steam and complain about pre-owned shenanigans in consoles? Steam did block second hand use since it started.

asap:
The main thing I remember is how fucking dreadful the music was from that shit game. Maybe it was trying to make me fear the robots more due to their ability to torture me with sound. Don't understand why people liked that game so much as its boring and poorly balanced with only a few interesting points with the game world. Thank god for modern shooter controls.

Wow. Didn't you try using "Controls" section of "Options" menu or it's too complex?

anonymity88:

TheMadDoctorsCat:

- I've finished this game about fifteen times, total, each time with a different set of skills. And if that sounds obsessive to you, all I gotta say is: I'm the guy who finished "Super Street Fighter 2" on hardest difficulty with sixteen "perfects" in a row on a console with no way of saving your game.

I have to ask, 1) How did you do it?
and 2) Why do you hate yourself?

How did I do it... boy, this is going to get technical. Stay with me here.

Firstly, you need to use Vega and lots of full-range hard claw thrusts. I'm sure there are ways to do it with other characters, but Vega is by far the simplest. If you start the thrust with your opponent out of range but walking forward, they won't block it. Vega can catch any opponent in the game that way, even Bison. Vega also has the fastest jump in the game, which is great for fireball-spamming characters (use lots of very deep jump-kicks followed by ground sweeps - don't kick when too high in the air as this will let any opponent recover and grab you for a throw or hold move, as most of them will do on the hardest difficulty) and a neat backflip special move that makes him temporarily invulnerable and that he can't be thrown from when he lands.

What else... Don't use his wall jump or rolling slash moves; both are way, way too vulnerable to uppercuts / sweeps respectively. Finally, if you hit someone when they're jumping (easy with Vega - he has an excellent high kick and an uppercut, both of which can hit almost any opponent before they even start to try and hit him from the air) and you time it well, you can throw out a maximum-range thrust to hit them as they land. If you're starting to withdraw your claw just as they become vulnerable, they won't block this attack and you'll get an unlikely combo (it won't count as such in the scoring, but who cares?)

The hardest is Deejay (both his fireballs and his spinning kick special move counter the long-range-thrust tactic, and he's one of the hardest opponents to both jump-kick and anticipate), closely followed by Guile (his sonic boom is almost instantaneous to both throw and recover from - he can let off a sonic boom and instantly jump forward and kick you while the fireball is still in the air, which nobody else in the game can do. With human opponents you also have two seconds of charge time that limits what they can do BEFORE they throw it, although it doesn't help if they know what they're doing and immediately charge in after a slow sonic boom to try and sweep or slam you. Not so with computerised Guile on the hardest difficulty though... he can, and will, spam sonic booms with impunity, and rarely walks forward; so the long-range thrust move is difficult to pull off.)

Ryu takes good timing to beat, but he's not that hard - you need to jump his fireball then do a kick/sweep combo. Ken is a lot simpler. He is constantly looking to be aggressive and walk forward, spamming attacks; if you play the long-range thrust defensive game, this is exactly what you want your opponents to be doing, not sitting back and spamming fireballs like Ryu.

Dhalsim's also tricky, although his extreme slow speed means you can jump over his punches/kicks, nail him with a quick kick, and then get the heck out of dodge before he can grab you to throw you (he will ALWAYS do that on hardest difficulty if you mistime the kick.) Cammy, Zangief, Fei-Long, Honda, Hawk and Blanka are really easy to beat using the long-range claw thrust, although with Hawk you have to be very careful not to block any of his frequently-spammed special moves, and don't let him get close. Chun Li's biggest threat, oddly, is her kicking you in the arm as you try and stab her while she's in the air. She only needs to get one medium stomp on the edge of your claw, and you've lost. In normal gameplay this would barely hurt you, but if you're going for perfects every round, it's annoying as hell.

As for the bosses... Balrog's charging uppercut leaves you ample time to duck and throw him during his recovery, but his charging straight punch (which hits ducked characters and causes damage if you block it) is an absolute nightmare. The only way to beat it is to jump right over it and throw him as he recovers, but again, you need perfect timing to pull this off. Sagat is, surprisingly, fairly easy once you learn how to goad him in. Just jump straight up over low fireballs or duck his high ones (watch out for the slow low ones though), then hit him when he closes in for hand-to-hand combat. He's slow enough that this isn't difficult, and he doesn't use fireballs when walking forward. Computer Vega isn't smart enough to avoid your tactics - just time your backflip right when he wall-jumps, or you'll end up being hit or blocking a special attack - and Bison is fairly easy provided you can jump straight up over his "psycho crusher". Again, it's a matter of learning the pattern and being ready when the attack comes.

Now that's HOW I did it... it took about four months of constant practice and repetitive failure. And if you're wondering if there really is an extra ending for pulling off sixteen double perfects in a row (there is one for never losing a match, and another for never losing a round - I've seen both), the answer is: no. Not at all. I guess the game creators never thought somebody would be obsessive enough to actually try something like that.

Anyway to answer your second question: How much do I hate myself? Answer: A little more than I did before I pulled this off. The weird thing is that when I finally did it, it didn't feel good. I didn't feel any particular satisfaction from it, just a sense of emptiness. It was like "This is what I've devoted all these months of my life to? That's it?" And then I just shook it off and went on to other things, I guess.

And the moral of the story is, System Shock 2 is still freaking awesome.

TheMadDoctorsCat:

- Dr Polito is probably the best character in videogames, ever. She has personality, purpose, a truly great character arc, and a heartbreaking end. (Bear in mind you never even MEET Dr Polito... all of this is done in audio logs.) Seriously, I could write pages and pages on why this character is so freakin' great and why she has such an emotional impact.

Sgt. Bronson has always been my favorite. Her final log still gets me.

Wow, wasn't expecting this title.

So going back to reviewing classics eh Yahtzee? I'm fine with that, System Shock 2 is a game that deserves it and so many more.

McShizzle:

TheMadDoctorsCat:

- Dr Polito is probably the best character in videogames, ever. She has personality, purpose, a truly great character arc, and a heartbreaking end. (Bear in mind you never even MEET Dr Polito... all of this is done in audio logs.) Seriously, I could write pages and pages on why this character is so freakin' great and why she has such an emotional impact.

Sgt. Bronson has always been my favorite. Her final log still gets me.

Oh, I love Bronson. And absolutely agree about her final audio log.

But as awesome as Bronson is, she's not unique in the way that Polito is unique. I can't think of any other single-player game where you spend it "shadowing" another personality whose journey matches your own. You see what she saw, hear in audio logs what she felt... and for this reason, her end - and the reasons for it - pack that much more of an emotional "wallop". I think Polito is the ultimate "identifiable" character.

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