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Thread: How To Run System Shock 2 on Windows XP/2000

  1. #1
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Victoria, Australia

    How To Run System Shock 2 on Windows XP/2000 ! - Update 15th June 2007 - !

    Please note: this thread is currently outdated, and although it might contain useful information, it is scattered along thousands of posts. Please refer to the SS2 Technical FAQ or, if you have any specific questions, try posting them in the Legacy Gaming Technical Help forum.

    ! - Update 22nd October 2008 - !
    Please forward all new contributions to

    ! - Update 8th January 2008 - !
    I got an email today from someone named Twinsanity Ntranced at the email address This is what he had to say:
    I just want to say that EVERYONE has the means to use ebay if they have the internet. I have a problem with people pirating system shock 2, so I've replied to this guy's email with some extremely vulgar language and informed him how simple it is to sign up to ebay and pay for something using a money order. If anyone else here has a problem with people pirating this game, I suggest you email him too.
    If anyone sends me an email asking for help playing a pirated copy of this game, I am going to sign you up to every porn website I can find.

    ! - Update 15th June 2007 - !
    If you email me asking why your downloaded version of system shock 2 doesn't work, I will reply with lots of swearing. Don't email me and don't post in this thread if you can't afford to buy a working copy of the game from

    ! - Update August 28th 2006 - !
    If there are any important new problems/methods to be added, please email with specific and anecdotal information on them at and I'll add them to this OP with credit to whoever emails me the info. Just keeping things updated for once in a million years.

    THE GOOD STUFF!: Running System Shock 2 And Windows XP

    This FAQ was created because I've personally
    encountered alot of different variations
    of System Shock 2's incompatibilities with
    Windows XP or 2000. System Shock 2, right
    out of the box, will not run under Windows
    XP. If a bug occurs, the installer will not
    detect that you are running XP, and will
    successfully install. But under perfect
    circumstances, the game will NOT run.
    This guide is sorted by the name of the
    problem you are encountering, or certain
    characteristics of the system running
    the game. If you see a topic that is
    related to your system
    (EG: Duel CPU Systems/Hyperthreading Systems)
    then read the text for this topic and
    it should help a little, or alot.
    The topic "All XP Systems" are things
    that all users attempting to run
    Systetm Shock 2 should perform first to
    attempt to fix the problem.

    All XP Systems

    Graphical glitches ingame, no sound or
    corrupt/echoing sounds, crashing at
    random points.

    System Shock 2 just wasn't designed for
    your operating system.

    Right Click on "shock2.exe" in your
    System Shock 2 folder and select
    "Compatibility", select a Windows version
    to test, Apply the settings, then run
    the game. If your problem is fixed, good,
    if not, try another windows version or
    look to other sections of this document.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    To my knowlegde there is no Fix to force
    the EXE to always run in a certain
    compatibility mode.

    Incompatible Windows Version

    When attempting to install, you are presented
    with a dialogue box stating that your version
    of Windows is incompatible with System Shock 2.

    System Shock 2 has no real support for NT
    kernel operating systems, so to avoid
    people complaining of all the bugs that
    appear under NT, the game refuses to install,
    giving a legitimate reason.

    Run SETUP.EXE from the CD-ROM with the
    parametre "-lgntforce".
    To do so, select "Run" from your start menu,
    enter "x:\setup.exe -lgntforce", however you
    will need to replace the "x" with the letter
    that your CD-ROM uses.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    No updated installer has been released, as
    it would just be inconvinient and useless
    as the SETUP.EXE is on a non-rewritable

    Movies Fail To Play

    All FMV Cutscenes in the game are skipped
    instantly, failing to play

    The old codecs used to encode the movies
    is very unsupported under Windows XP.

    Run the file iv5play.exe located on the
    System Shock 2 CD-ROM, this will install
    the drivers and codecs needed to view the
    movies. You may need to do this after each
    reboot of your system. You can also register
    the video drivers by running from the start
    menu's Run command:
    regsvr32 "x:\ss2\LGVID.AX"
    You will need to change x:\ss2\ to the
    directory where you installed System Shock 2

    Duel CPU Systems/Hyperthreading Systems

    Movies may or may not work, this problem
    has no effect on movies.
    The game will install fully, and the EXE
    will load in compatibility modes.
    The first level will load, controls will
    work, sounds will work.
    The game will halt after a few seconds of
    movement, or of sitting still.

    System Shock 2 under Windows XP will not
    run under a duel processor envornment,

    First of all, run the System Shock 2
    Multiplayer patch, it fixes many small
    This problem is fixed easily by
    assigning only one CPU to the System
    Shock 2 process.
    To do this, launch the game, and before
    starting a the game (while in the menu)
    hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and select "Task Manager".
    In "Applications" select System Shock 2,
    right click on it and select
    "Goto Process", right click on the process
    and select "Set Affinity". Here you are
    able to set whatever CPUs you want to the
    System Shock 2 Process. Select only a
    single CPU to run the process, and apply
    the new settings. Return to System Shock 2
    and play the game, the symptoms of running
    Duel CPUs should dissapear.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    Use ImageCfg.exe as explained in Lardzor's post below this FAQ

    Illegal Operation at Runtime

    You are presented with an Error Reporting
    dialogue at runtime, and the program fails
    to load, or you recieve a blue screen at

    The copy protection "SafeDisc" is very
    unreliable under Windows XP, and often causes
    this type of error.

    Locate a safedisc unwrapper, and run it on the
    shock2.icd file to generate an unwrapped EXE,
    this should solve the problem.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    Because unwrapping the ICD file compramises
    copy protection, I refrain from providing
    direct links to this type of file. Various
    crack websites are where you should look for
    this type of file.

    Intel or ATI Rage Video Cards

    Graphical glitches may occur with these video
    cards, or the game may not load at all.

    Unknown, possibly just due to outdated drivers.

    Create a file called user.cfg in your System
    Shock 2 folder, or if the file is already
    present, open it for editing.
    Anywhere in the file enter the text:
    on a line of it's own. Save the file and run
    System Shock 2, your problem should be solved.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    None known.

    Other Graphical Glitches

    Uusual screen flashing, corrupt or odly coloured
    textures, certain textures not appearing, etc.

    Lack of testing for unpopular graphics cards, or
    use of outdated and incompatible drivers.

    Locate the newest most upto date drivers for your
    video card, and install them. If this fails, try
    locating slightly older than newest drivers, or
    old than your current drivers.

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    None known.

    Cannot Use Ingame Menu

    When pressing Esc ingame, the mouse arrow is
    restricted to a small area and cannot reach any
    of the options in the menu.

    Most likley resolution/visual themes confusing
    the way System Shock 2 uses the ingame menus.

    Right click on your shock2.exe, and in the
    Compatibility tab, check "Disable Visual Themes"

    EXE Fix/Patch:
    None Known

    ===Written By Mug===

    If anyone else has any other sections to add, or problems running the game under XP that aren't addressed here, could you please post details? I would like to have a decent list of as many windows XP/2000 problems and solutions as possible to provide in a .txt file on the web. (By the way, mug is me)

    The following was contributed by Lardzor:
    My System: Windows XP-SP2, Core2 Duo e6400, Nvidia 6600GT Driver v163.44

    'ffdshow' is fast and feature filled codec and filtering tool. It is
    installed with many codec packs by default and can cause problems with
    certain applications including System Shock 2.

    After MUCH effort (most of it in the wrong direction), I resolved my

    Problem: After Install, game crashes on launch. It verifies the copy
    protection, then the screen would go black, and a few seconds later I
    would get "System Shock 2 has encountered a problem and needs to close."
    Clicking on more info reports it was related to the node.

    What DID NOT work:
    I tried the multi-player patch, same problem.
    I tried all versions of SHOCK2.exe I could find. All failed to solve my
    I tried all compatibility modes on all SHOCK2.EXE's I found with cold
    boots in between each test, and still no love.
    I tried adding 'safe_texture_manager' to user.cfg, and/or cam.cfg, and/or
    I tried renaming the cutscenes directory to something else.
    I even re-encoded the cut-scenes to use Xvid instead of Indeo with no

    What DID work:
    I finally tried renaming to 'Copy of' and FINALLY was
    able to start and play the game, but this stopped all cut-scenes from
    playing. I missed the cut-scenes too much to give up on them yet.

    The cause turned out to be ffdshow. When a video is played on my system,
    it went from the indeo codec filter, then to ffdshow, then to the renderer.
    To fix my problem I had to run the ffdshow Video Decoder Configuration,
    select 'Info & Debug' from the options on the left, and then in the Debug
    section of the menu I placed a check in the box for 'Don't use ffdshow
    in:'. I then added 'SHOCK2.EXE;' to the list by typing in the field
    provided. a semicolon should separate program names if you have more than
    one in that list.
    example: 'Oblivion.exe;explorer.exe;shock2.exe;'

    Since I have a Dual core processer, I had to use the 'imagecfg.exe' tool
    to set shock2 to use only one core.
    From the command line:
    imagecfg.exe -u "C:\path\to\SS2\Shock2.exe" ; to set shock2 to
    uniprocessor mode.
    imagecfg.exe -a 0x1 "C:\path\to\SS2\Shock2.exe" ; to set affinity to
    processor 1

    I can now play the multi-player version with all the mods for better
    textures sounds and bug fixes.

    Last edited by D'Arcy; 28th Jul 2011 at 18:20.
    Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is way better than System Shock 2

  2. #2
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: Kebek, Kanada

    hmm.. i seem to be suffering from:
    Illegal Operation at Runtime

    but i don't even get an error dialog. i've tried unwrapping the icd to play, but the gameplay was slow and stuttery, and refused to go farther then the carreer paths.

    i'll re-install tommorow and try it again. i really wanna play.

  3. #3
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Victoria, Australia
    try perhaps updating to directx9, latest vid card drivers. and anything else that may need updating. tell me if u get it working

  4. #4
    New Member
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: Finland
    There is one patch at that fixes the problem with the screen going black after starting a new game. If you use this patch you should not use any compatability modes though.

  5. #5
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Shock Unlimited
    You can make compatibility mode permanent by using the Program Compatibility Wizard (start>all programs>accesories)

    BTW, ss2's Screen flashing, corrupt or oddly colored textures can also be caused by messing with its's memory. (I tried to do a no clipping by messing with its colision detection).

  6. #6
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: ???

    nice faq! Now with the FAQ that I wrote and this one for shock 2, im sure all new ss players will find ease in installing the program. However, it seems that what may work for one person probably wont work for someone else. Possibly the different systems configurations and hardware could be the problem with getting these games to work under all OS's. Hopefully one day someone will pick up SS and re-release them and make them compatable.

    One can only hope and dream right...........

  7. #7
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: California, USA, Earth
    I didn't even have to set compatiblity modes. All I had to do was Start > Run > D:\setup.exe -????? (?????= whatever you type in there, I forgot what it is)

  8. #8
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Shock Unlimited
    Thanks Haunt-of-DOOM, that was a really helpful post.

    Hey, guess what! All i had to do was put the cd in and install it! Thats one more person helped...


    I wish i were a moderator...

  9. #9
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: Kebek, Kanada

    Originally posted by Wuggles
    Thanks Haunt-of-DOOM, that was a really helpful post.

    Hey, guess what! All i had to do was put the cd in and install it! Thats one more person helped...


    I wish i were a moderator...
    dude, calm the hell down, he was talking about using "x:\setup.exe -lgntforce"
    which, even if it wasn't helpful to you, was on topic.

  10. #10
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Shock Unlimited
    Not only did he not write lgntforce (and not edit it in either), but it was already said. There's no way that could be the least bit helpful to anybody!
    Last edited by Wuggles; 11th Sep 2004 at 22:38.

  11. #11
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Shock Unlimited
    Speaking of off topic... A moderator should delete all posts from haunt-of-doom down.

  12. #12
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Black Squadron
    I'm not here to stop you lot looking like idiots, you're supposed to be able to do that yourselves.
    Originally posted by David
    If I removed offtopic posts from this thread, I would have to do it for all threads. I would be old and grey before I finished
    Last edited by David; 20th Jun 2003 at 13:13.

  13. #13
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002


    Locate a safedisc unwrapper, and run it on the
    shock2.icd file to generate an unwrapped EXE,
    this should solve the problem.
    And what the heck is and where I can find the 'safedisc unwrapper'?

    [Edit]Nevermind anymore.
    Last edited by Koki; 24th Jun 2003 at 05:28.

  14. #14
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Ok, this IS a bump. My original post is above. I thought that this thread felt down so far that nobody sees it. I tried e-mailing Ninjit_Turak, but his e-mail includes space, so my e-mail sender gets fooled.

    This is a helpful thread, could you stick it, David?

    [Edit]Nevermind anymore.
    Last edited by Koki; 24th Jun 2003 at 05:28.

  15. #15
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Black Squadron
    90% of the FAQ part is already stickied in the FAQ I wrote.

  16. #16
    Ummm... not to burst anyone's bubble, but I've just about always played SS2 under XP and have never encountered any of these problems. Perhaps it can't always be chalked up to the operating system?

  17. #17
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Shock Unlimited
    It's not always the OS' fault. Actually, its never just the OS' fault. Its just that the OS makes other things behave differently, which causes problems.

    It causes the same problems in most things though, and it is XP/2000 that causes the most trouble, which is why this thread is named accordingly.

    It may be that XP doesn't like your amd 1.1GHz thunderbird, but it's the same problem with a 1.2GHz thunderbird. Thus, they have the same solution. The thread would be called something like "Problem with xp and Thunderbird" not "Problem with amd 1.1GHz" (i'm just making that up, there is no problem)

    Koki, do you understand what to do or not?

  18. #18

    Re: How To Run System Shock 2 on Windows XP/2000

    Originally posted by Ninjit_Turak
    Duel CPU Systems/Hyperthreading Systems

    System Shock 2 under Windows XP will not
    run under a duel processor envornment,

    a very big THX for this trick/hint/info!
    Last edited by Hardcore-Evil; 26th Jun 2003 at 08:20.

  19. #19
    Hmm... it seems the patched 2.3 version runs perfectly fine under WinXP for me... no crash no bug not any problem...

  20. #20
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Victoria, Australia
    well im not 100% sure, but as i stated in my FAQ, system shock 2 is designed to NOT run under anything other than windows 95 or 98, it has specific protections in the installer to stop it from working on anything else.

    if the protection doesnt kick in, i think you could classify it as a bug, altho its a good bug that makes it work, its still a bug.

    I think more than 50% of windows XP users have one problem or another running ss2, so i think this guide is a good thing. But yes i am well aware that under many conditions the game will run fine without many troubles at all.

  21. #21


    I have windows Me, and SS2 won't run on it. It'll play the opening sequence, then when it's about to load the very first level (the second the bar reaches full) the screen goes black and nothing happens. I tried waiting it out, checking if it's my crappy PC. I've tried reinstalling it three times, using patches that'd allow 2000/XPs, with no avail. I'd be very thankful if anybody has a idea to solve the problem.

  22. #22
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    I have Win2k, and it happen to me, sometimes, and not only on the beginning - any bulkhead can crush my system >:/

  23. #23
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: right here!
    reinstalled w2k using a ghost of a clean install - lo and behold, ss2 works again!

    I think what fucked it up was a windows update I did - after the update, when loading or starting a new game, it would ge up to the point of being about to show the level, then crashing out into windows..

    tried updating graphics drivers etc to no avail - but now it works again - aaahhh... I sure as heck won't be doing any windows updates anytime soon..

  24. #24
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Windows Update? Interesting, gotta deinstall all the updates They're messing up my Add/Remove Programs menu anyway...

    [Edit]It won't work... this time the game crashed, when I clicked Esc to get to the game menu.
    Last edited by Koki; 12th Jul 2003 at 08:56.

  25. #25
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: right here!
    Yup, tried that of course... some (or is it all?) of the service packs can be uninstalled, however, most updates cannot..

    thus, clean install by way of a ghost, and presto! I can play ss2 again..

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