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Thread: Playing SS2 for the first time

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2012

    Playing SS2 for the first time

    Yes, you read that right. After exactly 21 years of its release, I'm touching System Shock 2 for the first time. I'm really loving it so far, much more than I thought I would. The graphics actually dated very well in my opinion. I love the atmosphere of the game.

    I like that some game mechanics feel familiar because of the amount of hours I put into Thief.

    I'm currently in the engineer rooms with the big elevators and the security robots all over the place.
    Who played it back in the day when it was released? What was the game like back then? And are there others around here who like me played it many years later?

  2. #2
    SShock2.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: 100 Rads Bar
    I didn't play it exactly on the day it was released (my computer wasn't good enough to run it) but I played it more or less a year after it came out - when I got myself a mighty Pentium III.

    I assume that by 'engineer rooms with the big elevators' you are referring to the Cargo Bays.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I played shortly after release. It was actually my first mouse-look game, which I found amazingly intuitive. ...I got stuck for several hours in the Cargo Bays because there's a door with a broken lock that just opens automatically when you approach, but I thought the broken lock meant it wouldn't open and didn't approach it.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by D'Arcy View Post
    I didn't play it exactly on the day it was released (my computer wasn't good enough to run it) but I played it more or less a year after it came out - when I got myself a mighty Pentium III.

    I assume that by 'engineer rooms with the big elevators' you are referring to the Cargo Bays.
    I remember the times with the Pentium 3's, I was like 4 years old then haha (I'm 25 now).

    Yea that's the one. On the map it was named engineer rooms but in the notes they called it Cargo bays I think. Or maybe I just didn't see correctly.

    @Pyrian
    I was stuck for a little bit at the exact same door. I went to the door a couple of time but was surprised that I couldn't open it every time. Then I just walked closer one time by accident and it opened lol!


    Made some more progress now. Restored the elevators and made my way to Deck 3.

    The amount of times this game made me jump in my chair already. Doesn't help that most of the time I play it late in the evening without any lights on.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    Since you already got past that, I won't bother with spoilers.

    Assuming you're talking about the entrance to cargo bay 1, I got stuck there too. I recall going back down to the lower level and into engineering control hoping to find a back door into cargo bay 1. I was going to smash the wrench against the door out of frustration when it just opened.

    Anyway, I played the game right when it was released. It ran quite well on a system with a Celeron 300A oc'd to 450MHz and dual Voodoo2 SLI cards. Even back then, the organic NPC models looked a bit primitive compared to the games I had been playing over the previous year such as Q2 MP, Unreal, SiN, and HL1. But the ship design and graphics were good and it had the best lighting I had seen in a game up to that point (I didn't play Thief until after). Nowadays, I think the Von Braun holds up well. It looks less dated than the environments of HL1. SS2 was also the first game I played that supported Aureal A3D, which meant more to me in this game than the graphics.

    I started on hard difficulty as a Navy character and took the cyber training mission instead of the weapons training mission. So dodging all those protocol droids was a real bear. I remember getting to a point about mid-game where I was basically out of everything and gave up to play something else for a while. When I came back to SS2, I started over on normal difficulty and put a lot more thought into my choices, like getting Energy 1 and the laser pistol as soon as possible to conserve ammo. It still seemed like a hard game, but in an enjoyable way. Subsequent play-throughs have always been on hard difficulty. I found a couple of character builds that make the game relatively easy, but as long as I avoid making the same choices and try to do something different with my character, it can still be satisfyingly difficult.

    SS2 also has my favorite RPG progression system. Playing SS2 and Deus Ex kind of turned me off to leveling systems.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I played it a few years after it came out, but it kind of blended in with other games of the time, as many of my favourite games came out right at the end of the millennium and in the following years in the early 2000s. I remember I was somewhat disappointed that the narrative didn't even come close to holding a candle to Silent Hill games and that it wasn't quite as immersive as Thief in its atmosphere. But I did like it a lot for the survival horror aspects and all the systems you could play with.

    SS1, on the other hand, I played quite a while after and it took a couple of tries to get past the controls and the interface (the mouselook mod did a lot of legwork there), but I think I've actually come to appreciate it more than the sequel even. I think the game holds up better as a whole and I like that SHODAN is way more menacing.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    I agree with you that SHODAN is a much better villain in SS1. But the gameplay in SS2 is much better IMHO, except for one particular level that should have been binned and redesigned from scratch.

    Also, I was one of those people who always struggled with the keyboard controls in SS1. I played the game several times in the late 90s and 2000s, but would always give up after a while because the camera and movement controls never stopped being tedious no matter how long I played. And the maze-like level design seemed to exacerbate the difficulty. It was hard to get into the game when I was spending the vast majority of my mental effort just to look and move around.

    Things might have gone differently if I had played it before discovering mouselook + WASD. But I was unable to play SS1 when it came out because the system requirements were so steep. By the time I finally got a computer that could play it, which was in 1997, I had discovered Quake, and mouselook, and that spoiled me forever. So I didn't really enjoy SS1 enough to finish the game until after the mouselook mod came out.

  8. #8
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2018
    I remember it very well. Got the PCZone issue with a glowing review, great-looking review that really sold the game, even had a breakdown of the Gamepig. Downloaded the demo overnight on modem, played it for a few days and uninstalled it in wait of the release, but couldn't get it out of my head and downloaded it overnight again. Obviously got it on release. The Voodoo2 wow-factor always belonged to first time playing Unreal, but this was really up there with the Dark-engine atmosphere. And SBLive EAX in SS2 with headphones was that one moment for sound in games.

    Only got to SS1 about two years later, and for some years still considered it superior, but over time I'd say that has evened out. They're different enough. It'll always make me miss cyberspace in SS2 and how you're more of a primitive cyborg, lumbering controls and all in the first one. Never tried mouselook, but maybe next time. It's been a while. Back to SS2, it wasn't until the 3rd or 4th way through I touched PSI, but since always go for bits of it. And now The Infinite mod adds in cyberspace nicely enough!

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    I played it very late after release. Jolly good ride though. One of the absolute best in terms of atmosphere. Quality soundtrack. Way ahead of its time, just like Deus Ex. Unfortunately, they don't make intelligent games like that anymore. Or let developers and artists dwell in such a creative freedom. It's all about the production costs. Understandable, considering how much more effort it is to make games these days. Unfortunately, but, that's how it goes. Just like with movies, strict cookie-cutter approach.

  10. #10
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by chk772 View Post
    Unfortunately, they don't make intelligent games like that anymore. Or let developers and artists dwell in such a creative freedom.
    SOMA would like a word.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    SOMA is not bad, but, IMO it really shows that it's a indie production. I also got kind of annoyed after a few hours that all you could do is run and not kill the enemies. IMO, it's rather like a mystery adventure movie kind of thing than being anything like System Shock (SOMA doesn't have any RPG elements either). Prey was much more like it.

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    Last edited by chk772; 20th Aug 2020 at 05:47.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by chk772 View Post
    I played it very late after release. Jolly good ride though. One of the absolute best in terms of atmosphere. Quality soundtrack. Way ahead of its time, just like Deus Ex. Unfortunately, they don't make intelligent games like that anymore. Or let developers and artists dwell in such a creative freedom. It's all about the production costs. Understandable, considering how much more effort it is to make games these days. Unfortunately, but, that's how it goes. Just like with movies, strict cookie-cutter approach.

    Yea the soundtrack is good, although sometimes I find it a bit odd there is this super hyperactive song playing and then moments later it's back to eerie music again. It's still works with the game's atmosphere but I like the eerie background music more. Makes me wonder if I'm alone in that opinion

    Edit:

    This track in particular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bL7I_eWryI

    It's good, but a bit unexpected sometimes

  13. #13
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by chk772 View Post
    SOMA is not bad, but, IMO it really shows that it's a indie production. I also got kind of annoyed after a few hours that all you could do is run and not kill the enemies.
    You: "I want intelligent games with creative freedom."
    Also you: "But wah I wanna be able to shoooot things!"

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    I played it in 1999. It was sooo so cool! After Half-Life it felt clunky, but being in a semi-open world, walking through all places numerous times because there is something left to hack, or keeping the loot in some quiet rooms where you can take a break and plan your next moves. I've played through the game so many times, and even now, with a huge 4K display (had to increase fov accordingly) it's still awesome like before.

    Only few games felt that good. The first Deus Ex, the latest Prey, SOMA, Alien Isolation... and Fallout New Vegas.

    I really tried to play other immersive sim games (like Dishonored, Bioshock, new Deus Ex), and I really hated them even though completed all on hardest difficulty.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    I don't get the hype around SOMA. The gameplay was mostly walking sim & generic adventure game puzzle fare. A lot of it was pretty linear too. The watered down stealth/evasion gameplay that they included to add tension and fear didn't do much for me. Avoiding the monsters wasn't particularly scary or rewarding, it was just tedious and didn't really seem necessary; this could have been just an adventure game. The moral choices felt empty to me, in part because they didn't have consequences, and in part because they didn't seem that morally ambiguous (at least to me). A good example is Amy. They could have made the decision meaningful: kill her and take the shuttle in safety, or leave her alive and walk the ocean floor in danger. But they didn't. It makes no difference. I suspect most players either killed everyone or left everyone alive and came to that decision early on. I also found myself really wishing for dialogue choices, because I felt like I was stuck playing a dunce.

    It does have a well written plot, but it's derivative. All the elements and premises have been done before multiple times over in sci-fi. So I don't see what's so creative about it. The Many in SS2 isn't the most original idea in a game, but it's more original than anything in SOMA. If there is one thing I'd praise the game for, it's the detail in the environments.

  16. #16
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    None of the decisions in Soma having in-game consequences is precisely the point. This allows them to be pure expressions of the player's morality.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by ZylonBane View Post
    You: "I want intelligent games with creative freedom."
    Also you: "But wah I wanna be able to shoooot things!"
    So? Both things don't exclude each other.

    Maybe you didn't understand what I meant. I meant the creative freedom of the developers. Not the one of the player.

    I also don't think that just because you can shoot things it makes for a dumb game.

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  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    The problem with the example I gave is that it's pointless. It serves no gameplay purpose and no narrative purpose. In any reasonably immersive and believable fiction, you'd have a conversation with Amy about her predicament and what options exist to resolve it and what her wishes are. But nope, the game doesn't let you do what any actual person would do. The game just presents you with a random woman and asks "Do you want to kill her? (Y/N)?" It's an annoyingly contrived forced choice, it has no consequences, and the game denies you enough information to make it interesting or morally ambiguous. So it's just as empty as the surveys. The other encounters are like that too, with the exception of Carl, where your decision determines whether the construct spawns. But even in that case, at the moment you make the decision, you're not asked to weigh your own needs against his suffering. So again, it's an empty choice.

    All of these decisions in the game are really just one decision. Do you wipe out the last remains of humanity out of mercy because they are stuck in a nightmare situation, or do you leave them alive, either because you can't bring yourself to kill, or out of desperate hope that maybe, someday, they can be rescued or at least improve their situation. That's the whole game in a nutshell and it's kind of obvious from the very first encounter. Once you've made that decision, it's rinse and repeat because the game just keeps asking the same fundamental question over and over.

    Another thing that insulted my intelligence is that right after the intro you ought to know (or can pretty well guess) that you're a cyborg but Simon plays stupid for far too long before the game reveals what is already obvious. I think most fans of sci-fi will notice the plot is just one trope after another and it's predictable. People hyped up the story so much that I kept waiting for a twist that would surprise me or make me think "oh, that's clever" and it never came. Likewise, it was said the game would make you think about morality, but I found it to be shallower than even Bioshock in that respect.

  19. #19
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Hey guys I spotted the flat neurograph.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Maybe critique his interpretation rather than delivering a straight ad hominem.

    Get it? Get it? "flat neurograph" = "straight" ad hominem?

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    Snark comes with the territory.

    i'm glad you enjoyed it ZB. And I know a lot of people did. I give it high marks for attention to detail in the level design and sound, but as a game it's one of the weakest I've played in recent memory.

  22. #22
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    SOMA is absolutely not perfect in a lot of respects, but I don't understand your criticism.

    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    The problem with the example I gave is that it's pointless. It serves no gameplay purpose and no narrative purpose. In any reasonably immersive and believable fiction, you'd have a conversation with Amy about her predicament and what options exist to resolve it and what her wishes are. But nope, the game doesn't let you do what any actual person would do. The game just presents you with a random woman and asks "Do you want to kill her? (Y/N)?" It's an annoyingly contrived forced choice, it has no consequences, and the game denies you enough information to make it interesting or morally ambiguous. So it's just as empty as the surveys. The other encounters are like that too, with the exception of Carl, where your decision determines whether the construct spawns. But even in that case, at the moment you make the decision, you're not asked to weigh your own needs against his suffering. So again, it's an empty choice.
    What I'm hearing here is that you want consequences for your actions. SOMA isn't trying to do this because it's an existential story firmly rooted in exploring what it means to be alive - it's telling you to make a choice based on what you feel is right. Amy is the last living person on Earth, and what you do there serves as a precursor, or foreshadowing as such, to your decision with the WAU. The consequences are entirely what you choose to leave the game with having done them as one of the last people in that story. It refuses to judge your actions because that's your job.

    All of these decisions in the game are really just one decision. Do you wipe out the last remains of humanity out of mercy because they are stuck in a nightmare situation, or do you leave them alive, either because you can't bring yourself to kill, or out of desperate hope that maybe, someday, they can be rescued or at least improve their situation. That's the whole game in a nutshell and it's kind of obvious from the very first encounter. Once you've made that decision, it's rinse and repeat because the game just keeps asking the same fundamental question over and over.
    See, here's your viewpoint from the other side of the mirror: the game's about whether people - that is, you - want to believe in something, and want to have something to hope in or not despite the impossibility of it; its choices are clearly keyed around this. Humanity is already dead in practical terms, there isn't much left to 'save'. The entire game is essentially set in purgatory, and asks what you'd do to define existence in it as a freshly minted soul.

    Another thing that insulted my intelligence is that right after the intro you ought to know (or can pretty well guess) that you're a cyborg but Simon plays stupid for far too long before the game reveals what is already obvious. I think most fans of sci-fi will notice the plot is just one trope after another and it's predictable. People hyped up the story so much that I kept waiting for a twist that would surprise me or make me think "oh, that's clever" and it never came. Likewise, it was said the game would make you think about morality, but I found it to be shallower than even Bioshock in that respect.
    The game categorically does not treat this as a twist. The 'reveal' is so prosaic and matter of fact, I think anyone expecting it to be a twist was looking for things in the text that aren't there. Simon is a bit stupid, I think we can all agree on that not least based on how the game ends. But all of the hints over time and Simon's simple, weary acceptance of what he is point to it being intended as a gradual realisation instead of some shocking revelation.

    As far as morality is concerned - like I said, SOMA isn't a story that judges. I don't know who these people are who hyped those aspects of it up to you, because they seem to have misunderstood it. While morality is a part of the decision making process, the game really isn't about morality. You get out of it what you bring to it.

    It's definitely not a great game, if you're looking for something with systems and loops and skill curves. But as a story that gives you agency and then shows you how laughable that idea can be, it's a fundamentally great piece of sci-fi.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 23rd Aug 2020 at 08:46.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    That's probably the problem. I play a game to... play a game. Not watch a movie, or read a story.

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  24. #24
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    It's definitely a game, because it threads interaction and puzzling through the experience; it just isn't a traditional FPS or surhor because its priorities very much do not centre around 'shoot and defeat enemy to win gaem'.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    The question is why we even discuss a game which so vastly differs from the game this thread is about.

    Oh, right... because I said that there are no more intelligent games these days. Well, fair enough. SOMA is still something entirely different than System Shock 2.
    Last edited by chk772; 24th Aug 2020 at 08:00.

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