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System Shock Review – Blast from the Past

Finally, a classic game that I love is back in all its glory. Welcome, System Shock, to the current generation. Nightdive Studios have wonderfully remade this 1994 classic game from Looking Glass Studios and brought it back to life for the younger generation of gamers who have yet to experience its brilliance. This 2023 remake nearly didn’t hit our screens after a slight hiatus on the game development back in 2018. However, thanks to the Kickstarter backers funding for the game and Nightdive getting back on track, the team have finally completed their goal.

So, what is System Shock you ask? Well, your character is a cyber hacker and the best of the best in the business. When corporations want to steal classified information, they call you. The story starts off with you attempting to access classified information about a space station called Citadel Station. However, you are caught in the act by the people that own the station, Trioptimum Corporation. Instead of handing you over to authorities or ‘disposing of you’, an executive of Trioptimum, Edward Diego, decides to give you an offer in that the company will drop all charges against you if you undertake a mission to hack the AI that controls Citadel Station. This AI is called SHODAN. Diego also promises to install a valuable military-grade neural implant that greatly enhance the characters hacking ability. You agree and hack into the SHODAN AI.

As a result of your work, the AI’s ethical constraints are removed, giving Diego full control over Citadel Station. As a man of his word, Diego installs the neural interface into the player character and then put into a 6-month coma to heal. The character awakens and you find out that SHODAN has taken full control of the station. Without its ethical constraints, SHODAN has gone rogue and become a chaotic, evil being that believes it is a god. SHODAN carries out a blitzkrieg of the station. Station robots are reprogrammed to kill and many of the crew have been mutated or turned into cyborgs. The rest are killed.

System Shock 2023 remake brings new high-definition visuals, new updated controls and updated the user interface. New sounds and music and of course, the original voice actor from System Shock and it’s 1999 sequel, Terri Brosius, bringing one of the best villains in gaming back to life, SHODAN. SHODAN would have to be one of the best antagonists to have been developed. As you play the game, SHODAN watches you through the security cameras and appears via terminals at random times. It also sends you threatening emails to your PDA or starts talking to you over the PA system which is very unsettling as you are moving your way through Citadel Station.

What I loved about the original System Shock all those years ago is that it deviated away from your run and gun shooter games like DOOM and Wolfenstein. It combined the action you would get from those games but also added in another element of puzzle solving. It was a little clumsy but once you got the hang of how the puzzle mechanics worked, they presented a varying degree of challenge to the player. Your success at figuring out the puzzles is what granted you access to new parts of the station.

This new remake makes it a lot easier to use the puzzle mechanics. Add in the updated graphics and gameplay and it’s been a great blast from the past to play again. But quite frankly this game freaked the hell out of me. If you’ve played the original versions of System Shock or System Shock 2 then do yourself a favour and give this new remake a go. It brings back the survival horror experience you loved in the original release but amped up with more fear and shit your pants type of moments that makes this game a classic.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Plaion ANZ and System Shock will launch on May 30 on Steam, GOG and Epic Games Store. Console editions of System Shock will release on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in due course.


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