System Shock 2

Last updated
System Shock 2
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Jonathan Chey
Producer(s) Josh Randall
Designer(s) Ken Levine
Programmer(s) Rob Fermier
Artist(s) Gareth Hinds
Writer(s) Ken Levine
Engine Dark Engine
Genre(s) Action role-playing, first-person shooter, survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

System Shock 2 is a 1999 first-person action role-playing survival horror video game designed by Ken Levine and co-developed by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios. Originally intended to be a standalone title, its story was changed during production into a sequel to the 1994 game System Shock . The alterations were made when Electronic Arts—who owned the System Shock franchise rights—signed on as publisher.

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.

Survival horror is a subgenre of video games inspired by horror fiction that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark maze-like environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.


The game takes place on board a starship in a cyberpunk depiction of 2114. The player assumes the role of a soldier trying to stem the outbreak of a genetic infection that has devastated the ship. Like System Shock, gameplay consists of first-person combat and exploration. It also incorporates role-playing system elements, in which the player can develop skills and traits, such as hacking and psionic abilities.

A starship, starcraft or interstellar spacecraft is a theoretical spacecraft designed for traveling between planetary systems, as opposed to an aerospace-vehicle designed for orbital spaceflight or interplanetary travel.

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech" featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.

Role-playing game system Set of game mechanics used in a role-playing game

A role-playing game system is a set of game mechanics used in a role-playing game (RPG) to determine the outcome of a character's in-game actions.

System Shock 2 was originally released in August 1999 for Microsoft Windows. The game received critical acclaim but failed to meet commercial sales expectations. Many critics later determined that the game was highly influential in subsequent game design, particularly on first-person shooters, and considered it far ahead of its time. It has been included in several "greatest games of all time" lists. In 2007, Irrational Games released a spiritual successor to the System Shock series, titled BioShock , to critical acclaim and strong sales. System Shock 2 had been in intellectual property limbo following the closure of Looking Glass Studios. Night Dive Studios were able to secure the rights to the game and System Shock franchise in 2013 to release an updated version of System Shock 2 for modern operating systems, including for OS X and Linux. OtherSide Entertainment announced in 2015 that they have been licensed the rights from Night Dive Studios to produce a sequel, System Shock 3.

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Microsoft Windows families include Windows NT and Windows IoT; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Server or Windows Embedded Compact. Defunct Microsoft Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

A spiritual successor, sometimes called a spiritual sequel, is a successor to a work of fiction which does not build upon the storyline established by a previous work as do most traditional prequels or sequels, yet features many of the same elements, themes, and styles as its source material, thereby resulting in it being related or similar "in spirit" to its predecessor.

<i>BioShock</i> 2007 video game

BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston and 2K Australia, and published by 2K Games. The first game in the Bioshock series, it was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms in August 2007; a PlayStation 3 port by Irrational, 2K Marin, 2K Australia and Digital Extremes was released in October 2008, and an OS X port by Feral Interactive in October 2009. A scaled down mobile version was developed by IG Fun, which contained the first few levels of the game.


The player, armed with a pistol, faces a protocol droid while in the interface mode. The inventory is at the top; health, psionic points, nanites, and cyber modules are at the bottom left; and the cyber interface and weapon information are at the bottom right. Systemshock2 ingame final.jpg
The player, armed with a pistol, faces a protocol droid while in the interface mode. The inventory is at the top; health, psionic points, nanites, and cyber modules are at the bottom left; and the cyber interface and weapon information are at the bottom right.

As in its predecessor, System Shock , gameplay in System Shock 2 is an amalgamation of the action role-playing game and survival horror genres. [1] [2] The developers achieved this gameplay design by rendering the experience as a standard first-person shooter and adding a character customization and development system, which are considered as signature role-play elements. [1] The player uses melee and projectile weapons to defeat enemies, while a role-playing system allows the development of useful abilities. Navigation is presented from a first-person view and complemented with a heads-up display that shows character and weapon information, a map, and a drag and drop inventory. [3]

<i>System Shock</i> action-adventure role-playing game developed by Looking Glass Technologies

System Shock is a 1994 first-person action-adventure video game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. It was directed by Doug Church with Warren Spector serving as producer. The game is set aboard a space station in a cyberpunk vision of the year 2072. Assuming the role of a nameless hacker, the player attempts to hinder the plans of a malevolent artificial intelligence called SHODAN.

Drag and drop action in computer graphic user interfaces

In computer graphical user interfaces, drag and drop is a pointing device gesture in which the user selects a virtual object by "grabbing" it and dragging it to a different location or onto another virtual object. In general, it can be used to invoke many kinds of actions, or create various types of associations between two abstract objects.

The backstory is explained progressively through the player's acquisition of audio logs and encounters with ghostly apparitions. [1] At the beginning of the game, the player chooses a career in a branch of the Unified National Nominate, a fictional military organization. Each branch of service gives the player a set of starting bonuses composed of certain skills, though may thereafter freely develop as the player chooses. The Marine begins with bonuses to weaponry, the Navy officer is skilled in repairing and hacking, and the OSA agent gets a starting set of psionic powers. [4] [5]

A backstory, background story, back-story, or background is a set of events invented for a plot, presented as preceding and leading up to that plot. It is a literary device of a narrative history all chronologically earlier than the narrative of primary interest.

In parapsychology, an apparitional experience is an anomalous experience characterized by the apparent perception of either a living being or an inanimate object without there being any material stimulus for such a perception.

Navy Military branch of service primarily concerned with naval warfare

A navy or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.

The player can upgrade their skills by using "cyber-modules" given as rewards for completing objectives such as searching the ship and then spend them at devices called "cyber-upgrade units" to obtain enhanced skills. [4] [6] Operating system (O/S) units allow one-time character upgrades to be made (e.g. permanent health enhancement). An in-game currency called "nanites" may be spent on items at vending machines, including ammunition supplies and health packs. "Quantum Bio-Reconstruction Machines" can be activated and reconstitute the player for 10 nanites if they die inside the area in which the machine resides. Otherwise, the game ends and progress must be resumed from a save point. [6] The player can hack devices, such as keypads to open alternate areas and vending machines to reduce prices. When a hack is attempted, a minigame begins that features a grid of green nodes; the player must connect three in a straight row to succeed. Optionally, electronic lock picks, called "ICE-picks", can be found that will automatically hack a machine, regardless of its difficulty. [7]

Saved game piece of digitally stored information about the progress of a player in an electronic game

A saved game is a piece of digitally stored information about the progress of a player in a video game.

A minigame is a short video game often contained within another video game, and sometimes in application software or on a display of any form of hardware. A minigame contains different gameplay elements than the main game, may be optional, and is often smaller or more simplistic than the game in which it is contained. Minigames are sometimes also offered separately for free to promote the main game. For instance, the Pokémon Stadium minigames involve merely pressing a few buttons at specific intervals, with little complexity. Some minigames can also be bonus stages or secret levels.

Lock picking the art of unlocking a lock without the original key

Lock picking is the practice of unlocking a lock by manipulating the components of the lock device without the original key.

Throughout the game, the player can procure various weapons, including melee weapons, pistols, shotguns, and alien weapons. [8] Non-melee weapons degrade with use and will break if they are not regularly repaired with maintenance tools. [9] There are a variety of ammunition types, each of which is most damaging to a specific enemy. For example, organic enemies are vulnerable to anti-personnel rounds, while mechanical foes are weak against armor-piercing rounds. Similarly, energy weapons cause the most damage against robots and cyborgs, and the annelid-made exotic weaponry is particularly harmful to organic targets. Because ammunition is scarce, to be effective the player must use it sparingly and carefully search rooms for supplies. [10]

The game includes a research function. When new objects are encountered in the game, especially enemies, their organs can be collected and, when combined with chemicals found in storage rooms, the player can research the enemies and thus improve their damage against them. Similarly, some exotic weapons and items can only be used after being researched. [9] OSA agents effectively have a separate weapons tree available to them. Psionic powers can be learned, such as invisibility, fireballs, and teleportation. [5]



In 2072, after the Citadel Station's demise, TriOptimum's attempts to cover up the incident were exposed to the media and the corporation was brought up on charges from multiple individuals and companies for the ensuing scandal. The virus developed there killed the station's population; the ruthless malevolent A.I supercomputer named SHODAN controlled, and eventually destroyed the Citadel Station in hopes of enslaving and destroying humanity. After a massive number of trials, the company went bankrupt and their operations were shut down. The United Nations Nominate (UNN), a UN successor, was established to combat the malevolence and corruption of power-hungry corporations, including TriOptimum. Artificial intelligence was reduced to most rudimentary tasks in order to prevent the creation of another SHODAN-like malevolent AI, and development of new technologies was halted. Meanwhile, the hacker, who became the most famous person in the world, vanished from public eye.

In 2100, 28 years later, the company's failed stocks and assets were bought by a Russian oligarch named Anatoly Korenchkin, a former black market operator who sought to make money in legitimate ways. He re-licensed and restored the company to its former status in the following decade. Along with producing healthcare and consumer products, Korenchkin signed weapons contracts with various military organizations, private and political-owned. The new UNN was almost virtually powerless with Korenchkin exercising control over them.

In January 2114, 42 years after the Citadel events and 12 years into rebuilding TriOptimum, the company created an experimental FTL starship, the Von Braun, which is now on its maiden voyage. The ship is also followed by a UNN space vessel, the Rickenbacker, which is controlled by Captain William Bedford Diego, son of Edward Diego, the Citadel Station's infamous commander and public hero of the Battle of the Boston Harbor during the Eastern States Police Action. Because the Rickenbacker does not have an FTL system of its own, the two ships are attached for the trip. However, Korenchkin was egotistical enough to make himself the captain of the Von Braun despite being inexperienced. [11]

In July 2114, 5 months into the journey, the ships respond to a distress signal from the planet Tau Ceti V, outside the Solar System. [12] A rescue team is sent to the planet's surface where they discover strange eggs; [13] these eggs, found in an old ejection pod, infect the rescue team and integrate them into an alien communion known as "the Many" - a psychic hive mind generated by parasitic worms which can infect and mutate a human host. The parasites eventually spread to both ships and take over or kill most of their crews.


Owing to a computer malfunction, the remaining soldier awakens with amnesia in a cryo-tube on the medical deck of the Von Braun, being implanted with an illegal cyber-neural interface. He is immediately contacted by another survivor, Dr. Janice Polito, who guides him to safety before the cabin depressurizes. She demands that he meets her on deck 4 of the Von Braun. [14] Along the way, the soldier battles the infected crew members. The Many also telepathically communicate with him, attempting to convince him to join them. After restarting the ship's engine core, the soldier reaches deck 4 and discovers that Polito is dead. He is then confronted by SHODAN. It is revealed she has been posing as Polito to gain the soldier's trust. [15]

SHODAN mentions that she is responsible for creating the Many through her bioengineering experiments on Citadel Station. The Hacker, who created her, ejected the grove that contained her experiments to prevent them contaminating Earth, an act that allowed part of SHODAN to survive in the grove. The grove crash-landed on Tau Ceti V. While SHODAN went into forced hibernation, The Many evolved beyond her control. [16] SHODAN tells the soldier that his only chance for survival lies in helping destroy her creations. [17] Efforts to regain control of XERXES, the main computer on the Von Braun, fail. SHODAN informs the soldier that destroying the ship is their only option, but he must transmit her program to the Rickenbacker first. [18] While en route, the soldier briefly encounters two survivors, Thomas "Tommy" Suarez and Rebecca Siddons, who flee the ship aboard an escape pod. [19]

With the transfer complete, the soldier travels to the Rickenbacker and learns both ships have been enveloped by the infection's source, a gigantic mass of bio-organic tissue that has wrapped itself over the two ships. [20] The soldier enters the biomass and destroys its core, stopping the infection. SHODAN congratulates him and tells of her intentions to merge real space and cyberspace through the Von Braun's faster-than-light drive. [21] The soldier confronts SHODAN in cyberspace and defeats her. The final scene shows Tommy and Rebecca receiving a message from the Von Braun. Tommy responds, saying they will return and noting that Rebecca is acting strange. Rebecca is shown speaking in a SHODAN-like voice, asking Tommy if he "likes her new look", as the screen fades to black.



Horror is a key focus of System Shock 2. This concept art depicts the protagonist encountering an infected crewmember. SS2 Concept.jpg
Horror is a key focus of System Shock 2. This concept art depicts the protagonist encountering an infected crewmember.

Development of System Shock 2 began in 1997 when Looking Glass Studios approached Irrational Games with an idea to co-develop a new game. [22] The development team were fans of System Shock and sought to create a similar game. Early story ideas were similar to the novella Heart of Darkness . In an early draft, the player was tasked with assassinating an insane commander on a starship. [23] The original title of the game, according to its pitch document, was Junction Point. The philosophy of the design was to continue to develop the concept of a dungeon crawler, like Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss , in a science fiction setting, the basis for System Shock. However, the press mistook System Shock to be closer to a Doom clone which was cited for poor financial success of System Shock. With Junction Point, the goal was to add in significant role-playing elements and a persistent storyline as to distance the game from Doom. [24] [25]

The title took 18 months to create with a budget of $1.7 million [26] and was pitched to several publishers until Electronic Arts—who owned the rights to the Shock franchise—responded by suggesting the game become a sequel to System Shock. The development team agreed; Electronic Arts became the publisher and story changes were made to incorporate the franchise. [23] The project was allotted one year to be completed and to compensate for the short time frame, the staff began working with Looking Glass Studio's unfinished Dark Engine, the same engine used to create Thief: The Dark Project . [26]

The designers included role-playing elements in the game. Similar to Ultima Underworld , another Looking Glass Studios project, the environment in System Shock 2 is persistent and constantly changes without the player's presence. [27] [28] Paper-and-pencil role-playing games were influential; the character customization system was based on Traveller 's methodology and was implemented in the fictional military branches which, [27] by allowing multiple character paths, the player could receive a more open-ended gameplay experience. [29] Horror was a key focus and four major points were identified to successfully incorporate it. Isolation was deemed primary, which resulted in the player having little physical contact with other sentient beings. Secondly, a vulnerability was created by focusing on a fragile character. Last were the inclusion of moody sound effects and "the intelligent placement of lighting and shadows". [30] The game's lead designer, Ken Levine, oversaw the return of System Shock villain SHODAN. Part of Levine's design was to ally the player with her, [23] as he believed that game characters were too trusting, stating "good guys are good, bad guys are bad. What you see and perceive is real". Levine sought to challenge this notion by having SHODAN betray the player: "Sometimes characters are betrayed, but the player never is. I wanted to violate that trust and make the player feel that they, and not [only] the character, were led on and deceived". This design choice was controversial with the development team. [31]

Several problems were encountered during the project. Because the team comprised two software companies, tension emerged regarding job assignments and some developers left the project. Additionally, many employees were largely inexperienced, but in retrospect project manager Jonathan Chey felt this was advantageous, stating "inexperience also bred enthusiasm and commitment that might not have been present with a more jaded set of developers." [26] The Dark Engine posed problems of its own. It was unfinished, forcing the programmers to fix software bugs when encountered. In contrast, working closely with the engine code allowed them to write additional features. [26] Not all setbacks were localized; a demonstration build at E3 was hindered when it was requested all guns be removed from the presentation due to then-recent Columbine High School massacre. [30]


A demo for the game, featuring a tutorial and a third of the first mission, was released on August 2, 1999. [32] Nine days later, System Shock 2 was shipped to retailers. [33] An enhancement patch was released a month later and added significant features, such as co-operative multiplayer and control over weapon degradation and enemy respawn rates. [34] A port was planned for the Dreamcast but was canceled. [35]

End-of-support and source code leak

Around 2000, with the end-of-support for the game by the developer and publisher, remaining bugs and compatibility with newer operating systems and hardware became a growing problem. To compensate the missing support, some fans of the game became active in the modding community to update the game. For instance, the "Rebirth" graphical enhancement mod replaced many low-polygonal models with higher quality ones, [36] a "Shock Texture Upgrade Project" increased the resolution of textures, [31] and an updated level editor was released by the user community. [37] In 2009, a complete copy of System Shock 2's Dark Engine source code was discovered in the possession of an ex-Looking Glass Studios employee who was at the time continuing his work for Eidos Interactive. [35] In late April 2010, a user on the Dreamcast Talk forum disassembled the contents of a Dreamcast development kit he had purchased. [38] In 2012 several unofficial updates for System Shock 2 (and other Dark Engine-based games) were published. [39] [40]

Intellectual property debacle and re-release

The intellectual property (IP) rights of System Shock 2 were caught for years in complications between Electronic Arts and Meadowbrook Insurance Group (the parent company of Star Insurance Company), the entity that acquired the assets of Looking Glass Studios on their closure, [41] though according to a lawyer for Star Insurance, they themselves have since acquired the lingering intellectual property rights from EA. [42]

In October 2012 Stephen Kick of Night Dive Studios, seeking to bring the game to modern systems, started negotiations with the rights holders and was able to secure the rights. Kick worked with for a timed-exclusive release on their digital distribution website on February 2013, where the game was the most requested to be added to the catalog. This version, considered by to be a "collector's edition", incorporates fan-created updates to the original game to make it work on modern systems prepared by an anonymous user named "Le Corbeau". [43] In addition, the updates allow user-made modifications to be applied more seamlessly. The release also contains additional material such as the game's soundtrack, maps of the Von Braun, and the original pitch document for the game. [44] The update rights also allowed a Mac OS X version of System Shock 2 to be subsequently released on June 18, 2013, through [45] The title was later also available on Steam on May 10, 2013. [46] In April 2014 a Linux version was also released. [47]

Since then, Night Dive Studios also acquired the rights to System Shock, releasing an enhanced version of the game in September 2015. Kick has reported they have acquired full rights to the series since then. [43]


Aggregate score
Metacritic 92/100 [48]
Review scores
AllGame Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [49]
CVG 9.5/10 [50]
Edge 8/10 [51]
Game Revolution A [52]
GamePro Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [53]
GameSpot 8.5/10 [54]
IGN 9.0/10 [1]
PC Gamer (US) 95% [55]
PC Zone 96% [56]
Computer Games Magazine Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [57]

System Shock 2 received critical acclaim. It received over a dozen awards, including seven "Game of the Year" prizes. [58] Reviews were very positive and lauded the title for its hybrid gameplay, moody sound design, and engaging story. [48] System Shock 2 is regarded by critics as highly influential, particularly on first-person shooters and the horror genre. In a retrospective article, GameSpot declared the title "well ahead of its time" and stated that it "upped the ante in dramatic and mechanical terms" by creating a horrific gameplay experience. [31] Despite critical acclaim, the title did not perform well commercially; [59] only 58,671 copies were sold by April 2000. [60]

Several publications praised the title for its open-ended gameplay. With regard to character customization, Trent Ward of IGN stated the best element of the role-playing system was allowing gamers to "play the game as completely different characters", and felt this made each play-through unique. [1] Erik Reckase writing for Just Adventure agreed, saying "There are very few games that allow you [to] play the way you want". [61] Alec Norands of Allgame believed that the different character classes made the game “diverse enough to demand instant replayability". [49] Robert Mayer from Computer Games Magazine called System Shock 2 "a game that truly defies classification in a single genre", and ensured that "the action is occasionally fast-paced, it's more often tactical, placing a premium on thought rather than on reflexes." [57]

A number of critics described the game as frightening. Computer and Video Games described the atmosphere as "gripping" and guaranteed readers they would "jump out of [their] skin" numerous times. [50] Allgame found the sound design particularly effective, calling it “absolutely, teeth-clenchingly disturbing", [49] while PC Gamer 's William Harms christened System Shock 2 as the most frightening game he had ever played. [55] Some critics found the weapon degradation system to be irritating, [62] and members of the development team have also expressed misgivings about the system. [22] [63] The role-playing system was another point of contention; GameSpot described the job system as "badly unbalanced" because the player can develop skills outside their career choice. [54] Allgame felt similarly about the system, saying it "leaned towards a hacker character". [49]

Along with Deus Ex , Sid Shuman of GamePro christened System Shock 2 "[one of the] twin barrels of modern [first-person shooter] innovation", owing to its complex role-playing gameplay. [64] IGN writer Cam Shea referred to the game as "another reinvention of the FPS genre", citing the story, characters, and RPG system. [65] PC Zone lauded the game as a "fabulous example of a modern-day computer game" and named it "a sci-fi horror masterpiece". [56] The title has been inducted into a number of features listing the greatest games ever made, including ones by GameSpy, [66] Edge , [67] Empire , [68] IGN, [69] GameSpot [31] and PC Gamer . [70] IGN also ranked System Shock 2 as the 35th greatest first-person shooter of all time. [71] X-Play called it the second scariest game of all time, behind Silent Hill 2 . [72] SHODAN has proven to be a popular character among most critics, including IGN, [73] GameSpot [74] and The Phoenix. [75]

System Shock 2 won PC Gamer US's 1999 "Best Roleplaying Game" and "Special Achievement in Sound" awards, and was a runner-up in the magazine's overall "Game of the Year" category. [76] The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated it for their "Role-Playing Game of the Year" prize, which ultimately went to Planescape: Torment . [77]


Sequel projects

System Shock 2 has amassed a cult following, with fans asking for a sequel. [69] On January 9, 2006, GameSpot reported that Electronic Arts had renewed its trademark protection on the System Shock name, [78] leading to speculation that System Shock 3 might be under development. [79] [80] Three days later, Computer and Video Games reported a reliable source had come forward and confirmed the title's production. Electronic Arts UK made no comment when confronted with the information. [81] PC Gamer UK stated the team behind The Godfather: The Game (EA Redwood Shores) was charged with its creation. [82] Ken Levine, when asked whether he would helm the third installment, replied: "that question is completely out of my hands". [83] He expressed optimism at the prospect of System Shock 3, [84] but revealed that EA had not shown interest in his own proposal for a sequel, and was not optimistic with regards to their abilities. [85] [86] Electronic Arts did not confirm a new title in the series and allowed the System Shock trademark registration to lapse. Redwood Shores' next release was 2008's Dead Space , a game with noted similarities in theme and presentation to the System Shock series. [41] According to Dead Space designers Ben Wanat and Wright Bagwell, their project was originally intended to be System Shock 3, before the release of Resident Evil 4 inspired them to go back to the drawing board and develop it into something more along those lines, eventually becoming Dead Space. [87]

In November 2015, Night Dive Studios, after acquiring the rights to the System Shock franchise, stated they are considering developing a third title in the series. [43] In December 2015, OtherSide Entertainment, a studio founded by former Looking Glass Studios designer Paul Neurath, announced they were developing System Shock 3 with rights granted to them by Night Dive Studios. [88] OtherSide had acquired rights to make sequels to System Shock some years before this point but did not have the rights to the series name, which Night Dive was able to provide. [89] The sequel will feature Terri Brosius reprising her voice for SHODAN, and will include work from original System Shock concept artist Robb Waters. [90] [91] Warren Spector, the producer of the first System Shock, announced in February 2016 that he has joined OtherSide Entertainment and will be working on System Shock 3. [92] According to Spector, the narrative will pick up immediately from the end of System Shock 2, with SHODAN having taken over Rebecca's body. [93] System Shock 3 will use the Unity game engine, with a teaser shown during Unity's press event at the 2019 Game Developers Conference. [94]

Starbreeze Studios was originally planning to provide a $12 million "publishing-only" investment in System Shock 3, allowing OtherSide to retain all rights while seeking a 120% return on investment followed by equal shares of revenue splitting. Starbreeze's investment will allow the game to be developed for consoles in addition to the planned personal computer versions. [95] However, in the wake of several financial problems in late 2018, Starbreeze has given back the publishing rights to System Shock 3 to OtherSide, and separated itself from the project. [96] OtherSide stated they had the capability to self-published System Shock 3 should they be unable to find a publishing partner but would prefer to have a publishing partner. [97]

Spiritual successors

In 2007, Irrational Games—briefly known as 2K Boston/2K Australia [98] —released a spiritual successor to the System Shock series, entitled BioShock . [99] The game takes place in an abandoned underwater utopian community destroyed by the genetic modification of its populace and shares many gameplay elements with System Shock 2: reconstitution stations can be activated, allowing the player to be resurrected when they die; hacking, ammo conservation, and exploration are integral parts of gameplay; and unique powers may be acquired via plasmids, special abilities that function similarly to psionics in System Shock 2. [100] The two titles also share plot similarities and employ audio logs and encounters with ghostly apparitions to reveal backstory. [101] In BioShock Infinite , Irrational Games included a gameplay feature called "1999 Mode", specifically in reference to System Shock 2's release year, designed to provide a similar game experience with a higher difficulty and long-lasting effects of choices made that would remind players of System Shock's unforgiving nature. [102] [103]

In 2017, Arkane Studios published Prey , which takes place on a space station named Talos I, [104] similar to System Shock. It, too, features psionic abilities, in the form of "Neuromods", [105] as a fundamental gameplay feature, and uses a mixture of audio logs and pieces of text to advance the game's backstory. Prey also features elements like hacking, crafting, and features a heavy emphasis on side-quest exploration and careful conservation of ammunition and "Psi Points", player stat that controls how many psi abilities can be used. The game features crew members who have become infected, though, not as the result of an AI, but instead as the result of a failure of containment around a mysterious alien species known as the Typhon. Within the game, references are made to System Shock's developers, such as the "Looking Glass" technology that plays a significant role in the story's plot. [106]

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