System Shock 2: The Von Braun incident Chapter 1 – A rude awakening
So I have finally gotten some time with System Shock 2. Even though I’m not that many hours into it, I will already call it a great game. I can see why people draw parallels between this and Dead Space, because SS2 feels like what Dead Space wanted to be, but fell short of.
The combat is harrowing. The monsters are fast and strong, and in spite of their size somewhat hard to hit. Possibly owing to the combat system being nothing to brag about, but considering the setting it really works. Had the combat been too simple, the risk of the game’s atmosphere being spoiled would be greater. Timing the wrench swings properly and dodging enemy blows correctly is tricky, but it feels like it’s supposed to be.
The inventory system is very basic, but being able to query any item in there for flavour text is a nice addition. I can also see the limited space leading to some strategic decisions down the road. And I like the ability to research certain things you find for additional back-story and bonuses to your character.
The maps seem to be based around free-roaming. You can at any time go back to an area you have already been to to get access to machines and items back there. And to be honest you kinda need to know where things are and how to best get there, especially when it comes to research that requires certain chemicals, or needing a recharge or vending machine.
That you actually need points in a skill to use it or the items governed by it adds some interesting strategy to the game, and is probably the main thing that was changed in Bioshock.
The audio logs help flesh out the world and provide details or hints about what happened on the Von Braun, or what life was like before disaster struck.
It is a genuinely unnerving place that manages to keep tension high.
Now as I was playing, I started keeping a running log written in-character. I figured that might prove as interesting a way to document my run through the game as any. Sadly all my screenshots ended up being blank (no clue why), so this will be text only.
Year 1 out of Chesapeake bay station: Signed on a tour as part of the UNN Lucile’s Spec Ops detail. Did some heavy lifting, worked out and got some insight into computer systems. Tour largely uneventful.
Year 2: The station doesn’t seem to have changed much since I left. For my second tour I went with the UNN Pierce and its mission to ferry freed political prisoners from Saturn. Learned much about the maintenance of weaponry and other ordnance. Again, little out of the ordinary about the tour, except the discovery of a dissident spy. Spy got summary execution.
Year 3: Noticed more bots around the station. Saw one in a cargo bay that I could swear was dancing. Didn’t hang around because I felt like the giant MP mech was glaring at me. I’m sure everything is fine. Decided to do my next tour at the Marie Curie Research facility helping them unlock the mystery of newly discovered virus that somehow pierced a city’s nanite shielding. Tour didn’t end well as saboteurs got to the facility and attempted to kill everyone inside with the virus we were studying. I was one of the few who got out.
Year 4 1st entry: Arrived at the Rickenbacker. Hoping this will be an interesting trip.
2nd entry: Where am I? I feel cold. Bloodstains on the floor. Someone is talking to me. Damage to ship. The satellite array outside just went crazy and parts of the room collapsed, nearly crushing me. There is a dead man in here. What in all the possible hells has happened? I can’t remember. There’s a wrench lying next to him. I think I’ll hang on to that, just in case.
3rd entry: Oh gods, the containment shields in the area are failing. Have to get out, through an airlock. Heard a woman screaming. Saw her run by the other side of the window. Someone was following her. Or at least, it looked like it used to be a someone, now it was more a something. It had a shotgun. Shot at the woman. Didn’t stay around to see if it hit or missed. I only have a wrench!
4th entry: Whoever is still alive is also fully aware that I am. She speaks to me. Urges me on. What has happened to this place? I am safe for the moment, and she has transferred some cyber modules to my rig so I can upgrade it. Already started modifying my setup in the hopes of better dealing with… I don’t even know. Found a disposable maintenance tool in my pocket. Why would I take that with me into cryosleep? Why was I in cryosleep to begin with? The woman said something… I don’t think maintenance is going to fix the… somethings, but it could still prove useful. Oh gods, something has knocked this door straight off and killed this man. Maybe I’m not that safe after all.
5th entry: I have secured the Cryo Recovery sector. Well, as best I can, at least. Bullet holes score the walls, there are dead bodies everywhere and bloodstains that are conspicuously missing bodies to go with them. I got some upgrades installed to improve my hacking skill. I’m more of an engineer than a fighter anyway. Looking at this mess, I sure wish I’d taken a repair course, though where would you start with a mess this big?
6th entry: I have a bad feeling about this. Even worse than what I already had. I managed to hack the keypad to a storage closet. As I succeeded a computer voice suddenly said “Security access compromised” twice. I’m not hearing any alarm, but clearly I have been discovered. I should get out of here while I can, and hope these boosters were worth it. Apparently the woman talking to me is Dr Janice Polito. Hopefully I can find her in time and get some answers.
7th entry: Okay, I must be losing my mind. I just saw a ghost. Maybe the incident at the Marie Curie gave me PTSD. I checked out one of the control rooms, found some stuff hidden behind emergency glass (this is clearly an emergency so I broke it), then went out into the hallway and there it was. Bright white. Standing at the door, saying it had forgotten its key card and wanted to be let out. I found a key card. Maybe that is the ghost’s? Either way, I am staying away from that door unless no other option presents itself. The dead bodies and blood are disturbing, but at least they’re not moving. Yet.
8th entry: Encountered my first things. They could talk. “You are not welcome here!” “Kill me!” Those voices will haunt my dreams. Luckily they didn’t have any firearms, so we were on fairly equal footing. They are not as fast or agile as me, but damn do they pack a punch. Clearly they were human once. What they are now, I couldn’t say. Extracted a strange object from one of them. Research will be required.
9th entry: Managed to find a place to conduct my research. DNA analysis confirms that these things were human once, but were invaded by some sort of parasitic worm that changed them. Hybridised their DNA with this… other. What I extracted seems to be some sort of central control organ. I know how to better strike these things now. Hopefully they’ll be easier to put down in the future. Computer has dubbed them Hybrids. As good a name as any, if a little unimaginative, but that’s computers for you. Though since I’ve been calling them things, I’m not really the one to critique. Nothing in the research suggests they can be saved, and even if they could be, I’m not really in a position to do so. Thankfully the Navy hasn’t left me entirely unprepared for combat. I need some food though. Couldn’t keep my last meal down after this. Into the science sector I go.
10th entry: Well, this place is a complete mess. I can’t even tell what caused some of the scoring on these walls. I’ve been informed about Xerxes, the security computer. Apparently it considers anyone left alive to be its enemy, and will sound the alarm if we are seen on one of its cameras. My hacking investments pay off already as I am able to blind them for long enough to take them out. I also found a Quantum Reconstruction Chamber. I do not enjoy the thought that I could get killed, but considering the circumstances it would be foolish to not acknowledge it. There was another Hybrid, and a man who had hanged himself in there as well. From the logs I’ve been finding, Dr Polito was worried that Xerxes was a little too easy to hack. It seems she might have been right. But who hacked in, and where did the parasites come from? My way forward is blocked, so I am looking for a way around.
11th entry: As if the cameras and hybrids weren’t enough, now I feel like I’m finding turrets everywhere I go. And a damn monkey with psi powers! There was another ghost as well, trying to shop at the vending machine. I didn’t feel like actually buying anything anyway. Luckily blinding the cameras also blinds the turrets, and I found that the monkey has a weakness to bullets. I am happily finding a lot of nanites around, so keeping security offline whenever I need it should not be a problem. I did manage to get that power cell recharged, but I want to make sure this sector is secure before I move on. Maybe more Hybrids will come back here eventually, but the less surprises the better. How many people were on this ship again?
And that’s it for the first round. Game crashed while fighting the monkey, so figured I’d take a break.
Any thoughts on the format, positive or negative, are appreciated.
Posted on September 12, 2012, in Games, Retrospective, Thoughts and tagged blind, chapter 1, EA, FPS, impressions, Irrational Games, log, Looking Glass Studios, PC, RPG, serial, System Shock 2, The Von Braun Incident, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.