The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 3 – Visions of splendour

Chapter 2

Chapter 4

It took longer than I had hoped because of distractions, but another bout with System Shock 2 has been had. This game is very, very good at unnerving me, so even with my growing abilities and resources I still feel uneasy playing it.

We can see your thoughts.

Looking back on Bioshock I totally forgot it actually had its own research mechanic with the camera. It came back to me once someone had pointed it out. In certain ways it’s a better mechanic, though it never really felt very essential, nor made much sense. If they wanted to reward me for encounters with the splicers and other enemies, why not simply grant me research points for defeating them?

SS2 is ramping things up against me now, with droids having become a fairly frequent enemy, and the reliance on scarce AP ammo to defeat them means I have to get even craftier. Or maybe I’ll actually be forced to use the vending machines to buy ammo. That could drain my nanite reserves quite rapidly. Using the wrench doesn’t really work as they explode when they go out. And the protocol droids just self-destruct anyway.

And with more Hybrids carrying shotguns around, it’s harder to avoid getting hurt in combat. It’s necessary taking them on, yet it feels wasteful, clunky and not worth it. I’ve started trying to sneak or run past them  when I can. It kinda adds to the whole horror atmosphere.


24th entry: Standing in front of the security door to Research and Development. I am feeling increasingly nervous. Dealing with the Hybrids is becoming almost routine, and the body armour certainly helps with that. I’ve hacked everything I could find in the Science Sector, so it should be safer to return here later. A few memories are coming back to me though. Reading the logs, I have to say some of it seems… familiar. There was… an incident. I volunteered. Got volunteered. Not entirely sure. Still no clue how we got from one Hybrid, to half the crew turned and the other half dead.

25th entry: Dr. Watts is dead. He died just as I found him. Said something about how ‘they’ want me. As a host, he said. Considering how these parasites work, I guess it comes as little surprise that they would kill me first. This thing Xerxes was talking about, the ‘Machine Mother’, could that be an ally? The enemy of my enemy and so on? I kinda doubt it. I’m not that lucky. The logs the captain kept on him told me the code I need. I’d better get moving before this place attracts more Hybrids. Or something worse. The damage I’ve seen; I have a hard time imagining the Hybrids and the monkeys did all of it.

26th entry: Somehow the maintenance droid got out of the maintenance area before I even unlocked the door. Even better, the thing attacked me. It was very slow though, so I managed to duck out of sight long enough to unload the pistol and load a clip of AP bullets. My hands were shaking a bit, though not as bad as I would have thought. I guess Xerxes controlled that one too. Could I have hacked it? I wasn’t thinking straight enough to make an attempt. And who equips a maintenance droid with ranged weaponry anyway?

27th entry: ‘He is working for them now’ she says. I already figured that because of his strange little speeches and attempts to murder us all. Anyway, the Engine Core is off-limits for the moment because of a radiation leak. Or maybe that’s just Xerxes’s excuse. The hallways have some dangerous leaks, at least. Sprinting through I can get by without long-term effects or the need for anti-rad hypos. But it’s not pleasant.

28th entry: Good news! I found a hazard suit. A little clunky to get into, and definitely not enhancing my eyesight, but it nevertheless helps greatly in these rad-riddled corridors. Maybe the shuttle bay holds more answers. Polito claims she has seen evidence of the invaders employing telepathy, at least over short distances. I’m not sure what to think of that. ‘Xenomorphs’, huh? I’ve always found that term a little weird.

29th entry: More voices. More death. And then… a vision. Hallucination. Something. The voices asked why I sided with their mother. I can’t recall having sided with anyone but myself. Apparently I have another chance to join them. Or they will ‘rend me asunder’. I might have gone crazy. It might be telepathic aliens. If they are the splendour of flesh, how can their mother be just cold metal? I do not understand any of this. Part of me doesn’t want to understand either. Engineering control is locked down, and a woman has the pass-code. She left a log saying she was going to Cargo Bay 2 to hide. I guess I know my next destination. Also; the protocol droids are now suicidal.

30th entry: These cargo bays are freaking me out. And I’m running out of AP ammo dealing with these droids. The current cargo bay only seems to have monkeys, but the little buggers are bad enough. Xerxes keeps suggesting I should surrender. I don’t really trust that computer, but I am tired. Is there anywhere on this ship it would be safe to sleep? Or even sit down for 10 minutes?

31st entry: Good news: I have found a laser pistol. Bad news: I am running out of supplies fast, and the woman is dead. She had the pass-code on her though. I have spent my last AP rounds dealing with all the droids around. Let’s hope the laser pistol will help. I do need to get it charged first, and I saw a charger in the shuttle bay. How many Hybrids have wandered back there and are standing in my way though? I have no way of knowing until I check.

32nd entry: With the laser pistol loaded, I decided to go up the lift to the command centre. Found another ghost, which had a rig and outfit strangely similar to mine. But it couldn’t have been me, because I watched him take his own life. I checked my head, and couldn’t find any holes in it. Maybe the madness is getting worse. Maybe Dr. Polito is just a figment of my imagination. Though if that were the case, where am I getting the cyber modules from?

33rd entry: The command centre for the shuttle bay was an utter mess. I got access to some rig upgrades, and there was a log. No sign of the man I’d seen blow his brains out though. This makes me uneasy. As for the the log, it was Diego again. I feel like I should know who he is, but the memory slips away every time I try to reach for it. Apparently the Many spoke to him as well. Did he see the horrible flesh-beasts too? And the spiders? He speaks of it as if it was alluring. I can’t agree with that.

34th entry: I found a curious organ in a security office. I made my way back to the Science sector to access the chemicals I needed to research it. Drawing upon tissue analysis and computer banks, the rig AI determined that it belongs to a creature that’s been dubbed an Annelid. Apparently these creatures have strong regenerative properties, and I could use this gland to heal my own injuries. The thought disturbs me. The Many have said they want to make me part of them. If I make one of them part of me, am I helping them out more than myself? I will keep this with me though. If there’s an emergency, I might use it. Now to go on to Engineering control and hopefully flush this radiation leak. It doesn’t sound safe, but then nothing is on this ship.


And with that I wrap things up for this time. Next week I’ll hopefully get next chapter done, but having said that I probably won’t be able to find the time. It would be typical.

Chapter 2

Chapter 4



Posted on October 7, 2012, in Games, Retrospective, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. It is interesting studying your reactions to things. Keep going..I am enjoying your account of playing through this for the first time.. 🙂

  2. It is also interesting to note how each of the characters in this story are subverted. Diego (as you know) feels a sense of connection through being part of the body of an army..working together as a common goal. Korenchkin is driven by power..corporate power. It’s not difficult to see why the vast majority of people could easily be seduced by something that offers anything that humanity might want..increased brotherhood with others, a sense of purpose, improved knowledge of the universe, power. We all have our weaknesses and how we could be enticed into joining with something that might or might not be seen as malevolent on reflection. I think it’s a reflection of our own world with a choice between individualism/capitalism and some kind of collective economic or religious order like communism or a church.

    Bioshock tried to show how individualism would produce an unpleasant environment where competition and a lack of restriction caused the downfall of a city. The people who work together are the ones that survive. The Big Daddies and Little Sisters. Tannenbaum and yourself..even The Family and Sofia Lamb are survivors.

    System Shock shows what happens when humankind are absorbed into some kind of collective whether by choice or by design. The survivors are those who fight the collective as individuals. I like how two different games turn the opposing premise upside down as a basis for the game.

    The comment about the ghost is a good one. What happened to the body? Doesn’t the ship seem to be missing a lot of people for a crew of perhaps several thousand?

    I’m sure the marines in the film “Aliens” were asking the same question when they got to LV-426..

    • Considering how the parasites work, I have some ideas, but then… why aren’t all the bodies taken? Does it have something to do with how the parasites are made? Can they only make so many at a time?

      It is quite interesting comparing System Shock and Bioshock. It is easy to see the similarities, and yet fascinating to examine the differences. Especially how the changes made to Bioshock to make it a more accessible game also made it a much less tense and scary game.

      • Mumbles nails your comment about Bioshock here. I think it comes down to that it doesn’t have enough emphasis on creeping around and scaring the player through stealth rather than fighting entire groups of splicers. It’s a more conventional game approach. It’s also why Dead Space isn’t as scary as System Shock as you’re usually fighting off hordes of enemies rather than having a few but very tough to kill bad guys.

        As for why some bodies remain..perhaps it has something to do with being able to move them or have access to them. Where you start at the beginning is behind a sealed bulkhead that needs a pass to escape. Plus without a elevator linking decks (due to the main power being off)’s hard to move bodies out of an area to somewhere else. The Von Braun incident has been happening over a month, so a lot of the bodies were probably removed before the main power was lost..

        • Mumbles did indeed nail it. 🙂 A good video as per usual.

          As for the bodies… I’m sure some were removed by the crew before everything went out of control, as for the rest, you’d think the Many would just have to send out parasites to reanimate them. Which is why I’m pondering how they breed the parasites and how fast they can do it.

          And it’s interesting that you mention Dead Space as well, as I’m watching Jesse Cox play through the first game. That game actually approaches scary, eerie and tense at times, but then it goes for jump-scares with enemies that pose little actual threat to you. Still, I quite enjoyed it.

          And then Dead Space 2 came along. Now, I enjoyed Dead Space 2 as well, but it felt like they weren’t trying to be scary at all any longer. It was just all monsters, all the time. Which was fine. The story was still nonsensically interesting. There was however one section in the game that was really eerie and unnerving, when it was just me versus the environment for quite some time. I actually felt quite relieved when the monsters showed up again, because it was finally something I could shoot at again.

          • The section of the Ishimura was my favourite part of DS2. It was quite scary to revisit a place that had been so bad first time around. I liked how there was a “coverup” with all the bodies and the bloodstains being cleaned and washed off..whilst the incident was sold to the population as a “terrorism” incident rather than what it was..a government science experiment that went badly wrong. The level being some atmospheric creepy area that was promising to kill you at any moment (but having zero threat) was indeed a master-stroke worthy of the Shalebridge Cradle in Thief III. The first section is completely harmless but it will scare you silly.

            If you haven’t seen it, then there’s a YouTube series here that is worth watching if you aren’t planning to play it..

            More parts after this one follow by the same guy (SnakeOilSage)

            I like also how you turn the power (and the lights) on early on in the quest..but it doesn’t make it any less scary. The light doesn’t comfort..the atmosphere is just too scary. Just like the Von Braun..!

          • Precisely. The Von Braun is perfectly lit up in pretty much every area I’ve been to, but it does not make any of it any less scary. You just get to see the damage much clearer, and try to imagine what could have done such things. It is a stroke of genius no doubt born from limited resources on the part of the development team. “Okay, we know lighting is hard, but we don’t need to worry about that, because we can freak people out even without shadows and darkness”. And that is a lesson I kinda wish had passed on into future games. We are naturally fearful of the dark, but there are other ways to entice the human imagination into scary places.

  1. Pingback: The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 2 « Wulf Space

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