Irrational Games' System Shock 2 is a cult classic hybrid game that straddles several genres: FPS, RPG, and action adventure. It also boasts an amazing science fiction story and some seriously spooky ambiance. In this episode, I offer the history of the game, showing how it can trace its lineage back to Ultima Underworld, a game with which it shares some very intriguing parallels. Like UU, SS2 was not originally conceived as a sequel, nor did it sell very well despite becoming very popular and influential later on. See below for info about getting the game working in Vista 64.
Okay, so here's what I did to get it working in Vista 64. I doubt any of this is legal, so just hunt down an original copy and older PC (Windows 2000 or 98) if you're worried about such things.
First off, do a full install of the game from CDs. This can be tough because Vista will tell you the setup.exe file is not compatible, yadda yadda. So right click on setup.exe and select "run in Windows compatibility mode" and select Windows 2000. Then it should install.
Then download the System Shock 2 Patch from here or elsewhere. If that link is dead, try Googling "system shock 2 patch" and you should eventually find it. I have also attached it to this post, which will hopefully still be active.
Now you may be able to get the game working if you right click on the shortcut or system shock game file (shock2.exe) and do the Windows compatibility thing again. However, at least when I tried this, I was unable to view any of the cut scenes. So, the next thing I did was install this patch and following the instructions; it takes several steps but gives you some pretty cool options. I also had to go a step further and download the legacy Indeo codecs. With this I was able to see the cut scenes in the game and separately by exploring the install directory.
This is a lot of trouble to go through, obviously, so let's hope and pray that some service like Steam or GOG will eventually add this game to their catalog.