The History of System Shock 2

Matt Barton's picture

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.

AttachmentSize
shkpatch.zip4.03 MB

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Thanks for this heads up!

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
About "Deus Ex."

Perhaps I didn't read the manual, but I approached "Deus Ex" as just another shooter, and probably went around blasting everything that moved. From this perspective, "Deus Ex" appeared to me to be a rather pedestrian FPS. It wasn't until afterward that I read that it was a "deep" game.

I came to a point that I just got bored, and set "Deus Ex" game aside. Reading these comments makes me want to give it another chance, especially since the apparently-similar "System Shock 2" seems like such a chore to run on modern systems.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I remember Deus Ex as well.

I remember Deus Ex as well. One thing that feels a bit wonky in a game like this is the idea that some sort of grafted on stats/leveling system is affecting physical skill (your ability to move and target things with the mouse/gamepad). In some of these games it is literally the gun missing according to a dice roll whether you aimed accurately or not (Fallout 3, anyone?). There's a definite disconnect there that is affecting realism and immersion.

I could be dead wrong about this next point, but isn't it true that someone who is really good at aiming one type of gun will automatically be a better shot using another? How much difference is there, really, in lining up the sites on an AK-47 and, say, a hunting rifle? The sharpshooters I know seem to be good shots at whatever firearm you give them, be it a pistol, rifle, etc. Yet in some of these games, a crackshot with a pistol will suck horribly when firing a rifle or machine gun.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Just a head's up that there

Just a head's up that there probably won't be a Matt Chat this week. I have a conference here tomorrow and a bunch of other stuff, so had to put the MC on hold. Sad to say, I was going to do it anyway, but then my lav mic ran out of batteries and I have no way to get to the store to buy a new one! So, just wasn't meant to be this weekend I guess.

At any rate, it'll definitely be ready next week.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
System Shock I

By the way, apparently, the first System Shock game is available as FREEWARE. You can find it here:

http://www.thegamehippo.com/game.php?Game=7830100

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