System Shock Remake Review

Hello, hacker, it has been a massive 30 years since System Shock landed on our desktop computers (and before this reviewer was even born), and now the modern generation can see what everyone was banging on about for so long.

System Shock is a game that inspired many others, including the iconic BioShock, and now it is time to see whether or not the classic is still worth playing. So let us get onboard the Citadel and do battle with SHODAN once again.

 

Graphics and Sound

The main thing people use to compare remakes to their originals is to see how the game looks in comparison. This is one of the game’s biggest strong points, as the way the environments feel and look are decidedly darker and scarier than what I remember, but there are some retro nods, including a few pixelated bloody textures on the walls. The shadowy environments are only really broken by the ship’s lighting and the shimmer of some of the pipework, and that makes for a really creepy atmosphere, which, as a horror game fan, is a massive plus point for me. The enemy design is also something out of your nightmares, from the initial hollow-eyed mutants of the opening hours to the actual design of SHODAN, you can clearly see the love the developers have for the originals.

In terms of the sound effects, this again gives you such a sense of dread as you will hear eerie groans and not know where they are coming from. The soundtrack has also seen major changes from the maybe too loud and ear-splitting original to a more chilled ambient beat that incorporates a lot of clicking, clacking, and synth beats. This all culminates in a feeling that you are never truly safe, and that is exactly how a System Shock game should be.

 

Story and Gameplay

I will try and give a 30-second explanation of the basics of the System Shock story for those who aren’t aware of this game. It is the year 2072, and you play as a nameless hacker who is caught trying to access files on the TriOptimum Corporation-owned Citadel Space Station. You are then brought before company exec Edward Diego, who offers to forget your indiscretion in exchange for hacking into the SHODAN AI system that controls Citadel Station. Once the player does hack SHODAN, you then go under the knife to be implemented with a military-grade neural implant.

You wake up six months later and find out that SHODAN has taken over the Citadel Station, the robots onboard have been re-programmed to attack on site, and the crew that were there are either dead, mutated or transformed into cyborgs. Your mission, then, is to get to SHODAN before she executes its plan of destroying all major cities on Earth and establishing herself as a god.

In all honesty, this story is as enthralling as it was once it gets going and you enter the Citadel to shut down SHODAN. If you have ever played games like Portal, then you’ll understand the feeling of thinking you’ve outsmarted your AI enemy to access new areas, but never think you are in control as you’ll be given a rude awakening.

When entering combat with the enemies on the Citadel, it always feels like a challenge, but this is mainly due to the fact you are always running low on one of the three major items in the game, these being ammo, health and grenades. However, a majority of the time, I had enough ammo or grenades to make it through most battles.

Despite the combat being relatively good, when you compare it to modern games, it does fall a little short as there isn’t a great variety of weapons on offer, and most combat encounters do boil down to either tossing EMP grenades to let you move in for the kill with the wrench or just camp out far enough away to have a long-distance shootout, which isn’t quite what makes the grade these days.

Away from the combat, moving around the space station is pretty easy, and the puzzles are pretty simple and straightforward as long as you apply some common sense to them.

The only real negative, I would say, is that the objectives can be vague at times, which means it can be tricky to know what exactly you are meant to do next. Also, most objectives are tied to finding key cards, levers in specific rooms and other items of interest, which does scream early 90s game design.

 

Summary

Well, I think this is the easiest recommendation I have made in quite a long time. The developers have a clear love for the classic game, and they have tried to do their best to keep the feeling of the original while bringing the game into the modern era.

While the developer could have taken the Dead Space and Resident Evil series remake routes and changed some of the story to better suit modern audiences, they decided to stay as close to the original as possible. This will divide players as some may find the more basic objectives a bit boring and the lack of weapon variety as a negative, but if you go into this thinking you are playing a 30-year-old game on modern systems, then you should have fun.

Now, for those who have enjoyed this for a year on PC, it will be interesting to know if you think this is worth the fresh purchase over the Enhanced Edition that was released in 2015. If it isn’t that big an upgrade, the Enhanced Edition might be the way to go if you have a PC.

Overall, I think this is a remake that is well worth your time as you will finally get to experience the game that inspired so many others on your modern console, and then you can join in the conversation with your older gaming friends who may have experienced this game when it first came out.

Developer: Nightdive Studios

Publisher: Prime Matter

Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Release Date: 21st May 2024

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