PC Games System Shock Review

Published on June 3rd, 2023 | by S. Masoud Kazemi

System Shock Review

System Shock Review S. Masoud Kazemi

Summary: Having a System Shock remake was more of a necessity to experience the lore and story of this game rather than a simple cash grab. Nightdive Studios did a good job of recreating most of the game the same it was with modern standards, especially the combat and UI of the game.


Fine Remake

The very first question anyone, most importantly the studio and publisher of a game should ask themselves is whether this game we want to remake is first, whether is it worth it, and secondly is it necessary. In the case of System Shock, both of those factors can be seen since the original game was released back in 1994. It was one of the best games of that year, bringing a lot of new stuff for the sci-fi genre in terms of world-building and storytelling. It is the spiritual predecessor of the BioShock series that is considered one of the most profound games ever made.

System Shock Review

The start of System Shock is a little bit different from the original but that won’t last long and once the game starts, you are in the exact location where the original game started. Probably the biggest change you will notice if you’ve played the original one is the difficulty system. In System Shock, you can decide which aspect of the game you want to be easy and which is more challenging. You can choose to have the hardest difficulty in puzzles while seeing no challenge in combat, or vice versa. It is a much more diverse and dense difficulty system than the standard three or five overall difficulties we see in the games.

For appreciating the creative work of System Shock, I played the original for a little while before deep diving into the remake. My first impression after playing the original game after just 10 minutes was that this game really needs a remake. It’s not just the visuals of the game. The gameplay and most importantly the UI of the original System Shock is so outdated that a big portion of younger gamers couldn’t even understand how to play it, let alone play and finish the game.

For that particular reason, as I played more and more System Shock Remake, I appreciate the efforts of the studio for recreating this game faithfully and as well as they could manage. The most important aspect of the game they have changed perfectly is the UI. They have managed to make the UI feel modern but at the same time give the vibes from the original game. There is also the futuristic and cyberpunk theme to it that makes it even more match with the lore of the game.

Speaking of lore, the game is set in 2072 and you take the role of a hacker that manages to hack his way into finding some cyber-neuro technology but he is arrested and sent to a spaceship called The Citadel. Once the player wakes up there, you are tasked with disabling the empathy system of SHODAN, Citadel’s AI which leads to havoc and chaos on the board and now you have to take off this rogue AI.

System Shock Review

The story of a rogue AI may seem cliché nowadays, but back in 1994, there weren’t many games with such a story. The studio behind the game decided not to change anything in the story which is the correct choice to make, but they have changed little things like the audio logs or text longs you find scattered in the game.

The maze design of the game also hasn’t changed which makes the exploration a little bit frustrating but at the same time, it does help to give the players the sense of being alienated. The part that I didn’t enjoy that much however was the hacking mini-game. The idea and concept of having a shooter mini-game where you can move in six-axis rather than 4 is fun but controlling it is not that fun. And also for a mini-game, it does take quite a time to first learn the rules and then beat them.

System Shock Review

The combat in the main game however is doing what it should do. It’s not a super-fun shooter that you can’t wait to get into the battle and it is not that dull to make you bored. But the main issue in combats lies somewhere else, the AI of enemies. It seems the AI of the remake hasn’t improved much in the sense of changing how they attack depending on the situation. The real danger they propose is coming directly at you which can be overwhelming.

The biggest change in the game you will notice from the get-go is the visuals. Comparing two games side-by-side feels like you are saying how much the video game industry has changed, which is a good example. But the visuals aren’t the best part. They certainly do look amazing, until you decide to look too closely. There are objects in the game that can be seen pixelated easily. While some may argue it does add to the aesthetics of the game, this is not acceptable as we are nearly halfway through the 9th generation of consoles and PC hardware giving us 4K resolution with solid 60 frames per second.

System Shock Review

Final Thoughts

Having a System Shock remake was more of a necessity to experience the lore and story of this game rather than a simple cash grab. Nightdive Studios did a good job of recreating most of the game the same it was with modern standards, especially the combat and UI of the game. While the AI of the game could have been better and the hacking mini-game shorter, it is not something to ruin the experience of the game. The issue that will stand out the most is the pixelated items you can easily see in the game which I hope be fixed with an update.

About the Author

An admirer of art that doesn't stop talking about films and games.

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