System Shock 2 is an updated, pre-sequel to the 1999 original action-adventure RPG title, System Shock. Originally planned as a stand-alone title, its storyline was changed during development into a second game called System Shock 2. In the game, the player assumes the role of one of several main characters in the story, each with their own, unique personality and storyline. The hero, who is guided through the game by a mysterious, shadowy figure, finds himself locked in a room with dozens of zombies. The lone, however, is the hero’s only hope for escape.
Unlike the first game, System Shock 2 offers a greater role-playing element, though still retaining much of the basic gameplay of the original. As in the original, you play the role of a character in this interactive tale of a ruined world. Your task is to seek out clues and solve puzzles, exploring the dark, twisted rooms of the tower while battling creatures sent from the netherworld. This second game offers more of the adventure of the first, with a greater emphasis on role-play and character customization.
The basis of the story in System Shock 2 centers around the eerie, dreamlike atmosphere that dominates the world at the start of the game. Your character, wearing a jumpsuit that covers his or her entire body except for a few exposed appendages, is walking through a room. A little girl stands nearby, dressed in pink with a doll-like doll dollhouse doll, staring down at your protagonist. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning appears and shatters the glass covering the girl’s dollhouse, revealing the young girl screaming and crying in anguish as she is raped by creatures below. Your protagonist then finds help in the form of two soldiers clad in military gear, who take him to safety before leaving the area.
From here, the story takes an unexpected turn, as your protagonist suddenly passes out and becomes possessed by the demon that inhabits the first game’s engine. In order to save your protagonist, you’ll have to undergo the horrifying experiences of the game’s subsequent few levels, which include the room, blood spill, and blood shower scenes. These scenes prove that just like in the first novel, there are no boundaries to monster gore in System Shock 2; indeed, it goes even beyond the boundaries of reality. However, amidst this unnerving experience is a story that manages to bring humor to the otherwise terrifying concept of possession.
As in the first-person shooter genre, System Shock 2 plays the role of a third person shooter wherein you choose one of two unique classes (the Thin Man, the Heavy Man, or the Mechanic) and select your weapons from a variety of available guns. Each class has its own special attack, special moves, and inventory items that must be selected before you can engage in any action. When fighting hordes of mindless enemies that never seem to end, you’ll find that your arsenal of weapons, which are primarily meant for dealing out quick, one-shot kills, are only effective if used properly; hence, role-playing gameplay occurs through utilizing dual wielding weapons and skills to fight off waves of opponents.
The story begins with a seemingly ordinary night dive in order to investigate a series of murders that occur in the local city park. However, what you discover during your investigation will leave you questioning if perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye. As you progress through the game’s levels, you’ll find that the more you explore the park, the more sinister activities you discover for yourself. As you investigate, you’ll also discover that another, unidentified male has been sighted nearby, and he may hold the key to the city’s next murder.
Perhaps even better than the first-person shooter gameplay is the character customization aspect of System Shock 2. To further customize your character (which is done both by changing your skin and hairstyle), you’ll need to purchase a number of different costumes, each with different bonuses and capabilities. Another great feature is the skill tree – you can further customize your gameplay experience by improving your stealth skills, weapon skills, or healing skills. The result is that your character is unique from other players, and you have the ability to create a different experience every time through the game.
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A major component of the role-playing game experience is exploring, which occurs throughout most games but is especially emphasized in System Shock 2. In this game, you’ll uncover many items and clues as you wander throughout the facility. Each area is full of the stuff that you’ll need to survive, so be sure to scavenge thoroughly – don’t waste time hoping that a key will fall into your lap. In addition to finding items and clues, solving puzzles is another element of the gameplay – but don’t forget that solving puzzles isn’t always as easy as it seems. You’ll also need to engage in hand-to-hand combat, and if you are not careful, you may find yourself confronting hordes of enemies who are out to get you before you can get help.