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February 13, 2013 10:47 AM   Subscribe

After many years of uncertain licensing rights, System Shock 2 -- considered by many to be one of the best games of all time -- will be re-released tomorrow on Good Old Games at 11:00am. It raises many interesting questions, of course, that seem to have many interesting answers.
posted by SpacemanStix (110 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Fans will be able to apply the mods they know and love, and hopefully we may see some new mods from the community in the future."

Hooray!
posted by griphus at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an all time great game, and there is not enough money in the world to make me play it again. I bought and played it over a college winter break, and by the end I was marathoning it so it would be over, so that I wouldn't be that freaked out anymore.

It is some serious business.
posted by selfnoise at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I believe I had the first (which wiki says was 1994, wow) and couldn't get past the 4 digit pin code to get out of the initial level. (well lacked the patience to figure it out). Might have to look into the second (which I may also have been given as a gift, but never played ?), now that it's on GoG.

(Now if only my credit card company didn't charge me a foreign transaction fee every time I buy from GoG..)
posted by k5.user at 10:50 AM on February 13, 2013


I remember it being a cool but clumsily implemented game that was slightly more marketable and slightly less intelligent than System Shock 1. The big thing that killed it for me was guns constantly breaking.

With that said, it's interesting and unfortunate how often licensing rights make media inaccessible.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:52 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gog and Steam both? Really?
posted by boo_radley at 10:52 AM on February 13, 2013


One of the earliest mods/patches caused the guns to degrade much more slowly, and they say there will be built-in mod support. I wonder if it will support the co-op multiplayer?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:55 AM on February 13, 2013


Great news! I'm looking forward to the day when I can download SS2 on Steam where I can download all kinds of neat content at the built-in Workshop. The are several texture mods that makes the game look pretty good and imagine being able to reskin the enemies*.

* I'm currently playing Left 4 Dead 2 with a mod that replaces the Witch with Usama Bin Laden. Absolutely brilliant.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:55 AM on February 13, 2013


This game was amazing. Seriously it was just amazing.

I never made it past the red ninja-looking robots about halfway through the game, but it still provided me with endless creepy terrifying pleasure.
posted by gauche at 10:56 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, why are you firing guns? You wrench everything to death for at least the first two hours. Anything that can't be wrenched to death can be hacked, or shot by other, different things that can be hacked. By that point you have put enough points into weapon repair that it doesn't matter.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:59 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because I want to be as far away from BABIES NEED FRESH MEAT as I can while still killing it. That's why.

Also: spiders.
posted by griphus at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's possible that I played the game wrong.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2013


Yeah, I didn't do much shooting. I put a lot of points, IIRC, into psionics, which the internet tells you is a bad idea, but I found to be quite effective (especially invisibility).
posted by selfnoise at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2013


(Speaking of which, I think one of the very early patches was to remove the spiders.)
posted by griphus at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2013


AAAUGH KILL ME!

*shudder*
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I remember downloading a dodgy copy of this game and horrifying myself with pretty much everything that happened. You wouldn't think a shiny blue spaceship would be terrifying, but it totally was.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:02 AM on February 13, 2013


My understanding with psionics is that if you buy the wrong skills, you fuck yourself over forever, and you can't respec because this was the good old days when decisions were forever.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:02 AM on February 13, 2013


You wouldn't think a shiny blue spaceship would be terrifying, but it totally was.

If I was playing after dark, I had to play the game in 30-40 minute long bursts and then just watch sitcoms or read comics for another 30-40 minutes and then go back to the game.
posted by griphus at 11:04 AM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]





My understanding with psionics is that if you buy the wrong skills, you fuck yourself over forever, and you can't respec because this was the good old days when decisions were forever.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:02 AM on February 13 [+] [!]


Ah yes. The days of, "remember to save your game frequently."
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cool. I'll have to try this again. I played it a few years ago but it was pain to get running on Vista with a dual core processor. Looks like they've fixed a lot of those issues.
posted by octothorpe at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2013


remember to save your game frequently

Not only because you might screw yourself over for the entire rest of the game, but because your hardware might have a fatal disagreement with your software at the precise moment you fix the elevator.

Terror!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:07 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stagger Lee: "Ah yes. The days of, "remember to save your game frequently."


And in a different file each time. Especially Roberta Williams was involved.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:07 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]




because your hardware might have a fatal disagreement with your software

For a second I thought you meant this happened in-game.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone extremely interested in this game but to lazy to do the mucking around previously necessary to get it I am very excited by this!
posted by Artw at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if this will be using the unofficial Dark Engine patch that makes the game look nicer and play well on new systems. It would be really sad if it just used the hex-edited DDFix.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I played this with my girlfriend. She ran the character, I sat behind her with the map and walkthrough. (She couldn't navigate her way out of a paper bag; I got seasick looking at the screen for more than ten seconds.) We used cheats like mad, still scared ourselves silly, and beat the damn thing at last. It was a great experience.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:16 AM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is one of the few games from its generation that I haven't played and also haven't inadvertently spoiled for myself through Let's Plays or reading about it. Looking forward to picking it up tomorrow.
posted by codacorolla at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2013


FTA: GOG have since adjusted the game to iron out a few of the infamous bugs that previously the fan community had to try and work out with mods, but it mostly remains largely unchanged.

OK. I suspect GOG didn't adjust the game, but that they're using the unofficial patch. They'd be fools not to, really.

I wonder what happened behind the scenes. It would be really nice if the Dark Engine went open-source.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:29 AM on February 13, 2013


OK. I suspect GOG didn't adjust the game, but that they're using the unofficial patch. They'd be fools not to, really.

From the interview in the last link:

There are some user-made mods out there which do phenomenal work on the game’s stability, but none of them were quite perfect, so we took the game to our expert techninjas to analyse and swat the remaining bugs. It was some work to get it done, but as this is a game that we’ve wanted to release for four-plus years, it was also definitely a labour of love.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:39 AM on February 13, 2013


The first game was terrifying even with no voices (I had the floppy release) and with the difficulty set to easy (the baddies wouldn't attack you).

Granted, I was 14, but damn, they did a good job with the atmosphere and puzzles in that game -- I loved how scary it was.
posted by asperity at 11:59 AM on February 13, 2013


If gog can also get Grim Fandango, I'm going to be in heaven.

Also, this goes without saying, but I'd still really like to see a SS3, even if Levine has moved on to its spiritual successor and everyone says it's impossible in terms of the license. If the right people can just start talking and work out the financial arrangment, this has built-in grass-roots marketing potential. SS1-2 is stright-up SF on spaceships, and I'd really like to see more of this, along with some of the gameplay that made SS2 so awesome (and of which Bioshock seems to neglect as a gameplay element): limited resources that required a slower pace and a whole lot of thought about strategy. In terms of setting, I think that Deadspace 1-3 is probably cashing in a bit on the void that SS2 left behind and proves there's a viable market for it still, if not one that has actually grown since then. Bring back the same gameplay, and you'd have a very viable product that would do much better financially than SS2.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:01 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically, it's time for everyone to go and play through System Shock before tomorrow morning. The linked version has mouselook and better res textures.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:03 PM on February 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Basically, it's time for everyone to go and play through System Shock before tomorrow morning. The linked version has mouselook and better res textures.

Dude. I've been wondering for a long time how to play this.

And I'm sure this is the impossible dream, but this would be a really cool game to port to android.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. System Shock 2 was one of the first games that really creeped me out. I remember sitting at the top of an elevator shaft, hearing something shuffle around and talk to itself at the bottom, and thinking "I don't want to go down there...I don't want to see what's making that noise".

I may need to install it again, and play it only in bright daylight.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:15 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please let there be a Mac version.

Please let there be a Mac version.

Please let there be a Mac version.

Please let there be a Mac version.
posted by SansPoint at 12:21 PM on February 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Basically, it's time for everyone to go and play through System Shock before tomorrow morning. The linked version has mouselook and better res textures.

Ok, I just downloaded this, and with the higher resolution options and the mouse-look mod, this is very playable. I'm really excited about this, thanks for the link.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:33 PM on February 13, 2013


Is there some inks of shell to make dosbox type games work on Mac?
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on February 13, 2013


Artw:
Is there some inks of shell to make dosbox type games work on Mac?
Boxer which is basically amazing.

Roland MT-32 emulation! Including a virtual readout screen for secret messages!
posted by whittaker at 12:51 PM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Basically, it's time for everyone to go and play through System Shock before tomorrow morning. The linked version has mouselook and better res textures.

When you have the increased resolution and are not in mouselook, the cursor movement slows to a crawl. Is there a way to speed this up?
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:53 PM on February 13, 2013


Artw, I've had success with boxer.app in the past.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:53 PM on February 13, 2013


Oops whittaker beat me to it. But yeah it's rather legit.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:54 PM on February 13, 2013


Things I remember about this game:

1. Whining about how freakin' hard it was
2. OMG PLOT TWIST
3. "I am going to turn the lights on now, NOT because I am a huge terrified wuss but because I need to, um, find... something. Yeah."
4. HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT
5. "Um, I won't be in today. I have this... thing. That I must finish lest it haunt my dreams eternally. You know what? It's a head cold, OK? I've got a head cold."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:20 PM on February 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I bought system shock (1) in the box at electronics boutique. Couldn't get into it, the controls were a bit of a mess to me combining Myst with Doom. It looked kinda cool though, but I gave up on it almost instantly. I had the box for a long while.
posted by nutate at 1:28 PM on February 13, 2013


Basically, it's time for everyone to go and play through System Shock before tomorrow morning. The linked version has mouselook and better res textures.

I came to drool over and fondly reminisce about SS2 (oh god that one cargo bay full of crates upon crates of exploding servant-droid-things...so, so terrifying) but this, this is an unexpected bit of spectacular. I never made it through SS1, much as I wanted to, the interface and lack of mouselook was just too clunky and painful, so I'm looking forward to trying it out. Thanks, Pyrogenesis!

SS1 still doesn't have the amazing soundtrack and sfx of ss2, though. (SS1's soundtrack was a lot more Doom-ish at least as I remember it.) The Thief games and SS2 really raised the bar on voice acting and sound design in games.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:45 PM on February 13, 2013


SS1 actually doesn't have a proper soundtrack (except for the hilariously out of place elevator music), but a set of dynamically generated tracks that play around a certain motif.

The speed of gun degradation in SS2 was apparently a bug, it was supposed to be much slower. But I loved it, whimpering behind a corner, listening to the voices on the other side, with three bullets left in your pistol but the pistol so damaged it would probably fall apart after two. It also added a sort of scavenging element to it, picking up every gun and emptying it of bullets and checking whether it was in a better condition than your current one.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:55 PM on February 13, 2013


Absolutely phenomenal games, yet to be bested (though Thief 2 came close). The sequel came out on the same day as Half Life. I was a bit out of the loop but had been reading a lot about Half Life and how it was the most amazing thing that ever happened in the world. Popped into a game shop on a whim and saw that System Shock 2 was sitting there as well. Bought it instantly, Half Life be damned. That remains the single best decision I have ever made in my life.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:26 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was trying to find an interview where I read an interesting thing about this game, and all I got was this Gamasutra Postmortem (NSFW concept-art boobies on page 2). It not what I was looking for but a good read anyway.

The thing I originally read, and can't find, was with a lead designer on the game who'd claimed (in retrospect) that it would have been easy to 'fix' the weapon degradation problem by just adding one line of dialogue in the beginning of the game. It could tell the player something to the effect that the Many were pumping a gas into the ventilation systems that happened to have a really nasty effect on guns. Really, the designer had claimed, telling the player almost anything about why the guns are so fragile would have made people accept it a lot more readily.
posted by Monster_Zero at 2:31 PM on February 13, 2013


System Shock 2 is my favourite game of all time for a simple reason: I experienced it at exactly the right time and in the right frame of mind to lose myself into the experience entirely. Subsequent replays still elicit that same feeling strongly enough for it to remain at the top of my list.

When people talk about its (many) faults, I just nod and go 'uh uh, yeah, that's true, you got a point there' and go right back to playing it and loving it, warts and all. I am completely unable to maintain any real critical distance to the experience. Just hearing the name 'Von Braun' stirs some pretty deep seated feelings and memories. I've spent more time in that space ship than any other fictional world or setting.

I still have my original copy around, but any excuse to throw money at System Shock 2 is one I'll gladly take.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:56 PM on February 13, 2013


I tried to get SS2 to run on my computer about 6 months ago and failed. This is great news.

Was I the only person who played through it as the Marine? I wonder if I played it patched or unpatched... I remember the guns degrading fast, but was it crazy fast?

Amazing that SS2 came out the same time as Half-Life. I bet the alternate universe where the market success of those games was reversed is a freaking scary place. Spock probably has a beard.
posted by BeeDo at 3:23 PM on February 13, 2013


NONE OF THIS IS NEWS

ALPHA CENTAURI HAS A MAC VERSION

GOODBYE EVERYONE
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I HATE YOU

I LOVE YOU

I HATE YOU
posted by thecaddy at 4:12 PM on February 13, 2013


Whoa. Why didn't you guys tell me about Good Old Games before now? It's like literally every game I remember not being able to afford from 1994-2000. This is amazing.
posted by gauche at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Amazing that SS2 came out the same time as Half-Life. I bet the alternate universe where the market success of those games was reversed is a freaking scary place. Spock probably has a beard.

I definitely think SS2 is a better game than Half-Life, but my memories of the two games are completely different. I feel like SS2 was one of the last great games of the floppy disc era, while Half-Life just ... feels differently. Like it belongs to a different era and is a harbinger of things to come. This despite their obvious similarities in genre and subject-matter.
posted by gauche at 4:56 PM on February 13, 2013


There are some user-made mods out there which do phenomenal work on the game’s stability, but none of them were quite perfect, so we took the game to our expert techninjas to analyse and swat the remaining bugs.

If they're referring to anything as "not quite perfect", they're probably referring to DDFix, which was based on hex-editing the Dark Engine binaries. DDFix was nothing short of a miracle but it was and remains a kludge. Now that Newdark's out, nobody should be using DDFix.

However, if they're talking about the Newdark patch, which seems to have been based on leaked source code found in a Dreamcast dev kit, then they are full of it: I highly doubt their bug-squashing ninjas will have been able to match this amazing changelog. The Newdark patch does Direct3D 9, huge textures, better alpha rendering and particle effects, increased polygon/object limits, antialiasing, bugs in the (previously very crashy) editor, the whole nine yards.

It's annoying that GOG wrote off any and all fan mods as "not quite perfect", completely failed to mention Newdark, and then said that they got their "techninjas" to swat the remaining bugs. It's possible that the Newdark's anonymous author got in touch with Irrational Games and the GOG version is based on it, but if GOG got their source straight from Irrational, there is simply no way in hell that their patch will have all the bugs squashed. They'll have fixed the multicore bug and the Indeo movie codec bug, but they won't have gone through the engine and extended its capabilities the the way Newdark's author did.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:10 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


So...what's the deal? Should those of us who never played SS2 go for the GoG version? Or hunt down an original version that can be used with Newdark?
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:19 PM on February 13, 2013


Whoa. Why didn't you guys tell me about Good Old Games before now? It's like literally every game I remember not being able to afford from 1994-2000. This is amazing.

GOG is one of my favorite things in the whole world, and a beacon for good in our DRM infested universe that doesn't care about the old guard any more. Welcome to this little oasis of happiness.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:23 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Should those of us who never played SS2 go for the GoG version?

We don't know what the GOG version will be yet- it could have Newdark built in. If not, I'm certain people will be able to unzip Newdark into the SS2 folder and have it just work.

If GOG wrote their own patch, I would be astonished if it's better.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:30 PM on February 13, 2013


If Marathon's Durandal had been given a voice and a female face with circuitry lines on it, he'd be even more fondly remembered than SHODAN.

Which goes a long way to explaining why Bungie made Cortana the way that they did.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2013


I still got a rip of my SS2 cd on my hard drive, so that's great news! I recommend y'all play it with headphones and lights off.

Consult your doctor first.
posted by ersatz at 6:04 PM on February 13, 2013


If Marathon's Durandal had been given a voice and a female face with circuitry lines on it, he'd be even more fondly remembered than SHODAN.

My abiding love of Marathon (especially Durandal) is what's made me want to fill the SS2 sized hole in my gaming career. I can hear the theme in my head if I just think about it for a moment.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I aquired a copy of SS2 about 10 years ago and spent hours being scared shitless. I mean the first weekend I had a marathon session Friday evening then didn't sleep the rest of the weekend. Never beat it though and was pretty sad when I was unemployed for a while that I couldn't get it to run on my current machine. Have to see if it'll run for me now.
posted by Mitheral at 6:59 PM on February 13, 2013


System Shock 2 gave me one of my most memorable gaming moments. This is a very slight spoiler, so you might want to skip this comment if you're a total virgin to the game.... you really want to go into this one with as little foreknowledge as possible.

**** start minor spoiler ****

I think it was on my second playthrough, a few years after it came out. (in my first run, I'd gone for psionics, which is a Bad Idea on your first playthrough, and I gave up.) I remember prowling around through an under-deck area somewhere, and I needed to wait a little while, not sure why anymore. So I just sat there, listening to a nursemaid singing to her 'little ones'.

So I was really and truly listening, and for some reason, it finally hit me what a nursemaid was. I suddenly understood, all the way to my bones, that that thing I thought of as a monster was actually a human woman with her brain hijacked. I didn't know about, say, the cordyceps fungus at the time, but that would only have made it worse. It truly sunk in that that had been a person, and that she'd been rewired into singing for worms instead of for babies; she'd been stripped of most everything but her fundamental maternal urge. And it terrified me.

Before that moment, I did not understand what the word 'heebie jeebies' really meant, as I'd never had them before. I think every hair on my body stood straight up, and I shuddered a little. Suddenly, it wasn't a game anymore, and I felt very real anger and grief at what had been done to that woman, singing to her little ones that needed lots of meat. It was very intense, and I needed to save and exit for awhile, to remind myself that This Is Just A Game, because it had gotten way, way too real.

**** end minor spoiler ****

System Shock got me bad. That game is always scary, but at that moment, it became something else... I want to say horrifying, but that's not exactly right. It was a combination of sympathy, dread, and horror all at once. It was remarkably complex, and I don't think it would ever have happened without their extraordinary skill level and attention to detail. They thought that game "world" through better than almost any other game I've ever played, and that depth elicited a total buy-in from me. They thought about everything. An astonishingly intelligent team used all their various forms of expertise to build a world that is immersive, and has depth, like almost no other title.

And, yes, it totally holds up, especially if you use one of the mods with higher-res textures. The engine, with a few tweaks, still looks fairly good. If you feed it high-resolution textures, well.... you won't confuse it for a modern game, but I don't think it will make you grit your teeth, either.
posted by Malor at 8:22 PM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It was remarkably complex, and I don't think it would ever have happened without their extraordinary skill level and attention to detail. They thought that game "world" through better than almost any other game I've ever played, and that depth elicited a total buy-in from me.

I read a portmortem where the project manager at the time said that there weren't many people on the team who had more than a few months of experience in the industry, including artists, level designers, etc. This, to me, makes this accomplishment even more amazing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:43 PM on February 13, 2013


I'm completely comfortable with the fact that my first reaction to reading this was an involuntary squeak of joy.
posted by ChrisR at 10:11 PM on February 13, 2013


I'm delighted that this is getting released again - it's a great game.

One word of warning for any arachnophobes out there - this game has the scariest spiders I've ever seen in any game. I remember just emptying fulls clips into the ground to just make absolutely sure that they were dead dead dead. This is in a game with a certain degree of ammo rationing and a significant level of gun decay.

There is a mod that removes the spiders, but then it wouldn't be SS2.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:57 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Were the spiders psionic, or was that just the monkeys? Because the monkeys can go to hell, too.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:54 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having a hybrid sneak up on me silently then suddenly let out that horrible, demented moaning before pummeling me into almost instant death was the most frightening experience I've ever had playing a computer game. I was about 23 at the time and if I'd been 15 years older I probably would have had a heart attack.

And then there were the monkeys...
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:01 AM on February 14, 2013


I read a portmortem where the project manager at the time said that there weren't many people on the team who had more than a few months of experience in the industry, including artists, level designers, etc. This, to me, makes this accomplishment even more amazing.

I think that might actually have been an advantage, because instead of being limited by what was believed to be possible, instead of doing it like everyone else did it, they did it right. They imagined their universe and the technology that filled it, and came up with what feels like semi-plausible designs for 'huge ships in space', for a culture that's been doing ships in space for a very long time, and is past simple functionality. At least, the individual bits never felt out of place when you were in them, be they large staff cafeterias, or cargo bays, or drive nacelles. I can't remember seeing anything that didn't feel like it belonged right where it was. (well, okay, except for the Big Plotline stuff, but that's supposed to be out of place.)

Skill and experience are not the same thing at all. They're often correlated, but especially in a discipline as young as computer gaming, raw intelligence and creativity were probably more important than having created five other titles first.
posted by Malor at 4:22 AM on February 14, 2013


In response to Malor's comments, the only parts that felt really out of place were the monkeys - too many and the handwaving on why they were there felt weak to say the least - and the cargo bay full of service droids (why so many on a research vessel? Why were they crated up rather than in use?).

I wouldn't change either though: the monkeys were a deeply memorable enemy - I still remember their screams - and working through the warehouse with low health, low quantities of anti-droid ammo, and a gun in bad repair was a nerve-wracking experience.

To be honest, the monkeys were fully justified on the weight of the basketball court easter egg alone.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:44 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Simply one of the best games ever made, which has never been displaced. I remember playing BioShock and realizing basically immediately that it was a SS2 port done only mediocrely. Hell, as soon as you figure out that the first level is indeed the medical wing all over again, further "plot twists" can hardly surprise you.

I'm always amused by the fact that two of my favorite games, SS2 and Deus Ex, are nominally first-person shooters, because I typically hate first-person shooters. But in neither case did I play them as such; I'm here to tell you that you can totally go psionic on your first playthrough and it will totally be fine. Just augment your brainburns with a little hacking and tech ability and you'll be golden.

Also, if you are among the enviable many about to play the game for the first time, take my advice: turn the lights off, get good headphones or surround speakers, and play with your back to the door. SS2 isn't horror. SS2 is scary, and you'll be able to hear it coming way before you can do anything about it.
posted by Errant at 5:52 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Errant, I say this every time we have such a thread, but get on Steam and buy Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines. It is a truly remarkable example of the form and one of the best fusions of FPS and RPG ever. The characters physically emote, the plot is cool, it captures the World of Darkness setting utterly perfectly, and the vast number of sidequests and skill/power sets makes for a ton of replay value.

Be sure to download the unofficial patch that fixes all the bugs and restores all the content that Troika left unfinished due to their bankruptcy causing the game to be released not quite done. If you have the Steam version you do not need the 1.2 patch, that is only for people with physical CD copies. Use the Plus option instead of the Basic option- there's nothing in it that wasn't meant to be in the game.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:59 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The shrieks of the monkeys, and the horrible gasping "I'm sorrrrrryyyy" of the hybrids, are burned in my brain. I didn't even know they were there until reading this thread.
posted by gauche at 6:06 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The worst party about the hybrids is that the Many didn't take over their minds or their voices, just their bodies. They are wandering around the Von Braun, screaming to anyone who can hear them to stay away, and when they finally find someone, they beg for death and apologize as they attack. It is really disturbing. At least the midwives enjoy their horrible task.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:23 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Errant, I say this every time we have such a thread, but get on Steam and buy Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines. It is a truly remarkable example of the form and one of the best fusions of FPS and RPG ever. The characters physically emote, the plot is cool, it captures the World of Darkness setting utterly perfectly, and the vast number of sidequests and skill/power sets makes for a ton of replay value.

I played a lot of V:tM growing up, but when I got around to Bloodlines a couple years ago, my playthrough stalled out. I'd like to see a not-terrible sequel built on Gamebryo.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:30 AM on February 14, 2013


As a person who has probably dumped 700+ hours into Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and a good 100 into Oblivion and Skyrim, I'd like to see Gambryo dropped.

From a tall building.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:35 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now then. I gather everybody's finished with their SS1 playthrough. And now - SS2. Remember to apply the hi res / hi poly patches at the minimum. Or better yet, take your time and before playing follow this, and then play. (Disclaimer: none of the mods have been tested on this version.)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 8:08 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's show a little love for Kieron Gillen's amazing article The Girl Who Wanted To Be God (contains spoilers) as he even namechecks the Blue (which in turn namechecks RPS - so incestuous!)

And if you haven't read his Journey Into The Cradle piece on the greatest single level of any computer game ever then you've missed out.
posted by Molesome at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, it's out, but for Windows only. Will the abovementioned Boxer enable me to run it on my Mac?
posted by oneironaut at 9:34 AM on February 14, 2013


oneironaut: Sadly, boxer is for DOS games only. I would suggest either Bootcamp or, given the age of the title, seeing how well Parallels or VMWare chews through it.
posted by whittaker at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2013


Thanks, whittaker. Actually, I'm reading that WINE handles it nicely.
posted by oneironaut at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2013


I wonder if this will be using the unofficial Dark Engine patch that makes the game look nicer and play well on new systems.

I hope so, if not it should be patch compatible. I got it running with no issues back when the Engine update came out a bit ago, and it looked pretty damn nice considering the age. There's also the SHTUP mod for adding in HD textures, as well as Rebirth for nicer (higher poly count and texture res) character models, or alternatively the Arcaniac mod (same idea, compare screenshots to see which you like better). Not sure if GOG has a mod manager interface strapped in to this release, but if not you may want to check this out to handle the installs and such.

Once you get all the tweaks strapped in, the game looks a damn sight better than before, and the terror can continue anew!
posted by FatherDagon at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


SS2 pitch.
posted by ersatz at 11:13 AM on February 14, 2013


SS2 has chests and the like, but the most common way the game gave you items was from dead bodies. Dead crew, enemies that you've killed, etc. I remember finding a room with dead bodies all over the floor and instead of recoiling in horror or whatever, I was thinking "Jackpot!"

I might be desensitized.
posted by cyberscythe at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


SS2 has chests and the like, but the most common way the game gave you items was from dead bodies. Dead crew, enemies that you've killed, etc. I remember finding a room with dead bodies all over the floor and instead of recoiling in horror or whatever, I was thinking "Jackpot!"

A lot of games are like that. I stopped trying to avoid pissing off Caesar in New Vegas once I realized that Legion Hit Squads are actually tribute- Caesar is so afraid of me that he is sending me care packages of XP, money, guns, and ammo!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:39 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Legion hit squads are freaking awesome, mainly because there is something like a 75% chance that the team leader will carry a Super Sledge - those things are worth their weight in bottlecaps, and as Boone (my designated pack mule for much of the game) can testify, they weigh a lot.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:43 PM on February 14, 2013


There's no Mac version. I am both happy and sad.
posted by SansPoint at 5:10 PM on February 14, 2013


So I'm downloading the GOG version right now. Anyone already installed it? Does it need further patching?
posted by Mitheral at 6:26 PM on February 14, 2013


Pope Guilty, my copy of Bloodlines sits next to SS2 in my old-school CD book. Fantastic game as well, and one I go back to frequently.
posted by Errant at 2:17 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got it up and running (this is the third time I've bought SS2). I honestly can't tell you if the graphics are original or just bad, but it is running smoothly at 1900x1280 and this is not a game you play for the graphics.

It's harder than I remember - the turrets keep tearing me up on Normal difficulty. Remapping the controls was a surprise as well - I'd forgotten that there was a time when WASD wasn't industry standard.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:23 AM on February 15, 2013


Update:

The talk of the community patches and NewDark being "not good enough" was BS. The release includes NewDark and an out-of-date version of ZylonBane's SS2Tool.

Everything that was fixed in this release, was fixed by community mods. The only "techninjas" out there were unpaid and uncredited.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:37 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, my copy of Bloodlines sits next to SS2 in my old-school CD book. Fantastic game as well, and one I go back to frequently.

The only reason my Steam time for Bloodlines doesn't exceed my Fallout 3 time is because I played it back before Steam tracked playtime accurately and didn't wipe your time played at random.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:34 AM on February 15, 2013


and this is not a game you play for the graphics.

They were actually good graphics back in the day. And you try and tell the young people of today that... they won't believe you.
posted by ersatz at 3:59 AM on February 15, 2013


Back around 2000 or 2001 was one of the first times I ever felt old (I was only 18!) was when I saw an article on probably GameSpy where they gave a bunch of six year olds an NES and several games to play and asked them what they thought. Damned little whippersnappers talked nine kinds of shit about Super Mario Brothers!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:37 AM on February 15, 2013


Yeah, you've reminded me that I never did finish my Malkavian playthrough. That should be remedied.
posted by Errant at 6:07 AM on February 15, 2013


They were actually good graphics back in the day. And you try and tell the young people of today that... they won't believe you.

Allow them to play only Maximum Overkill until they escape their HD cave and learn to perceive the Platonic form of "good graphics." Or point out that they don't seem to mind 18 bit, low-res graphics on platforms like the DS...

Or Portal's, for that matter, which are sort of similar to SS2 (from the trailer).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:23 AM on February 15, 2013


Yeah, you've reminded me that I never did finish my Malkavian playthrough. That should be remedied.

You guys are going to shame me into finishing Bloodlines.

Thanks!
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:24 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well got it installed and then had some weird DX error. Running the DX installer/update fixed that and the game seems to be working correctly now.
posted by Mitheral at 9:19 AM on February 15, 2013


Bought it and downloaded it this morning before work. But have to wait until tonight to start playing. Is there a good strategy guide to follow? The last time I attempted it, I remember that I managed to play myself into a situation that I couldn't get out of and ended up giving up (and then my computer died and I lost those saves). Is the Prima guide linked above good enough?
posted by octothorpe at 10:38 AM on February 15, 2013


Can't see the link to the Prima guide, so I can't comment on that. From what I recall, save Psionics for until later - you should realise which ones will be useful to you soon enough. Avoid heavy weapons, IIRC, don't bother with high level exotics either. Energy weapons are nice, but the standard weapons do fine for every enemy that I recall.

The assault rifle is my weapon of choice once I can actually use it.

I'd suggest favouring the wrench as your primary weapon to begin with (+2 str with the starter missions + the strength boost from the first hackable door = one-hit kills for the hybrids and monkeys etc.). +2 strength at the beginning gives you more inventory as well.

Not sure how you managed to get yourself in an unwinnable position, to be honest. If you're low on resources, head back to the medibay and kill the random spawns with the wrench for nanites to pay for bullets and stims.

It's been too long since I played all the way through to give advice beyond that, but I plan on giving it a go this weekend, so we'll see if my memory holds.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:46 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Allow them to play only Maximum Overkill yt until they escape their HD cave and learn to perceive the Platonic form of "good graphics."

Damn, voxels. I have a spot soft for games with voxels. I'm also happier than I should be that this is the 100th comment on a SS2 thread.
posted by ersatz at 5:14 PM on February 15, 2013


Pleased to please!

You might dig Codermind's voxel series: (1) Building the Terrain (2) Visibility & Occlusion (3) Beautification and Features (4) Conclusion & Future Work
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:34 PM on February 15, 2013


Hmm - I'd forgotten how nice the EMP rifle is. And that the health stims heal over time - chewed through a LOT of them before I realised that. Leaning around corners reduces the chance of getting hit.

Research everything (obviously)
Always unload every gun that you run across (including all those jammed shotguns)
Search everywhere
Hitting 'Enter' or 'U' will play any unread e-mails. You can also recall them with the icons in the bottom right of the inventory screen.
You don't actually need to kill everything - if they don't drop anything you want, and if you can just run away, do so. Enemies despawn over time. Kill: hybrids, maintenance bots; don't kill if you don't have to: monkeys, droids, midwives, spiders, worms, turrets etc.
It isn't worth getting an egg to open to have a chance at the tasty contents - better off destroying from a distance
If you hack a security station, cameras and turrets won't activate for a while (unless hurt). You can hack turrets (hack: 4) and they'll turn to your side. Seldom worth doing, but saves ammo.
Health is cheap - just run to the nearest healing station (once you've opened up at least one). Death is cheap too - 10 nanites to teleport to the regeneration device - bargain. Just remember to turn it on before you try it...
You don't need to hack vending machines, but there's plenty of cash in the game and what else are you going to spend it on? Good for stocking up on cheap bullets. Don't buy anything from a vending machine you haven't hacked - you're paying double what you need to.
There are four 'powerup' stations in the game, and they all share the same list of possible perks. Good ones: inventory space, run speed, damage etc. Bad ones: map function, 8 upgrade modules, most of the others.
There is no map on the second ship.

All I can think of at the moment.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:36 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


And that the health stims heal over time - chewed through a LOT of them before I realised that. Leaning around corners reduces the chance of getting hit.

Oh god, really? Oh my god. I had no idea. So many wasted stims!

Good ones: inventory space, run speed, damage etc. Bad ones: map function, 8 upgrade modules, most of the others.

Now that is exactly the sort of info I need. Thanks!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:20 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So -- after the GoG version installs, would the correct order to apply patches be:

(1) SHTUP

(2) Rebirth

(3) ADaoB

??
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:53 AM on February 17, 2013


That patch order sounds about right - SHTUP and Rebirth shouldn't conflict, but ADaoB does play around with stuff from the other two, I think. Started reading the patch notes, but there's a LOT there.
posted by YAMWAK at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2013


Are those patches bug fixes or updated content?
posted by Mitheral at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2013


First two are graphic updates - well worth installing, to be honest.

I haven't tried "Anomalies, Discrepancies and outright Bugs" and the patch notes are a little too long for casual reading, but it seems to be a rebalancing mod and bug-fix pass, with some of the bugs impacting the graphics. SS2 is not bug-heavy - another significant achievement of the team - but the different weapon systems are unbalanced (standard weapons, particularly the assault rifle, are deemed overpowered, and the others seem to be deemed to be a little weak).
posted by YAMWAK at 10:47 PM on February 17, 2013


Played a bit over the weekend am somewhere about halfway through the Engineering Deck. I love how fast this game loads on a modern system, hit the icon and you're up and playing within fifteen seconds. Nice contrast to the interminable loading screens on most new games.
posted by octothorpe at 6:44 AM on February 19, 2013


After your comment, octothorpe, I timed my startup - four seconds, including the time to click 'ok' on the admin permissions box. It does make you wonder why new software is so much slower and has so many ad screens on startup.

Finished the game for the umpteenth time. Didn't bother with psionics at all, and didn't really notice the lack.

If anyone is curious, a standard and energy weapons play-through on normal is easy:

I ended with:
Standard weapons 6 (Assault Rifle - Yay!)
Energy weapons 6 (EMP rifle yay)
(Standard weapons are your meat and potatoes, energy weapons are there to conserve ammo)
Heavy weapons 0: no need
Exotic weapons 0: likewise

Strength 6: better armour, more inventory space, better melee damage - what's not to like?
Cybernetic Ability 6: hacking security consoles to make turrets harmless is well worth doing. The crates are (tasty) gravy.
Agility 6: Last upgrade I bought. Nice, but not essential
Endurance 3: More HP are nice, but you're not likely to run out in a single fire-fight on normal. Higher difficulty and it'll be more useful
Psy ability 1: never used it

Hack 6: See comments above
Modify 1: We all make mistakes. There are enough French-Epstein devices to modify the key weapons on normal (assault rifle, emp rifle, laser)
Repair 0: You really don't need it. There are repair devices out there if you're feeling fancy, but they are pretty much optional too
Maintenance 6: EMP rifle needs level 6 to maintain
Research 4: If you're not bothered by underpowered exotic items, this plus a research implant is all you need

Gear
Two strength boosters near the beginning were very handy - when one runs out, equip the other
There is one point late in the game where the enviro suit is handy. That's it. Unfortunately, it is very handy at that point, so you might as well lug it around

OS Upgrades:
Inventory space (natch), run speed, ranged weapon damage and second implant slot
In that order, and I really didn't use the last one, it's just that the rest of the options were worse.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:27 AM on February 20, 2013


Count me in as someone who hadn't heard of GOG before somehow!

I just played through this game for the first time, and finished it.
[I don't play all the way through very many games. SMB3, river city ransom, ffvii, bioshock, guitar hero 2, and that might be all]

It was suitably scary, and had a compelling plot, and I couldn't believe it came out as early as it did. I played bioshock whenever it came out and my friend bought it, and I think that I was about 100% more creeped out by the little sisters than by anything in SS2. If I played SS2 first I might have felt differently, but bioshock was clearly superior in all of the ways that I cared about. Most importanly, the fact that you get a sort of choice about how you behave when given the option to murder [sort of] children for a reward vs SS2's script on rails ["nah"? ]
SS2 got way less creepy towards the end than at the beginning with the hybrids who could kill you immediately but you had to club with the wrench anyway. The feeling of death looming behind every corner at the hands of a thing screaming that it is sorry? Excellent!

The only actual problem I had was hunting for the 16 things on the rickenbacker because the screen was so dark that I missed an entire *hallway*. I just about gave up entirely, but thankfully the rickenbacker wasn't really that big and I could do the old wolfenstein 3D trick of just running at an angle into every wall until I found one that I could walk through. Boo.


Clubbing things to death was very satisfying throughout, and my only regret was not bringing a wrench to the final battle.
posted by Acari at 12:37 PM on February 21, 2013


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