Look at you, Hacker (yet again)
September 22, 2015 9:02 AM   Subscribe

It seems that with little fanfare, gog.com released System Shock: Enhanced Edition. This is not System Shock 2 (see previously) that was released to the happy tears of many in 2013, but the game that started it all in 1994. And it's ENHANCED. Although we already know that gog.com rocks the house, the takeaway here is that this is an official, supported re-release that has been years in the wanting, with a lot of creative workarounds before now.

"System Shock: Enhanced Edition now comes with official support for resolutions up to 1024x768 (compared to the original 640x480), and a native 854x480 widescreen mode. Gameplay is streamlined with a toggleable mouselook mode, including more intuitive inventory and item management. Combined with assorted bug-fixes and remappable controls, System Shock is now truly enhanced. Still, some gaming experiences are truly worth preserving, so you can also return to the authentic 90's gameplay with System Shock: Classic - ready for modern systems, completely unaltered in all other aspects, and available in both the CD and Floppy editions!"
posted by SpacemanStix (30 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
AAAAH. I've never played the original, but System Shock 2 is a top 10 game of all time. This is very good news.
posted by naju at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you like long, barely-produced podcasts with people talking about video games, Game Club 199X did an episode on System Shock.

Has anyone played this yet? Is it ... playable? Even with the workarounds and hacks I couldn't do too well in it last time I tried because my brain just can't acknowledge this isn't mean to play like a "regular" FPS.
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got a copy of this not long after it was released, and despite the clunkiness all I could think of while playing it was, why isn't everyone in the world playing this? don't they GET what this means for gaming?

Looks like I'm going to be buying it again, despite having kept my original disc in pristine condition all these years.
posted by vanar sena at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I wonder if this means we'll get Ultima Underworld enhanced editions.
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Windows only. System Shock 2 did get a Mac release eventually, so fingers crossed.

(Then again, like I really need ANOTHER game to distract me these days.)
posted by SansPoint at 9:18 AM on September 22, 2015


Video games are a sometimes surprisingly ephemeral art form and GoG continues to do amazing work at producing versions of games that allow new and future generations to experience classic games.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Looks like I'm going to be buying it again, despite having kept my original disc in pristine condition all these years.

Same here, except the last time I tried installing it on a Mac running OS 9, it wiped my hard drive's entire directory tree. For that alone, SHODAN ranks among the memorable AI antagonist I've ever encountered.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:21 AM on September 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


I never could get this to play reliably on a DOS machine way back when. That was back in the bad old days of hand configuring autoexec.bat and config.sys to setup the right memory model and interrupt settings and whatever random stuff that DOS didn't handle automatically and System Shock just didn't like something about my hardware.
posted by octothorpe at 9:27 AM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


griphus: "Also I wonder if this means we'll get Ultima Underworld enhanced editions."

Preach it! I say, PREACH IT!
posted by Splunge at 9:31 AM on September 22, 2015


Same here, Octothorpe. I bought a copy back in the day, but couldn't get it to run no matter how much I tweaked.

I have a Macbook now, but between DOSBox and Oracle VirtualBox, something's gotta run it. Maybe.
posted by naju at 9:34 AM on September 22, 2015


RPS had a great article recently about the GOG.com restoration process.

It's a lot of detective and curation work in addition to programming.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:41 AM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here is Shodan and Glados voice files playing simultaneously, which like to put quietly in the background now and then.
posted by mhoye at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


I find that way scarier than I feel like I should mhoye. Awesome link.
posted by wyndham at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2015


I loved this game, and found it super-scary even though a) I was playing on the absurdly-easy mode in which the terrifying baddies wouldn't attack, and b) I didn't have a CD-ROM drive at the time, and the floppy release didn't include the voices.

That all may say more about me than about the game, but I'm looking forward to playing this as it was meant to be played. Might still play on easy mode, though.
posted by asperity at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2015


I played System Shock back in the day, several times. It was awesome. The difficulty is far more scalable than in modern games, from what I recall.

You can vary the combat from 'lethal' to literally 'no enemy will attack you, and every enemy dies with one hit'.

You can vary the fun little logic puzzles from 'tricky' to 'just click and it will solve itself'.

You can vary the storyline from 'what story' (hint: do not do this, the story is brilliant), to 'You literally have seven in game hours to complete the game, and there's a handy little timer that will tell you how much time you have left, and yes, we know you're not going to make it'

I had a game where every difficulty was at max, and I thought I had an outside chance of making it, if I skipped a level. And then my hard-drive crashed. I still have that hard-drive, purely because it has that savegame, and I hold dreams of getting rich, recovering the data, and just seeing if I can still do it.

System Shock 2 was a disappointment for me - it tried, but it just couldn't get the atmosphere just right. That, and the laser sword in SS2 is just a joke in comparison to the wonderful lightsaber in SS1.

Playing SS1 will also make the final level of SS2 more understandable, which is nice.

Uh, what I'm trying to say, is that I highly recommend System Shock, through my nostalgia-soaked rose-tinted glasses.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:06 AM on September 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


And I never did play System Shock 2, since that didn't have a floppy release, IIRC. Always wanted to replay SS1 first. Now I can!
posted by asperity at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2015


Same here, except the last time I tried installing it on a Mac running OS 9, it wiped my hard drive's entire directory tree. For that alone, SHODAN ranks among the memorable AI antagonist I've ever encountered.

That's up there with the Pool of Radiance remake, which very occasionally would wipe a user's /Windows/System32 directory when uninstalled. But the full tree? SHODAN doesn't fuck around.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:09 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still have that hard-drive, purely because it has that savegame, and I hold dreams of getting rich, recovering the data, and just seeing if I can still do it.

USB to IDE cables are $20 and VirtualBox is a free download now. Fire it up, you might be surprised.
posted by mhoye at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2015


I loved loved loved SS2. SS2 also made me scoff at most horror games. They're either relying on jump scares, which I think is cheating or just can't get as creepy an atmosphere. (Ok, I know there is a translucent spider the size of a dog in there. I still need to get into that room. I can hear it hissing, it's going to be hidden by the steam, oh god, oh god.) And I tried to play SS1, but couldn't get into it, in part because of the controls, which this fixes. Does SS1 have the same kind of sound design?

I guess I'm scared of losing some of the magic I felt with SS2 in playing the original. Please tell me I'm being foolish.
posted by Hactar at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hold dreams of getting rich, recovering the data, and just seeing if I can still do it.

Someone get this man a kickstarter!
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


SS1 sound design isn't as good as SS2. No game I've found can match SS2 sound design - the spiders, the monkeys. SS1 came out ahead in story and atmosphere for me, but that was a long time ago. Oh, and the plot in SS1 actually sorta-maybe makes sense, which is more than you can say for SS2.

Incidentally, I consider semi-invisible giant spiders to be cheating when it comes to horror games.

As for recovering my historic save data, the disk is properly dead - the drive failed so the disk doesn't actually turn, so I don't think anything short of a lab would be able to recover it, even if the drive head didn't actually physically crash with my save. It was heartbreaking at the time.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:46 AM on September 22, 2015


Fun fact: when we were making SS1, the developers found a way to make the colors in the game go all crazy and psychedelic. (If memory serves, this was originally a bug in a color lookup table.) So we threw it in there as one of the medical patch things you find in the station; it would give you funky colors for a short period.

The German censors (or whatever name they use) nixed this, saying that it promoted drug use.

So we changed it to be something gave you a token boost to hand-to-hand combat (something like 5%) -- a worthless boost to a worthless skill -- and the changes to the colors were now just a "side effect". This the Germans had no problem with.

As developer Marc said, "It's okay to run around and shoot mutants in the face. Just don't take drugs."
posted by foldedfish at 10:51 AM on September 22, 2015 [33 favorites]


If gog got the rights to distribute both SS1 and SS2, does this mean that we (collectively) know who would be in a position to green-light the development of SS3? My understanding was that Bioshock was a spiritual successor, because the rights to the original couldn't be determined. I'd love to see a proper sequel.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:22 PM on September 22, 2015


Fair warning, it does come in at a hefty 96MB download, so if you've been thinking about a second hard drive, now might be the time to do it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:58 PM on September 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Over 2X the capacity of my original HDD. Maybe if I install Stacker?
posted by aydeejones at 1:24 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"...when we were making SS1..." = Why I love metafilter.

SS1 is one of my top games of all time and none of the *shock sequels have really surpassed it. I played the original "enhanced version" with hi res 640x480 graphics. Not sure if I want to replay it at this point or not...
posted by ropeladder at 2:04 PM on September 22, 2015


Like octothorpe, I too had problems playing this on my DOS machine back in the day. I tweaked my autoexec.bat and config.sys endlessly to make this game run smoothly, but I never could get it to work reliably. There was something about my configuration (which was well within the game's specs) that was just laggy, and I never could figure out why. In fact, to this day I remember nothing about the game itself, but I acutely remember the frustration from trying to make it work.

(On a side note, all that tweaking helped me learn a ton about DOS memory models that I have now forgotten or merged into other knowledge. So in a way, I owe System Shock some appreciation for helping me expand my tech skills.)
posted by fremen at 2:44 PM on September 22, 2015


Everyone with even the slightest interest in storytelling, or science fiction, or games owes it to themselves to play both System Shocks.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:58 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also I wonder if this means we'll get Ultima Underworld enhanced editions

In the meantime, Arx Fatalis isn't a bad substitute!
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:07 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: when we were making SS1, the developers found a way to make the colors in the game go all crazy and psychedelic. (If memory serves, this was originally a bug in a color lookup table.) So we threw it in there as one of the medical patch things you find in the station; it would give you funky colors for a short period.
Hi Jeff!

The "enable rendering bugs when you take drugs" tradition goes back to Ultima Underworld, where whenever we found a cool rendering bug, once we fixed it, we would put it on the list of possible effects to trigger when you ate mushrooms.

I'm seriously impressed by what the folks at Night Dive were able to do to bring this back and enhance it. Thanks to GOG.com, I think all the games I worked on in the 1990s are playable again, which is amazing. Back then we all were pretty much resigned to the fact that everything we made would only be played for maybe 5 years tops and then be ancient history.
posted by dfan at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


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