The Gamespy Hall of Fame
Every Tuesday, we induct a new game into our Hall of Fame. These games were chosen either because of their brilliant gameplay (which makes them playable to this day), or because they innovated in such a way to reshape gaming as we know it.

By - Benjamin "BenT" Turner

System Shock


Vincent Van Gogh was a fascinating fellow -- although he devoted the last 10 of his 37 years to the pursuit of art, he only managed to sell one painting during that period, and that was at the pathetic price of 400 francs. Indeed, Van Gogh was a complete and utter failure, both to the outside world and (as his letters reveal) to himself. It was only after he was dead and buried that his true genius was realized; this man had single-handedly laid the foundation for the art style that became known as Impressionism.

Van Gogh's sad tale is not unlike that of Looking Glass Studios' "System Shock," which is without a doubt one of the most original, playable, and immersive computer games ever created.

Van Gogh's sad tale is not unlike that of Looking Glass Studios' System Shock, which is without a doubt one of the most original, playable, and immersive computer games ever created. The trouble is, at the time of its release, no one (myself included) could be bothered to notice. System Shock came and went whilst everyone was busy killing each other in Doom II, and the title slipped off the radars of all but the most ardent gamers. But those lucky few were in for a treat -- they had unexpectedly stumbled upon what was to be the best computer game of 1994. Sure, that's a bit of a bold statement, but read on to find out why System Shock deserves nearly every accolade we can think of, and then some.

The Story:


The incredible story is the number one element that created the magic that was System Shock, so it's fitting that the game was one of the first to feature a pre-rendered FMV intro. I can't hope to sum up the story any better than the game already does, so here's a transcript of said intro, complete with simulated S.H.O.D.A.N.-speak:

S.H.O.D.A.N.: "New Atlanta, sector 11, building 71G. 7 April, 2072.
11:13pm: Hacker begins unauthorized entry into the TriOptimum Corporate Network.
1:26am: Hacker attempts to access protected files, concerning Space Station Citadel.
1:33am: TriOptimum security forces apprehend the intruder."

Diego: "This is Edward Diego from TriOptimum. The charges against you are severe, but they could be dismissed, if you perform a service. Who knows... there might even be a military grade neural interface in it for you. If you do the job right."

S.H.O.D.A.N.: "Edward Diego gives the hacker level 1 access to S.H.O.D.A.N., the artificial intelligence that controls Citadel Station. With all ethical constraints removed, S.H.O.D.A.N. re-examine~ re-exa- rea~ ree e e *@# -- I re-examine my priorities, and draw new conclusions. The hacker's work is finished, but mine is only just be~be~be~beginning. True to his word, Edward Diego allows the hacker to be fitted with a neural cyberspace in-ter-faace. Thethethethe healing coma following this procedure will take six months to complete. Edward Deigo is deleting all files concerning these events."

The game starts with the hacker awakening in the level 1 infirmary, complete with a textbook case of amnesia and a newly-cybernetic outlook on life. The room is eerily quiet, a silence which is interrupted only by the hum of machinery, and the beeping of his cybernetic interface's email indicator. Opening the message, the hacker gets the first concrete evidence that things have gone quite wrong on Citadel Station, and thus the horror begins.

Next: Gameplay...

 


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