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First off I wanted to ask, "can you feel the love?" I say that because the modders and others who worked on updating this game did a wonderful job. I have a relatively old computer and haven't played too many "modern" games, but this game still looked fantastic, even better than I thought it would. Props to GOG for making it available as well. (Also, is anyone "jelly" that I just played SS2 for the first time?)

But obviously the question is, did it live up to the hype? If you consider the limitations of games from 1999--and really, you need some context when reviewing an old game--I think it passes with flying colors. This game offers an interactive, detailed game world that almost seems fresh now. It must have been a major innovator back in the day. The atmosphere in many areas is superb. The first half of the game had some genuine scares, but after you've seen most of the enemies and witnessed a hundred respawns, it loses something. Still, this doesn't take away the amazing craftsmanship of the overall environment. I'll say it again: the setting is spectacular. The biomass at the end takes the cake, really.

Some other quibbles. The plot seems derivative in areas--I don't think the game broke new ground story-wise. Many of the ideas were grand, but overall I felt it wasn't as deep as it could have been. (I haven't yet played BioShock, but from what I've gleaned, the plot and the themes there are more involved and complex than SS2.) The voice acting is great, the messages are suspenseful as you slowly learn more about the plot; and yet I felt it sometimes went overboard with the horror-movie cliches. While an effective and interesting villain, I didn't find SHODAN scary in the least. Maybe that's because I'm jaded, though.

I don't know where this game places in the grand scheme of things, after all I'm not much of a game historian, but I'd say it has to be up there. I know some of you believe SS2 may be the best game ever, and some of you complain that modern games can't come close to the experience--but I hope this is not the case. I'm getting a new CPU very soon and have a backlog of modern games to catch up to, Bioshock and its two sequels included. Actually the backlog is quite extensive as I haven't been able to play anything that requires a dual core processor or pixel shader 3! I'm hoping some single-player titles from this extensive list (I don't play MMOGs) are going to be worth it, and I hope my most anticipated title--BioShock, of course--lives up to the hype.

It's a long post, I know. So, I'd like some comments/suggestions and so on.
It is scary if you play it right. I played on normal, used ammo sparingly, and never felt the game was too difficult. Perhaps a playthrough on Hard with an OSA character is in order... If I had to compare SS2 with other games, I'd say Thief is scarier, and Deus Ex has got a better story and more suspense/plot twists. Still, I like the versatility of SS2 gameplay, even though the game punishes you for certain character building choices. One other problem I have with the game is that there isn't much variation in level design. It's always the same corridors, sliding doors, rooms filled with whirring computers. It gets boring after a while. I understand a starship can't have much of variation, but at least the Recreation Deck and the Many were stood out in level design from other levels. And if Shodan was supposed to be some big plot twist that is to be kept secret until the big revelation, why is she on the game box and promo materials?

Oh, and don't get too excited about Bioshock. After SS2, it will really disappoint you.
Scariest place (for me) was the Cargo holds. Eerie music, killer robots and hybids lurking in the mazes of cargo boxes...
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Batman55: what I've gleaned, the plot and the themes there are more involved and complex than SS2
Hardly. Bioshock is considerably dumbed down from SS2.
Dumbed down is too kind, retarded down more like.
For Charon:
I can agree with you that SHODAN's return was a plot twist they should've kept a lid on, if that would even be possible. I'm not sure I agree so much that the level design was lacking. If you consider when this game came out, I think the variation is more than adequate. There was a stretch in the middle of the game that felt repetitive but otherwise, Looking Glass did a great job.

For others:
Bioshock is one of the best reviewed games ever. You really mean to tell me that all these reviews praising the game is some big conspiracy? 2K Games gave handsome bonuses to reviewers who gave the game 9.0 and above, and the public doesn't know about it?

I can't say for sure whether it's deserving or not, I haven't yet played it. But within BioShock appears to be an interesting, if not unprecedented, exploration of politics, society, class warfare, Ayn Randian-ideals, and so on. To me, this seems pretty deep for a video game. At least, most of the reviews said so. I don't think System Shock 2 had layers like this, it seemed more like well-crafted space horror.

And last:
Are there any good user created campaigns for SS2? Can anyone link me to a thread on the topic?
Post edited April 28, 2013 by Batman55
Don't trust game ratings that much...

You knew for example, that metacritic has a different scale only for games?

Because games have their scores inflated, metacritic consider a game with score of 70 "average", while a movie with score 70 is "good"

Well, BioShock is a good game, the graphics are good, the story is good, and the gameplay is good, but nothing on it is ground breaking, and it looked like they kept parts of SS2 that made no sense in Bioshock, while removed some good parts of the gameplay (ie: the vending machines in Bioshock do not make sense as the ones in SS2, storywise).

But worry not, they made BioShock Infinite, if you play that game, you will get convinced that BioShock is good... Infinite threw out all the good parts of SS2 (for example the fact that you could win most fights with sheer strategy instead of brute force, specially if you was playing as navy or OSA), while kept some that made no sense (ie: BioShock Infinite has OSA-like powers, but it give no decent explanation, and for most part only the player character use it, despite the scenary having several ads for the technology...)
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Batman55: While an effective and interesting villain, I didn't find SHODAN scary in the least. Maybe that's because I'm jaded, though.
Try playing the first System Shock. She's far more terrifying in that game. Although I admit that the "insane AI" is something of a cliche, it's really well done in the first game. In System Shock 2 there are lots of other things going on (like The Many) which takes the focus off of SHODAN. I also felt the writing in System Shock 2 was not as good as in the first game.

EDIT: I should clarify that I definitely think System Shock 2 is great, but I think the first game is even better.
Post edited April 28, 2013 by Waltorious
Second-to-last level -> Seriously cool.
Last boss fight -> Sucked. Seriously, completely, and irredeemably sucked.
Last cutscene -> Even worse, especially the SHODAN animation.

I know that there were problems with the last cutscene and that it wasn't what was intended, but I'm judging the results, not intentions. SS1 was much, much more cyberpunk, and I feel that it had some better audiologs. Eg, ones that didn't record personnel changing access codes complete with the new codes. SS1 did that too, but they were set AFTER SHODAN's mini-apocalypse, so they had an excuse. It also showed SHODAN at her most megalomaniac, which to my mind is her at her best. I don't deny that SS2 had much better graphics, but that was a matter of when it was made rather than innate quality.
The end of SS2 definitely lacks compared to the bulk of the game, I recall they ran out of time and had to rush things and I know the ending video was not what they wanted. SS1 is the most complete experience, playing it when it came out was creepy, terrifying, challenging, strategic and immensely satisfying to complete. I very much loved my first playthrough of SS2, and it's a lot of fun to go back trying different strategies, or like now just rolling through it again after not playing it for many years.

Regarding Bioshock...it has great setting atmosphere and story, but the gameplay is without a doubt dumbed down compared to the first two. My main beef with the Bioshock games was that you literally could not die, and while I know the "Tetris" item management of SS2 wasn't the best, having no inventory and just chowing down whatever items you came across was a step back in my opinion. That probably helped make it more popular as the masses and console players wouldn't find that appealing. And in a way it works well because you don't need to stock up on heath potions or whatever because you can't die, so it very rarely even matters.

I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite for the story and setting and having an NPC companion that was actually worth a damn and not regular cannon fodder I had to babysit. I enjoy SS1 because of it's overall fantastic mix of story, gameplay, atmosphere and challenge. SS2 is in the middle, more accessible than SS1 and more challenging than the Bioshock games with more depth and a much higher creepiness factor. To each their own.
I didn't really find SS2 the least bit scary, maybe even in my first play through.
I mean play it enough times and you're gonna see almost every bad guy and scare coming from their respective corners anyway. itwould be great if we had mods that randomized enemy and item positions so nothing's so predictable.

It is shame SS2 was rushed in production. It had potential for so much more. In fact, I often entertain myself with ideas for a remake such as exploring cyberspace to manipulate security systems, non-linear missions and story with multiple endings, etc.