Some games fail to do anything but disappoint players even though they have all the prerequisites to be great. And some games turn out to be excellent even though nothing works in their favor. An example of the latter is System Shock 2, which appeared 23 years ago today.
The original System Shock from 1994 was the type of game that was good, but very few people were interested in it. The studio that made it started to deal with other things, and part of it split up. However, the team remained on good terms, so the two separate studios agreed to collaborate on System Shock 2.
Electronic Arts, as the publisher, gave the green light to the project, but the developers were only given a year to complete the game after spending 18 months on it beforehand. The whole project could have been rushed and messed up due to two teams working on it, but miraculously it resulted in one of the best games of the late nineties.
System Shock 2's perspective was a first-person shooter, just like the original, but in the sequel, the focus was on role-playing elements modeled on the Ultima series, and on a terrifying atmosphere, i.e. a horror atmosphere. In a much darker and more serious environment, the main opponent was a wild artificial intelligence called SHODAN, who, based on his monologues and manipulations, became one of the most legendary antagonists in video games.
Artificial intelligence SHODAN has entered the group of the most legendary antagonists in games with its monologues and manipulations.
System Shock 2 was the first game of the studio Irrational Games, which later developed the BioShock series. We already had the structure here that BioShock inherited: we collected and listened to soundtracks, upgraded the character, and used supernatural powers and bio-reconstruction devices to revive, hack, and switch between multiple types of ammunition... All this made System Shock 2 very advanced in its time, and in many aspects even today it is more complex than its successor.
The game was launched on PC, and the reviewers gave it very high marks. But, as is usually the case with games where questions are asked first and the game is shot later – System Shock 2 was a commercial failure, and less than 60,000 copies the game were sold in the first half of the year. It was only a little later that the game found its audience. It was withdrawn from sale for a time due to disputes over the ownership of the System Shock franchise, but in the end, everything ended with a happy outcome.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of System Shock 2, it was announced that the game will receive an enhanced edition and a VR version. But we haven't seen anything since then.