System Shock Remastered – Speculation
What is with people these days when it comes down to remastering, rebooting and overhauling old games? One morning you open a random gaming magazine or google for some reviews and gameplay clips, only to be shocked at the gigantic amount of “recycled” material that usually lacks the charm and quality of its older self. There are several half-baked attempts like the remakes of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Grim Fandango that lacked adequate optimization, decent graphics (Gabriel I’m looking at you) and problems with the HUD. I hope just hope that System Shock Remastered will not fall into the same category labeled “disaster”.
System Shock in a nutshell…
Everything that I have seen up to this point has given me hope that System Shock Remastered will be a high quality remake of its famous predecessor from the distant 1994. The original System Shock is a legend through and through, with multiple qualities that rabidly resist the test of time like the adequate gritty atmosphere, memorable story, intriguing characters and a fresh approach to the survival horror genre. However, the last quality is also the biggest flaw: the robust and tedious inventory system was ahead of its time and an entire series of commands that it drags along require superhuman reflexes and persistence to master. This alienated many gamers at first, but those that managed to close their eyes at this issue and move on found a true diamond of gaming.
It goes without saying that the original System Shock is a hard game that punishes even the smallest miscalculations. Your stay at Citadel Station will be made maximally unpleasant by the rogue AI and the chief antagonist of the game, her highness SHODAN. To fight her and her crusade against all human life, you will be running through the vast areas of Citadel Station, constantly looking behind your back, gathering ammunition and weaponry, killing hordes of bloodthirsty mutants, renegade security bots, turrets and other creeps that SHODAN gathered at her side. Though considered a survival horror game, System Shock is more of a mashup of RPG and FPS elements with a dash of dungeon crawling where ammo and item frugality is your best friend and the decisive factor between life and death. To sum it all up: the team that dares to take the gigantic task of remaking the legendary System Shock must preserve the juicy story, dynamic pacing, dark atmosphere and a sense of isolation that covers the entire Citadel Station on which this game’s plot unfolds.
System Shock lives!
The independent Nightdive studios have signed up for the job and through a successful Kickstarter campaign, they gathered the necessary funds for the masterpiece. A full-blown, but short pre-alpha demo of the game has been released to show the fans the general direction of the game development that will certainly face a lot more changes and polishing before the release. The demo offers a limited view on the game with some odd decisions regarding the quirky enemy appearance in terms of quality and scarcity of background music, but also positive ones like the more comfortable and intuitive interface, complete 3D environment with nice shadow effects and loyalty to the manner of story development through audio logs scattered about the station. Except a demonstration of the new mechanics, revamped visual aspects and combat preview with only two weapons (led pipe and an energy pistol) the demo offers little else. The battle scenes are quick like in the original without much change, moving and hopping through hallways and rooms is more precise thanks to the unity engine, item collecting is now much more “direct”, but remains essentially the same.
The central question is the nature of these changes that have been introduced in the demo of the System Shock Remastered. The aim of the team is to remake the game with new visuals and mechanics that will breathe life to the classic, not to make a new game. This underlines the fact that all changes are basically cosmetic and dedicated to a more fluent gameplay that will provide new gamers with an opportunity to taste one of the best games ever made through a modernized remake. On the other hand, if the team decides to deepen the game experience with new enemies, weaponry and quest elements, the changes need to be a whole lot radical and daring. If we compare the demo to the latter, the introduced changes do not make the cut: enemy appearances needs to be more “traumatizing” and detailed in execution. Furthermore, the difficulty that made the original System Shock a “sweet torture” needs to be returned because the illustrated difficulty in the demo is easier than sandbox.
System Shock Remastered is still in production and there are a lot more hurdles and expectations in front of the dedicated Nightdive team. They made a brave turn with the release of the demo that illustrates the possible look & feel of the game and I personally expect a System Shock game that has ONLY been remastered in terms of graphics, fluency of movement and nothing else. To add anything on the cult classic would be a heresy in true Warhammer 40k fashion that is punished by enormous amounts of molten plasma.
Official site: http://systemshock.com/
System Shock Gameplay video: