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System Shock Review

System Shock

Developer: Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Prime Matter
Platforms: Xbox Series XXbox OnePlayStation 4PlayStation 5PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 30 May 2023
Price: $39.99 USD – Available Here


Did you know that The Godfather trilogy tops the list of movies that people lie about seeing? A similar thing happens with some cult games. People will nod their heads in approval when you mention Deus Ex, Planescape Torment, The Neverhood, Mafia, and so on but we can’t tell for sure that all of them played it. I had a similar thing with the original System Shock. Watched plenty of playthroughs, and read a lot of reviews, but I never actually played the original. Crazy, I know! But guess what, now is finally my chance to make things right.


We play as a nameless hacker who has been awakened in the Citadel Station where all of its inhabitants are dead or turned into mutants. To make things worse, all robots have been reprogrammed for hostility and those humans that weren’t mutated were transformed into cyborgs by SHODAN. Ah yes, we can’t talk about System Shock without mentioning the iconic antagonist SHODAN (short for Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network). Soon enough things go south and SHODAN goes rogue, declaring itself a God and trying to destroy all of Earth in the process. SHODAN is an omnipresent entity throughout Citadel Station, watching you via security cameras and observing your every move as you try to thwart its plans.


After a few “introductory” hours of System Shock, the game really starts to unravel once different enemies and weapons are introduced. Specific enemies tend to be immune to specific kinds of damage and that brings a bit of strategic attacking into the mix. For example, electromagnetic pulse weapons heavily damage robots but do not affect mutants. Also, gas grenades are great against mutants but do not damage robotic enemies.

Now, regarding the melee combat in general….it is a bit rough around the edges. Once I got the lead pipe and encountered my first mutated enemies, I was quite disappointed with the sound design and combat melee animations. It was like there was almost no impact when bashing enemies and they barely react to being hit with a heavy steel pipe. And the enemy AI leaves a lot to be desired as well. Many times enemies would notice me peeking around the corner and just start shooting at me while I’m behind the cover, never considering moving or changing their position. Enemies see you, charge at you, telegraph their attacks and that’s pretty much it. Once you figure out every enemy pattern (and you’ll figure it out pretty soon) the game just defaults to easy mode.


There have been some significant improvements on this front, regardless if we compare it to the original or System Shock: Enhanced Edition from 2015. The textures are anything but pixelated this time and far more polished, enemies are highly detailed and every section of the original game received a major visual overhaul. The game is also incredibly well-optimized and it can basically run on a toaster, in all of my plays I experienced zero slowdowns and crashes.


When it comes to overall sound design, the game gets a pass. The atmospheric sounds of the Citadel Station as you sneak around enemies, the shootouts with cyborgs, the omnipresent voice of SHODAN that’s constantly taunting you – all of that is well above average but after a while, you start to notice a lot of shoddy work on this front. As I said, the sound design of enemies and combat is bordering on atrocious, it’s like they took some stock audio from a free library titled “enemies grunting and breathing” and called it a day. In any case, the original System Shock had a rich modding community where a lot of user-made add-ons improved the user experience so let’s hope someone will fix this setback as well through a potential mod.


If this is your first encounter with System Shock, this remake will offer you more than you bargained for. Not to mention that this remake has been considerably expanded compared to the original, so don’t be surprised if you encounter some new areas or secrets that you never found in the first game. You’ll get to play a cult classic that inspired many more cyberpunk-themed games after it, get to meet one of the most iconic villains in gaming, and get thoroughly lost in anything but the welcoming maze of Citadel Station.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.


System Shock remake offers a great facelift on almost every front but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to enemy AI and sound design.
Admir Brkic
Admir Brkic
I play video games from time to time and sometimes they manage to elicit a reaction from me that I can't help but to write about them.
<em>System Shock</em> remake offers a great facelift on almost every front but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to enemy AI and sound design.System Shock Review