The Classics: ‘System Shock 2’

A painful, rewarding, and theatrical myth of a game

Every creature in the game may be trying to kill you, but the truly scary thing is how indifferent most of them are about it. Though you’re as inordinately powerful as any shooter protagonist, System Shock 2 makes you feel tiny, caught between massive entities who operate on principles no human could sympathize with. The monstrous people you fight apologize as they strike, or muse mechanically about the “little ones” they’ve been tasked to protect by a weird, womb-like overmind. SHODAN may once have tried to blow up, mutate, and take over the world, but no matter how often she rails against your human frailty, her hatred is almost preferable to the alternative. Better to be the target of someone’s disgust than more raw material for utopia.