The Let's Play Archive

System Shock (1994)

by rojovision

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Original Thread: Lead pipes are the future - System Shock CD (1994)



System Shock is a first person adventure game with cyberpunk / horror themes, developed by Looking Glass Technologies and released in 1994. After tampering with Citadel Station AI, Shodan, at the behest of a TriOptimum VP you, the "Hacker," are outfitted with a military grade neural implant and put into a healing coma for six months. Upon waking it becomes immediately clear that all is not well on Citadel Station, and our mission to prevent a catastrophe on Earth - and hopefully save our own life - begins.

About the Playthrough
The game was originally released on floppy disks, but a CD version (the version we'll be playing) was released just a few months later. We'll be playing on a real MS-DOS retro PC using the CD-ROM Classics release of the game at 640x480 resolution. I've never played the game before, but I think I'm going to see how far we can get by just using the pipe you find at the beginning of the game as a weapon (please ignore a minor slip up where I may or may not have accidentally shot a robot with the dart gun in the first episode).

My budget release boxed copy:

Technical Notes
PC Specs:
OS:                           MS-DOS 6.22
Motherboard:                  MSI 815EPT Pro v5
CPU:                          Pentium III 1266S
GPU (AGP):                    ATI Rage Pro Turbo (8MB)
Sound Card (PCI):             DCS S817 (YMF724)
Music:                        Roland SC-55
RAM:                          256MB 133Mhz SDRAM (64MB Usable)
Storage:                      120GB ATA/100 Seagate HDD (1.9GB Usable)
Optical:                      56X IDE CDROM Drive

We need a fairly powerful PC for 640x480 resolution because the game is rendered entirely in software. That means our graphics card really doesn't have much impact on performance, since everything is done on the CPU. 640x480 mode seems to have some screen tearing, which is present even on my CRT monitor - I haven't tested it, but there might be less (or none) if you stick with 320x200 mode. I've also lowered the brightness a bit from what you might see in DOSBox to more closely match my CRT, but if the videos end up being too dark I can tweak it.

The controls are wonky in this game - a true product of the 90's. Instead of WASD you get ASDX where S moves you forward and X moves you back. A and D turn while Z and C strafe. Then you've got your lean left and lean right buttons at Q and E with W centering you, and look up and look down on R and V, F centering your view. Finally T, G and B allow you to stand, crouch or crawl, respectively. Holding down Shift while moving sprints, and Space jumps. None of these keys are rebindable to the best of my knowledge and there is no mouselook in this version of the game. Basically, if you want to try out the original System Shock, you might have an easier time of things playing the Enhanced Edition that has a few quality of life improvements including rebindable keys and mouselook.

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