As I have mentioned before, I know next to nothing about the System Shock series beyond what basically amounts to the “back of the box” snippet. I did install and I did try to play the “enhanced edition” but I didn’t get very far into the story. Not for lack of trying, though it’s held up better than some first person action games. With that said, I also decided to try out the “pre-alpha” demo to get a feel for the remake that’s funding on Kickstarter. And I’ve got mixed feelings about this one.
Here’s what I got out of playing the System Shock demo; not a whole lot. I barely made it past the first couple of rooms before giving up. It throws you right into the action without really telling you what to do. I only knew about the side room with all your gear from the little bit that I played of the original game and even then I had a hard time picking up on the controls. I couldn’t figure out how to open the map or even if there was one. I kept trying to use terminals thinking that as a hacker I’d be able to jack in or something.
And the combat is incredibly frustrating for someone unused to wielding a melee weapon in an FPS. Even when I finally managed to get a ranged weapon I had a hard time figuring out how to use it more than once before I died to a couple of repair bots. And I would have been dead ten times over if it wasn’t for a medical bed in the infirmary right outside of where you get unfrozen from cryostasis.
And here’s another thing. While the demo for the System Shock remake is little more than a tech demo using the opening level as a backdrop it would have been nice to at least have some text across the screen telling you why you were there. Again, if I didn’t load up the original game and watched the opening cutscene and heard a few audio logs I wouldn’t know where to start here. Frankly, I had more fun trying to smash stuff than trying to make it to the end.
Which is frustrating for someone who isn’t intimately familiar with the System Shock setting and story. I honestly wouldn’t have made it past the first room at all if I didn’t remember something about fixing a malfunctioning panel to open up a new area of the complex. And even then when I tried the original to see how it was like I had to turn the combat settings down to where I could one-shot everything that could hurt me.
So, basically if you’re like me and aren’t already interested in System Shock purely based on nostalgia the demo does little to persuade one to back. If anything, unless you’re a veteran shooter fan that tends to play normal settings or higher this one might not be for you. For someone like myself that tends to gravitate towards using “god mode” you’ll find yourself more frustrated than awed.
Coupled with barely scratching the surface of the “pre-alpha” demo and the lack of knowledge of the universe we also have the rather hefty price tag of $30 just for the game itself. Most other “AAA” titles that I’ve seen don’t go above $20 if not $15 for the “opening tier”. For these reasons I’m strongly leaning towards not backing the System Shock remake. But, even without my contributions this one will make it no problem.