Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Tom White

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Electronic Arts
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: Mature
Patches / Upgrades: at website
System Requirements: Pentium 200+, 64MB RAM, 3D Video Card

Genre: Sci-Fi Shooter
Christian Rating: 2 of 5
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 1 of 5
Adult Content: 3 of 5

'System Shock 2' box art
"System Shock 2" is the official sequel to 1994's cult-classic PC game “System Shock” and was released by Electronic Arts in late 1999. The game has a rating (in Australia/New Zealand) of MA-Restricted and trust me, is not for those under 16 years of age.

If you're familiar with the “Alien” series of movies and have played the hit PC game "Deus Ex", you already have a good idea of what to expect. The game is an RPG/FPS hybrid, two genres that Christians often have trouble with. This game, unfortunately, will be no exception. Like the “Alien” movies which I enjoyed despite Hollywood's standard swearing and violence, this game contains a similarly moody feel but also has a lot of content Christians will find harder to stomach (I'll explain more later). The atmosphere portrayed within this game is incredibly tense and has a creepy, somewhat disturbing ambience to it. It's a much more sophisticated game than titles such as "Aliens vs Predator", "Resident Evil", "Hexen II", etc.

I will attempt to explain how the game's plot goes: you are a soldier of a futuristic military force known as the UNN, and accept a mission to go onboard the maiden flight of mankind's latest technological achievement: a starship called the 'Von Braun'. This starship is capable of travelling faster than the speed of light and is the first manned spacecraft to explore beyond our solar system. You are put into hypersleep for six months and while you're asleep, all hell breaks loose. Aliens take over, all the crew is slaughtered and the AI running the ship goes berserk (ala 2001: A Space Odyssey). You however are not discovered and upon waking must find out what happened, and destroy the responsible bad guys. In a nutshell: wake up, follow instructions, kill everything and solve the mystery.

As I mentioned earlier, Christians will have trouble with this game. I can list a few reasons: ghosts, blasphemy, suicide, swearing, extreme violence, drugs, decaying corpses lying all over the place are all depicted in detail. Which is a shame because the actual gameplay mechanics, like "Deus Ex", are brilliant for those of us that like games a bit more intellectually challenging than say “Unreal Tournament” or “Quake”. No sexual or occult activity is displayed, which is why I've given the game a Christian Rating of 2 rather than 1. The story line is presented brilliantly, and character development is unbelievably good for a computer game. This is a glimpse of how games of the future will likely be, or at least in my opinion should be. If you're a budding game developer, this game would be a great place to look for ideas and examples of a quality gaming experience.

In conclusion though, I can't really recommend this game to fellow Christians, maybe unless you're mature in your faith and are open minded, and that's a definite maybe. I personally found the game more offensive than “Quake” or “Unreal”, but not as much as any “Grand Theft Auto” game. A quality game hampered by some of its content and overtones

Swearing: Mild overall; not much in the game with the exception of a couple of cases.

Violence: Extreme. Blood, mutilation, torture abound, more so than most games, but not quite as violent as some R rated films.

Ambience: Heavy and dark. The atmosphere is one of death and hopelessness throughout, not unlike a horror movie. Suicide is often graphically depicted.

Originality: Incredible, not so much in the story as in the execution. If you though Half-Life was good, you haven't seen anything.

Gameplay: Excellent, incredible, fantastic. Lots of fun, it's essentially an intellectual's FPS. It's closest comparison is Deus Ex, after that the Thief series (or Ultima Underworld series if you're old enough to remember).

Occult: A fair bit I'm sorry to say. Basically a machine trying to play God, some reworked Biblical references, a church with an upside cross (blasphemous or not, considering how you see it).

Overall: Excellent gameplay for what it is, which is essentially a horrific nightmare turned into a PC game.

Year of Release—1999

Comments from Young People…

Positive—I personally love this game, but I'm mature enough to handle the content. Parents beware, this along with Kingpin, and SOF, is one of the only 3 games I know of that had a special yellow warning sticker on its content. This game has bodies littered every here and there like some are just lying in their own blood, while others have clearly hanged themselves, been shot, all with horror on there faces. Crushed under a door, limbs with bodies a little far away, the list I could say goes on and on. Rooms are torn apart showing signs of battle. You learn what happens by takeing audio CD's of bodies or wherever you find them. The CD's are of people already dead. Some of you enemies are people who have been taken over by some kind of worm, been used as parts for cyborgs, and transformed onto different creatures entirely. Even worse, are the Hybrids, people who have had the control of there body taken away from them, and will tell you to run, that there sorry there going to kill you. Bodies, again, a lot of them are individually modeled for there positions. Most of them have something on them useful, so the player will almost always search them. The ghost mentioned in the review, are people, either adding to the atmosphere or story. They do a good job of adding to fear and horror in the game. Example of both mentioned so far, I walked down a corridor, where I saw a ghost say "No there not gonna get me, there not going to change me, Shara, kids, I'm sorry. And shoot himself in the head, and as his ghost body fell it faded. I continued up the hall, up and elevator, and preceded to go into the control room where a severed human head landed in front of me, and 2 hybirds urged me to run away, which was all the poor, controlled people could do. And you establish your only contact as you friend, before you find out the whole time you've just been manipulated by a AI that thinks its a goddess. Really though, Its an amazing game. But, if this type of FPS/RPG hybrid is what you crave, go get the tame Dues Ex instead. There made by the same developer, Ion Storm, and Dues Ex beat System Shock in a couple of way. Morality included. My Ratings: [1/5]
   —Alex Petrunak, age 16

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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