What System Shock 2’s Greatest Scene Would Look Like Today

There’s a horrifying scene PC gamers of a certain generation will never forget. It takes place midway through System Shock 2, the predecessor to BioShock and, to many who played it, the scariest game ever made. One fan has been hard at work recreating the game’s iconic plot-twist, and it looks scarier than ever.

It’s hard to talk about the memorably “SHODAN Reveal” in System Shock 2 without spoiling it. So if you haven’t played the game yet for some ungodly reason, you should go do that. Otherwise, well, it’s been out for more than a decade at this point, so I think it’s fair game for blogging at this point.

Like many a science fiction themed survival horror game that takes place aboard a spaceship stranded in the outer reaches of space, System Shock 2 begins with you assuming the role of nameless and faceless soldier shortly after all hell has broken loose on the Von Braun — the specific stranded spaceship in play in its story. You spend much of the beginning of the game following orders you receive from someone named Dr. Janice Polito, a woman who claims to be a fellow survivor trying to help you make it through the Von Braun in one piece.

It might seem a tad too…convenient that another person somehow manages to contact you the moment you wake up from cryo-stasis. And then there’s all these other terrifying mutants and disembodied demonic-sounding voices telling you, in their own demonic mutant way, that things on the Von Braun aren’t always as they seem. But hey, these bad guys are pretty scary too. Who would you be more inclined to believe: a bunch of horrifying mutants, or a disembodied voice of someone you’ve never met but still sounds pretty darn human?

I, for one, opted for the latter. Then, when Polito and I finally arranged to meet up in meatspace, I soon realised that I’d been played.

It’s difficult to emphasise how profoundly unsettling a moment this was the first time I played through it. But I remember pacing back and forth in an absolute panic as the walls slowly fell away to reveal SHODAN’s visage:

Don’t get your hopes up and higher than they already are, System Shock fans. The new version of the SHODAN reveal is an isolated project solely focused on re-creating that masterful scene; not the entire game. Ah, well. At least it looks amazing on its own.

Then again, I’m not sure I’d be able to play through a new-gen version of System Shock 2 without having a heart attack anyways…

via Ken Levine’s Twitter


  • Nah, if done today there would be a whole lot more lens flare and Shodan would have large tits. Also spoiled in advertising.

    and there would be a prompt of “Press X to shit just got real”.

    • Also the game would be a straight shooter, and at the end of the Shodan reveal the game would end and you’d have to pay for the DLC to finish the game 2 months later. Also every single one of those panel removals would be a QTE, and the main character would be voiced by Troy Baker. Mind you none of that would matter if half the player base didn’t have issues constantly falling through the world, or were even able to login because the “entirely necessary” always online connection kept going down.

    • Don’t forget the DLC for a different Ending and SHODAN Skin Packs DLC and the Weapons DLC. Glados Voice Pack for SHODAN DLC. The Pre-Order bonus to receive a special TF2 hat. Multiplayer mode (never played System Shock unfortunately so don’t even know if it was a thing). Expansion DLC for side quests. DLC for your DLC. Then some DLC for that DLC.

      EDIT: That top video did look pretty amazing though!!

  • Having played SS1, and walking into the room to see Polito slumped over – I knew it was SHODAN calling the shots. (There were hints before that anyway).

    Awesome, awesome, awesome series.

    Such a shame that we got Bioshock as the spiritual successor – it always missed something for me. Even with their main villains, nothing came close to capturing SHODAN’s logic/insanity.

    Still holding out hope for a reboot / sequel one day….

    • We got one. It was called Dead Space.

      That’s about as close as we are ever going to get to a sequel unfortunately. The IP was carved up and sold to multiple companies. That fact that we can buy 2 now is a miracle.

      • Good point, Dead Space definitely had a great horror/thriller vibe to it but it was still missing a powerful antagonist.

        Arguably, you could say that what made System Shock/2 so special was SHODAN itself.

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