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    The source for this was finally released a few years ago. There are also various attempts at porting it, which are easily googleable.

    I still remember downloading the demo for this game over dialup, and when I finally got a CD copy it was one of the coolest things in the world. Really innovative things it did (either first or early on compared to other games):

    • full 3D objects for several props (ugly and blocky, but cool)
    • interesting but simple physics
    • dynamic lighting (headlamp mod!)
    • palette tricks (monochome palette when using the IR mod, psychedelic palette when tripping during the berserk stim comedown)
    • emissive textures (iirc, certain sprites and textures would have lit texels even if the surface was dark)
    • full 3D 6DOF flight in cyberspace w/ flat-shaded 3D models (a full year before Descent)
    • full modeling of a human lying prone, crouching, or standing, and leaning in all of those poses (with mixed results, as humorously covered in the old Hacker’s Guide to Sin “Arms” section)
    • re-entrant levels (even required by plot)
    • full found-footage/artifact-based story telling (made even better with the CD audio when that hit)
    • weapons that actually required reloading and had different ammo types
    • many types of throwable grenades (though they were…hard to use safely)
    • one of the only reasonable infinite respawn systems I’ve seen (ruined by Bioshock, but basically they made you work to get to the point of having the respawn points and in some levels you didn’t actually have them at all)
    • adjustable plot, puzzle, and combat difficulty
    • different and interesting puzzles (occasionally influenced by plot…one wiring panel in an antenna cradle is super simple but incredibly time consuming because reasons)
    • full inventory system with interactions for items
    • a really weird customizable HUD with configurable left, center, and right panes
    • useless items (like, random junk you could just pick up for no good reason)
    • large variety of bodies
    • in-game plot-relevant messaging from characters
    • technically you can do a non-lethal playthrough with tranqs and the stun gun

    There’s all kinds of other stuff in there, but it’s really just this weird goldmine of ideas and systems, and honestly playing that ruined the genre for me basically until Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock 2–and when Prey 2017 came out I kinda was just like…“okay, that’s it?”.

    If you play it, you’ll probably note that:

    • the controls are insane (almost every key on your keyboard has a use in the game)
    • the default view is a tiny box (use the fullscreen mod to give a more normal feeling)
    • the mouse and aiming isn’t fixed to the center of the screen (no Quake-style mouselook; you might want to use a patch or the Enhanced Edition settings to fix that)
    • the levels are intricate and try to feel like real places, but folks used to modern “level design” will likely find them confusing (use the automap, notes, and compass; they’re hugely helpful)

    The combat is slow compared to modern games and it’s definitely more on the adventure side than the action side–that said, I think the clunkiness of the controls kinda plays into that. If you want really solid action, go play Doom–or even better, Blood. Even so, the combat got better as your gear improved.

    I think it’d be a really solid candidate for a VR makeover that really leaned into what nowadays would be recognized as its survival horror elements, along with more advanced systems around hacking, puzzles, and environmental effects–this would help turn the problems of the combat into advantages.

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      Surprisingly, I never got into System Shock 2 despite my love of the subgenre, and I never got around to playing the first. That said, Prey is incredible and basically fixes everything I didn’t like about System Shock 2.

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        Note that when friendlysock says “mod” they mean a feature built into the base game. As the character, you mod your personal cyborg UI. You don’t have to go get a third party mod for the game.

        Salt the fries!

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        I was a broke-ass college kid when this came out. I remember both it and Wing Commander Armada landed on the shelves the same week, and I only had enough cash on me to get Armada. It was 10 USD cheaper at the time. I resolved to come back in a few days and pick up Shock.

        Well. That never happened. Every store in town promptly sold their copies, and never got restocked. I kept calling every store, every week, for six months. I eventually picked up the game from a cough unsanctioned source, then got the CD reissue the moment it arrived. Doom was fun, but like previous comparisons to Wolf3D and Ultima Underworld, the Looking Glass/Blue Sky stuff scratched an itch that the Id games never could.

        Beyond the technical merit, which was grand all by itself, I think the game was further propelled by SHODAN, who rather than sitting back and watching you storm the Citadel, actively attempted to thwart your progress, and taunt you from time to time. It was a rarity back then. Most RPG/adventure bosses were either non-interactive, or had a single point in the game where they tacitly acknowledged your progress, and pushed back. Being regularly harangued and prodded by SHODAN made the experience that much more entertaining.

        I wanted to kill Exodus, Minax, The Master, Tarjan, Dark Falz, etc… but putting an end to SHODAN was particularly satisfying compared to what came before.