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    Tuesday - 3.23.1999
    New Preview & Screenshots - 6:00pm EST - Dan
PlayNOW! has managed to put together a small preview of System Shock 2. They give no new information, in fact, everything they say could have easily been gathered by reading a few of the other early previews. The attractive thing about this preview is the new screenshots. Now, these shots are surprisingly low quality. It looks as if they were either scanned out of a magazine, or just compressed really, really poorly. Nonetheless, they do show us some never before seen gameplay footage, and that's, debatably, never a bad thing.

Beware Falling Barrels I could be wrong, but it looks as if this player has found a way to get one of those storage barrels to fall onto the naturally evil spider things below. Eww, spider things. Creepy.
Keep Your Day Job This creature, we now know to be called a "Once Grunt", has been captured in an odd moment in his motion routines, and he appears to be dancing across the center of this control center.
Transport 23, Now Boarding A small shuttle or transport sits in the flightbay. I wonder how flyable it is. A hunt for the key to this baby is one key-seacrh I wouldn't mind going on at all.

Either that fish symbol means something that I don't know about, or it seems that System Shock 2 is a Christian Product.... :)

On a slightly unrelated topic, Skarz, the Irrational Games Level Designer for System Shock 2 has written a Developer Auto-Bio for Voodoo Extreme. Head on over and see what Skarz had to say!

    Saturday - 3.20.1999
    CONTEST: Get Killed By SHODAN - 12:20am EST - Dan
Wow, this is exciting and unexpected! Check out this post from the Looking Glass SS2 Site...
Worthless Insects! Get Killed By SHODAN! One "lucky" person will have the chance to join the unfortunate crew of the UNN Von Braun as one of the victims of SHODAN. YOUR NAME and YOUR FACE will appear in the actual System Shock 2 game, forever intertwining your fate with that of the doomed crew. Sound grim? You bet it is! But how many chances do you have to get rubbed out by a rogue, megalomanical artificial intelligence (hint: one)? To enter, simply enter your name and email address below. A name will be drawn at random, and that lucky(?) person will have their name and image included in System Shock 2.
That is just way too cool! I have no idea how long they will be taking names, so you have better go do it as soon as possible! Oh yes, and you must be over 18 to enter.

    Saturday - 3.13.1999
    German System Shock 2 Site - 12:20pm EST - Dan
SystemShock2.com is not alone in this world. At http://www.myweb.de/systemshock2/ there is another System Shock 2 site, but it's all in German! At first glance, it's a nice site, but only being able to speak enough German to get myself a B after two years of it i couldn't do much of an analysis of it. Thank goodness for German speaking pals.
The newly opened German System Shock 2 page by "Silencer" is a young site; most of the sections are still under construction and need to be filled up with content. The FAQ there presents an overview of the facts known about System Shock 2, slightly abbreviated, and not without errors. The screenshots page is packed with all the screenshots we have. The layout is nice and the site has a nice design, the main problem being that it doesn't work with Netscape Navigator. And oh my! They have a midi up!
Thanks to Goerg and Lars for reviewing the site for me!

    Friday - 3.5.1999
    CDMag.com Tells the Story! Huge Preview! - 11:15pm EST - Dan
We were impressed when GameCenter gave out more of the System Shock 2 story then we have ever read before. Hot on their heels is CDMag.com, which delivers ever more then GameCenter did- much, much more, in fact! So what new was told?
. . . SHODAN was an incredibly menacing presence throughout the game, and guess what? She's back—in full force (voiced once again by the evil Teri Brosius). Created by TriOptimum Corporation, SHODAN nearly destroyed the world. Needless to say, TriOp fell out of favor with the powers that be and were told to stand in the corner and think about what they had done—for over thirty years. When one of their scientists created a faster-than-light (FTL) mechanism, the paramilitary Unified National Nominate (UNN) was ready to do anything to acquire it. They allow TriOp to step meekly from the corner to develop a prototype which, when it was successful, spawned the creation of the first FTL starship, the Von Braun. Not wanting to give TriOp another chance to bungle and toy with world annihilation, however, the UNN sends a military babysitter along on the first mission. It comes in the form of a destroyer ship, the Rickenbacker, which is literally physically tethered to the Von Braun —Siamese spaceships, as it were (or "conjoined" for the politically correct). Players will travel through both ships during the course of the game, and even spend a level inside the gruesome creature that binds the two.

After several months into the mission, civilians and military personnel are at each other's throats, when all of a sudden a distress beacon is received from the surface of Canopus 5, gazillions of miles outside of colonized space. A team is sent to investigate and upon their return, Captain Diego of the Rickenbacker gives an all-hands-off-deck order to Von Braun Deck 3 personnel. Enter the player. It's a week later, and you awaken from cryogenic sleep after cybernetic implant surgery. You remember nothing about the events just prior to surgery, nor do you know about anything that's happened since. Via devices similar to those in Shock (logs, e-mails, etc.), you realize that something is terribly wrong. You get a message from Polito, who had arranged your surgery but whom you don't remember actually encountering. She wants you to go immediately to meet her on Deck 4. Like Rebecca Lansing in the first game, she serves as your introductory contact and as an impetus to act.

A large quest that you solved as the Hacker in the first game has set into motion a chain of events that bring SHODAN back. Players of Shock will find a lot about which to reminisce here. It starts out similarly, and you might be fooled into thinking that you know what's really going on. Think again.

I'd expect no more from a feature film! But what do you expect from the people who wrote the story for Thief? Now that we know a good deal about the story (or so we think we do), another subject that has been fuzzy is how this "unique" character generation and development system is going to work, fuzzy until now, that is.
The game's character creation module will be more immersive than we're used to seeing in most RPGs. Said Levine, "It has always been disappointing to me that character generation was always this 2-D bunch of bit-mapped screens where you roll up your character." Not so here. You must choose a branch of the military and go through various training components in order to gain your initial skills (shades of GDW's great scifi RPG system, Traveler). Choose one of three branches: the Marines, who focus on the weapons skill; the spaceborne Navy, which focuses on technical training; or the secret black ops division, the OSA, which focuses on psionic powers. You're initially on Earth where you visit recruitment robots that give you a spiel about what their particular branch is like. After you choose, you travel to the space station that is germane to that branch of the service, where there are a number of shuttle bays that have different missions for special skill training. You go on training missions for a virtual year and when you return you learn about the skills and traits that you have acquired. Your final mission will of course be that joy-ride on the Von Braun. "This is a nice introduction for the player," says Levine. "They will be able to walk around during this generation sequence and become familiar with the interface and controls, as well as being able to actively participate in their characters' growth which will give them an attachment…." Players who really liked Shock's Hacker character will be able to develop a character with very similar statistics this time around.

Character development is very much tied into the sci-fi techno-elements of the game. Since it takes place in real-time, designers felt that it would be inappropriate for the character himself to gain mega-strength during the course of the game. Instead you will get skill points with which to update your cybernetic powers, so that it makes more sense when you become stronger—your cybernetics are getting better even though you're still the same old schlep who stepped out of boot camp.

Unlike the first game where everything you encountered was strategically "good to get," here you'll have choices. You'll only get a certain number of the cybernetic upgrade modules (skill points) which you will use at four upgrade stations throughout the ship—similar to visiting shrines in Ultima Underworld. The stations will include upgrades to basic skills (intelligence, strength, etc.), cyber-tech skills (hacking, repairing, researching technologies), weapons skills (modify, configure and repair weapons) and psionic skills (altering the world via powers such as cryokinesis, electro-dampen and others). Finding them will be rather like mini-quests (which has got to be easier than finding Griggle the Ancient Weapons Master or the like in Might and Magic VI). Once you do find them, they will appear on your map. You will acquire various types of software that you install in yourself ("Number 5 alive…") and cybernetic implants of which you will only be able to wear one at a time. Think of them as "ring slots" in a fantasy RPG.

Well what do you know, it is terribly unique! It's also a nice blend of good systems that have proven to work, put together to make something truly excellent. The third big thing that this preview talks about has to deal with one new element revealed in the last preview, and something that has caused much talk and speculation among the fans, "The Many".
. . . There are two factions of evil at work here. While SHODAN is a singular cybernetic organism, there is a collective evil known as The Many. To provide a dramatic contrast (inorganic vs. organic), The Many is a fleshy communal group with a collective consciousness (Borg-like, but squishy, ewwww). They spawn worm-like creatures called Annelids, which burst out of eggs and then are able to alter former crew-members into monsters known as Once-Grunts, with wormy tentacles popping out of their heads. The Many have also created a type of creature called The Midwife. They took perfectly good females, and cybernetically altered them into half-robotic nannies to care for their young. And if that weren't bad enough, there are mutated monkeys that have been endowed with intelligence enough to know that they have been the objects of medical research, and that You are one of the humans that have done this to them. It's time to wash off that Eau-de-banana you've grown so fond of.
Sounds so very Zerg if you ask me. Which is a good thing, a very good thing. This preview has so much more then what I've gone over. Information on the weapons, enemies, and multiplayer is in abundance, but you'll have to go there and read for yourself for all that.

Oh yes, last and actually quite least, we have a new screenshot from the preview.

Yup, That's a Corridor Alright. When playing the game, this would actually be a rather scary moment. A quiet corridor. What's down it? Deadly stuff!

If they start telling us more I'll be upset that they're giving too much away! One closing note, things are well underway to get us back to systemshock2.com. Should be any day now.

    Thursday - 3.4.1999
    A Letter Ken Levine to the Fans - 12:30pm EST - Dan
Ladies and Gentalmen, Taffers and Hackers, I give you Ken Levine...
To All Shock 2 fans...

Hey there. Sorry the team hasn't been that active on this sight lately, we're just crunching to bring you an incredible game and want to devote our full attention to it. To make the lack of information a little easier, I'm happy to announce a whole bunch of print articles coming up on us in the near future. Look for previews (some of them have actually played the alpha version!) in:

PC Gamer
Computer Gaming World
Strategy Plus
PC Games
Maximum PC


It would be grand if anyone who gets those magazines could scan the article and send it to me, so that I can post it up for all to see. Thanks!

    Wednesday - 3.3.1999
    System Shock 2 Preview at GameCenter: A Full Report - 1:40pm EST - Dan
Previews this good don't come along every day. In fact, a preview this good has never come until now! Not only do they not make any errors that I can see (aside from the rather imprecise description of SS1's gameplay, and the fact that they say it's being made by Looking Glass Games. Hehe, oops!), but we actually get to read some new and exciting information! I'll cut the chatter and get to the good stuff!
Those who seemingly destroyed Shodan in the original game will no doubt wonder how she managed to survive. "She wasn't fully dead in that way super-villains tend to survive," laughs Levine. "If you challenge Shock players to think about the first game, they might figure out the loophole where Shodan got out." Levine won't get more specific, other than to say Shodan's escape from death will become clear a third of the way into the game.
As a matter of fact, one of the team once let it slip that one of the stories in the Fanworks Section was pretty close to the truth...
System Shock 2 also introduces a new enemy: The Many, a collective organism comprised of worm-like, parasitic annelids that use mind control. They also wield power over Xerxes, the spaceship's onboard computer. It appears Levine and crew have read their classics!
AhHA!! That must be the "other villain" The crew was hinting about before!
Your quest begins when you awake and discover a cybernetic implant in your brain; the implant has totally erased your memory. You soon learn that you are on a first-of-its-kind, faster-than-light spaceship, the Von Braun. It's the year 2114, 40 years after the first game, and you are farther from Earth than anyone has previously traveled. Tethered to your research ship is the Rickenbacker, a military vessel.
Wow, two starships! This ties together quite a few loose ends left by hints we were dropped.
As in the original, your first contact is with a friendly female voice informing you that things have gone wrong aboard the ship; she'll then ask you to meet her on deck four. Initially she serves as your guide, but there are some surprises about her down the road. Onboard the Von Braun and later the Rickenbacker, things are not always what they seem.
This must be Polito he is referring to. Yes, we've already been told that she isn't exactly what she seems.
As you explore the Von Braun, you'll discover the ectoplasm of your fallen comrades and learn how to tap into their remaining consciousness to unravel the circumstances of their demise. Despite the numerous corpses, a handful of living characters remain, which Levine has imparted with complex personalities. For example, Levine resurrects the bad guy from the original System Shock in the form of his son, the captain of the Rickenbacker, who despises the corporate plotting and backstabbing exemplified by his father.
Wow, actual NPCs! Plus we get the son of Edward Diego! Sounds like he will play a much different role then his father did.

The preview includes much more new information then this, but this is the most striking and noteworthy. Finally we get a clearer understanding of the story for this game! I'm sure everyone will be anxious to talk about all this, so don't hesitate to express your joys, questions, or concerned in the forum.

But there is more to the preview then that. We have a load of new screenshots to feast your eyes upon.

Lame Boy's Gonna Beatcha This pants wearing crooked walking fella with a big worm of the side of his head doesn't have good intentions with that large stick he's holding.
More Then Just Boxes We confront another one of those mutant fellows in what looks like a storage bay.
Cool Bot; Cooler Gun We finally get to see another member of the robot enemy type. This looks to be the end result of this concept sketch. I like the way that gun looks, deadly without being oversized.
A Real Armory We confront an odd looking enemy inside an armory which, for once, features the weapons & armor mounted on the wall, and on shelves, where they should be, rather then on the ground or in crates!
Green Ectoplasm? This green glowing muck is there for a reason, and I doubt it came from that little gun. Could this be the "ectoplasm" we've read about?
Property of TriOptimum What game is complete without large rooms filled with crates?
SHODAN Again The latest rendering of System Shock 2's super-villain.

I guess we were wrong about the drought! Oh yes, I suppose you all will be wanting a link to that preview.