Classic Games I (and Plotholes)

Written by Ryan Crierie on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 5:25 am

One of my favorite games of All Time™, “System Shock”; was released in 1994 by Origin, under the development of Looking Glass.

Medical Deck, Opening Moments of the Game

Medical Deck, Opening Moments of the Game

Even fifteen years later (my god has it been that long?); the game is still eminently playable (within either DOSBOX; or with a hacked executable that fans of the game have put together); and unlike most games even today; you got the feeling that Citadel Station actually existed; rather than being a random agglomeration of levels; because rather than using the same texture and level design ethic for the entire game (I’m looking at you Quake); each level had it’s own ethic.

For example, the engineering level, which contained the reactor had a very dark steam-punkish look to them.

Engineering Level of Citadel Station

Engineering Level of Citadel Station

The Research level was very brightly lit with a clean ethic:

Research Level

Research Level

While the executive deck was in a class of it’s own; bright metals and fancy wall coverings. Alas, I don’t have any more screenshots to show those levels.

While the story of the game was pretty good (Station AI goes rogue, and kills everyone, then tries to destroy Earth); there were a few plotholes in the presentation.

While on the reactor/engineering level, you find a fluff datacard that gives you the typical corporate publicity spiel about how great Citadel Station is. Among one of the datapoints is that Citadel has over two hundred armed security guards.

Which when you think about it is odd; you, a lone hacker without military or security training, manages to stop SHODAN’s plans when she’s at her most powerful, and when she controls the entire station with her Cyborg Death Squads™ roaming the halls. Meanwhile, those two hundred guards can’t stop her when she’s at her weakest.

The only way this can be rationalized away is that SHODAN got them all into one place with a fake announcement like:

“All security personnel must report to briefing room 21 for a security briefing at 1300 hours.”

And when they’re all there, waiting for the briefing; she could have vented the compartment to space, or used a modified security droid to massacre them all.

A later plothole, one that’s much harder to forgive; is the ultimate fate of the last surviving group of people on the Flight Deck of Citadel. When they contact you over e-mail, they’re fighting off a Cortex Reaver.

When you finally meet up with them, they’re all dead. Normally, this would not be a problem; but in the room you find them dead are several air shafts that a person could crawl through (this is how you gain access to the room); but the Cortex Reaver cannot follow (it’s too big).

Additionally, when you explore the room, you find behind a door a guy lying dead in a storage room holding a Mark 3 Assault Rifle, with several rounds in it; which can destroy a Cortex Reaver in a few shots; along with loads of Land Mines in the room.

While I do recognize the thematic links to traditional stories and RPGs; like finding the weapon that can kill the bad guy close by, if not on their corpse; such as silver bullets on the body of the werewolf hunter, the sword that can kill Grendel’s mother in her trash midden; etc. It’s annoying, after spending several hours playing the game to get to this point, and you’re hoping that by that point, you’ll finally link up with some survivors, instead of fighting off KillBots all by yourself, you get horribly disappointed.

Categories: Classic Gaming, Plotholes

Post a Comment