Tuesday 30 October 2007

Post #3 - So when's this whole 'criticism' business going to come in?

Okay intrepid readers, you've all been clamoring for something more like a genuine opinion/experience based critique of System Shock 2 (which i said I'd write something about). Well, the time has come, so I'm now attempting to organise my thoughts on the subject.

So, as I mentioned previously, I just recently finished System Shock 2 for the first time the other week, but my experience of the game is by no means complete. Why not? Because the game being somewhat of a FPS/RPG game, I still haven't explored the whole RPG aspect that much. This is because I have always played the game as a Techie. My hack / research / maintenance skills were just about maxed out by the end of the game. Why have I always played the schizophrenic Tech Class/Tree? Because it seemed to me to always have the most fun. Hacking. Researching. Repairing. Hacking - all of these were the best bits that SS2, it seems to me, has to offer.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, lets look at your options:

There are 3 main skill trees available in SS2 - Wepons, Tech, Psi. If you choose to specialize in weapons (which some degree of is neseccary to just survive in SS2) then you don't actually get any skills to MAINTAIN your weapons, and so they all fall apart. Additionally, there really aren't that many projectile weapons to start off with, so the Wep tree is, at least initially, an optional extra. (Note: All this writing is just my opinion, and as one of the guys at Rock Paper Shotgun made the brilliant observation that the main reason we write up our opinions on the internet is to have people pick it apart. I wholeheartedly encourage thoughtful, productive picking, so tell me I am wrong!)

Next, the Psi tree. If you've never played SS2 (and right here I might just take the opportunity to slap you in the face for not having done so.) the Psi tree is all about Psycho-kinetic powers, or something like that. So it's all about moving around bits and pieces, blowing things up with the power of your brain and making you fly (although I don't think that it actually does the last one I just mentioned). Sounds great! Well... in practice, it's fun and all but... you really can't regen Psi except for in one of 2 ways that I know of, through consuming Psi hypo's, which restore 30 (???) Psi, but are single use only and are in limited supply, or by consuming an alien organ which has to be researched first before it can be used.

So, here we see the main problem of the Psi tree as well - it requires lots of Psi hypos... but throughout the whole duration of the game I believe I only ever picked up in the order of about 30, certainly no more than 50. Okay, sure, you can occasionally find a replicator to buy some from, but that's usually quite expensive. I could fire up SS2 right now and find out how much they cost, but it's hot here, and I can't be stuffed - can you? No? Didn't think so, so shut it.

So, with weps rendered pointless, and the Psi tree fatally (in my view) flawed, what choice are we left with but the Tech tree. Ahhh, sweet sweet hack. Beautiful repair. Useful, Useful research. Notice how I haven't mentioned either of repair or modify in the Tech tree yet? That's because they TOO are pointlessly redundant. How so? Well, lets take a look at all the possible uses for the repair skill.

Repair can be used on broken objects, mostly weapons and replicators. If a replicator is broken, the worst that can happen is that I won't be able to buy more packets of chips! oh no! To be fair, some replicators do come in extreme handy, like for instance, the ones that sell Tox Hypos, near the end of the game. I swear, I spent about 1,000 nanites on JUST toxin hypos. I hate those damnable spiders! The other use for repair is in restoring a weapon that has broken (jammed) and is now unusable. Okay, this sounds like it would be pretty darn handy. Oh wait. My gun has just jammed while shooting a laser turret. Lets repair it now, shall we? No, i don't think so Mr Repair man, surely not while someone is shooting you? See the problem now? Instead, the more sensible option is to simply NOT LET IT break in the first place and spent your precious, precious Cybernetic Modules on Maintenance instead (a smart move).

The other skill in the tech tree, Modify is useful... but, only to a point. Why? Cause you can only modify a weapon TWICE and then, that's it! You just spent 20+ modules on upgrading that pistol to do more damage and have a 24 bullet clip instead of 12. Whoop-Dee-Freaking-Do. Unless you are dumping every weapon that ever jams on you, you'll only ever need to do this a couple of times. Q.E.D.; Modify also fails.

Well. Now I've said my piece, I can kinda see that all this stuff was really pretty obvious to anyone that's ever played the game for even 30 minutes, so I'm really wondering why I bothered to put the effort in. Well, at least now I'm motivated to go back and try playing the Psi tree to see if my assertions actually hold any water. I also want write up something about the weapon unbalance (certainly in the early game) which favors enormously energy weapons, but I'll save that for another day.

Also, I'm planning on adding a blogroll of people that I read regularly (read that as, every day) so I don't have to repost what they are all saying.

Until later, dear readers, that is all.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I always go Tech too. Psy is just lame and annoying, and as you said going marine is fairly redundent.

Ben Abraham said...

Hey Fashion Daddy,

I wonder, though, if anyone *not* related to me thinks its also similarly lop-sided. We probably think too alike.