System Shock 3: After 20 Years, Has It Lost Its Charge?

Today it was announced via a teaser page on OtherSideTease.com that System Shock 3 is in development. Two decades since the release of System Shock 2 (one of the all-time classics of PC games) the series will look to reclaim its throne at the apex of PC gaming.

As of yet there is no release date for System Shock 3. All that is known thus far is that Boston based OtherSide Entertainment is at the helm—the team that produced the original System Shock.

But the real question is this: After  20 year absence, has System Shock 2 lost its charge? Can System Shock 3 possibly hope to electrify audiences when the average gamer was not even gaming at the time when System Shock 2 came out?

Obviously, fans are thrilled that System Shock 3 is coming out. Up until today fans have been crying out for System Shock 3. In the (up-to-now) absence of a sequel, the series have been kept alive by fans themselves. System Shock devotees have continually updated the games graphics and its game engine with home brew projects like System Shock Rebirth and SHTUP.

System Shock Rebirth and SHTUP kept the game up to date with new character models and texture maps. ShockEd, meanwhile, offered a level editor with which fans created extra missions that have helped keep the game fresh with new content. And then there is Sshcok2.com, the website which is still in operation, which serves for a hub for System shock fans, providing news and updates.

All of this has helped to keep System Shock alive such that now, when System Shock 3 has been announced, the game still feels relevant compared to its contemporaries.

And then there is Bioshock, System Shock 2s spiritual successor

All the while fans were chomping at the bit for System Shock 3 (and while EA were keeping it under lock and key) Irrational Games took it upon themselves to create a spiritual successor to System Shock 2: Bioshock.But Bioshock served up a completely different universe and except for some similar gameplay segments and mechanics (and of course the shock moniker), there are not altogether that many ties between Bioshock and System Shock. Neverhteless, fans know that Bioshock is related to System Shock, and that relationship has helped keep System Shock alive in their hearts up to now.

System Shock 3 will need to do things differently

System Shock 2 was indeed a shock when it was released 20 years ago because it seemed so new. The sandbox environment, first person action, open-ended character development and excellent storyline all made System Shock 2 stand out at the time.

But those factors that made System Shock 2 so great are now commonplace in gaming. The fact that System Shock 2 is
20 years old makes System Shock 3 a serious challenge. For System Shock 3 to become as successful as System Shock 2 it will need to be equally as innovative. That means taking the same creative risks that its predecessor took. It means innovating and delivering things we gamers have never seen before.

System Shock 3 could be a new masterpiece. Or it could be a celebration of old. Either way, it is a win / win

System Shock fans wont be too concerned about whether System Shock 3 becomes a new classic. This is the game they have been waiting for for decades. And whether or not it ends up being a masterpiece or a more humble celebration of old, it will still make for a real treat.

System Shock 2 has been kept alive by the love of fans,/but only because the original game was so spellbinding. Because of its gargantuan success, System Shock 2 captured the hearts of gamers and has endured for two decades. If Otherside Entertainment hit the nail on the head they could end up with another classic. If not, we will likely see a familiar but very welcome rendition of one of the best games of all time.

The news that System Shock 3 is inbound can only be a good thing.

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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