Nightdive Studios announced last week that it's working on an enhanced version of System Shock 2, which came as a shock to me because I thought it had been announced months ago. Apparently I confused it with one of the other System Shocks currently in the works—either the remake of the original, which Nightdive is also working on, or System Shock 3, being developed by Otherside Entertainment. There's a whole lot of Shocking going on.
But System Shock 2 Enhanced Edition is something else entirely, and I'm very excited that it's happening because the original is a spectacularly good game but also very dated: The character models were pretty ugly when it was new and 20 years under the bridge hasn't made it any prettier. Hopefully Nightdive will be able to give it an appropriate facelift, but studio CEO Stephen Kick told GamesRadar today that it's actually putting its focus on the game's multiplayer.
"Our priority with the Enhanced Edition is to be able to deliver an updated co-op multiplayer component. As of right now starting a co-op campaign is needlessly complicated and we're going to address that by implementing features that will enable a more modern and streamlined experience," Kick said.
"Our other priority is to ensure that all existing mods and fan missions are compatible with the Enhanced Edition, but much of that will rely on the cooperation of the mod community. We have some other surprises that we'll be revealing in the future."
It's great that mod support is being continued: There aren't a huge number of System Shock 2 mods available but things like community patches and fan-made visual enhancements are just about mandatory for the game as it currently stands. The multiplayer focus is a little more unexpected. System Shock 2 multiplayer is a pain in the ass to set up, but it also just kind of sucks. The game is so effective largely because of the sense of isolation it engenders and the dread that results, and throwing other players into the mix turns it from a near-horror immersive sim to just another shooter—especially when the Marine player is running around turning everything into paste while the Navy and OSA players are still trying to figure out how to hack the GamePig.
We spoke with Irrational Games co-founders Ken Levine and Jonathan Chey about how System Shock 2 came to be, and almost didn't come to be, earlier today. It's really good and you can read it all right here.