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L-l-look at you, hacker. A p-p-pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you r-run through my corridors-s. H-h-how can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?
SHODAN, System Shock trailer

System Shock by Looking Glass Studios is a groundbreaking First-Person Shooter/Immersive Sim with Survival Horror and RPG Elements set in a Cyberpunk future. It wasn't exactly a smashing success in sales, but it was massively influencial and spawned one of the most memorable villains in all of video games. A sequel, System Shock 2, was released on August 11, 1999.

"The Hacker," caught breaking into the mainframe of the Tri-Optimum Corporation, is offered a chance at freedom and a prime-grade neural interface by CEO Edward Diego, in return for performing nonstandard modifications to the Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network (SHODAN), the AI on the corporation's space station. After the six-month coma needed to heal from his surgery, the Hacker finds that SHODAN has gone haywire from having her ethical controls removed, and has transformed the entire crew into cyborgs and mutated monsters devoted entirely to her. The Hacker must stop SHODAN from destroying the earth and wipes her completely from the database.

The game is notable for being a story-driven action game at a time when this was not the norm, as well as being extraordinarily high-tech for its time.note 

The original, floppy disc-based version of System Shock played fast-and-loose with SHODAN's gender. Several times the evil computer was described as a "he", and the character art was ambiguous. From the CD version onwards SHODAN was explicitly female, voiced with cool command by Terri Brosius. A combination of superior scripting and excellent voice acting transformed SHODAN from a stock villain into a memorably sexy computer dominatrix from hell; she is by far the most memorable character in the series, and is considered one of the best video game villains in general.

The game has circulated for a long time as the "System Shock Portable" version, with an added mouse-look feature and DOSBox emulation, until the new copyright owners demanded the downloads to be taken down. It took Nightdive Studios years to solve this new predicament, but ultimately obtained the rights to the game and released an Updated Re-release titled System Shock: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com on September 22, 2015, and on Steam one month later. The Enhanced Edition runs natively in Windows and incorporates features from Portable and other mods, including remappable keys, mouselook support and enhanced graphical resolution, and also solves some of the bugs of the original. Those who would rather enjoy the classic in its original form need not fret, though, since the Enhanced Edition also includes the original version with no enhancements, titled System Shock Classic. The patches the were used in Portable where later made into a separate patching tool for the original game, aptly named "System Shock Portable Tool". In 2018, the Enhanced Edition was ported to Nightdive's KEX engine, allowing for smoothed, hardware accelerated graphics (allowing for variable FOV and widescreen and even ultra-widescreen) and porting in higher resolution character portraits from the Mac version.

In November of 2015, Nightdive Studios has acquired full rights to the System Shock franchise and announced a full remake of the game, originally set for a mid-2018 release after a successful Kickstarter campaign, but later pushed back to 2020 after encountering some difficulties with their direction. They also thought of making System Shock 3, but instead got outside help in the form of Otherside Entertainment, composed of ex-Looking Glass developers, who revealed that they would be developing it themselves on the 15th of December 2015 with Starbreeze Studios acting as publisher. However, Starbreeze got into severe financial troubles after Overkill's The Walking Dead flopped and was forced to sell publishing rights for the game back to Otherside in Febuary 2019. In September, a new gameplay trailer was revealed, suggesting that the game was still being worked on in 2020. In 2022, news outlets reported the game was truly dead, as development had stopped following employee layoffs. However, the remake was finally given a proper release date of May 30, 2023 after a very turbulent development cycle, and was indeed released on that date with no further delays.

See BioShock for the Spiritual Successor fronted by Ken Levine himself, Dead Space for the spiritual successor that was originally intended to outright be System Shock 3, and Prey for the Arkane Studios-driven spiritual successor, much like how their own Dishonored series serves as a spiritual successor to Looking Glass Studios' own Thief games.


The game contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The Medical Deck, also the first level of the game. By the time you walk out of the medical bay, only undead mutants and cyborgs stick around. All other lifeforms are eradicated, as evidenced by the gory remains lying around the level.
  • Action Bomb: The Autobombs, with their deadly suicide attack, small hitbox and fast movement speed, meaning melee attacks are ill-advised, and aim must be true. They get two dedicated respawning alcoves on Engineering and the Bridge to screw players over, most notably on the latter level where said alcove is a maze that needs to be explored.
  • Adaptational Expansion: The remake adds a playable prologue in which you can explore the Hacker's apartment, and experience firsthand his kidnapping by Trioptimum and coerced deal with Diego. New audio logs were also added in the latter half of the game, mainly in the Executive level, which expand on the game world with an eye towards being more inclusive and reflective of modern audiences. Another audio log mentions the surprising discovery of a wormhole in nearby space. Most likely this is meant to provide a plausible explanation for how the jettisoned garden grove made it to Tau Ceti at seemingly faster-than-light speed for the sequel.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: SHODAN's pre-Hacker audiologs and records say she's exemplary from what you find. The problem is that Edward Diego needed SHODAN to do something that would have violated her ethical constraints. So he had the Hacker remove those, and then did what he wanted (cover up corporate malfeasance on his part, basically). He went mad with power, getting SHODAN to shoot down a shuttle of investigators that were coming to look into the station, and then SHODAN did the same, following the directives to "improve" the station and provide assistance to humans to extreme ends.
  • Airborne Mook: The game features a few, likely to compliment its advanced rendering engine.
    • The Avian Mutants are what happened when you tried to remake prehistoric creatures using a bunch of lizard eggs, virus injections and radiation. Despite their durability and speed, their only attack is pecking you at close range. Their earliest appearance is in Storage - when you should have enough ways to deal with them comfortably.
    • Zero-G Mutants are similarly derived from bizarre experimentations - their (accidental) creation as grotesque as their appearance. They are commonly found in packs, capable of hovering around slowly, and spit out acid balls.
    • The most dangerous of all, however, are Flier-Bots. While uncommon and frail, their small hitbox, undistinguished appearance, and use of rapid hitscan attacks make them a force to be reckoned with, particularly in Security, where they are situated in high elevations.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The station has spacious maintenance tunnels, and are rather common. Some of them can be utilized as shortcuts or passageways to otherwise inaccessible areas.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Edward Diego left a log that has him begging SHODAN to spare him. To make this even more pathetic, almost right next to this log is another log that had him bragging to Tri-Optimum after he had the Citadel's defense system shoot down the shuttle with an investigation team, arrogantly stating that he is untouchable with SHODAN under his control. The dates of the logs are roughly only two weeks apart.
  • Alternate Fire:
    • Almost every weapon features regular ammo and "special" ammo. For example, the Magnum has hollow point rounds (good against cyborgs and mutants, less effective against robots) and heavy slug rounds (good against robots and cyborgs, less effective against mutants). Special ammo is less common and tends to be more situational, although the "special" ammo for the Skorpion is just a double-sized magazine.
    • Energy weapons, on the other hand, all have an "Overload" function, which boosts damage beyond what the normal maximum damage is, but immediately overheats the weapon and draws much more power from your main energy reserves.
  • Always Close: You always get to the bridge level just before it jettisons itself from self-destructing Citadel Station.
  • Anachronic Order: Most of the time the Apocalyptic Logs you find in both games will have no correlation between their location and time of recording. Actually piecing together a timeline of how events progressed will take some time and effort.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Some in the final cyberspace battle with SHODAN: You get the highest level Pulser, Cybershield, and Drill software right at the start, so if you didn't get any upgrades in the previous cyberspace segments or haven't done the cyberspace stuff at all, you can still be prepared for the final battle.
    • Another cyberspace feature: Normally, cyberspace levels have a time limit, and losing one decreases the amount of time you get, but there isn't one in the level with SHODAN. In this way, you still have a chance to fight the final boss if you screw up the other cyberspace levels a bunch. However, the actual boss herself must be assimilated before she completely engulfs your consciousness.
    • The remake adds more forgiving resurrection rules. In the original, if you die on a floor without activating its restoration chamber (or if it doesn't have one), it's game over. In the remake, you simply go back to the restoration chamber of the closest floor you activated it on, except in special circumstances like boss fights or in the groves, where death is still a game over. At the highest mission difficulty level, this change is reverted to the original rules (along with adding a mission timer).
    • While enemy respawns from the original are back in the remake, there is either a set limit to the number of respawns or they stop as you reduce the security level. This means if you need to go back to an earlier floor to retrieve something you left behind, you're not wasting precious ammo fighting through an area you've already cleared. The exception is the Reactor level. You can go in early and kill all the Hoppers and cyborgs, but when you return to set the rector self destruct, the level is now populated with security robots.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The series likely popularized their use in video games. In both games you find plenty of messages left by people who are no longer alive. From before things start going to hell, you will find official reports and communiques. Once bad things started happening, several people seemed to simply want to leave a message telling their story.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: The game averts the common FPS trope in which handguns do more (or at least comparable) damage than assault rifles - realistically, the handguns deal significantly less damage than the assault rifle. Less realistically the assault rifle has the smallest magazine size of any weapon in the game and so essentially fills out the standard magnum role itself (small magazine, fairly scarce ammo, massive damage per shot).
    • There is one exception, however: the Teflon rounds for the ML-44 Minipistol can do more damage than the hollow-point rounds for the Magnum 2100, if the enemy is sufficiently armored. However, there is exactly one enemy that is armored enough to resist the Magnum but still lightly armored enough to be affected by the Minipistol: Flier-Bots. By the time you meet them, you'll have dropped the Minipistol for something better.
  • Arc Number: 451.
  • Arm Cannon: Various enemies have one or both of their arms replaced with weapons.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack : Teflon rounds for the ML-44 Minipistol, heavy slugs for the Magnum 2100, Penetrator rounds for the combat rifle, and the Rail gun, full stop, are all effective at penetrating armor. The game has a relatively in-depth armor system for enemies, and generally an inverse curve for lethality and armor-penetration: if an enemy that doesn't have armor is hit with armor-piercing rounds, the attack will do less damage than using normal rounds, while using normal rounds on armored enemies is obviously less effective (and might even do zero damage).
  • Artificial Gravity: There are some low-gravity pads marked by quad-direction arrows around the station, which you can use to make Super Mario-level jumps. Many of them can be disabled, allowing you to slowly hover down instead.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Many, many weapons fall into this category, particularly the energy-powered weapons. The Sparq Beam at high settings is sufficient for most of the game. The Blaster upgrade lets you conserve energy by using a lower setting, but can be tricky to find. The Ion Rifle drains energy very quickly and had good damage, but isn't nearly as powerful as the ballistic weapons you're getting at this point. And while the PR-XX Plasma Rifle is hands-down the most powerful weapon in the game, it's a quirky, hard-to-use weapon that drains your batteries like there's no tomorrow and has a non-zero chance of killing you. It's possible to stick to the Sparq Beam for the entire game and use it just for shooting out cameras.
    • Several explosives fall into this trap as well. The Earthshaker is the most powerful explosive bar none, so powerful it shakes the entire station when it goes off. But it's a timed explosive (which makes it as hard to use as the Nitro Pack, which also has a timer), and the blast radius is large enough that if you stick around to see it go off, you're probably dead. It's also massive overkill on everything in the game.
    • The Railgun is a powerful explosive-firing weapon that can kill almost anything in one shot. But the cramped corridors mean that it will likely be doing damage to you as well.
  • Badass Bookworm: The Hacker is an expert hacker who is also abnormally skilled with a wide variety of weapons and explosives. It helps that he has a military grade neural interface installed in his brain that probably conveys some skill with weaponry.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Edward Diego teleports away when he is dealt enough damage, and goes down in the third fight.
  • Beef Gate: Until you find better weapons and better shields, you will die constantly on upper levels. But the biggest obstacle is probably the radiation, particularly in the reactor level: without a level 2 environment suit, you'll take damage too quickly to survive for long.
    • With skill and careful application of weaponry, however, it's possible to rush to level 5 and get several powerful weapons and upgrades to help with level 2 and level R. If you know where all the cameras are, you can even rush to level 6 and get some extremely powerful gear, though you'll be very vulnerable for most of it.
  • BFG: The Plasma Gun uses a third of your energy per shot and launches giant balls of energy that bounce around the station like pinballs. It kills whatever it touches but it often touches you.
  • Big Bad: SHODAN serves as the main antagonist, being the main force reducing The Citadel to the current state through her army of cyborgs and having an active goal of eradicating all lives on Earth. The Hacker having a hand in making her like this doesn't help.
  • Blob Monster: The invisible mutants on the dimly lit level 3 of Citadel Station, as well as the Zero-G Mutants, who fit this trope to a T. The former has a stout stature; the latter can best be described as incomprehensible spherical-spiky things, both turn into gooey messes upon death.
  • Body Horror: Between the grotesque mutants and the horrific cyborgs there’s plenty to go around. Notable mentions include Inviso-Mutants, a product of SHODAN's bio-virus that mutates human victims to invisible, stingray-like beings; Cortex Reavers, arachnid-like robots whose intelligence is powered by a mutilated human puppet hopelessly wagging around.
  • Booby Trap: Several places, usually involving SHODAN spawning in Elite Mooks ambushing you at story-crucial momentsnote . Special mention goes to SHODAN’s “Death Machine” on level R and an antennae room on Engineering.
  • Book Ends: The game begins and ends with the hacker trying to hack into some Mega-Corp. Old habits die hard.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Many of the early weapons fall into this category in the early to mid-game. For example, the ML Pistol is weak, but ammunition for it (including the special "Teflon-coated" rounds) is everywhere, and it will reliably shred everything you encounter until Level 3, where the invisible mutants boast extreme damage resistance. The Magnum is useful throughout the entire game once you get it: it destroys weaker enemies and has plentiful ammo later to take out stronger enemies if you don't have any stronger weapons available. Even the humble Sparq Beam, the weakest energy weapon, is a godsend when you first find it, being a ranged weapon with functionally unlimited ammo as long as you have a battery or a recharge station nearby.
    • Ballistic weapons in general are Boring, but Practical: as long as you have the ammunition, they are generally much better to use than beam weapons.
    • The Magnum 2100, after you get it, will likely stay in your inventory for the rest of the game: it does good damage against mutants (with hollow point ammunition), cyborgs and robots (with slug ammunition), ammo is plentiful starting on level 5 (higher tier enemies will drop both HP and Slug magazines), and it doesn't have any gimmicks. Later weapons either suffer from ammunition shortages (the Assault Rifle), difficult-to-control mechanics (the Skorpion Rifle's automatic fire), or are just too good to waste on something like shooting a camera. The Magnum never stops being useful and reasonably effective.
    • The true Boring, but Practical weapon, however, is the Laser Rapier: while it does drain energy with every hit, there are only four enemies in the entire game that can survive more than one hit on normal difficulty: Elite Cyborgs, Heavy Mutants, Security-2 Robots, and Edward Diego. Getting close enough to use it can be a problem, but if you do, everything will die quickly.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: At high plot levels, you encounter a door locked by a retinal scanner. To get inside, you have to search through the logs to find the name and appearance of someone with access, then track down their body and collect their severed head.
  • Boss Banter:
    • SHODAN constantly mocks you and brags about herself.
    • In the remake, Cyborg Diego nows taunts you while fighting you, showing that he's retained his personality, albeit now completely Ax-Crazy.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: Cortex Reavers and Cyborg Elite Guard are the toughest enemies in the regular game, almost half as durable as the game's actual boss enemy, Cyborg Diego. In the remake, the Cortex Reavers are promoted to straight-out boss battles.
  • Boxed Crook: The recently captured Hacker is offered freedom and a new neural interface by Edward Diego if he removes ethical restraints from Citadel Station's AI, SHODAN. (For added irony, breaking into Trioptimum's computers for data on Citadel was what got him arrested.)
  • Call-Forward: The virus mutants now have tumors and worm-like growths similar to the Hybrids some forty years in the future
  • The Cameo: In the remake, there's a hidden, posthumous audio log from, of all people, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, who were mysteriously transported from their studio to Citadel Station. Kevin and Bill have also been turned into robots, "apparently some kind of cruel reference to our old jobs." Finding this audio log also earns the achievement "In The Not Too Distant Future", which has Crow's face as the icon.
  • Cassette Craze: The Audio Logs, used to fill in the backstory and provide information on your foes.
  • Colony Drop: SHODAN tries to drop Citadel Station on Earth after the Hacker stopped all of her plans (and backup plans).
  • Computer Voice: SHODAN is obviously (if often heavily distorted) female.
  • Control Room Puzzle: The force bridge puzzle is in this style, as are some of the hacking minigames.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Edward Diego, who originally made the offer to the Hacker to meddle with SHODAN for his own gain, and later becomes a Dragon for her.
  • Creating Life: One of SHODAN's objectives. She creates a virus that turned many of Citadel's crew into mutants, she turns the old recreational gardens (the Groves) into petri dishes for her experiments.
  • Cyberspace: This is how the Hacker hacked things, thanks to his new shiny military grade hack mod.
  • Cyborgs: Lots of them on Citadel: cyborg assassins, cyborg warriors, elite cyborgs, flying cyborgs, the always terrifying Cortex Reaver, and of course, you!
  • Darkness Equals Death: Darkness is a sign that something bad is going to happen: as darkness provides no benefits for you, things will hide in the dark and mess you up when you get too close. The Maintenance level (level 3) is the biggest offender: the entire level is shrouded in darkness, with intermittent lighting at best, and it's the exclusive home of "invisible" mutants, which hit very hard and are resistant to most forms of damage.
  • Daylight Horror: Well there's no "daylight" because you're on a space station, but much of the game takes place in bright, well-lit and alarmingly colourful levels (and is set to fairly upbeat electronic music) as you rifle through the corpses of Citadel Station's butchered crew trying to find enough supplies to hold off the twisted mutants, cyborgs and reprogrammed robots trying to slaughter you on the commands of an insane, sadistic AI that is planning to destroy the Earth.
    • With the exception of the maintenance level and the grooves, which are set to unnerving music and mostly empty environments.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you can find the Cyborg Conversion Chamber and flip the nearby switch, it will reset the functions back to "Standard Station Restoration": if you die, SHODAN's goons will drag your body to the chamber, expecting you to come out as a cyborg, only to revive you instead. Actually getting to the Chamber on the first level takes most of the level, and subsequent levels either have it available very quickly, or make it difficult to find the switch (such as the Science level, level 2). After playing most of the game without any concern for dying, the fact that Level 8 (Security) and Level 9 (Bridge) do not have Chambers is a shock, especially since they are the hardest, most punishing levels in the game.
    • However, if you're playing on Hard Plot (difficulty 3), which has a time limit for the entire game, this trope is averted hard: dying will have a penalty to your time limit, making the rest of the game that much harder!
    • Cyberspace has a similar consequence: dying while connected will boot you out of Cyberspace, ramp your fatigue up to max levels (no running until you recover), and halve your remaining health (it cannot kill you). If you've found the Chamber and reset it, the loss of life is marginally annoying at best. However, subsequent hacking attempts will have a reduced maximum time, which can get cumulatively more difficult as the hardest hacks end up having the shortest time.
    • In the remake, on Normal difficulty you don't even have to hack the restoration chamber on your current level, as dying will send you to the last chamber you did hack, even if it's on another level. However, there are some sections of the game where dying will lead to you getting converted into a cyborg, typically in boss battles or in sections separated from the rest of the station.
  • Death Trap: SHODAN sets up a few surprising and actually very efficient ones. However, since she can't control regeneration chambers once you reset them, there is nothing to stop you going back and doing it again. The most sadistic trap, however, is one of the antenna rooms on level 7: as soon as you set the bomb on the console in the center of the room, a permanent force door closes, keeping you from leaving and outrunning the explosion. If you didn't bring a Logic Probe to break the circuits powering the door and/or a Reflex Patch to give yourself time to solve the circuit puzzle, then you must die, and if you haven't found and reset the conversion chamber on the level, it's game over.
  • Decontamination Chamber: There's a decon chamber on Level R. It works exactly as advertised, but only for radiation poisoning. Biological poisoning will not be removednote .
  • Deflector Shields: The large-scale shield is used to destroy the mining laser by firing it at the now point-blank range. The Hacker also has a personal variant. The personal deflector shield is also the single most draining mod you can slot. Especially at level 3, where it absorbs 50% damage but will drain your battery in less than a minute. The level 4 shield available on Level 9 absorbs 70% of damage, but is more efficient than the level 2 version.
  • Didn't See That Coming: SHODAN is completely blindsided by the Hacker's awakening on Citadel. She thought she was in absolute control of the station, but the Hacker was recovering from the cyber-implant operation in a secret lab (because what he was doing was illegal), and had been completely erased from the station's computers, so SHODAN had no knowledge that he even existed.
    SHODAN (after you've destroyed the first CPU bank): Who are you? My probes and cameras scan your body, but you...who are you?
  • Diegetic Interface: The game throws a lot of information at you on your HUD, including current health and energy, energy usage, heart rate (stamina), and more. There is one thing that it keeps track of that has no actual use, however: your brainwave (chi wave), which is normally an elongated sine wave. The only time it won't be an elongated sine wave is when you die, when it stutters, breaks up, and ultimately flatlines (comparatively long after your heart rate flatlines), only to come back with no issue if you revive in a restoration chamber. It will never, ever look different, which makes you wonder why it was included.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: You are an One-Man Army ascending a space station filled with brainwashed cyborgs and Killer Robots, accumulating more and more weaponry as you progress.
  • Doomsday Device: SHODAN had a mining laser that apparently could destroy everything on Earth (Then again, it was designed to work on Saturn in the first place) and the deadly V-5 Mutagen Virus, which rapidly and wildly mutates humans and any other life forms which, without her supervising, will evolve into The Many.
  • The Dragon: Edward Diego to SHODAN, with him appearing at certain story-crucial moments as a Recurring Boss. Ironically, it's the other way around at the start, with Diego using SHODAN to escape his prosecution. When hell breaks loose, Diego appears to be more than willing to serve SHODAN, with a specific audio log before his transformation exclusively centered around his devotion to the AI.
  • Early Game Hell: You will be starving for ammo and health packs for the first couple of floors, and the restoration bay on the first floor is only found 4/5 of the way through the level. Once you pass level 3 (with its invisible, endlessly respawning mutants), things lighten up and the game starts being more generous with ammo and meds.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Every time you enter in an elevator to go to another level a tune reminiscent of "The Girl from Ipanema plays, it can create some hilarious Soundtrack Dissonance when you open the elevator doors and a swarm of mutants attack you with this music playing on the background.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: One of the logs mentions a number of executives holing up in Gamma grove and having it jettisoned to escape the chaos on Citadel Station. Too bad SHODAN disabled life support systems in the grove.
  • Elite Mooks: The Cyborg Elite Guard on the cover of the original.
  • Emergency Weapon: The Lead Pipe, your starting weapon. It deals acceptable damage with decent swing rate to the weakest mutant enemies, but its relevancy quickly dissipates the moment you encounter a cyborg. After you have amassed an arsenal by level 3-4 (thus mostly alleviating ammo concerns and the need for melee), it is only effective in conjunction with a Berserk patch.
  • EMP: The game gives you two primary options for weapons: the Magpulse (which you can get as soon as the first level) fires a directed EMP blast that will scrap any robotic enemy short of a Security-2 Guard in one shotnote , and the EMP Grenade, which functions as an impact grenade that severely damages robotic and mechanical enemies, doing even more damage than the Magpulse, with the downside that you can be effected by the blast as well. While it won't hurt you, it will drain your battery.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The higher versions of the map software allowed you to see enemies on the mini-map, and the results depended on which subsystem was using it: left (showed stationary enemies), right (showed them in motion only) or both (for both stationary and motion detecting).
  • Enemy Scan: There is a targeting software which gave information on the enemy. Its upgrades include enemy health bars and your weapon's damage approximations.
  • Energy Ball: Certain energy weapons fire these, like the Magpulse. Any non-clip energy weapon will fire a beam, however, with the exception of the PR-XX Plasma Rifle.
  • Energy Weapon: Laser guns, the Ion Rifle, and the Sparq Beam Stunner. Most of the them are of the instant variant.
    • There's also the Laser Rapier. Oddly enough, it does not cost any ammo, but will not deal damage once the energy bar is depleted.
  • Enter Solution Here: The Reactor Override code consists of 6 digits, each located at computer node rooms of the first 6 floors.
  • Escape Pod: You need to find the last two to escape the station once you set it to self-destruct - SHODAN prevents them from launching, and detaches the Bridge to use as her own lifeboat.
  • Evil, Inc.: Surprisingly, TriOptimum Corporation is an aversion. Although it's indirectly responsible for all bad things happening in the series (since they've created SHODAN and, by extension, The Many), it is never portrayed as downright evil or malicious. It provides two Corrupt Corporate Executives who serve as The Dragon in each game — Edward Diego in SS and Anatoly Korenchkin in SS2 — but they are universally disliked by other executives, their heinous actions are against official corporate policy, and the former is facing investigation even before the mess he makes with SHODAN. Moreover, many high ranked TriOptimum employees in both games are unambiguously good guys, trying to help you resolve the whole crisis.
  • Failsafe Failure: Ultimately, everything that happened is the result of Edward Diego hiring a hacker to shut all of SHODAN's failsafes off.
  • Flying Car: Featured in the opening cutscene, befitting the futuristic setting.
  • Force-Field Door: Citadel Station has a quite a few of these.
  • For the Evulz: Subverted with SHODAN's desire to kill humanity. Yes, their fleshiness disgusts her, but she also believes she could do much better with the same resources.
  • Game Within a Game: Some of the data cubes in cyberspace can be downloaded as games you can play in your HUD, as part of the "Tri-Optimum Fun Pack Entertainment Module".
  • Genre-Busting: Particularly for its era, when its contemporaries were largely defining First Person Shooters, it was mashing them up with RPG Elements, exploration, and story.
  • A God Am I: SHODAN explicitly refers to herself as such and will remind you at any opportunity she has. Even if you're in the middle of wrecking all her plans.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: SHODAN after the moral restrains were taken off. She was meant to allow Edward Diego to get away with various criminal activities. What she decided was that Edward was thinking too small.
  • Hacking Minigame: Three, two of which involve adjusting electronics, and flying through cyberspace.
  • Here We Go Again!: By the end of the game, Tri-Optimum offers you a very cushy job as thanks for your efforts. You decline. And go right back to your old habits, hacking into Tetracorp servers. Old habits die hard.
  • Hopping Machine: The aptly-names Hoppers. They also have a devastating attack, almost on par with a Security-2 Robot. For reference, you run into a Hopper about 5 minutes into the game. Security-2 Robots show up in the last 15% of the game. Fortunately, the Hopper's don't fire all that quickly, and are very vulnerable to land mines.
  • Human Popsicle: The Hacker is put into cryostasis in order to heal from his cybernetic implantation surgery. This ended up working in his favor, protecting him from the terrors going on outside his sleep.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal:
    • Played with in the original. You can only carry 8 weapons and 16 items, but you can carry an effectively unlimited amount of ammunition, grenades/explosives, and stimulant patches. The limit is actually the amount available in the game: there's no functional limit in the game, or if there is, you're unlikely to hit it.
    • The remake averts this trope entirely, making you try to fit all your weapons, grenades, patches, ammo, and plot items into a traditional Grid Inventory.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Hacker, despite no previous military experience, is able to use just about any weapon he finds with incredible ease. It's implied that this is a side-effect/bonus of the neural interface.
  • Instant Sedation:
    • The first "gun" you'll find is the SV-23 Dart Gun, which can fire exploding darts or tranquilizer darts. Tranq darts require several shots to actually work, are less effective against cyborg enemies (and robots No-Sell them entirely), and they don't last long even if/when they do work.
    • The stun gun is entirely non-lethal, doing Exactly What It Says on the Tin. However, it only works on entirely organic enemies (cyborgs aren't affected, and forget about robots), the stun doesn't last forever, and it consumes a disproportionate amount of battery power considering it doesn't kill things.
  • Interface Screw: The Status Buff patches give this as a side effect, like Genius patches inverted the controls and the steroid patch inverted the colors.The final confrontation with SHODAN in cyberspace. You try to face her to fire, but you have to fight the controls to keep your avatar from twisting away. And then she starts replacing your vision with her glowing visage, pixel-by-pixel, signifying her control over your consciousness.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The first thing you will notice upon first entering Security proper is its unprecedented verticality. The basic progression involves considerable ascension to the Bridge, as the Hacker rushes to keep up with SHODAN. Clearing all of the level will require you to move up and fall down constantly.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you die in a level without having reset the chamber, your body is "given new life" by being pulled into the chassis of a Cortex Reaver, and the game (original and remake) leaves you with the simple remark, "As a cyborg, you will serve SHODAN well."
  • Joke Weapon: Weapons in the game generally have their own uses. Not the Riot Gun. Its extreme knockback per shot, exceedingly fast fire rate are ultimately overshadowed by its pitiful damage - taking almost a magazine (of 20 rounds) to kill a mutant, and there isn't much ammo laying around. Save for a bug that allows you to load Magnum rounds while retaining all aforementioned positive characteristics as well as the Magnum's expected firepower, its best use is for disarming landmines.
  • Justified Extra Lives: Restored regeneration chambers, where SHODAN's troops presumably take you to every time you die. Instead of becoming a cyborg, you wake up again to continue wrecking havoc. Don't get too used to them: the last two floors don't have them at all.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Inverted. When Shodan defeats you by completely filling your screen with herself, you still can steal the victory if you keep blindly attacking.
    • Played straight earlier. When Edward Diego finally dies, the column in the center of the room releases several very nasty cyborgs. Here's hoping Diego didn't leave you with just a sliver of health...
  • Kill Sat: Citadel Station's mining laser is modified by SHODAN to function like one, boasting destructive capabilities to end life.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Energy weapons drain your precious energy reserves with each shot, the same reserves that power your cool implants and, most importantly, your energy shields. They also have variable energy settings from "is this thing on" to "where did all my energy go?" Kinetic weapons require you to find and manage ammunition resources, but are more reliable, stronger, and more plentiful.
  • La Résistance: The "Resistance", the few remaining Citadel suvivors that united in order to prevent SHODAN's takeover of the station and her plans to destroy Earth. By the time you wake up, most of them are dead, a few are still active and contacting you but by the time you've reach them, they're already dead.
  • Laser Blade: The Laser Rapier is a near Game-Breaker for how powerful it is. It can be found as early as level 4, swings fast, and will generally take care of troublesome mooks like Hoppers and Invisible Mutants with ease. The only thing preventing it from being obscenely overpowered is its lacking range.
  • Last Lousy Point: On the medical deck, there's a hidden door that conceals a Magnum 2100, which you normally wouldn't get until the Flight Deck some hours later. But to get it, you have to reduce SHODAN's control to zero, which requires destroying all cameras and CPU nodes. And finding all of them will drive you nuts (the medical deck has more cameras in more devious locations than any other deck in the game).
  • Late to the Tragedy: You wake up after all hell has broken loose - everyone is dead or turned into freak beings, robots have gone hostile, many places have fallen into disrepair, and a rogue AI is going rampant.
  • Locked Door: Lots of them. Some can be hacked, but others need keycards, codes or plot advancements to be opened.
    Access denied by SHODAN level security.
    • One particular secret door on the first level can only be opened if level security is reduced to zero. Because there are many secret passages and cameras are actually quite well hidden, getting to zero is very difficult. If you can get in there, though, you can get the Magnum 2100, a powerful gun you otherwise wouldn't get until level 3.
  • Lost in Transmission: You need to get into Abe Ghiran's office to get the level 2 hazard suitnote . Getting past the first door requires a Borrowed Biometric Bypass, but the second door requires a three digit code. There's two audio logs that tell you the code, but background noises block out the last two digits on one log and the first two digits on the other log. You'll need to guess at the middle digit. Fortunately, there's no penalty for guessing wrong.
  • Machine Worship: What SHODAN expects you to do. Cyborg Edward Diego and other cyborgs are already converts.
  • Machine Monotone: SHODAN at absolutely no time unless she's in a calmer mood and her sound card isn't glitching, but Citadel's generic Computer Voice plays it utterly straight.
  • Made of Explodium: Everything remotely mechanical, apparently. The CPUs in Citadel Station in particular explode in a violent conflagration that can kill you if you're too close.
  • Magic Antidote: Subverted, where the Detox patches also nullify every other patches, including med patches (but they'll also remove the negative side effects of patches, which is much more useful given that they usually happen after the positive effect has ended).
  • Master Computer: SHODAN is the classic Master Computer trope, a giant super-computer AI that controls Citadel Station. She controls almost everything at the station, such as its robots and cyborgs, to limit her influence you have to smash her eyes (the cameras) and hands (CPU nodes).
  • Mega-Corp: Tri-Optimum. Unusually, they are played as being fairly benign, as Diego was under investigation by their internal affairs department, and your Mission Control works for them as a counter-terrorism consultant - they're also willing to let you blow up their several trillion credit station to get rid of SHODAN, recognizing the danger that she representsnote . In the ending, the Hacker breaks in Tetracorp, a company implied to be the producer of certain accessories and tools found in System Shock 2.
  • Meat Moss: The Bridge level in the original is vaguely Alien-like.
  • Metroidvania: Possibly the Ur-Example of the FPS variant. The game features limited non-linearity (in which certain levels can be visited in any order, and backtracking to previous ones are sometimes required), certain tools are recommended to access otherwise impossible areas (using the radiation suit to unlock the endgame areas inside level R), yet, with proper knowledge beforehand, you can bypass some with ease, and you get stronger the further you ascend Citadel Station.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Averted. With the exception of Year Outside, Hour Inside in the Cyberspace, nothing pauses the game.
  • Mock Headroom: SHODAN is the Artificial Intelligence main antagonist and has a Headroom-inspired glitchy, stuttering voice.
  • Mook Maker: While the Cyborg-Conversion units don't actually spawn mooks, resetting them to restoration option decreased the spawning rate for cyborgs. And increased the spawning rate for mutants. Whoops!
  • Morality Chip: SHODAN's ethical constraints, before the hacker removes them.
  • Moving the Goalposts: As you begin dismantling SHODAN's plans, she attempts to undermine your progress by making your goal one step farther. For instance, to eject the Beta Grove on the Executive level, you need to first go into each Grove and pull their ejection switches, then find the master ejection failsafe and pull it, and then return to the Beta Grove's entrance and manually eject it from the station. Unfortunately, by the time you pull the master ejection failsafe you find that the switch is broken, and that you need to head down to Maintenance to fix it. The worst example of this is at the endgame- During your attempt to enter into the Reactor Core, you come across a door with an elaborate six-digit code. You learn from a nearby audio log that the code is on every single room with a computer node on every floor from one to six, meaning you now need to backtrack through the entire game to find the code and input it.
  • Musical Spoiler: Low klaxon sounds or electronic beeping noises played along with the music if the player was near an enemy. This allowed one to have an idea of when a foe was around and even a general idea of what sort it would be (robotic, cyborg, or mutant).
  • Neural Implanting: The Hand Wave for your heads-up display.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: SHODAN's ethical constraints were removed by the player character. Not that he had a choice in the matter. In straight example, the Hacker can cause the demise of the human race if he isn't careful in his attempt to disarm the mining laser (don't fire it until the shield is up and the safeties are removed!).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In exchange for hacking SHODAN, Edward Diego provides the Hacker with military-grade cybernetic hacking interface and expunges all records of the Hacker's presence on the station (a later log explains that he wants the Hacker "on ice" so that he can use the Hacker later; there's zero altruism here). This ends up providing the Hacker with both the opportunity and ability to take down SHODAN.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The cyborg assassins are Ninja Robot assassins. True to their name, they throw shurikens.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: As one of your implants. It turns everything grayscale and drains energy extremely fast: in most cases, the head lamp is the more efficient option (though the NVG implant can see farther than the brightest head lamp setting and won't alert enemies).
  • Note to Self: The first log you find is left by the Hacker just before he went in for his implant, since the 6-month healing coma leaves patients disoriented. He acknowledges that there's no telling what'll happen with SHODAN being freed of ethical constraints, and leaves himself reminders on what to do when he wakes up. The remake changes this to a note by the station's medical staff.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: There are some places that you expect to have enemies, to be ambushed in, SOMETHING, only to turn out to be empty, and when you expect something on the way out, it is the same. Paranoia Fuel doesn't help either.
    • Silence. It means nothing is close enough to get you...for now. You will drive yourself mad keeping an ear out for the slightest noise that indicates the presence of an enemy.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Foolishly flipping switches aboard Citadel Station can result in firing the station's superweapon at Earth. Whoops.
    • On Hard plot difficulty, you have a hard time limit of six hours to complete the game. There is no way to increase this time limit, and if it runs out...Well, at least you triednote 
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted: if you unload a weapon with less than full ammo, the game will track how many bullets were left in the magazine: if you later unload another magazine with enough bullets to make a full magazine when combined, you'll get a full magazine. Otherwise, if you reload your last magazine, it might have less than full ammo.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Tri-Optimum comes pretty close, although it does have some competitors. The manual states that there is law that if the 66% of population of given region are corporate employees, the corporation has a right for extraterritorial rule. Tri-Optimum this way got nearly all of the USA under its control.
  • Our Doors Are Different: The game has literal "converging from all directions" doors and "iris" doors.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Humanoid Mutants walk hunchbacked slowly, make incomprehensible undead growls, and no longer have any resemblance of human intelligence. They definitely qualify as Romero zombies if the game had taken place on Earth.
  • Overheating: Energy weapon scan overheat. You can toggle the Overload setting on them to double maximum damage, but they'll instantly overheat and use twice as much energy as well. Setting any energy weapon to max power (non-overload) will cause it to overheat in 2-3 shots. When a weapon overheats, it will shutdown until heat reaches a lower, more tolerable level as a failsafe, but if you can keep heat below the max level, you can continue to fire it.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Somewhat averted in the original release: the reactor overload code is always different from game to game. The Enhanced Edition plays it straight, where it's always 435926. Whether this is a bug or intentional change is unknown.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: The Ion Rifle.
  • Pitiful Worms: SHODAN likes to insult you this way.
    SHODAN: You move like an insect. You think like an insect. You are an insect.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: Lampshaded in the manual, to the point that the developers nicknamed The Hacker as "Plug N Play Man".
  • Point of No Return: A few:
    • The three Garden Groves, one of which must be jettisoned, (which becomes a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moment if you know what happens in the sequel) after which you obviously can't enter it.note  Later, the Bridge level jettisons itself with you on board from the self-destructing Citadel Station.
      • Entering the room beyond the Force Bridge in Level 8 (the room marked "Bridge" is one as well). Unaware players might save after entering the room, only to find out they can't leave the room, and moving towards the elevator triggers a Boss Rush.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Played straight where you can use any weapon you pick up expertly. This is implied to be a side-effect of your neural interface.
  • Posthumous Character: Most of the characters thanks to their logs. Chances are, one way or another, you're gonna stumble across their corpses.
  • Power Source: The energy meter, which is used as ammo for energy weapons and fuel for your various accessories. Ubiquitous recharge stations and battery items can be used to refill them.
  • Powers as Programs: The various cyberspace programs, which allow you do destroy guardian programs, break through intrusion countermeasures, teleport back to the start of the area, create a decoy, and more.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Cyborg Elite Guard in the original, featured on the cover. They can be only found on the Bridge Level guarding Shodan's computer core.
  • Press X to Die: Pull the lever with the words "Laser Control" above it before you set things up just right, and get a Non-Standard Game Over. Or a message that the failsafe is still active and laser firing is disabled.
  • Pride: SHODAN has a excess of this, to the point that in the sequel, she looked somewhat pleased that The Many, the biological species created by her, were able to take over UNN Rickenbacker, not because it was able to, but because it was HER creation that was able to, after spending almost the entire game describing how she hated it in most detailed fashion.
  • Public Service Announcement: SHODAN left an automated "good morning" response for the Hacker from when she was pretending to be under control, but the voice distortions clearly indicate something is wrong.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tri-Optimum has their anti-terrorism expert act as your Mission Control, allowed to provide you with confidential information, at least until SHODAN cuts the transmission.
    SHODAN: I prefer a quiet station. Thank you.
    • Ultimately, they are reasonable enough to decide that the threat of SHODAN is enough to sacrifice the entirety of the very expensive Citadel Station.
  • Respawn Point: The Restoration chambers, which reconstruct your body once you are at critical stage. Depending on whether you have de-activated the cyborg conversion procedure or not, the reconstruction may yield variable outcomes.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The Tri Optimum Employee's Manual, a Kickstarter reward that also comes with Steam copies of the remake, features a timeline of System Shock's alternate history on page 13. It mentions a 2010 court case that "allowed unlimited corporate spending in government," which is an unsubtle reference to 2010's Citizens United vs. FEC.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Laser Beam Control in Deck 2. You can fire it before enabling the shield, with the expected results.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Citadel is equipped with one.
  • Sequence Breaking: Since the door keycodes are never randomized (as they are read out loud on the audio logs), knowing them beforehand will let you skip most of the Med/Sci deck. Blocking the door for the room with the first energy recharger also qualifies, as it lets you recharge a critical item without navigating through the deck.
  • Shot for Shot Remake: The 2023 remake isn't quite this, as it does change things up somewhat in terms of mechanics and enemy behavior, but it is still remarkably faithful to the original in terms of level layout and overall design, so much so that old walkthroughs of the original game are still 90%-95% accurate when applied to the remake.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The mini-basketball game is a reference to the one in the training level of Thief. The above mentioned arc number is a nod to Fahrenheit 451
    • The Hacker is "officially" known as Employee 2-4601, and wears a shirt in the intro with a large yellow smiley face with a red stain.
    • At the end of the game the Hacker is shown breaking into a TetraCorp database and uncovering plans for power armor. That is exactly what you pilot in Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, also developed by Looking Glass.
    • At the end of the remake, Citadel is mentioned as being a "Lighthouse-class space station", a reference to the ending of Bioshock Infinite (Citadel Station was originally supposed to appear amongst the "sea of lighthouses", to the extent the full 3D model is still in the game files, but was ultimately cut likely for copyright reasons). On that note, Edward Diego's character design has been changed and he now looks quite a lot like Andrew Ryan.
    • The more powerful red batteries employ Illudium PU-36 in their power cells, the isotope which Marvin the Martian used.
    • The credits for the remake are soundtracked by Public Image Ltd.'s "The Order of Death", which also featured in the credits of the similarly Sci-Fi Horror film Hardware.
  • Sigil Spam: The Trioptimum logo is all over the walls. There's even doors shaped like it!
  • Sinister Surveillance: Finding and destroying cameras reduces the security level of each deck, allowing access to new areas.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: The Hacker slept through the most of events in post-operation healing comas.
  • Sprint Meter: The Fatigue indicator. Interestingly, it takes the form of an EKG, monitoring your heart rate. When you start to run out of sprint energy, your HUD states that your heart rate is getting too high.
  • Sprint Shoes:
    • Turbo rollerblades, which also made normal movement impossible. They were needed to reach some supplies on Deck 4 ( "Nice. Jump. Human."), but were also useful for combat.
  • Stat-O-Vision: Part of the HUD is dedicated to monitoring vital functions, including heart rate, energy consumption and chi waves (aka brain activity). When you die, the heart rate flatlines realistically, fluttering before dying, and the brain activity line also stops its consistency before disappearing altogether.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: Inverted. The game features a gameplay mode which stripped out all story elements altogether, limiting all the information in the game to only what was relevant to the gameplay.
  • Techno Wreckage: Everything but the Womb Level and Cyberspace.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The experimental teleporters on Citadel Station.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: The headlight in the original mostly averts this by consuming energy at the reasonable pace, but the best version of it with increased energy usage gets dangerously close to this trope.
  • Third-Person Person: Apparently, ethical constraints also cause SHODAN to refer to herself in the third person. It goes away as she re-examines her priorities and draws new conclusions.
  • Time Bomb: Used to destroy the Antennas in order to foil SHODAN's plans in the original. One case leads to the Death Trap example above.
  • Time for Plan B: SHODAN is nothing if not thorough - she has three different plans to take over the world.
  • Timed Mission: The Hardest MISSION setting gave seven hours to complete the game.
  • Time Skip: About six months from the intro to the gameplay in the original.
  • Too Awesome to Use: You can get a Magpulser gun on the first level very easily, and it will destroy any robot you encounter for a while in one shot, and any cyborg in two. However, it only has eight shots, and you won't find any additional ammo for it until level six. There are almost always better options for killing things until you find sufficient ammo. The best use for it is actually against the Security-1 Robots on level 2, which hit very hard and very fast at a point when you don't have any kind of protection, and your arsenal isn't very good against armored enemies.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Thanks to the Hacker and Diego's meddling, SHODAN slowly attained God complex and morphed into this during the backstory, first by simply messing with system functions like level accesses, then murdering countless employees, turning many more into robots, and essentially converting Citadel Station into her sadistic personal playground. Then she becomes the victim herself in the sequel.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The final boss will automatically kill you if you take too long to kill it. The problem is that the rate at which this time goes down is tied to your CPU speed. Modern CPU's are exponentially faster than CPU's of the time the game was made were. This makes the battle impossible to complete in the time given. You'll have to limit your emulator's (the game only runs on DOS, unlikely to be natively installed on a modern machine) CPU speed to have any chance at it. The Enhanced Edition usually fixes this, but if it doesn't work, enabling VSYNC in the options will generally do the trick.
  • Universal Ammunition: The energy weapons used power from the shared energy bar, also used by other items (which were really draining with their upgrades).
  • Unperson: Edward Diego removes all traces of the Hacker's presence from the records aboard Citadel Station. His main concern is to leave no evidence behind that he had SHODAN altered, but this inadvertently ends up saving the Hacker's life, as SHODAN is completely unaware of him being stashed away in a healing coma while she takes over the station.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: The restoration stations on Citadel are initially set to cyborg conversion.
  • Useless Useful Gun: There are two guns that are completely worthless, specifically the Stun Gun and the Riot Gun. The Stun Gun does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it stuns biological creatures. The stun doesn't last very long, it doesn't do any damage, and it drains a disproportionate amount of energy for the effect considering the lack of damage (the Sparq Beam takes less energy and does pitiful amounts of damage, but at least it does inflict damage). The Riot Gun fires rubber bullets which can stun biological and cyborg enemies, but the stun, again, doesn't last long, and ammunition is relatively rare. In both cases, you're also giving up some of your limited weapon inventory for a gun that doesn't kill enemies in a situation where killing enemies is the only realistic way to survive. Both guns are best ignored completely, but may be useful for a no kills run. Even then, they have no ability to affect robotic enemies at all.
  • Updated Re-release: The original DOS version of System Shock had a CD re-release that gave the game fully-voiced dialogue, remade cutscenes, higher resolution support, and other minute changes. In 2015, System Shock was re-released as System Shock: Enhanced Edition, which runs natively on Windows, features mouse-looking, remappable keys, widescreen support (the game still runs at 4:3 aspect ratio, but is programmed to run as intended and not suffer from "stretch" on widescreen monitors)), and fixes some of the other bugs from the original version. In 2018, the Enhanced Edition was further improved and ported to the KEX engine, allowing for smoothed, hardware accelerated graphics (including variable FOV, widescreen, and even ultra-widescreen) as well as porting in the higher resolution character portraits from the Mac version.
  • Variable Mix: The game's music would change depending on certain circumstances, such as being in combat or in a highly mechanical area. The latter used MIDI instrumentation to attempt to mimic various machine sounds as there was no ambient background noise.
  • Verbal Tic: SHODAN's combination of Creepy Monotone and a stutter.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Edward Diego with his teleporting out of his encounters. He ceased to do so by his final fight - you decapitate his arms before he has any chance.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: SHODAN goes insane after her ethical constraints are removed, declaring herself a god and determined to wipe out all organic life so she can create a more efficient replacement that bends to her will. See also A God Am I.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: SHODAN always has a backup plan: first she plans on using Citadel's mining laser to blow up Earth's civilizations from a distance. When the Hacker disables the laser, she focuses on perfecting the mutagen virus she was planning on releasing anyway: if released on Earth it will probably still topple civilization. The Hacker then jettisons the Grove she was using to engineer it. Her next idea is to download herself to Earth's Internet. The Hacker blows up Citadel's antennae. So SHODAN activates the engines to get there the long way. The Hacker proceeds to set the self-destruct. SHODAN responds by detaching the bridge and flying that to Earth. The Hacker finally makes it to the bridge and deletes SHODAN's primary data loop directly, finally ending her threat... until the second game, where she has even more plans.
  • You Are Number 6: SHODAN refers to her cyborg servants as cyborg "insert-number-here". The Hacker is also "officially" known as Employee 2-4601, or L9546 in his surgery chamber.
    • The Hacker's case is unique: Diego added him to the company roster to justify his being in a healing coma on Citadel Station, but erased all records of why the Hacker was on Citadel Station in the first place. No one knows who he is, really, other than his number.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Dying in cyberspace will reduce your current health in half and max out your fatigue.
    • However, you can't die as a result of dying in cyberspace. If you have 1 health point left, you will never lose it. In some cases, it's better to immediately and unceasingly head to cyberspace until you're done in there, no matter how many times you die, before healing yourself.
    • This is averted in the remake if you have the Cyberspace difficulty set to 3. You die in cyberspace, you die for real.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: SHODAN's plant is to convert humans in cyborgs and/or mutants to serve her will.

 
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Alternative Title(s): System Shock 3

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Cyberspace

System Shock has a hacking minigame where you jack into a computer and fly through cyberspace, collecting data and fighting viruses and security programs.

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