It’s been somewhat slim pickings this week’s Gaming on a Budget: 9/24/2015 Edition; however, much to my delight, an absolute classic has finally been released on GOG.com. It’s a sci-fi marvel and until now, its status has been up in the air. Someone finally has taken control of the intellectual rights and it has been unearthed for new generations to enjoy. Can you guess what title I’m waffling on about?System Shock has always flown a little bit under the radar. While gamers today still reminisce about the colossally successful sequel, System Shock 2, not much love is given to the game that started it all. This is a shame, as many concepts from System Shock while undeveloped, still deserve to garner some attention. In many respects, it was the first title to combine properly roleplaying elements with an atmospheric first person shooter. Creating the genesis for games like Deus Ex, Dead Space, Thief and a whole slew of other great titles, System Shock deserves high praise, for gaming wouldn’t be where it is without it.
System Shock put players in the shoes of a hacker caught breaking into a wealthy corporation’s systems. Not long after that he is conscripted into hacking the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence, SHODAN, in exchange for his charges to be dropped. The hacker is outfitted with the latest neural interface and from there things quickly go downhill. System Shock’s game play holds up well even by today’s standards. The game’s atmosphere is still creepy, and while the game hasn’t aged well graphically, it’s still fun to play.
If you’re at all interested in this slice of recently unearthed gaming history, I suggest you mosey on over to GOG.com and grab the Enhanced Edition. It’s only $5.99 and now runs smoother than ever on newer operating systems. That’s right, you no longer need to disable the affinity of several cores to play this classic! The best part? Six dollars gets a strategy guide, digital maps, the soundtrack in three different formats, and some cool original artwork that includes the poster I created the above banner with. Fantastic value.
While the series seems stuck in a perpetual cycle of milking the franchise, the first Assassin’s Creed had so much potential. On the surface, it is a period piece set in the ancient Middle-East though it harbored quite an exciting science-fiction plot. Sadly the original writer left the development team, and the initial vision seems to have been abandoned. This being said, Assassin’s Creed is still worth a look. Set during the Crusades, you take control of Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, the main protagonist’s ancestor. Abstergo, a giant corporation in search of an ancient artifact has kidnaped Desmond Miles, Altaïr’s descendant, and are forcing him to find its location.
Boasting a gorgeous 3D open world, with stealth and swordplay elements, Assassin’s Creed gave birth to a franchise that everyone probably wishes would just disappear already. Despite this, the original is still a great game in its own right. Some of the missions can be repetitive, but the story of Altair’s fall and then rise through the ranks of Masyaf’s brotherhood is truly captivating. Assassin’s Creed is available on PSN for just $5.00 until September 30.
Following with this week’s science fiction theme of games is Dark Void. Dark Void is a game that came and went without much fanfare, and it’s a shame. While the difficulty curve was erratic, and the plot made little sense at times, it was probably the closest thing to experiencing life as a Rocketeer. Yes, I’m showing my age, but zooming around with a rocket pack, hijacking alien ships and fighting to protect humanity was just crazy fun. The flying saucer sections were very hard, though.
Nikola Tesla went missing some years ago. Set a couple of years before World War II, Dark Void told the story of a young pilot who also goes missing while flying over the Bermuda Triangle. Conspiracy and danger await, as he struggles in this hostile land to make his way back home. Dark Void was a rather fun little third person shooter, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth a look at just $2.99 on the Humble Store.
Lost Planet Extreme Condition told the story of Wayne. Wayne’s father has been tasked with taking down a behemoth-like creature, called the Green-Eye. The Green-Eye is a creature that belong to a species called the Akrids. These hostile aliens harbor precious thermal energy inside their cores. What creates the T-energy? Nobody knows, but it’s a source of great power. Armed with the Harmonizer invention that harnesses T-energy to power colossal mechanical suits, Wayne picks up from the legacy of his father, helping with the colonization of E.D.N. III and hunting down these creatures for their “precious bodily fluids”.
Arguably one of the best giant mech games in recent times, Lost Planet was a fun romp through a hostile snow-capped landscape, while fighting for one’s life. With some interesting bosses, some very cool game mechanics like the grappling hook and the unique mechanic of harvesting T-energy to survive, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is another science fiction classic. The game is currently only $2.99 on the Humble Store as part of the Capcom sale. The sale ends this weekend, so go and grab it. You won’t regret it!
That’s it for this week. I know System Shock is outdated, but it was still incredibly ahead of its time. The gameplay still runs rings around more modern games today, in terms of its depth and challenge. The game isn’t punishing, but it doesn’t hold your hand either. The puzzles are ingenious and at times confusing, but stick with it. It can be very rewarding. Thanks for reading.
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