Cult classic PC game System Shock 2 getting rereleased

The digital distribution rights to this early effort from the designer of BioShock have finally been untangled.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Dan Ackerman
2 min read

In a special Valentine for PC gamers, one of the most sought-after classic PC games of all time is finally getting a re-release. System Shock 2, a scary 1999 sci-fi role-playing game, is coming to Good Old Games, an online game retailer that sells DRM-free downloads of new and vintage games, starting February 14 for $9.99.

Regularly cited as the game visitors to Good Old Games most wanted to see, the rights to System Shock 2 have been tangled up for years between Electronic Arts and the company that aquired the IP once held by the orignial developer, Looking Glass Studios.

This re-release is especially relevant because that game was designed by Ken Levine, who later went on to design the hit game BioShock, widely considered an unofficial successor to the System Shock series. The third BioShock game, BioShock Infinite, will be released on March 26.

A little-known game company named Night Drive Studios says it has acquired the necessary rights, and GoG.com will distribute a version of the game tweaked and modified to run on modern Windows PCs, with a Steam version coming at some point later in the year.

Like many PC gamers, I've held onto my original 1999 System Shock 2 install discs. Through the use of amateur mods, one could install and load the game on newer hardware and operating systems, but my experiments running the game on Windows 7 a few years ago were less than successful. The game started, but frequent crashes made it largely unplayable.

Back in 2009, I somehow failed to cite System Shock 2 on my list of Five classic adventure games that need to be rereleased as digital downloads (probably because I considered it more of an RPG than an adventure game). Since then, many classic PC games have come to GoG, Steam, or even iOS, and a couple of games on my list, Phantasmagoia and the Gabriel Knight series, are among those that have been rereleased. Others, such as Grim Fandango and Blade Runner, remain unavailable.