The idea of hunting around for a beloved used game seems quaint today. Digital distribution has closed the nostalgia cycle, enabling gamers to instantly play even the most obscure old titles on their consoles and computers.
And yet, hunting around is exactly what people hoping to buy the legendary System Shock 2 have had to do for years. New copies of the game, which go for hundreds of dollars on eBay, weren’t printed after its financially disappointing 1999 release (even after the game became a cult object) because of an endless rights quagmire.
Today, finally, System Shock 2 is available online, at Good Old Games. If you have more than a passing interest in modern narrative gaming, you’ll want to play it. The game routinely shows up on best and scariest-of-all-time game lists, and is credited with introducing interactive storytelling and cinematic pacing into the first person shooter genre. Its designer, Ken Levine, created the smash-hit BioShock, and will release BioShock Infinite next month. If the latter game is the most important game of the last five years, System Shock 2 is the game that made it possible.