A Hacker’s Tale, part 1

Lately, I’ve been wanting to put forth a challenge to myself. what that challenge is specifically is to play a game in a certain style and writing about my trials with it. However, I’ve been stumped as to what game to do it in and how to go about it. Then, I remembered System Shock 2.

System Shock 2 is a beloved first-person RPG that was released around 13 years ago. It features a futuristic cyberpunk world in which your character is stranded on a starship amidst the outbreak of a horrific infection. I personally love the game to death, it’s atmosphere consistently giving me chills and immersing me in a way very few games can. Unfortunately, as of late, I have had trouble getting into the game because of some of the features not aging gracefully. A huge patch to the engine had surfaced recently that made it not only playable, but overhauled basically everything wrong with it. So, perfect time to get back into it, it seems. This first entry marks my excursion into the Von Braun, and my first steps into the nightmarish hell that has been unleashed upon it.

I start off as always, stepping off a rail transport of some kind and into an underground station. The text at the bottom of my screen tells me that I’m in a flashback, 4 years prior to the incident. I explore a bit, running into nothing but dead payphones and a couple of humans busily working on some flashing panels. The voice on the booming speaker system tells me to watch my step while disembarking from the train, and to proceed on to the ‘grav shafts’ to get to the recruitment center topside. Walking forward, I notice the grav shafts, shimmering elevator-esque contraptions that use gravity to propel me up or down.

I step into the right-hand chamber, floating quickly upward to the surface. The streets are empty save for an idling truck. I see a few other people in what seems to be a diner or store of some sort, but again they’re closed off to me. Not really finding much to explore, I head into the recruitment center. I’m greeted by a recording and a robot directing me to go to training. Breezing through both basic and advanced training, I’m pleased to find that I still remember the controls and basic mechanics and head on out. I head out of the training facilities and the time has come to choose which branch I want to work for. The combat-focused Marines, the cybernetically-centered Navy, or the psionically-attuned O.S.A. I choose the Navy, one of the choices I rarely choose. I shall be the hacker, relying on brute force as little as possible, and relying on psionics even less.

I walk down the hallway a bit to be greeted by another robot, this one welcoming me to the Navy and telling me that I’ll need to complete 4 years of mission postings to continue my tour. It opens the door for me, and I proceed down yet another hallway. I sure wish I could talk to these mysterious people working behind inexplicably locked doors. Soon enough, I hit the first batch of mission postings. In the interest of time, however, I’ll skip each individual year that I chose. After the years are concluded, however, is where the real story begins.

I’ve been rather rudely awakened from my cryogenic slumber. Blood splatters the floor and a mysterious woman’s voice shouts for me to watch out, just as a vent collapses over my head. I dodge out of the way and quickly decide to take stock of my surrounding. A room is adjacent to mine, and a corpse lies face down in a pool of his own blood. I check his body, finding a wrench that will make a nice improvised weapon as I find out more of what happened around here. Gripping the hefty wrench, I head back and try to destroy the blockade in front of the other exit to this room, a ladder leading up. I hurry upwards, getting the hell out of my makeshift prison. The rest of the Von Braun awaits me…

To be continued


— Brandon

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