Look along the top shelf of the laboratory stockroom on the Med/Sci deck of System Shock 2’s Von Braun, the faster-than-light vessel named for the father of space travel, and you’ll find samples of various chemical elements, kept in tubs the size of peanut butter jars. Lined up in roughly alphabetical order, there’s Antimony, Barium, Californium, Fermium, Gallium, and Iridium. And right on the end you’ll find me, crouched tightly into the space between the shelf and the ceiling.

There are a couple of good reasons for that. Firstly, up here, I stand a better chance of dodging the visual and auditory sensors of the hulking security robot patrolling the adjacent corridor. Secondly, I’m well situated to read the labels, and apply the right element to the psionic monkey specimen I’m carrying in my inventory. That way, I can figure out how the ape brain works—and know exactly where to hit its exposed cerebrum with my wrench.

(Image credit: Nightdive Studios)

The thing is, I know I’ll end up back here, hours later. I’m bound to find some viral weapon or hunk of annelid flesh that needs coating in Cf or Ir if I’m to understand it—and I’m not likely to find all the same elements on the Command deck, or Hydroponics, or Recreation. But there are too many jars here to pack into my bag. So when the time comes, I’ll embark on a grand backtracking exhibition. And in the process, the Von Braun will stop feeling like a series of game levels, and become a three-dimensional place in my memory.



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By nmybx

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