(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
Welcome to deck 3, hydroponics. Man, at this rate it’s going to take me the better part of 2014 to get through these ships (and there are TWO of them!). The theme of hydroponics is “aliens, worms, and cybernetic horror.” Good times.
Hydroponics is crawling (well, walking) with midwives, whose speech patterns are even MORE disturbing than the hybrids. Sample: “Babies love to sleep. Babies need to rest.” I’m just about done with the wrench, considering that everything’s shooting at me now. I’m investing in repair skill so that I can keep my guns up to snuff, but man they degrade really quickly.
The main goal of hydroponics is to find these toxin vials (four in all) and jam them into environmental regulators so that they’ll kill off the biomass in the elevator shaft. Unfortunately for me, this means that I have to figure out the game’s research system, since you can’t use the toxin until you research it. This involves not only spending precious cyber modules on research levels, but finding certain chemicals and waiting around a long, long time until the research process is complete. Gameplay!
There’s a heavy dose of Aliens (the movie franchise) going on here, because developers are lazy and love to rehash eggs, facehuggers, the whole bit. The eggs and the little worms that come out aren’t huge hazards, other than jacking up my toxin levels.
I did find this one section, cold storage, to be really beautiful in the design. Even with the rougher polygons of the late 90s, the ship still looks great. Character models, eh, but the ship is pretty neat.
Through all of the PDAs found on this level, the true horror emerges. I guess the Many got to at least one doctor, who used his influence to get a bunch of ladies sent up so that he could transform them into Midwives. Several of the voice logs feature people in mid-transformation, documenting their agony and bliss. I think we need to plow this ship into the sun and be done with it.
At least my arsenal continues to grow. I not only pick up an assault rifle in good condition and a grenade launcher, but this handy laser pistol. I did have to dump some points into energy weapons to use it, but I consider that a good investment since the pistol can be recharged for free at any recharging station. It’s good for a few fights at least, and those are fights I’m not using up the rest of my ammo. Here I am taking on a mech, and that mech is TOAST.
All in all, hydroponics isn’t that tough of a level. I really have my System Shock 2 game legs now and am not tip-toeing through the levels but striding boldly with the weight of righteous vengeance on me. With all four toxins injected into the system, the biomass clears up (or so the good doctor tells me over the com) and I’m ready to go meet her on deck 4. Could the game almost be over?