As if the Machine Mother herself heard our prayers, we'll finally be able to buy Looking Glass's phenomenal System Shock 2 again. The cyberpunk survival horror FPS-RPG has been mired in rights issues for yonks, but Night Dive Studios has managed to free it enough to re-release this wonderful, wonderful game on GOG tomorrow at $9.99. It's pretty good.
Right-minded people have been yearning for a re-release for years but, it's been widely believed, rights to the game and name were split across publisher EA and an insurance company that scooped Looking Glass assets when it shut down, and no one had managed to reconcile this.
"The rights are still held in a very complicated tangle and going into all of it makes for very dry reading," Night Dive CEO Stephen Kick told Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "The short version is that negotiations began in October of last year. I pitched the rights-holder with the focus being on the digital distribution of System Shock 2 and–as much to my surprise as anyone’s, possibly–here we are today."
GOG managing director Guillaume Rambourg painted RPS a richer picture:
We have contacted lots of publishers, developers and lawyers over the past 4-5 years – mostly industry veterans actually – to better understand the big legal puzzle behind this game and identify who owns the trademark, the IP, the code, distribution rights and so forth. We got lots of answers, sometimes aiming at the same direction, sometimes pointing in conflicting ones. You know the drill: one step forward, two steps back. It was a real investigation a la Tex Murphy. A very tough case, definitely, but we never lost hope.
Night Dive has SS2 working just dandy on modern PCs, and it supports pre-existing mods like the System Shock 2 Texture Upgrade Project and Rebirth high-poly model pack. GOG's also chucking in the soundtrack, maps, the first pitch document and more as digital extras.
Word of this did eek out earlier in the week but, well, the only source was Night Dive's website, which offered no proof or credentials for anything. One can't go raising people's hopes about System Shock 2 until you're sure; that'd just be cruel.
So who is Night Drive, anyway? Kick himself was formerly an artist at Sony Online Entertainment, but things are a bit of mystery beyond that. Supposedly they're working on an original game, as well as having an interest in bringing back old games.
Tomorrow. 3am Pacific. $9.99. Glory to the flesh. Glory to the mass. Glory to the Many.