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Ten games every designer should play


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#21 Spoonbender   Members   -  Reputation: 1254

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 02:47 PM

My list would look something like this:

- Beyond Good & Evil or Little Big Adventure 1 or 2: Very cool, very stylish games with interesting settings, great stories and unusual gameplay
- Nights: Into Dreams: Well, just for being so damn unique, and one of the best games ever :D
- Any Grand Theft Auto game: For the freedom it offers players
- Half-Life: Obvious, isn't it? Unique way to tell a story, plus a very good example of what a FPS is supposed to be like. :)
- Sonic/Super Mario: Yep, need some good old 2d platformers on the list as well
- Lemmings: Yep, let's not forget various kinds of puzzle games.
- Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War: I know it's hardly old enough to be a classic, but it's one of the best examples of how to make a fun RTS without getting caught up in the usual resource management and copying Dune 2 or Warcraft.
- Deus Ex: Yep. Great FPS/RPG hybrid
- Fallout, Fallout 2: PC RPG's at their best. Very open, cool setting, lots of exploration and side quests to do
- Some kind of console-style RPG. Most people would probably say a Final Fantasy game. Personally I hated FF7, so not sure about that.

Other runners-up are Medieval: Total War, Pirates, Alpha Centauri, Diablo (or Diablo 2), Ufo: Enemy Unknown (Aka. X-Com: Ufo Defense), Doom (1 or 2), Monkey Island (one of them. Possibly another Lucasarts adventure game).

I'm probably missing a lot. A designer has hopefully played more thn 10 games. ;)
And there was no room on my list for Tetris, Pong, Pacman or any of the other *really* classic classics...

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#22 Aiursrage2k   Members   -  Reputation: 320

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 02:49 PM

1:Starcraft -
2:Warcraft III
3:Final Fantasy VII
4:Zelda OT
5:Spiderman 2
6:Duck Hunt
7:Super Dokeny Kong Country
8:Goldeneye
9:Xenosaga
10:Metal Gear Solid

#23 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19457

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 04:55 PM

Nice idea - I'm gonna take a shot at writing up mine, I don't know if I'll actually get to ten, but I'll try to be detailed, and give a little summary at the end of each.

1. Prince of Persia (the original), and to a lesser extent, PoP2. This was a very elegant game design, and was very well implemented. Although the graphics weren't that great (if you look at them, they're quite pixellated), and only use 16 colours, but they're still very good. If you look at the characters, you can always tell what they're doing (I believe mostly thanks to the rotoscoped animation). The game has very few controls, and yet covers all the required actions of the prince. Also, the fact that a single game only runs for 60 minutes at most, succesful or otherwise. The time limit is a bit longer than an average player needs to finish the game, but short enough to provide a good challenge if a few mistakes are made. Also, the story, although quite stereotypical (rescue the princess from the badguy), is very well told, and doesn't interrupt gameplay excessively at any point. If you die, you are almost instantly returned to the start of the current level/section, so it doesn't interrupt gameplay too much.

Play this one for: simple, elegant design; well presented non-intrusive storyline; excellent use of rather restricted graphics capabilities.

2. Tetris. This game is based on a very simple concept, and anyone can understand how to play after only a very brief explanation. It's even quite easy for someone who's never played or seen the game before to figure out the objective simply by trying. It can be run on just about any system, as the processing, graphics and memory requirements are very low (look at the version that shipped with the Gameboy for example). When you lose, it's incredibly easy and fast to get back into a new game, encouraging players to give it 'one more try' to beat thier previous/highest score.

Play this one for: extreme replay value; simple intuitive design.

3. Pacman. Again, this game is very simple to understand, and anyone can learn to play within moments. It's a very hard game to master though, as at the higher levels it gets very tricky. The ghosts almost seem to work together, in a reasonably intelligent fashion, in spite of the fact that they're actually only following a few very simple rules. Once again, it's very easy to get started again if you lose.

Play this one for: emergent behavior among ghost 'characters'.

4. Starcraft. In my opinion, one of the best RTS games out there. It doesn't drastically break away from whats done in other games within the genre, so for an RTS player, the learning curve is quite shallow. As RTS storylines go, the Starcraft one is quite well thought out and interesting, and is nicely presented. The cutscenes and mission briefings don't overly detract from gameplay. As for gameplay itself, the three teams seem quite well balanced, but actually seem to play differently, unlike the stat-cloned teams presented in many RTS games. Each side has something unique to consider while playing as/against them. The protoss carrier tends to unbalance the game somewhat, but I must admit is a pretty fun unit. Through battlenet, multiplay is easily accessible, and through the regular updates, the game is kept pretty fair.

Play this one for: balanced gameplay; truly different gameplay mechanics for each team; well presented storyline.

5. Baldur's Gate (and BGII). A very well made CRPG. The controlls are quite complex, but an in game mechanism for learning these is provided (the little 'quests' and training within Candlekeep), and players can become familiar with the the interface and controls fairly quickly. Quite a large storyline is presented, mostly during gameplay, with only a few 'cutscenes' interupting the player. A wide range of spells and abilities is provided, and there are plenty of varied enemies, sometimes requiring slightly different tactics from the player. A large world is provided for the player to explore, with numerous side quests. Although this game suffers from many (if not all) of the problems faced by other CRPGs, it is an excellent conversion to computer of the AD&D game.

Play this one for: in game player 'training'; well presented large scale storyline; fairly good character development.

6. Worms (any of the non-3d versions). These games, although violent, present it in a very comical manner which is generally acceptable to children. A wide range of different weapons are presented, and different maps with different settings may require players to adapt a slightly different style. Excellent for 'hotseat' style multiplay, playing from a single computer. Unlocking special features encourages players to play the missions. Many players will never realise it, but these games cover quite deep/dark themes in a very lighthearted way, using the cute animations/SFX and humour to effectively cover it up. Controls are fairly simple, but allow access to a range of different weapons. Mastering this game is a great challenge.

Play this one for: fun, family friendly presentation of violent gameplay; well presented and somewhat unusual graphical style.


Hrm, and it seems that's all the games I can think of to list for now, I'll definately come back if I think of more though. Oh, and could we see some more of the reasoning behind your selections from those of you who havn't presented it if you have time?

#24 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 05:05 PM

Only one vote for Ultima series? Ultima 4 and Ultima 7 are absolutely amazing RPGs, better gameplay then any I've seen.

#25 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19457

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 05:14 PM

Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Only one vote for Ultima series? Ultima 4 and Ultima 7 are absolutely amazing RPGs, better gameplay then any I've seen.


Do tell what exactly you thought made the gameplay so brilliant then, I'd be quite interested to read it. I unfortunately havn't played any of the series myself, excepting Ultima Online.

#26 Darkneon   Members   -  Reputation: 166

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 05:24 PM

I would add: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts on the SNES.

It has an amazing gameplay that I would describe as "A frustrating game has never been so addictive". Finishing this game is really an achievement.

And also Goldeneye on the N64, again, because of the great gameplay.

#27 HeavyBlade   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 05:34 PM

Top game: Chrono Trigger - I've played this game more then fifteen times through (easily), and I STILL haven't discovered everything to it. Disagree? Try this: go back through the game and *deliberately* try to mess things up - ie, go through the portal to the future, and then back to the present. They really cover everything.

2nd. FF7 - one of the first 3D RPGs, and one of the best RPGs to date. It also deals with some very complex issues in a compelling manner (without turning the game into a documentary, I might add).

3rd. Fallout 2 - better then Fallout 1... in many ways just because there's MORE XD. Ironically I preferred Fallout 1's character design.

4th. Xenogears - some of the best dialog and use of music I've ever seen in a game. (could also desperately benefit from anti-aliasing or higher resolution modes, but hey, it's a ps game ;) ).

5th. Half-Life - If you want to make a good FPS, you've got to start here. Half-Life 2 is equally noteworthy (plus the gravity gun is one of the coolest ideas I've seen for an FPS).

6th. System Shock 2 - Why hasn't this appeared yet? SS2, apart from perhaps being the most pirated game in existence, gave an excellent blend of horror, FPS, and RPG style gaming. Also noteworthy is Clive Barker's Undying.

7th. NeverWinter Nights - If you want to make a flexible RPG, then you HAVE to look at the way this was designed. In this regard the game is absolutely beautiful. (It would have benefitted from a slightly darker feel me thinks).

8th. Unreal Tournament (99) - Excellent example of a dark, gritty FPS to actually contain a STORYLINE while retaining an arena-like system of gameplay. UT2k3 fell pathetically short in this aspect, while UT2k4 came close to matching UT99's level of atmosphere (wasn't dark and gritty enough in a lot of the character design and levels - although some were perfect).


9th. Fallout Tactics - The perfect example of how NOT to design an editor for the public.

10th. Chrono Cross - Excellent example of depth and replayability. Tons of side branches, if you look for them.

(For RTSs, I vote Age of Empires 2, for being original enough to not have you harvest a stupidly generic resource like Blizzard did. Sorry, but it's true.)


#28 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19457

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 05:55 PM

Quote:
Original post by HeavyBlade
(For RTSs, I vote Age of Empires 2, for being original enough to not have you harvest a stupidly generic resource like Blizzard did. Sorry, but it's true.)


I wouldn't say the resource system in AOE2 is that much better than in Blizzard games. While it's a little more detailed, it isn't what you could call a spectacular improvement. Take a look at the games:

Warcraft II:
-Oil
-Gold
-Wood

(* denotes an item that is also on the WC2 list)
AOEII:
-Wood (*)
-Food (* (not on the list per se, but you needed farms if you'll recall))
-Gold (*)
-Stone

So really, each of those 2 has one item that the other doesn't. AOEII has more overall resources, which could be considered both good (more realistic), or bad (more complexity). The food in WC2 is produced at a building rather than collected, whereas AOE has some variation in the sources. I wouldn't say overall that AOE has it that much better though if you actually consider both of those systems.

Quote:

6th. System Shock 2 - Why hasn't this appeared yet? SS2, apart from perhaps being the most pirated game in existence, gave an excellent blend of horror, FPS, and RPG style gaming.


Yes, this was indeed an excellent game, which had slipped my mind. This had quite a good storyline, with a few twists into it. Gameplay wasn't the same constantly, and could be extremely varied depending on what type of character was chosen. Playing coop (added in one of the patches) with one of each character type is brilliant. A very dark atmosphere was well presented through useage of both sound and graphics. The character advancement was quite detailed, but not overly complex.

#29 Oluseyi   Staff Emeritus   -  Reputation: 1678

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 06:54 PM

Not a single sports game on anyone's list. Interesting.

I don't have a list. I don't care what you have or haven't played; I care a whole lot more what questions you're asking, who you're talking to and what you're trying to do. In fact, I fear that some of this may be harmful because of the calcification that occurs from repeated exposure - overexposure? - to a similar design. For instance, there are dozens of number-crunching, stat-based "RPGs" on various lists, which increases the likelihood that you (the reader of these lists and player of these games) will create yet another number-crunching, stat-based RPG.

*yawn*

There's a much bigger audience out there that clearly hasn't been captivated by any of the games you've mentioned. Why? What do they want? How can we deliver it? Can we deliver it?

Those are the questions I would like to see asked, rather than serving the same answers up again and again.

#30 minornan   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 07:02 PM

RPG GAMES, , from personal to see, I want to THINK:FF8
The fairy sword of Chinese Taiwan, the ÐùÔ¯ sword series is in the sentence in person up return very good!


Regrettable of is, just on the PC
no English version,ONLY chinese version


#31 MSW   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:01 PM

Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Not a single sports game on anyone's list. Interesting.

I don't have a list. I don't care what you have or haven't played; I care a whole lot more what questions you're asking, who you're talking to and what you're trying to do. In fact, I fear that some of this may be harmful because of the calcification that occurs from repeated exposure - overexposure? - to a similar design. For instance, there are dozens of number-crunching, stat-based "RPGs" on various lists, which increases the likelihood that you (the reader of these lists and player of these games) will create yet another number-crunching, stat-based RPG.

*yawn*

There's a much bigger audience out there that clearly hasn't been captivated by any of the games you've mentioned. Why? What do they want? How can we deliver it? Can we deliver it?

Those are the questions I would like to see asked, rather than serving the same answers up again and again.


I agree completely...

Monster Rancher, M.U.L.E., Grand Turismo, Mutant League Football, Robotron, Super Bomberman, Ikaruga, Dig Dug, Sim City, The Lurking Horror...there seems to be a huge variety of games overlooked on most peoples (far to RPG/RTS/FPS heavy) lists

#32 AdAvis   Members   -  Reputation: 518

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:07 PM

Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
6) Quest for glory 1-4 – PC - These enjoyable games are an excellent blend of adventure, rpg, and humor. With 3 different character types each possessing there own path through the game and methods for overcoming obstacles, make a lot more then you standard adventure game or rpg. Add to this the fact that you can bring your character along from one game into the next and you have one of the most enjoyable game series ever made.


Seconded. I'm a huge QFG fan--definately some of the finest games Sierra ever made (perhaps the finest?). In fact, I recently replayed 1-3, and am in the process of replaying QFG4.

Man, those were damn well made games.

#33 Drew_Benton   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1728

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 09:16 PM

Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Not a single sports game on anyone's list. Interesting.


Five sports games every designer should play

1. Hotshots Golf (ps1)
- The coolest golf game I've ever played
- Simple, yet entertaining and fun
2. Gran Tourismo 1 (ps1)
- Racing redefined
3. NBA Jam (sega/gameboy)
- First 'FUN' basketball game
- "Is it the shoes?", "He's on fire", and other great announcer quotes
4. Mutant League Football (sega)
- Football with a twist
- I'd love to see a 3D version of this!
5. Road Rash (Sega)
- Sports Bike racing with a twist

One thing that I have noticed is that the Sega Genesis console has had the most innovative games, IMO. I'm sure someone will argue me, but if you really look at all that has come from there, there has been some great stuff.

- Drew

#34 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 10:36 PM

I just feel the need to mention the game ...

X-COM UFO Defense

I love that game! Some guy was doing a 3d remake of this game at one point, I wonder what happened. :(

#35 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 11:09 PM

I agree with you all, mostly, but i think that your list should be made by genres, rather an all-around favourites..

For Sports, I would recommend:
the Gran Turismo series: an almost flawless series of simulation, with an ever improving physic engine, and always state-of-the-art graphics.
the Mario Kart series: just to see what one can achieve if he wants to make another kind of car games, an arcade style one.
The Winning Eleven series: just plain great football simulation, with interesting management features which are definitely NOT getting in the way of fun.
The latest EA simulations: for good examples of what a lust for good graphics and/or a juicy license can get someone to sacrifice in terms of gameplay and/or innovations.
NBA Jam or Alley Hoop: I second that, it was just a hugely funny game, with good enough a gameplay not to make you sorry you started to play after two minutes.

For RPGs, I would recommend:
The Bethesda Elder Scrolls series, because each one was just a jewel, with innovations that were highly despised, and highly praised as innovative. Huge possibilities in terms of stories and game evolution. Get lost and still love to play the game. You should be aiming for nothing less.
The Final Fantasy series: three absolutely increadible games in the very early days of consoles, and a legend was born. Good continuation, and some publicity, and a never-ending franchise was created. The only valuable game in the series that did not belong to the first three was the sixth, because it allowed you to end the game alone, in twenty-five minutes and still level five if you were witty and lucky. This is something I would like to see again in better looking more actual games. All the laters were mostly about graphics, and even the introduction of voices. Exemples of what cosmetics can get you.
The Zelda series: not exactly RPG but more Action/Reflection, the first two of the series on the NES are still played throughout the world, and some NERDs created some additional games to the series, including the extremely good Zelda: Solarus. What you want to do if you're not a paid programmer that still has high hopes for his products.
the Deus Ex series: for they blended happily RPG and FPS, creating something absolutely unheard of. Every game designer should dream of achieving something as innovative some day.
I would also like to give some examples of games which should NOT inspire you, like Nomad Soul. there was a game with david Bowie's music and correct graphics, but that had a story so twisted and a gameplay so horrible that even with the solution right under my nose, I have never been able to go further than two hours of play. Definitely something to look after, if anyone can uncover a copy. You might also want to uncover a whole pack of aspirin.

Another genre that is mostly overlooked lately, is platform games.
The Mario series: all of them, for always offering something new to the player, while always bringing back what most loved, or replacing the central them from the previous by something eve more extravagant and loveable. Something everybody should analyse, if he wants to produce series of products.
The Metroid series until the Prime evolution: for they were just immense, and fun, and had you riveted to your pad until yo had finished it, which could happen some two weeks later. And kept you riveted again each time you turned it on again. In one word, addictive.
The Spyro series: for they represent what is likeable about nowadays platform games, the twofold adventure. First, you try to finish the quest, then you enter the second quest of getting back ALL the items disseminated in the levels. Cute enough to get the attention of youngsters, and challenging enough to keep the older ones on their pads for hours on end, trying to reach that ultimate diamond they can see but not reach unless they behave perfectly. More than catchy, they are catching...
The RayMan series. Fun and still amusing.
The OddWorld series: great and innovative gameplay, with a deep story told through the levels you have to go through, you are always either chasing after something, or fleeing before something. And the addition of whistling and farting possibilities kept the younger players happy just standing there and having their pet fart all afternoon. Never underdestimate the power of gazes.

As for the RTS, you might as well want to throw in all you like, I have my favourites, but they are not absolute.
The Settlers series, just because they are complicated enough to keep you challenged, while cute enough not to let you throw your computer out of your window when stalemated.
Starcraft, because you won't find a better balanced game. They are History
The C&C RTS series, because they are part of History.
the Civilization series, because they made up some well balanced gameplays which sometimes forced you to modify your strategy on the fly. This is something you might want to do again. And again. And once more.
The "Ao" saga, including the "Age of Wonders" which should not belong there. Get a good system, a good graphic engine, and a good theme, and everybody is going to copy your game. Look at Star Wars Battlegrounds...

From there on, you should try to make your own,
Yours Faithfully,
Nicolas FOURNIALS

#36 Mike.Popoloski   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2931

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 11:21 PM

Why has no one mentioned metroid prime? That game was beautifully designed and told a story without any words being spoken at all.

#37 jagoman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 02:35 AM

as i read through the threads i also saw noone mentioned metroid prime, until the previous post. anyways heres my list (no real order):

|||Metroid Prime||| - Best ever level design EVER! an absolute beauty for a single player FPS

|||COUNTER-STRIKE||| - this is the most beautiful online FPS every created, def can not be beaten (using steam). or Golden-eye for consoles, an awesome action game, ummm.

|||Diablo 2||| - Always different but never alien, sooo many hours of my life taken away, but so damn well worth it.

|||Age of Empires 2||| - very well balanced tacticle simple RTS game

|||Jumper Redux||| - free to download, VERY addictive, ULTRA challenging game. sorry if you lose your hair from ripping it out :P

|||Pokemon||| - Yes I've played it and damn is it good

|||Unreal Tournement 2004 (the demo lol)||| - have got the full game, but still think the demo has got everything so well done. this is a 'one idea' game, meaning there is one really impressive design concept thats never done before (i think), and everything else is the same but with just some personal modifications.

#38 tj963   Members   -  Reputation: 234

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 07:00 AM

Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
I don't have a list. I don't care what you have or haven't played; I care a whole lot more what questions you're asking, who you're talking to and what you're trying to do. In fact, I fear that some of this may be harmful because of the calcification that occurs from repeated exposure - overexposure? - to a similar design. For instance, there are dozens of number-crunching, stat-based "RPGs" on various lists, which increases the likelihood that you (the reader of these lists and player of these games) will create yet another number-crunching, stat-based RPG.

*yawn*

There's a much bigger audience out there that clearly hasn't been captivated by any of the games you've mentioned. Why? What do they want? How can we deliver it? Can we deliver it?

Those are the questions I would like to see asked, rather than serving the same answers up again and again.


This is a good point. While a lot of these games are very good, and I have played most of them, I think it's more important for game designers to play a larger variety of games than any set in particular. For example, I'm playing Unlimited Saga right now for PS2. It is extremely difficult, very confusing, and the controls are quite incomprehensible. However, getting past all of that, there are some really interesting game design ideas buried in it, and playing an RPG so different from most of the ones I'm used to is pretty cool. I can see things that are original and fun, and what doesn't work and isn't fun. Otherwise we risk getting stuck rehashing the same ideas all the time.

tj963

#39 ToohrVyk   Members   -  Reputation: 1591

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 08:29 AM

I guess all I'm meant to do is post my own top 10 list, ain't I? ;)

Although I'm going to go for different genres.

Do DonPachi
Warning Forever
Puyo Puyo
Bejeweled
Typing of the dead
Boulder Dash
Ikaruga
Metal Slug
Wiz'n'Liz
Lemmings

is all I could think of.

#40 BeanNeophyte   Members   -  Reputation: 144

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 09:05 AM

1. the Gothic-series:
---------------------

for having the most realistic and detailed sourrounding in an RPG you've ever seen. It's just fun to walk arround in the environment without doing anything particular to solve the story, just relaxing in the landscape.

2. Civilization:
----------------
You can learn from this game how to make people addicted to games. Very well balanced strategy-game which guides you through all stages of civilization.

3. Dangerous Dave:
------------------

Though absolutely stupid level-design it makes curious what next level will come.

4. Ultima 7:
------------

You can bake your own bread in this game :)

5. System Shock 2:
------------------

Normally I don't like sci-fi, but system shock has such a thrilling story, that I didn't want to stop playing.




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