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"Look at you, hacker: a pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors." Most games place a boss at the end of a very long road. SHODAN, from the opening scene of System Shock, was everywhere: leering from the space station's computer monitors, cutting off friendly radio transmissions, and, most memorably, taunting the player over the PA system. No boss before or since has been so implacable or so confident. Her internal logic could not process how something as flawed as a human could be allowed to exist. She wasn't a boss to combat, but to escape – which was, of course, impossible.

No one remembers this now, but when System Shock was released SHODAN was silent, and gender-neutral. It wasn't until the CD-ROM release, months later, that sound designer Eric Brosius asked his wife to record some lines as the malevolent Artificial Intelligence. Already a great villain, the addition of SHODAN's stuttering, emotionless delivery made her nothing less than the best ever. "How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?" Turns out you can't.

- Mitch Krpata

Watch the ending to System Shock 2 (YouTube)

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  Topics: Ultimate Lists , Eric Brosius
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