I’m a huge fan of Looking Glass Studios video games. Their games got always praised by critics but almost ever failed commercial expectations. The Thief series had to be the only franchise that should have the biggest commercial success with sales at half a million by the year 2000. Especially the games from the early to mid 90s had hardware consuming requirements and needed powerful computer system to run just fine. Could be just one of the reasons for the less attention they got by gamers all around the world.
Looking Glass Studios was a computer game development company during the 1990s.
Their games were regarded for demonstrating innovative gameplay, pioneering physics simulation, and well-written, engaging stories. However, many of their games, despite wide critical acclaim, sold poorly in comparison to contemporary rivals.
Their best known games series were Ultima Underworld, System Shock, and Thief. The company went out of business on May 24, 2000 during a financial crisis related to their publisher at the time, Eidos Interactive.
1993 – Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss and Labyrinth of the Worlds
It’s a Swords & Sorcery fantasy game mixed in as first-person role-playing game based on Origin Systems Ultima series, featuring a real three dimensional world in which the player needed to cure and rescue the kings daughter. The player can talk and even barter with non-playable characters during his quest. The hardware requierments were huge for the game at its time. At least a 386SX CPU with conventional memory of 656K.
1994 – System Shock
A first-person role-playing game hyprid set on the fictive space station environment of Citadel Stations. It’s the game that brought one of the most famous gone mad AI S.H.O.D.A.N into the gaming world. Advanced in all aspects compare to IDsoft’s Doom, featuring a real three dimensional game-engine in which the player could jump, lean around corners, duck and even climb. Actually got a complex item system, re-loadable weapons and different ammo types. Aiming with the mouse. Doom, released in the same year, lacks of all these characteristics. The game was first released on 9 floppy disks without voice-files and one year later re-released as CD-ROM package with added voice actors to logs and ingame e-mails. It also got modified music. Some loyal fans unofficially released the game as System Shock Portable, including all the advantages from the CD-ROM release. Plus, after 17 years, in 2010, one man made the as impossible declared and added the by fans long time wishes mouse-view support to the game.
1996 – Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri
You’re not alone in this action packed first-person and tactical-shooter game which is set in a Star-Trek like vision of the future of the year 2327. You pick weapons and gear before starting a mission with computer controlled teammates that you choose all by yourself. Give each of your teammembers different equipment to fit to the goals you need to accomplish in your mission. Another example for the amazing real three dimensional game-engine by LGS.
1998 – Thief: The Dark Project
Tension and horror is created through lights, shadows, sound and atmospheric music in this first-person stealth-action game. Non-confrontational gameplay challenges the player at any time during his hunt for valuables. The Dark Project is LGS’s highest commercial success with sales at half a million by the year 2000.
1999 – System Shock 2
Many of the less gamers that played it, described the game as the most tensioned, horrifying and deepest experience with a video game they ever had. The combination of balanced character-generation and claustrophobic level and sound-design makes the player sink deep into the deadly depths of the hijacked starship Von-Braun. Praised by critics but failing commercial success, System Shock 2 became a synonym for an unconsidered masterpiece of 90s gaming. Despite any opinions, System Shock 2 was subsequently the progenitor of Bioshock and is the top game on gog.com wishlist for many months now.