I’d be very interested to see what the opinion is around here about System Shock 2 and BioShock. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed both games, and never explicitly felt that BioShock was a lesser version of System Shock 2. In fact because of the way in which the options were presented to me in BioShock I found myself experimenting more than I did while playing System Shock 2.
In terms of individual environments, levels, BioShock has a sense of place that is much stronger than almost any other title I’ve played (Metroid Prime being the only other example that comes to mind). But as a whole the levels of BioShock seem disconnected and not part of a consistent whole, which System Shock 2 always did. I can mentally picture all the various routes between areas in System Shock 2 now, the Von Braun feels like a real place to me, where as Rapture feels like a selection of highly realised by discrete locations.
In terms of straight gameplay there is a lot of cross over between the two games, both feature a heavy focus on combat, and combat related tasks. You can hack various objects but usually you do so to improve you chances in combat; you research enemies to learn about weaknesses; you select the appropriate ammunition for a particular encounter.
Even System Shock 2 has a proto-version of the much maligned Vita Chambers.
As a whole experience I think I prefer System Shock 2, but in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay I’d have to go with BioShock. How do others feel?