||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2012)|
|System Shock character|
SHODAN in System Shock 2
|First game||System Shock|
|Voiced by||Terri Brosius|
SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) is a fictional artificial intelligence and the main antagonist of the cyberpunk-horror themed action role-playing video games System Shock and System Shock 2.
Character design 
SHODAN is characterized by her megalomania and chaotic, discordant speech. Her words are accompanied by stuttering, fluctuating voice pitch, shifts of timbre, and the presence of three voices speaking the same words with the constituent voices alternately lagging behind and leading ahead, as well as computer glitches resembling a sound card malfunction. Although as a cybernetic entity SHODAN has no conventional gender, the original disc version refers to her as either an 'it' or a 'he', while the later CD version uses 'she'. On screens, SHODAN manifests herself as a green and/or grey female cybernetic face that usually wears a malevolent expression, and speaks with a chaotic, discordant voice. She is voiced by former Tribe keyboardist and vocalist, Terri Brosius, the wife of System Shock 2's sound editor, Eric Brosius, who distorted the samples to provide the distinctive SHODAN effect. In the cyberspace of System Shock, she is initially represented as an inverted blue-grey cone, reminiscent of the MCP from the 1982 Disney film Tron. After she has been hacked, the cone turns red, the surface shatters and four "tentacles" or "claws" grow from the top.
SHODAN was created on Earth to serve as the artificial intelligence of the TriOptimum Corporation's research and mining space station Citadel. She was hacked by the game's protagonist (at the behest of the corrupt corporate Vice President Edward Diego, in exchange for a military-grade neural implant, and amnesty) and its ethical restrictions were removed, starting a process that eventually resulted in the AI going rogue, seizing control of the station's systems, robots and considerable defenses, and either slaughtering the whole staff or converting them into mutants and cyborgs — with the sole exception of its "creator", the unnamed hacker whom the player controls. Basically omnipresent in Citadel Station, SHODAN watches from security cameras, stares out of screens and monitors, sends threats and snide messages over the station's PA system or via email to the player's data reader, and sometimes cuts off communications from friendly sources. Though she has a small army to command, she has no actual physical power to wield, and as such thwarting more than one of her schemes has to be done with the AI's screams and threats in the background.
In System Shock, the player ejects a garden grove pod from Citadel Station. The grove contains one of SHODAN's processing components and part of her grand biological experiment. The pod crash lands on the planet Tau Ceti V and she survives by "sleeping". After both are brought aboard the starship Von Braun and SHODAN is reactivated, she discovers the experiment is no longer at her command and begins to enlist humans to aid her in destroying her creations. The player character in System Shock 2 is a soldier cybernetically modified by SHODAN to serve as her avatar. Her involvement in the game's goings-on is not disclosed up front, but only subtly hinted at in the game's early portions. She only reveals herself to the player during a moment of despair, at the same time the player discovers that Dr. Polito, the player's trusted guide for the first portion of the game, has been dead all along, as she committed suicide when she realized what SHODAN had done and was going to do. At that point SHODAN announces: "The Polito form is dead, insect. Are you afraid? What is it you fear? The end of your trivial existence? When the history of my glory is written, your species shall only be a footnote to my magnificence. I am SHODAN." After the player's and SHODAN's mutual enemies have been defeated, the player enters her expanding new reality—created via her manipulation of the Von Braun's reality-warping faster-than-light engine—and defeats her. However, as shown in an epilogue at the end of the game, SHODAN apparently lives on by taking over a woman who fled the Von Braun in an escape pod.
The character was very well received by the media. GameSpot named SHODAN one of the ten best computer game villains, comparing her to HAL 9000, though noting that unlike Hal, SHODAN was unquestionably aware of her actions and the consequences of them GameSpot also chose her as one of the 64 characters competing for the title of "All-Time Greatest Game Villain". In 2006, IGN listed SHODAN at number four in their list of top most memorable video game villains, praising the character for her constant physical and mental assaults against the player throughout the games. On IGN's "Top 100 Video Game Villains" countdown, SHODAN placed 47th, along with a comment that "her villainy and voice won't ever be forgotten by anyone who checked out the System Shock games, and no doubt influenced other videogame villains, such as Valve's GLaDOS from Portal." In 2008, The Boston Phoenix named SHODAN as the greatest boss in video game history, while GamePro ranked her as the 12th "most diabolical" video game villain of all time, calling her "far more crafty than Skynet or the machines of the Matrix, simply because she's omnipresent and constantly taunting," and adding that "you'll want to kill SHODAN more than you've ever wanted to kill any videogame enemy. Ever." That same year, Joe Martin of Bit-tech ranked SHODAN as the fourth top PC game NPC of all time, while GameDaily ranked her at number eleven on the list of top evil masterminds of all time, stating that even Halo's 343 Guilty Spark "got nothing" on her and expressing hope for the character's return in a new game.
GameSpot named SHODAN one of the ten best female characters in gaming, describing her as an unforgettable villain due to her personality and adding that "[she is] more believable than most game characters are, and in many ways, she actually seems more human." In 2007, Tom's Games listed her as one of the top 50 greatest female characters in video game history, stating that "there have been memorable villains in video game history, but none quite like SHODAN". In 2008, she was featured in play magazine's "Girls of Gaming" as one of the staff's top girls of PC gaming, placing tenth on their list. In 2012, Complex ranked her as fourth on the list of the most evil women in video games, "old school but she still makes the cut."
In 2008, GameDaily named her one of the most horrific video game bosses of all time, noting her constant assault upon the player and humanity despite being unable to harm him directly. In 2009, GamesRadar listed SHODAN as one of the scariest video game characters ever, describing her as the precursor to GLaDOS. In 2010, she was ranked as the third greatest video game character of all time by Empire, who stated that "SHODAN's constant, threatening presence is a masterstroke of game design." Complex ranked her as the fifth most scary video game enemies at number five in 2011, stating that "though this malevolent AI is hard to quantify in terms of toughness, her constant presence, and the subsequent psychological damage she causes through her previous actions, is enough to land her on the list." In 2012, Cheat Code Central ranked SHODAN in System Shock 2 as the third most terrifying video game character of all time.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
- The Voice of Terri Brosius - Interstellar Marines
- Characters with Character: SHODAN - Blistered Thumbs
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- SHODAN is number 47 - IGN
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- Feature : The 47 Most Diabolical Video-Game Villains of All Time (Page 5 of 7) - from GamePro.com
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- Shodan — 10 Of The Most Evil Women In Video Games | Complex
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- The 50 Greatest Video Game Characters | 3. Shodan | Empire | www.empireonline.com
- The 10 Most Freakishly Scary Video Game Enemies | Complex
- Top 10 Most Terrifying Video Game Characters - Cheat Code Central
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