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Certain areas, objects, or enemies in the System Shock series can contain environmental hazards. These hazards have a detrimental effect on the player and must either be avoided or warded against.

System Shock

Radiation and Bio-Contamination

Radiation is the main form of environmental damage in the first game, with Bio-Contamination being a secondary hazard.

While in an a contaminated area, static will begin to sound and your contamination counter will activate. The LBP number depends on how "hot" the particular environment is, and will proportionally damage the player for as long as it is active. The counter will only begin to descend once the player has left the contaminated area.

Using a Detox Patch will reduce the LBP counter significantly, until all contamination is gone, provided the player has left the hot zone. Staying in a hot zone with a Detox patch active will reduce damage taken over time, less so if the player moves around a lot. An EnviroSuit can be worn for protection, though the first version only filters out Bio-Contamination and not Radiation.

On the MFDs map, an irradiated area appears on the map as red and a contaminated area appears as yellow, but only if the player has the third version of the Navigation and Mapping Unit. Waste barrels can often be found in contaminated areas, but destroying them has no effect on the state of the area, nor is any extra danger posed to the player if they are destroyed at close range.

System Shock 2

Radiation

Radiation works in a similar manner as in the original game.

While in an irradiated area, a small green bar will begin to fill. Every 6 seconds the screen will flash green and the player will suffer damage, the amount of which depends on currently accumulated Radiation and player's Endurance. Each zone has its own maximum level of Radiation and the player can't absorb more than that. Only after leaving the contaminated area a portion of Radiation bar will gradually deplete until gone.

Two types of armor reduce Radiation absorption: WormSkin Armor and Hazard Suit give 30% and 75% protection against Radiation intake, respectively. An even better protection is offered by Neural Decontamination Psi power that provides an 80% protection against Radiation absorption. Armors and Neural Decontamination can be combined for the most effective Radiation intake protection up to a maximum of 95%.

Some irradiated areas have decontamination rooms nearby that will instantly remove the player's Radiation poisoning. Functional Surgical Units also instantly purge all the Radiation the player has been exposed to. Using an Anti-Radiation Hypo will deplete the Radiation bar by 12% (14% with Pharmo-Friendly O/S Upgrade). Lastly, dying and being brought back to life by a Resurrection Station makes the player clean of all Radiation instantly.

Endurance influences the damage caused by Radiation. With END 6 (the permanent maximum) the player suffers only 40% of the full damage. Additionally using an EndurBoost™ implant to reach END 7 makes the player feel only 20% of the originally dealt damage. However, using Psychogenic Endurance Psi power (for the maximum ENDurance of 8) results in only 1 astonishing % of the original damage dealt to the player, effectively negating any damage from Radiation in all places but one in the game!

Strong Metabolism O/S Upgrade reduces the damage dealt by Radiation by 25%. Using a WormMind implant also lowers the damage from Radiation by roughly 25%.

Toxin

Toxin, or poison, is another hazard in System Shock 2.

Toxins can come from different sources, such as attacks of specific enemies, touching a worm pile or detaching/discharging an equipped WormHeart implant.

Having received a Toxin dose, a small bar will instantly fill with Biohazard symbols, the number of which corresponds to the strength of poison received. Every 10 seconds the screen will flash red and the player will suffer damage (the amount of damage depends on the Toxin level and player's Endurance). Unlike Radiation, the level of the Toxins in the player's body does not decrease on its own.

Two types of armor reduce Toxin absorption: WormSkin and Hazard Suit give 30% and 75% protection against Toxin intake, respectively. It has to be noted that the Hazard Suit cannot shield the player completely and a small dose of the poison always gets through. An ideal 100% protection against Toxin intake is given by Neural Toxin-Blocker Psi power.

Using an Anti-Toxin Hypo will decrease the current Toxin level by 2 Points (out of 4 maximum). This is the only way of flushing the Toxins from the player's body, except for dying and being brought back to life by a Resurrection Station, which makes the player clean of all Toxins instantly.

Endurance influences the damage caused by Toxins, however even a high value cannot protect the player completely:
there's no way to reduce its damage below the minimum 1 Hit Point (dealt each 10 seconds) if the Toxin is still present. High END (6 or higher) is needed for the minimum damage to be dealt (no matter the Toxin level). WormMind implant brings the needed END down to 4 (or higher), and Strong Metabolism O/S Upgrade brings it down to only 2, with only Toxin level 4 dealing 2 HP / 10 s with END 1. WormMind and Strong Metabolism can be combined, resulting in player always receiving 1 HP / 10 s from Toxins, regardless of their level and Endurance.

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