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"Get out of here, T.R.O.P.E.R.!"
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is a Wide Open SandboxFirst-Person Shooter loosely based on the Russian novel Roadside Picnic, as well as the visually stunning Russian film S.T.A.L.K.E.R. by Andrei Tarkovsky, which was based on the novel.The game takes place in the Zone of Exclusion (known simply as the Zone) around the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a "Man-Made Hell" following the nuclear accident that originally created the Zone, as well as a mysterious second explosion in 2006 which resulted in the creation of bizarre, seemingly impossible space-time anomalies and homicidal mutants.The Zone is full of dangers, from lethal pockets of radiation, to packs of dangerous mutants, and a wide assortment of violent, body-crushing anomalies. Nonetheless, fortune-hunting trespassers known as "Stalkers" make a living exploring the Zone and seeking out the miraculous "artifacts" created by the Zone's anomalies.Tales among the Stalkers tell of a legendary artifact known as the "Wish Granter", located at the very center of the Zone inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself. The legend goes that the Wish Granter will grant a Stalker's heart's desire. However, no Stalker has managed to reach the center of the Zone, as the path is blocked by a powerful brain-melting barrier known as the Brain Scorcher which melts the minds of any humans who attempt to penetrate into the Center.In S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, players take the role of the Marked One, a mysterious amnesiac Stalker who awakens in the Zone with nothing except a strange "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." tattoo on his arm, and the knowledge that he has a mission... to kill someone or something known as "Strelok" (Marksman). The Marked One's search for Strelok, and his interaction with the various inhabitants of the Zone and conflicting Stalker factions, will eventually lead him on a path to the Center of the Zone, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and the legendary Wish Granter itself.S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is a prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl, with the player taking the role of a veteran Stalker mercenary named Scar who is recruited by a secret faction known as Clear Sky to investigate the cause of mysterious emissions from the Center of the Zone that pose a threat to all of the Zone's Stalker inhabitants. Besides an assortment of graphics and gameplay tweaks and improvements, Clear Sky features a new Faction Wars system, where the various competing factions in the Zone struggle for power and control via assaulting and defending various capture points (sort of like a single-player version of the Battlefield series, with an RPG game world thrown in on top for good measure). Players can join a faction and help them fight their way to victory, or ignore the Faction Wars completely and progress through the game's main quest.S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat, the third game in the series, is a sequel to the original game. Unsurprisingly, the Russian-language version (which came out several months before the EU and US versions) was almost immediately translated by modders. It takes place a few days after Shadow of Chernobyl with the player taking the role of SBU (Служба Безпеки України/Security Service of Ukraine) Major Degtyarev who is charged with investigating the attempted military takeover of the Zone Gone Horribly Wrong. This game also takes place after the good ending of Shadow of Chernobyl, so apparently things didn't turn out okay after all. Call of Pripyat is notable for taking place in a completely different part of the Zone from the other games in the series - Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky take place fairly close to the Zone's southern edge, while Call of Pripyat takes place deep within the Zone's northern half.The first proper sequel, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. II, was announced at GamesCom, However, on December, 2011, it was announced that GSC had been forced into closure, though the team promised that the development would continue. The game was indefinitely put on hold in January 2012. In its stead, a majority of the development team broke off to create a spiritual successor, called Survivarium, but the IP remains with GSC.
The Examples Are In The Basement:
Abnormal Ammo: The Gauss Gun uses Flash artifact fragments in its batteries to provide the vast amount of power to fire it.
Taken a step further in some Game Mods, where the addition of an artifact turns the weapon into a less-powerful gauss gun by flinging the bullet with tremendous energy (but shearing off a lot of metal in the process).
After the End: Although the post-apocalyptic nature of the game world is restricted to the Zone itself, with life on the outside world proceeding better than normal. It's implied that artifacts taken from the zone, while rare, are being used to advance science and medicine - and attempts to militarize them (such as gauss gun usage) are roadblocked constantly due to ammunition rarity and expense.
A.K.A.-47: The game features several dozen real-world firearms, all of whom have had their names changed for copyright reasons. The game files still use the real names.
The punctuated title S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was chosen because there was already a video game called "Stalker".
Amusingly, the "correct" names in the files have typos, making it hell for the more grammar sensitive modders. Notably the Winchester is w_wincheaster.ltx. Even worse—it's not even a Winchester, it's a Mossberg Maverick.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Played straight both in Shadow of Chernobyl, with the mercenaries attacking the rookie village in Cordon and Monolith's constant attacks on the Barrier, and in Clear Sky where the implementation of the Faction Wars system makes it all but inevitable. The story also ties this in: for example, Bandits have had to switch locations several times and the Military abandons several bases when Shadow of Chernobyl comes around.
Alternate History: The secret C-Consciousness project, a Soviet attempt to try and manipulate mankind's consciousness to eliminate suffering and wars, moved to Chernobyl to operate in secret after the disaster. In 1989, the experiment went off the rails, caused the first blowout, and eventually changed the the area into a bizarre post-apocalyptic Dark World. Aside from some technological changes (gauss rifles and exoskeletons, albeit extremely unwieldy prototypes manufactured illegally), life goes on in the outside world.
Southern Hospitality, the first English Stalker novel, states a nuclear bomb was detonated in Afghanistan and spread the Zone to Kabul.
Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted (eventually) with the Bandits and Mercenaries, who seem this way unless you join the Bandit faction (Clear Sky only), at which point they become neutral to you and you find out that, like everyone else, they're just ordinary folks trying to make a living (although the way they choose to go about it is pretty socially unacceptable). In fact, in Call of Pripyat, both the Bandits and Mercenaries are neutral to you by default, and won't attack you unless there's a reason to do so (although what they consider a valid reason might not be what you would consider a valid reason). Played straight with the Monolith faction, however.
Monolith members are under psychic influence that strips them of their free will. In Call of Pripyat, the player character meets former Monolith soldiers suffering from retrograde amnesia who most probably 'awoke' after Strelok destroyed the C-Consciousness lab. They are pretty decent guys.
The leader of the Mercenaries in Shadow of Chernobyl is rather evil, however, indulging in activities like randomly murdering Stalkers for fun.
Eventually subverted with the Military in Call of Pripyat - no longer corrupt grunts torturing and murdering Stalkers for sport, they are now your allies (what with you being from the military and all), and while not actively friendly to Loners, they will, at least, leave them alone.
Call of Pripyat: Zaton's bandits have been formed into an organized crime group by Sultan, and will attack Stalkers/Loners (and you) without warning sometimes, maybe even perhaps only a dozen meters from Skadovsk. They like to camp out near the big anomaly fields... you do the math. Jupiter's bandits are more the standard variant, though they gradually start to disappear from Jupiter if their leader there is killed.
Again subverted in Call of Pripyat. You run into a mercenary group camping out at a work station. They act (understandably) cautious if you approach, but you can work out a peaceful deal with them, allowing you into their camp if you give them some food. They can even be later recruited to guard an Ecologist outpost.
Amplifier Artifact / Upgrade Artifact: Both played straight and subverted. Various artifacts provide a boost to your resistance to the various hazards of the Zone, whether it be electricity, fire, acid, or what have you. The drawback here is that most of these same artifacts are filled with radiation and can kill you if you don't have countermeasures, so it can be a double-edged sword if you're out trekking in the more dangerous areas of the Zone.
On the other hand, there are artifacts that help protect you from radiation so that you won't be in danger of radiation poisoning from either the environment of the Zone or those other artifacts that you're carrying.
Ancient Tradition: Clear Sky, a secret faction dedicated to studying and understanding the Zone. Conversely, the Monolith, a faction dedicated to protecting the center from everything and everyone that's not a Monolith member or zombie.
Anyone Can Die: And how! There are literally hundreds of friendly and hostile NPCs in the game world. Precisely two of them are unkillable. As for the rest, every single one can be killed off at any point in the game, including story-important and mission-important characters. It's not at all uncommon to be given an assignment to meet with a certain character to obtain information, only to find a pack of wild dogs picking over his corpse and being forced to scavenge the info from his PDA.
A few missions that threaten your relationship with different factions can be completed just by waiting for the environment to kill off the person you've been asked to assassinate.
Even Sidorovich can be killed. Even though the game forces you to drop weapons when you enter his bunker, when you start to teleport around the game towards the end of the first game, there is a specific wormhole that leads to his bunker. If you know which wormhole it is, and prepare a grenade, you will throw it at him when you are teleported into the bunker. He will say "Marked one, what the hell?!" then be blown up.
Some people can actually die twice. In Shadow of Chernobyl, the Loner Petruha is the guy who gives you the information on where Nimble is being held. Due to bandits constantly spawning nearby, it's highly likely that he'll get killed by the end of the game. He reappears in Call of Pripyat, having pooled his resources with a rookie stalker to get a protective suit. He then walks into a Boiler anomaly. He's rendered heavily wounded and can be saved or left to die, but even if you do save him (and you might not, he's easy to miss if you don't know what's going to happen) he and his rookie buddy are likely to end up killed because their equipment is so low-quality.
Apocalypse How: The Zone is a regional catastrophe and the Emissions wipe out anything awake and not in cover in their area. To make things worse in Call Of Pripyat, they happen once a day. Even worse, the Scientists and quite a few Loners are concerned the Zone will spread and spread until it swallows the Earth.
Armor Is Useless: Averted in that even the armors that provide little protection against bullets and blades usually make up for it by providing protection from hazardous environments. However, even with the best armor in the game you still won't survive more than four or five well-placed shots (fortunately, neither will any of the NPCs).
Arms Dealer: In Call of Pripyat, Nimble becomes this. In the previous games, he was a fresh blood who hardly was of use to the player (especially in the first game, where he could possibly die). Apparently, by the time CoP takes place, his incredible luck guided him towards near the center of the Zone and he took the profession as the go-to guy for rare equipment.
Artificial Brilliance: The game has a very well developed Artificial Life system, with an ecosystem that includes both packs of migrating, territorial monsters and wandering NPCs who travel from map to map scavenging, fighting with each other and the monsters, and resting at rest-stops and friendly camps in between journeys. All occurring independently while the player is off doing their thing. Tactically, the combat A.I. is pretty damn good too, being able to flank, use cover, circle around the player through buildings and behind obstacles, and even silently follow you from behind to shoot you in the head when they got close enough.
The camps themselves are pretty good looking too. Some NPCs patrol the border, while most sit around a campfire, drinking coke, eating sausages, or playing the occasional guitar tune. Some go to sleep when night appears, making the transition between day and night all the more realistic.
Word of God states the A.I. actually had to be toned down because in early builds, it would regularly and consistently outsmart the player, to the point that the game became outright frustrating - and eventually completely unplayable. The original pre-release A.I. apparently would have been more than capable of beating the game entirely without player intervention if it hadn't been dialed back. Digging around in the game's files reveals that much of their behavior is strictly limited to keep the game playable - in Shadow of Chernobyl, for example, they are unable to heal each other, loot bodies, throw grenades, or intelligently avoid environmental hazards, not because the programming isn't there, but because the devs were worried that if the Artificial Brilliance got too brilliant it would stop being fun. These abilities, and others, were gradually reactivated in later games. If you play a mod where they can throw grenades it becomes obvious why that was removed, as they're pinpoint accurate with them and even in the best situations they can kill you in one shot.
Artificial Stupidity: As mentioned, The A.I. does not recognize environmental hazards, and as a result traveling NPCs will often walk right through Anomalies, leading to their death by crushing/eruption/electrocution/etc.
Fixed in Call of Pripyat, at least with NPCs who are part of your squad. They will deliberately and exactly follow the player's path through anomaly-filled areas in order to stay safe.
In Call of Pripyat, some NPCs will continue to enjoy a relaxing, slow-paced stroll, during an emission. Or inexplicably decide that the current safe building about five meters away isn't safe enough after just starting a patrol to have it interrupted by a storm, and run off in a random direction instead.
As discussed below, one of the biggest AI bugs in the original STALKER was the AI's tendency to end up mysteriously dead around fireplaces. Community research discovered that the AI kept spawning inside the fireplaces and killing themselves; it wasn't uncommon to find entire camps bereft of life. Although later sequels avoided this issue, it was never fixed in the original and mod makers were forced to compensate by rendering the AI immune to fire damage, or force spawnpoints to keep them away from the firepits.
In Call Of Pripyat it's nearly impossible to get the best result for one mission due to the friendly NPCs throwing grenades while inside a building, completely ignoring the walls and the ceiling. Despite being outnumbered two to one, they'll likely kill themselves long before the enemies would have. There are some serious consequences if they get killed so your best bet is to save scum your way through.
Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: Radiation is treated as evil mud that will kill you if you forget to wash it off, either with magical anti-radiation pills or drinking enough Vodka. Obviously, gameplay-wise, this beats dying a slow, hideous death for going the wrong way.
Art Shift: The characters in the ending cutscene of Call of Pripyat are played by actual humans (the same people who their in-game faces are modeled on) instead of computer-drawn characters like in Shadow of Chernobyl. This is most glaring when comparing all the new characters to Strelok, who (being based on his Shadow of Chernobyl appearance) is computer-drawn instead of played by a live person.
Awesome Mc Cool Name: Most plot un-important NPCs have such nicknames (including true oddities like "Samurai" on a guy who sounds as obviously Russian/Ukrainian as everyone else and a high presence of Wiki Word style names) due to their random generation.
Fail O'Suckyname: The game will sometimes dish out nicknames such as "Neudachnik"(unlucky guy), "Petukh" (Literally "rooster" but among criminals "prison sex slave") or "Pokoinik" (dead man).
Awesome, but Impractical: The RG-6 grenade launcher. It's a weapon powerful enough to take on most any enemy in the Zone, as it uses rifled grenades (duh). But there are several drawbacks that severely limit its usefulness: 1) it has the worst reload speed out of any weapon, 2) the grenades have a rather steep arc, which can be very precarious at close range and forces you to aim carefully, 3) the splash damage can hurt or kill any neutral or friendly NPCs that might get caught in the middle of a firefight, 4) its ammunition is quite rare and expensive a piece, and 5) the weapon itself is extremely rare, and, in the later games, is also quite expensive to repair and cannot be upgraded. You're probably better off using your under-barrel grenade launcher instead, if you can find it. Or better yet, the OC-14 Groza's or FN F2000's integrated under-barrel grenade launchers.
Most of the higher-level NATO weapons are highly accurate, fast-firing, and hit like a bus. However, they're also damned heavy, fragile, and incredibly expensive unless you know where to look. However, as mentioned below, later in the game they become Awesome yet Practical.
Awesome yet Practical: The FN F2000, H&K G36, USP .45 Compact (and the custom version "March"), Storm (unique OC-14 Groza that fires the common 5.45 ammo), AS VAL (late game at least), Strelok's rapid-fire AK-74, the VSS Vintorez and its custom variant "Tide", and the Armsel Protecta. Getting any of these weapons, however, requires you to either have a small mountain of cash, fight through a bunch of enemies, or get on good standings with a certain faction. Once you do that however, and fully upgrade them, you're more or less set for the majority of the game.
With a little bit of exploring in Clear Sky, you can pick up Scar's Vintorez within twenty minutes of starting a new game. Doesn't quite count as a Disc One Nuke, though, because it's badly damaged (having been dropped in the emission) and empty. You won't be finding ammo for it for a while, but carrying it along or stashing it for later retrieval saves you the cost of the weapon itself. Upgrade it properly and stock up on AP ammo (available from the Duty and Bandit vendors and often available on corpses) and you're pretty much set for weapons through the endgame.
Getting the Armsel is pretty easy under the right circumstances, as well - Vano's mission sends you into the middle of a camp with about twelve bandits in it to pay off his debt. You can pay off the bandit leader (who has the Armsel) and get mugged on the way out, intimidate the bandit leader (with a high-level weapon) and leave, or just murder everyone. Walking into the leader's office and shooting him in the head, before stealing his gun and using it to fight your way out, is both hilariously audacious and fun.
Certain artifacts fall into this as well. Most artifacts give increased protection against certain types of damage, but often release radiation, making it necessary to either pair them with an artifact that absorbs radiation or pop an antirad or bottle of vodka every couple minutes. Others don't. The Flash and Moonlight artifacts all give large-scale benefits to your sprint meter (wearing one Moonlight or two Flash artifacts can let you sprint indefinitely so long as you aren't overloaded on weight), and their negative effect is an increased vulnerability to electricity. Electrical anomalies are encountered maybe three times in the entire first game, and actually spawn more of these artifacts. Picking up a handful of Flash or if you're incredibly lucky, a pair of Moonlight artifacts at the Agroprom Underground is incredibly easy and makes it simple to outrun the wildlife and hostile stalkers when engagement isn't an option, and makes shuttling tons of gear back and forth a cakewalk.
Back Stab: The knife's secondary attack insta-kills unaware or wounded enemies. In Shadow of Chernobyl, it insta-kills everything else, too - up to and including tanks. Even better, during Duty's attack on Freedom, you can start the battle early by knifing through a solid stone wall that you're supposed to use explosives for.
Empowered Badass Normal: Scar. Lebedev mentions that the emissions he was subjected to increased his body's reflexes and physical strength, though at the cost of causing the degeneration of his central nervous system. No other character in the franchise is said or shown to have such a trait.
Dr. Kruglov, a minor character that the player can encounter in the Wild Territory in Shadow of Chernobyl. His science team is being besieged by a group of heavily-armed mercenaries attempting to get the data he is carrying. The player can, of course, choose to help him, but if you don't, the mercenaries will continue to pick off his team one by one until he's the last one left. Wolfhound, the leader of the mercs, will then call him up over the radio and try to negotiate with the scientist - his life for the information. Kruglov ignores him; when Wolfhound gives up and says, basically, "I've had enough. Looks like this is going to get ugly," Kruglov defiantly replies, "As you wish." If the mercs manage to kill him and you search his corpse, you find out that his last act was to delete the data so the mercenaries couldn't get it. Bad. Ass. If the player does choose to help him, he becomes the subject of one of the most bearable escort missions in game history, as, although he calls himself a 'third-rate fighter', he's actually a fairly skilled marksman who will score headshots with any decent assault rifle regularly and is equipped with the rather tough SSP-9M armor. If he survives to the end of the mission, he replaces Semenov as your partner in the later Ecologist missions, and proves to be a substantial improvement over his colleague - while Semenov tries to leave you behind after a blowout, Kruglov will stubbornly refuse to leave you behind.
Also Lebedev, the leader of the Clear Sky faction. He is virtually a scientist turned militiaman. In Call of Pripyat, we learn that Lebedev was the physicist who, among other things was charged with development of the Gauss Gun.
Badass Bystander: Noah from Call of Pripyat, a batshit-insane lone stalker trying to build himself an ark to protect against mutants. He's got a tame pseudodog (for those who don't know, this◊ is a pseudodog, and they're well known for tearing well-armed-and-armored Stalkers to shreds) named Lassie. When a military squad came they tried to detain him for shooting at them (he does that to everyone), but instead he tried to detain them. At one point in the game, the player's tasked with tracking down an incredibly rare artifact, one which hasn't been seen in a very long time, and apparently Noah has a lead on where to find one. Turns out he has three of them, which he will just give away, implying he has even more. Finally, if he survives until the end of the game, his ending describes some Stalkers taking shelter in his ark during a particularly bad blowout/emission. Turns out it actually works, and during the ensuing mutant attack he charges into battle backed-up by Lassie and three pseudodog puppies. Not to mention that part of the main storyline involves getting on top of a plateau that is otherwise inaccessible. Noah's said to be the only one around who knows how to get up there. You'd think he'd want you do to or give him something in return, right? Nope, he just takes you directly to a space anomaly that'll get you up to the plateau and then just leaves, no muss, no fuss.
While bloodsuckers can take out even veteran stalkers with top-tier gear with ease, the old forester Leshiy (named after a Russian forest spirit/demon, which are known for being extremely powerful), who lives near the Red Forest, was able to bag himself one with little more than a double-barreled shotgun and an ushanka for protection. In addition, he lives in the Red Forest (a place where most Stalkers are afraid to set foot even in heavily-armed groups), alone, and it's mentioned he lived there even before the Zone came into being. Dude is hardcore.
Scar himself. His facial appearance in the intro cinematic shows his stubble is white and his facial features place him in the 35-45 years old age bracket, older than most stalkers. On top of that, he's only referred to as "young" by the certifiably old Leshiy.
Badass Longcoat: Scar again. There is also the option for the player to invoke this by wearing the Trenchcoat in Call of Pripyat. Of course, this tends to make the game even more difficult: it's even lampshaded in the item's description that it's useless in the Zone but many bandits wear them anyway, just because they're cool.
The Marked One, a.k.a. Strelok, and how. He wakes up with amnesia after a truck crash, which essentially makes him a rookie no matter what, and his first mission is to infiltrate a heavily fortified military base and steal a bunch of documents. From there, he moves on to slaughtering an entire bandit tribe, infiltrating several extremely dangerous labs, eliminating two clans of mercenaries, surviving an emission with nothing but a fainting spell, pacifying Lake Yantar, surviving an explosive booby trap, chewing through so much of the extremely strong Monolith factionthat very little of it is left by the time Degtyarev fights them, opening the path to the previously inaccessible Pripyat by shutting down the legendary Brain Scorcher, infiltrating the Chernobyl Power Plant and slaughtering the C-Consciousness, controller of Monolith and, essentially, the Zone itself. And it's not the first time he achieved this many feats: he did it in the past, right before his mind wipe, and only failed to reach the C-Consciousness because another badass (Scar) stopped him. All of this is done (for the most part single-handedly) by a guy that is, by all intents and purposes, physically nothing more than an average stalker. He isn't credited as being the most influential man in the whole Zone for nothing.
Bedouin Rescue Service: The first two games both begin with the player character left for dead out in the wilderness and then being rescued by passing stalkers. It can happen on very rare occasions in-game as well: if you're being chased by a pack of dogs and are low on ammo and bleeding to death, running into a couple of wandering Loners can be a godsend.
Big Labyrinthine Building: The Chernobyl NPP, and to a lesser extent, all the X-# labs, too. Bonus points to the NPP for featuring a labirynthine outside in form of several cut-off areas linked by portals.
Bilingual Bonus: In Shadow of Chernobyl, all of the game's non-story dialogue (including combat dialogue) is in Russian. Clear Sky has much of the relevant dialogue in English (enemies shouting out combat commands, stating that they're about to toss a grenade and so forth), but there's still a large amount of ambient Russian dialogue.
This evolves to multilingual bonus with a non-English version of the game. In the same city, one can hear Russian-speaking stalkers passing by, some others talking to you in English, while important NPCs just have French dialogs. There is even some 'blatnoy jazyk' (Russian criminal cant) while listening to some bandits.
The name "Strelok" is both Russian and Ukrainian for "Gunslinger/Shooter." Although this is ironically subverted with the former since there are no instances of The Gunslinger trope come into play in the games.
Bittersweet Ending: The very best (and canonical) ending of Shadow of Chernobyl has Strelok (who formerly was the Marked One after picking up all pieces of his past) eliminating the C-Consciousness for good and escaping their lab via an off-screen portal. After that, he is seen in a meadow thinking to himself whether or not he did the right thing in killing the C-Consciousness. Unfortunately for him, by the time Call of Pripyat starts, he was horribly wrong.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The original game had some serious translation errors in mission descriptions; the most serious was all instances of "Attic" were translated as "Basement," leading to players scouring for non-existent basement entrances to stashes that were actually above them, and translating "shotgun" as "rifle" in quests. "Find the family rifle" was made particularly perplexing by the latter. The Complete 2009 mod corrects these.
Boom, Headshot: Unless a human is clad in an Exoskeleton or facing any mutant above Bloodsucker level, headshots are almost always lethal for most enemies, if they aren't moving fast enough. Also, the lethality of headshots depends upon the weapon you're using. This is also half-subverted in facing human enemies, in that shooting in the center of their mass can stun them for a couple of seconds, which gives you the opportunity to follow up for the obligatory headshot.
And again subverted with the rather realistically detailed ballistics system; bullets do not always travel in a straight trajectory like you'd expect in typical FPS games. If you really want to turn your weapon into an accurate headshot machine, you'll have to pay the resident mechanics in their respective maps for upgrades, and, depending on the weapon, it can cost you an arm and a leg for a full service. Only in Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat, though; Shadow of Chernobyl has no such system to tinker with your weapons or armor outside of mods.
Boom Town: Even hardened artifact hunters need a safe place to sleep, eat, drink, trade, and the like, and as a result several well-fortified, well-defended permanent settlements spring up from the ruins over the course of the series to cater to the artifact-hunting trade, in a sort of inversion of Dying Town - rather than a thriving town becoming a ghost town, the ghost towns are resettled.
This was actually a popular folk medicine for preventing radiation poisoning in the Soviet bloc. And, yes there was a lot of drinking at Chernobyl.
It's vaguely plausible that it could work - Alcohol makes you pass urine more, which means at least some of the radioactive particles in your system will be flushed out faster than they would have otherwise. This wouldn't help against any radiation exposure you've already received though.
Double subverted if you have a couple tins of food. Every few bottles, munch on a loaf of bread or a tin of beans and you can keep going indefinitely.
Boring, but Practical: One of the main tools for detecting anomalies is a simple bolt, which can be tossed into suspicious-looking areas to trigger any anomalies present.
This is also a major Shout-Out/Mythology Gag toward the original book and Tarkovsky's movie adaptation, where screws and bolts served the same "test-probe" function.
Don't forget most of the early-mid game weapons, like the MP5, AK-74, AN-94, Walther P99, Browning HiPower, Colt 1911, and TOZ-34. None of them are flashy in any way, but all use common ammo types and perform well enough to get the job done. The second pistol you can find is a Makarov with a permanently attached Hollywood Silencer and (while seriously underpowered) is good for starting ambushes until you can find a silencer and a higher-powered weapon to attach it to.
Just about all the Warsaw Pact weapons in the game fall into this, like the Makarov or AKSU. The vast majority of the firepower you come across will be Russian-made (as is only logical since you're near Chernobyl) and while they aren't very accurate, they also are very sturdy and cheap, and their late-game cousins like the Storm or the AS VAL hit like freight trains. They're also common, so if yours starts breaking down and jamming (as long as that takes to set in) you can pick up others easily.
Boss in Mook Clothing: The Burers. A short humanoid wearing a cloak doesn't look as menacing as a Bloodsucker or Snork, but can put up a fight even against a well-equipped stalker. He boasts high health, can drain stamina and disarm the player, his telekinetic throw often ends in a One-Hit Kill... and if you think an all-out attack to kill him quickly will work, he'll stop the bullets and grenades mid-air Matrix-style.
Brain in a Jar: During the quest to disable the Miracle Maker in the Lake Yantar's Lab, you might be a little too busy fighting zombies to look at the device you're trying to disable - a giant computer-controlled brain.
Brainwash Residue: Ex-Monolith squad leader Strider and the rest of his squad. Strider himself is unable to talk in anything but Creepy Monotone, while some of his squad are said to be unable to verbally communicate at all.
Breakable Weapons: All guns degrade with use, becoming more prone to jamming and less accurate. Annoyingly, in Shadow of Chernobyl, no one knows how to repair them, so you have to throw your rifle away and get a new one after using it for firing a few dozen magazines of bullets.
Even worse, this applies to armor. Considering how lethal the zone is, this leads to some heartbreaking encounters: there's nothing like paying a king's ransom for a military-grade protective suit only to get it chewed up by one of the ubiquitous packs of wild dogs in the zone.
However a exploit allows you to use artifacts to become immune to a certain kind of damage, which then heals you and repairs your armour when you receive that damage. This exploit proved so popular that it was actually deliberately left unfixed, and is in fact commonly considered to be a valid tactic by the community (what with there being no other way to repair armor in the first game).
Of course, it has since been modded. Expect to pay a daily fee to the few merchants to repair your stuff, or find some rare and limited repairing kits on the battlefield.
In Call of Pripyat, this becomes a semi-Plot Point for two sidequests: two mechanics (one in Skadovsk and the other in the train station, respectively) ask you to fetch them three toolkits in order to provide the full service for upgrading both your armor and weaponry. The catch is that the toolkits tend to be in rather dangerous, sometimes anomaly-ridden areas so you better have above adequate equipment to retrieve these kits. Not only that, but the most advanced toolkits won't be available until you venture your way into Pripyat via the underground tunnel.
Calling Your Attacks: Human combatants have a tendency of shouting "Catch this!" when throwing a grenade and loudly telling their friends to go attack the left or right flank. Appropriately, the more professional characters know to keep their mouths shut in combat (i.e. you).
Church Militant/Cult : The Monolith faction, who worship the Wish Granter and by extension the Zone itself, and are viewed as dangerous psychotic fanatics by everyone else, Call of Pripyat expands on this, introducing elite members called Preachers, who wield gauss rifles and give sermons before and during battles. It helps they're all Brainwashed and Crazy.
Chromosome Casting: Due to time constraints and developer laziness, there are women Stalkers in the Zone. You just never see them. PDAs often refer to girlfriends in the Zone, and with mods, you can encounter some women Stalkers.
Cool, but Inefficient: Most of the artillery a player encounters is necessarily left right where it's found: The Chernobyl periphery is a big place, and though it's possible to take on an extra ten kilograms of equipment, it will diminish your capacity to travel at any rate faster than a hobble, and that way lies madness. The best armor in the game supports its own weight and lets you carry an extra five kilograms above even that, but it also prevents you from sprinting, so one may be left wondering why he bothered in the first place.
In Shadow of Chernobyl, there comes a time in the story where the player's quest becomes a linear and steady approach towards its conclusion, with a minimum of backtracking and plenty of formidable enemies in the way. It's not difficult to anticipate this section of the game, even on a first-time playthrough, so before embarking, a player may calculate that sprinting will be a negligible asset. If you make that decision, you're destined to be a tank: The Exoskeleton will give you another twenty kilos to fill with explosives, and since you won't be running anyway, it's literally no problem to overload yourself with an additional ten kilos of sniper equipment. It's a good way to keep the admittedly weak endgame feeling fresh with a little bit of destructive variety.
The rocket launcher comes with a severe deficiency of ammo and a weight that could singlehandedly push you from comfortable to immobile. It is, however, extremely useful for taking out the squad of mercenaries that attacks the rookie village - a single well-placed rocket will kill all six of them, which is good because that one rocket is pretty much all you're guaranteed.
In Clear Sky, you can upgrade the exoskeleton to make yourself nearly bulletproof, and the extra weight capacity makes it practical to use a light machine gun, turning you into a walking tank. This is a tremendous investment though, and requires you to play nice with Duty.
In Call of Pripyat, one of the final upgrade tiers for the exoskeleton removes the inability to sprint, making it essentially the best armor of the game.
Also in the same game, it's possible to buy large quantities of grenades and rockets after completing the right sidequestsnote although you need to have a certain amount of money in your inventory before traders will start stocking them, which makes them a lot more useful.
First-generation night vision sounds useful, but all it really does is apply a green filter over everything - in some cases making it harder to see in the dark. Second-generation night vision averts this by applying a lot more contrast to the picture.
There is no reason anyone should need to use a Desert Eagle in the Zone, given how impractical it is compared to the other .45 pistols. This doesn't stop anyone. ( At least the Big Ben has the excuse of shooting much, much bigger bullets. )
Crapsack World: You bet. At least within the Zone itself. Outside the Zone the world is just fine as best as can be told.
Crate Expectations: Smashing open wooden crates sometimes gets you supplies, but it's a very minor source of supplies and hardly necessary to your progress (most supplies are found in footlockers or hidden stashes). They can however be a godsend if you spot one during a firefight and crack it open to find a bunch of medical supplies inside.
Metal crates and suitcases typically found inside larger buildings and the underground usually contain better supplies.
Annoyingly, stashes only contain loot if you previously discovered their existence on a dead stalker's PDA. If you didn't discover the stash before opening it, it will just be empty.
On the other hand, most bodies do linger, so going back to areas you've been through already and interacting with the corpses can get random stashes refilled, allowing you to farm items in a way.
Done away with entirely in Call of Pripyat, where crates and metal supply boxes no longer drop any items when smashed. To compensate, you get a decent amount of ammo and medical supplies from other stalkers each day as tribute for completing certain major quests. In addition, stashes can now be discovered by the player on their own, and anyone with a good eye for hiding spots will likely find a few on their first or second playthroughs. Some however, are so well-concealed that it is unlikely the player will ever find them without consulting an online walkthrough.
Also, corpses carry a lot more equipment.
Creepy Monotone: Monolith members. Also Strider/Rogue, the ex-Monolith trooper in Call of Pripyat.
Guttural Growler - Monolith members the other half of the time they speak. Only in Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky, though; this was dropped entirely in Call of Pripyat due to the hiring of a new voice actor for them.
Critical Encumbrance Failure: In the basic, non-modded Shadow of Chernobyl game, you can carry up to 50kg before being weighed down. If you pass that weight limit, then your endurance starts to drain very fast while sprinting, but you can still move around up to 59.9kg. The instant you hit 60kg or more however, you won't be able to move until you drop some weight. Can be really bad if you're in the middle of a firefight, or trying to run away from an unexpected enemy that showed up just as you were looting that last body.
Hilariously, you can work around this weight limit, provided you have a lot of patience and cleared most of the area of enemies. Most dead humans can be lifted and moved around, and while you have a weight limit, you can put as much loot as you want into the dead body, then drag it slowly back towards a merchant or NPC with a decent amount of money. Then once you're within speaking distance of said merchant/NPC, grab all the loot from the dead body, and sell it all in one fell swoop (provided they have enough money). Again, a weight increase mod may be a faster/better solution, but if you don't want to use one, this is one way to grab the loot from those 6 bandits/mercs you just killed (and friendlies if they were fighting and died to said bad guys).
Cutscene Incompetence: A particularly egregious example in the side quest involving the special artifact in a wrecked ship west of the main camp in Call of Pripyat: this one ends in an Non-Standard Game Over in a situation that you could otherwise hulk out from. Namely, the event where Tuna stuns you with the butt end of his rifle and his two stalker goons shoot you dead regardless of whatever armor you're wearing. You get this if you refuse to hand Tuna that particular artifact twice, with the first refusal allowing you to initiate combat against him and his buddies after they ambush you unless you allow Tuna to come up to you or taking the third option the first time he asks you by lying to him that you don't know what that artifact is (which in this case, Tuna automatically walks up to you after his buddies ambush you). This event did not sit well with some fans.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: The grenades seem to follow much steeper arcs than in most FPS games, making it very easy to blow yourself up by mistake.
Dark World : What the Zone of the games is, especially when compared to the Real Life Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Death by Gluttony: Bizarrely played straight with drinking vodka in Call of Pripyat. If you consume about six bottles of vodka, you get a Non-Standard Game Over. Yet it's averted with eating food; you can freely eat up at any amount you want to refill your starvation meter.
One of the major quests in the game has you drinking several bottles of vodka with a former Duty stalker in order to convince him to join your squad for the trek to Pripyat. After you've finished conversing with him, you pass out on the effects of vodka after downing that many bottles, and later awake with you dangerously close to dying from starvation. Hopefully you better have some spare food in your rucksack, otherwise you're screwed.
Death or Glory Attack: In-universe, going into the Zone at all is this. An aspiring artifact hunter will either end up rich beyond his wildest dreams, or killed horrifically. Or worse.
Decapitated Army: The Bandits in the Jupiter area of Call of Pripyat will scatter and become almost non-existent if their leader (Jack) is killed.
This was also the fate of the Clear Sky faction. In chronological terms, during Clear Sky, they were on the brink of collapse until Scar came around. Then they became a legitimately powerful group that rivaled even the Monolith faction. For a while, it looked like they would secure their hold in the Zone until a blowout appeared out of nowhere and ultimately neutralized the Clear Sky faction just after they managed to incapacitate Strelok. Then, during Shadow of Chernobyl, the faction is all but wiped out, with only two (one in this game (Nimble), actually, since the other, Novikov, went in hiding until he resurfaced in Call of Pripyat) left, and given the concrete evidence of the increasingly powerful Monolith faction, it's highly possible that the majority of these soldiers comprised of former Clear Sky members now brainwashed and serving the will of the C-Consciousness, especially with Charon (widely speculated as Scar) at the helm. By the time Call of Pripyat starts, the Clear Sky faction is nothing but a footnote of history.
Demonic Spiders: In-Universe: The PDA explicitly lists blind dogs (and by extension, pseudodogs) as deadly to even the most experienced Stalkers, as they are fast, small (compared to humans), slightly stealthy, and most importantly, hunt in packs. Then there's the Controllers, which will, because of the interface screw that comes with their psychic attack, likely kill you if they manage to score a single hit, the Burers, who generally start their assault by telekinetically throwing your gun halfway across the map before pummeling you to death with heavy objects and telekinetic blasts, the Bloodsuckers, who'll turn invisible as soon as they spot you and perform hit and run attacks while circling your position or just tear you to shreds immediately in melee combat. Let's just say everything and everyone in the Zone is this to some degree.
Special mention goes to the Poltergeists. Let's run down the list, shall we? They can telekinetically lift just about any loose objects in a room (barrels, boards, boxes, debris, dropped rifles), and fling it at you, making it one of the few situations where you can be killed by a firearm without it shooting at you. At a glance from an inexperienced player, they look like moving electro anomalies, nothing special and something to be avoided, so you can wind up being battered for several minutes the first time you encounter them before you figure out what's going on. They can soak up a surprising amount of damage, once you do figure it out. They tend to show up in groups. And worst of all, they don't even have to be in the same room as you to start flinging stuff at you. One of the labs becomes an exercise in patience, dodging, and spamming medkits before you can find and kill all of the poltergeists.
Deus ex Machina: The intro of Shadow of Chernobyl features a lightning strike which totals a Death Truck that was on its way to some undisclosed location, and later features a passing stalker contracted by Sidorovich to look for live bodies from the truck. Once the unnamed stalker does indeed stumble upon one (i.e. you, the player character), both he and Sidorovich are astonished to see a stalker still alive among the corpses of the destroyed Death Truck. Even more surprising is the fact that he is the only stalker to ever come out alive from the Death Truck with the marked tattoo on his arm. He is then given the moniker "Marked One", who later becomes prophetically influential to the game's and its sequel's storylines.
To elaborate, the Marked One is actually a veteran stalker named Strelok. He actually managed to reach the CNPP with a miniature band of other stalkers before thanks to finding a map which reveals a secret pathway that would bypass the Brain Scorcher and lead them to not only Pripyat itself but the power plant. They only failed to get to the main area of the CNPP because of a door that was code-locked by the C-Consciousness to prevent any stalker from revealing the true secret of the Zone. Strelok and his group were forced to retreat from the power plant because of this impasse, but not before the C-Consciousness unleashed an emission in an attempt to assassinate them. Strelok and his group were somehow able to survive it, but he managed to get wounded in the process. They then dragged themselves to a secret bunker known only to them and managed to create two decoders (one which would be given to Strelok) in an attempt to unlock the door they couldn't open. However, once they attempted to go back to the CNPP, they found themselves being chased by the Clear Sky faction and Strelok's group disintegrated in order to save themselves from the new threat. Strelok continued on to the CNPP until he was incapacitated by Scar, and one of his comrades, Fang, hid in an abandoned hotel in Pripyat and stored his goods, including one of the decoders, in a safe before he got gunned down by a Monolith sniper. Then an emission came and wiped out the Clear Sky faction. Strelok happened to be caught in the blast and he was knocked unconscious. C-Consciousness, founding a host for their ulterior motives, attempted to program the now unconscious stalker caught in the emission to kill the very stalker that had been trying to dig too deep into the secrets of the Zone, unaware that the stalker that they've brainwashed is the same stalker that they're trying to assassinate. The decoder that Strelok had in his possession was then taken by C-Consciousness and destroyed off-screen. This concludes the events of Clear Sky. And thus, the events of Shadow of Chernobyl began to unfold.
Development Hell: First game, whose original subtitle was Oblivion Lost. No less than six years. Calling Stalker ЖДАЛКЕР (translation: WAITER) became an Internet meme itself. Astonishingly, when it hit store shelves, it was still an Obvious Beta.
Dirty Coward: Professor Semenov, who throws a hissy fit when he's asked to go get samples and refuses to go until Marked One comes along to change his mind. When a blowout knocks Marked One out, he argues with Sakharov over leaving him.
Disc One Nuke: Every few games, the store in the first town of Shadow of Chernobyl carries an extremely powerful assault rifle that uses a very common caliber. There's also a very useful armor nearby. They become obsolete once you get past the first few areas, though.
To be more specific, Barin's Tunder 5.45mm is sold by Sidorovich in the early game (before you speak to Wolf and after you've rescued Nimble) for 20,000 RU. Needless to say, it's highly unlikely you'll get this amount in time. You'd need to gather all of the loot in the first map and maybe some of the second to amass the amount needed. However, it's a very useful gun in the early game, as it is an mid to endgame gun chambered for an ammo type common throughout the entire game.
A lesser Nuke (but still unusually overpowered) is Strelok's Fast-shooting AKM 74/2 that you can pick up in the tunnels underneath Agroprom, where you need to go for one of the first missions anyway; it's placed so close to the objective that it seems like it was meant to be found by starting players. It fires much faster than other weapons but has lower recoil than the standard AK (which makes it seem unnaturally accurate) and uses common 5.45mm ammunition. One burst will generally shred whatever it's pointed at.
In Shadow of Chernobyl, picking up a couple of Flash or even Moonlight artifacts is ridiculously easy if you know where to look in the Agroprom underground, and wearing two Flash artifacts or one Moonlight artifact lets you sprint indefinitely provided you aren't overloaded on weight, making energy drinks semi-irrelevant and helping the game world open up.
In Call Of Pripyat, one can find the recurring NPC Nimble on board Skadovsk, the first real hub of the game. You can special order rare/upgraded weapons and armor, including the vaunted Exoskeleton. The prices are somewhat steep, but judicious artifact hunting quickly makes cash a non-issue.
Within the first hour of Call of Pripyat you can go to the sawmill and one of the zombies will always carry an AN-94 (AC96 in game). While in poor condition, it is easily repaired for cheap (very easy if you grab tools while at the sawmill), but is very accurate, reliable, and uses ammo that is extremely common early on, plus you can get a scope added to it for cheap if Owl stocks one. It will more than last you until you can pay Nimble's price.
In Call of Pripyat you can find a Vintar (VSS) in perfect condition right after the beginning of the game, provided you know where to look. It's on top of one of the burnt-out houses in the fire anomaly location. There's also an SVD up for grabs: it's leaning against one of the trees on the northwest edge of the map.
Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Averted in that severely wounded human NPC characters (the guys rolling around on the floor in need of medkits) will drop their weapons. Of course, if they're not wounded, then they'll hold onto their weapons until they die. However, grabbing their weapon and then healing them can doom them, because they'll pull out their pistol and continue fighting. Most likely they'll get killed, so watch it if you pick up any weapon you see to strip it of ammo.
Also averted by the player: heavy melee hits and some psychic attacks can send your weapon flying halfway across the room. Which is sort of a bad thing, considering whoever tossed your weapon is presumably still right in your face and busy clawing it off.
Do Not Run with a Gun: The default movement speed, contraryto most first-person shooters, is walking (or if you're packing light, running really slowly), and "sprinting" is the only time you actually run. Naturally, you can't shoot while running, and neither can the enemy. With the right artifacts, you can run indefinitely, as long as you don't carry too much.
Doomed by Canon: The player character of the prequel Clear Sky, Scar, is speculated by fans to become the brainwashed Monolith leader, Charon, that Strelok blows away in Pripyat during the first game, due to his use of a VSS Vintorez (Scar using such a weapon in Clear Sky's opening (which can latter be retrieved) and one log in SoC mentions a man with a Vintorez doing a deed that Scar does in CS further associating Scar with the weapon, while Charon is the only NPC to use the weapon in Shadow of Chernobyl)
Some other minor NPCs, such as Wolf, are mentioned in passing in Pripyat as having died.
One or two you might have killed, such as Wolfhound, whose custom .45 "March" can be bought from Nimble. Wolfhound was a mercenary leader who was chasing after Kruglov, and ordered his men to fire on you. Chances are you blew him away without a second thought. Then there's Max, whose custom sniper rifle is also available from Nimble. Nimble mentions having bought the rifle from Max, but depending on how you played, you might have seen Max die at the hands of a Duty squad you were supposed to help take out, or you might have killed him yourself with the help of said Duty squad.
It's also inverted, in that some NPCs from earlier games who, owing to the nature of the game, might have ended up dead in your playthrough, will appear in Call of Pripyat alive and well. One in particular (Guide) actually plays a role in the plot (albeit a minor one), another (Nimble) is your main source of high-end weaponry in the game, and a third (Petruha) plays a momentary role that could go entirely unnoticed. In Shadow of Chernobyl, the first game in which these characters appeared, it was entirely possible for both of them to die - in fact, it was actually fairly likely for all of them to die, as Guide set up camp in a rather dangerous locale, Nimble was at the rookie camp and would charge into battle against mercenaries and military with nothing but a leather jacket and a Makarov, and Petruha and his crew were at the auto park, where bandits were constantly attacking. Coming back to find Guide butchered by wildlife and Petruha being roasted over the fire at the bandit camp isn't uncommon.
Downer Ending: Clear Sky ends like this, in order to set up the plot for Shadow of Chernobyl. Also, all but two (three if you're charitable) of the endings to Shadow of Chernobyl are like this.
Call of Pripyat has a modular ending similar to the one in Fallout 2 consisting of some 20 static scenes. Most of them have "good" and "bad" versions, depending on player's actions during the game. Bad endings for your companions, especially Strelok definitely qualify.
Driven to Suicide: In Call of Pripyat, The Medic from the main wrecked ship offs himself when he is discovered by the protagonist for his actions against fellow stalkers. You do, however, have a couple of seconds to shoot him yourself before he does this after hearing his little story, thereby averting this trope.
And in Call of Pripyat: What happened to Operation Fairway?
Drone of Dread - Psy attacks come with this (most noticeably with Controllers), along with Blowouts.
Being nearby a Controller - even if it hasn't noticed you - can cause this as well, and may be your only warning if you don't know there's going to be one around, such as in the Army Warehouses in Shadow of Chernobyl.
Drowning My Sorrows: Cardan, a mechanic with a fondness for vodka in Call of Pripyat, muses about the fate of his two stalker buddies after giving him at least two bottles. Finding the PDAs of both Barge and Joker, tho two buddies that Cardan mentions about, reveal that Cardan originally was hired by them to go out on a special artifact hunting trip, but due to his chronic drunken behavior, he abandoned his acquaintances after a pretty ugly argument and stayed on the Skadovsk to relieve himself of his memories of that incident by drinking them off. They both met their untimely demise, unfortunately for him.
Drunken Master: Cardan, the mechanic at Skadovsk, is only competent when he's completely wasted - in fact, he can only perform high-level weapon modifications after downing at least two bottles of vodka. Showing him the Gauss Rifle, however, shocks him into sobriety.
Dummied Out: Shadow of Chernobyl contains unimplemented code for a variety of features that never made it into the final game, including unused areas, weapons, the ability to drive vehicles, and a Faction Wars system, much of which can be found in the Oblivion Lostbeta build 1935. The Faction Wars system was finally implemented in Clear Sky, and it and Call of Pripyat include some weapons that had been originally cut from the first.
Some of the remaining code could cause serious issues; for example, the Yantar lab was still technically affiliated with the Duty faction in the final game, and this could cause a vital NPC to become hostile to the player after waking up from the Blowout if the player was Freedom-affiliated at the time.
Several were officially added in Call of Pripyat, though Faction Wars was cut because they felt it wasn't working out well.
This led to creation of several mods unlocking the original game content - and eventually releasing an official "development build" patch (at least, for the Russian version). You think the game wasn't Nintendo Hard enough? You'll have to fight your way through a zombie assault right after exiting the bunker with a knife and a handgun.
Dwindling Party: In Call of Pripyat, once you finally reach Pripyat, you'll rendevous with a platoon-sized group of allied military Spetsnaz soldiers, who serve as your allies for the 3rd and final act. Over the course of the Pripyat missions, this force of a few dozen special forces soldiers will gradually be whittled down by Monolith ambushes and mutant attacks to just 3 to 6 soldiers, plus you, Strelok, and the last member of your 4-man party (the other 3 members having left on their own to pursue their own agendas).
Ironically enough, the Monolith faction becomes this in the same game. If you choose to stay in the Zone after completing the final mission, they're down to their Last Stand until you purge them of their existence. At that point, they effectively become a Decapitated Army (although without the objective of killing a specific leader).
Eldritch Location: The laws of physics in the Zone are...different. It seems relatively normal at first glance, until you walk down a seemingly empty street and accidentally step in an area where gravity is about a hundred times Earth normal, and find yourself experiencing life as a pancake...very briefly. Or decide to stay outside and watch the sky turn red, which is really interesting right up until the hallucinations start and your head blows up. And that's just the start. Suffice it to say that overall, the Zone is both very weird and very dangerous.
A more mundane, but still notable, example is the lake in Zaton that is also a hill. No, that's not a typo - it's an otherwise normal body of water that has absolutely no problem at all flowing twenty feet uphill and staying there, completely covering the hill in a sort of sheet of water.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: The Gauss Rifle in all three incarnations. In Shadow of Chernobyl, this is subverted in that only a few Elite Mooks from the Monolith faction carry the weapon in the Pripyat map and ammo is restrictively scarce enough that it isn't worth taking it during the final levels. Enforced in Clear Sky, where it is chronologically a prototype version of the original that shoots electromagnetic rounds, and is essential to defeating the Final Boss, Strelok. In Call of Pripyat, this is played dead straight during the first mission of the Pripyat map where you must defeat a Monolith party and its commanding leader possessing the weapon in an abandoned hospital. Subverted in that after acquiring the rifle, it is in a broken state after you kill the leader, who is then sent plummeting to the second level, and that you must show it to the technician back in the first map, and then do a particular side quest for him (after he wakes up from his fainting spell for showing him the rifle) that involves retrieving documents about the weapon at an abandoned lab in the southwestern-most part of the first map so that he can get it back into working condition again and offer you homemade batteries at a hefty cost.
Elite Mooks: The military Spetsnaz units. Also, the rarely encountered Military Stalkers, who are sort of the Elite of the Elites. These guys are equipped with extremely good armor, and the Military Stalkers are armed with Russian Special Forces AS Val assault rifles. - silenced, damaging, and heavily accurate.
Anyone wearing a SEVA suit or Exoskeleton is this, coupled with high-end weaponry.
The Monolith faction is comprised almost entirely of these kind of mooks.
Emergency Weapon: The knife (although the alt-attack is hilariously powerful in the first game). Later in the games, pistols can become this, as you'll be engaging with a sniper rifle, assault rifle, or shotgun far more often than a pistol, if you even bother to bring one along.
Empowered Badass Normal: All three player characters can use artifacts that boost various abilities, such as sprinting or the ability to carry more, at the cost of getting irradiated. Scar is supposedly stronger, healthier, and tougher than the average human, thanks to the blowouts of the Zone powering his unique nervous system instead of destroying it, but it has no effect in-game.
Enemy Chatter: Although not much use in Shadow of Chernobyl, as it's all in Russian. At least "granáta" isn't hard to figure out.
Unfortunately for those who don't speak Russian even that won't help much as often alternate phrasing would be used for a grenade toss, which don't actually contain the word, "A vot tebe limonchik!", "Here, have some lemon!", is one example, stemming from Russian equivalent to "pineapple" bomb, "Limonka", the lemon bomb.
In the English speaking community, the highly idiomatic "chiki briki i v damke" or just "chiki briki" has become a miniature meme of sorts, precisely because no one can agree on what it means and the way the Bandit hunting you says it. (It's the equivalent of "checkmate" in checkers.)
Some of it is translated in Clear Sky (e.g.: TAKE THIS, YOU FUCKING NAZI!)
Then there's "Suka!" shouted out by the Bandits, which literally means "Bitch!" Concerning their origins, it's definitely going to make you want to shoot their faces off.
Environmental Symbolism: Take your pick. From irradiated mounds of dirt, to trees and landscape twisted by anomalies, to long-abandoned farms, villages, factories and warehouses, to the horribly mutated fauna of the Zone. It's also stuck in eternal autumn and one will very often find themselves travelling through all of the above under heavy rain and thunderstorms, accompanied by the lone caws of crows (the only animals to not have been wiped out... or worse).
Escort Mission: Escorting the scientist Kruglov through the Wild Territories while protecting him from Mercs (and perhaps random mutants). Made alright because he has surprisingly tough armor, and can also be equipped with an assault rifle.
He also stays behind you and refuses to enter an area that you haven't already cleared of hostiles.
The finale of Call of Pripyat is one of these, where you have to escort the Military survivors through the city fighting through zombies, mutants, and finally several waves of Monolith fighters. On the plus side, the survivors are Spetsnaz Elite Mooks who can hold their own in the fight, especially if you have the maximum of 8 survivors helping you in the shootout by saving them all during earlier missions.
Call of Pripyat also has an insanely annoying side quest (the most insanely annoying one in the game) where you have to protect a group of Ecologist stalkers studying an anomaly from waves of wild boars. The stalkers are Made of Plasticine and die after one hit from a boar, and won't defend themselves until one of them actually gets hit. Even if you have the maximum of 4 stalkers in the group by saving them all in an earlier quest, it's still an incredibly annoying mission, especially if you're trying to keep all 4 of them alive for the maximum reward.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Monsters - and the Zone itself - want every human in its boundaries dead. The military will shoot you on sight. Bandits will rob - and kill you. There are only a few places in the whole game where you won't be attacked.
The Evils of Free Will: The Zone came into existence as the direct result of a botched attempt by a team of ex-Soviet scientists to tap into humanity's collective unconscious and manually remove all thoughts and impulses they considered to be dangerous, such as violence and hatred. It failed, spectacularly. The fact that they've literally ripped a hole in reality caused them to give up in the attempt, and they switch over to trying to contain the Zone and conceal its secrets - along with turning all of humanity into a Hive Mind - until Strelok kills them in self-defense at the end of Shadow of Chernobyl.
Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: Heavily on the realistic side (unless you're wearing military-grade combat armor, expect to die after only a few assault rifle shots), with very tactical combat similar to the Ghost Recon series.
The Chick: Sokolov, you deserve to be left here because of all of your whining.
First Town: The rookie village serves this purpose both in game terms for the player, and in-universe for new arrivals to the Zone. It's located in the safest district in the Zone (relatively speaking), has a large number of intact buildings, underground cellars to guard against emissions, walls to keep out wandering mutants, patrolling guards, a well-stocked trader, and actual beds, so overall it's actually one of the most well-stocked settlements in the entire Zone.
The Fool: Nimble. His lucky nature didn't come in play originally in Clear Sky until the events of Shadow of Chernobyl when it started showing its true colors once the Marked One (AKA Strelok) intervened. When Call of Pripyat came around, it is revealed that his being an Arms Dealer is the result of lucky circumstances. Ironically, in Shadow of Chernobyl, despite his informed lucky attribute, he can quite possibly die in that game, whether by your hand or the environment.
Forbidden Zone: The Zone itself is naturally viewed as such by most people in the world; for stalkers actually living in it, the Brain Scorcher in Shadow of Chernobyl, Red Forest and Limansk in Clear Sky and Pripyat in Call of Pripyat are such.
From Bad to Worse: Call Of Pripyat hints that Strelok's action of destroying the C-Consciousness has made the zone dangerously unstable, resulting in Emissions happening on a daily basis and a huge increase in zombified stalkers and Monolith personnel, among other nastiness which makes Strelok's accomplishment in Shadow of Chernobyl a Pyrrhic Victory.
It's heavily hinted at that the Zone is expanding. Growing and encompassing more land/space, in addition to reports of hordes of powerful mutants appearing at the zone border. It's a big probability that if the Zone isn't stopped somehow it could grow to encompass the entire planet.
The Zone was less wild under the control of C-Consciousness. The prequel Clear Sky added some more complex anomalies, even those that affect the ground. The sequel Call of Pripyat gives us Chimeras, Burers, and a lot more creative anomalies.
Clear Sky also has this as the premise of the plot — someone is making the Zone go crazy, spawning more blowouts that grow bigger and bigger and shutting off access to some well-travelled areas, and Clear Sky wants to find who's doing it, and end them.
Also, Clear Sky and possibly STALKER apply the same firing randomisation rule to shots by the player that they do to shots from the enemy. That is, you have to actually hit your target, then the game essentially rolls a dice to check if you hit your target.
The infamous "permanent radiation sickness" in Shadow of Chernobyl: in places like the Garbage or Army Warehouses if one ventures too far up the hills or tries to leave the general "playing area" the radiation counter almost instantly jumps to eleven in order to provide "incentive" for the player to turn back. Now, there are a couple of places in the Zone where the engine detects you as being out of the intended playing area, even though you are not, and afflicts you with the aforementioned permanently increasing rad-sickness that never goes away. If you save the game after getting it you're pretty much screwed. The only known solution is to reload an earlier save. Take note, people who save each game on top of the last one. Also - be extremely paranoid about this when venturing into the train tunnel at the Garbage.
Game Mod: A lot of cut content can be restored by tweaking the configuration files, and many mods use this to rebalance the game and fix various issues.
Special mention has to go to the M.S.U. (MasSiv Update) mod for Call of Pripyat, which not only adds a whole lot of new features for the game, up to and including, a plethora of new weapons, and a major graphical update, but also makes the game even more playable by fixing a truckload of bugs and glitches that plagued the game (especially when it was added with mods which caused the game to be even less playable). The only drawback in this mod is that cutscenes and dialogues in certain missions now take a bit longer to play, which can be detrimental if you want to achieve the best endings in the game.
Gameplay-Guided Amnesia: Justified in Shadow of Chernobyl, as the player character has amnesia - amnesia given to him by the ultra-psychic Hive Mind of Soviet scientists, too. Also averted, in that you have the option of skipping the tutorial entirely by telling Sidorovich that you still remember how to survive in the Zone.
The Brain Scorcher is pretty much this, in-universe. Most of the psychic barriers around the CNPP such as the Brain Scorcher are basically Brain Bleach weaponized. You come within their range and start to forget who you are until you fall under the control of the Monolith.
In the same game, according to Strelok after he worms his way into the military-fortified Laundromat in Pripyat by means of an underground passage, it is revealed that every time an emission occurs, anomalies change locations. It turns out that this is the primary reason why Operation Fairway failed spectacularly: the original anomaly maps issued to the USS forces were rendered useless after the Third Emission (which originated during the climax level of Shadow of Chernobyl - the first visit to the CNPP) occurred. The forces were caught completely unaware of the new anomalies that had occurred in the air, and all five of their helicopters crashed as a result. However, this is never manifested in actual gameplay every time an emission begins as nothing out of the ordinary alters the landscape of all three playable maps.
Gas Mask Mooks: Most of the mid-to-high rank characters wear gas masks, although it's justified due to the many environmental hazards present in the Zone. Monolith members usually wear gas masks. And, of course, we have snorks, who are zombie versions of this: they're the zombified remains of the soldiers who were caught in the first blowout, and keep their gas masks on - just lifted so that they can bite pieces of you off.
Genius Loci: The Zone is revealed to be one of these controlled by C-Consciousness, and actively fights back against Stalkers that try to fight against it using mutants and emissions.
Give Me Your Inventory Item: Badly wounded NP Cs will ask for medkits, giving you a choice between making a friend and having an extra medkit. In Clear Sky, various NP Cs will also ask for various items (typically 5.45 ammo or grenades) in exchange for a cash reward.
Good Guns, Bad Guns: The game heavily features both NATO and Warsaw Pact firearms, and certain factions favor firearms from a specific side, although none of these factions are explicitly "good" or "evil". NATO weapons are used heavily by Freedom and the Mercs, while Warsaw Pact weapons are used heavily by Duty and the Military. Loners use whatever they can find, and Monolith has access to the best weapons from both sides.
As of Call of Pripyat NATO guns are somewhat more accurate, pack more power per hit and tend to come with a wider range of accessories while Warsaw Pact weapons are more durable, less prone to jamming and easier to find ammo for.
Grey and Grey Morality: The Duty and Freedom factions, neither of which are particularly good or particularly bad despite being diametrically opposed to each other.
Soldiers are usually trigger-happy, but most stalkers are indeed illegal trespassers on military territory.
Had To Be Sharp: It comes with living in the Zone. Either you're a total badass or you're dead. Sometimes even badasses bite it in the Zone.
Hand Cannon: One of the unique weapons which can be found in Shadow of Chernobyl is Big Ben, a custom pistol based on the frame of an IMI Desert Eagle that fires 9x39mm sniper rifle rounds.
While Big Ben is unique, the Black Kite, the gun it is the unique form of, also counts. It shoots .45 ACP rounds, which are also used by a bunch of other pistols, but it weighs almost twice as much as they do.
Hanlon's Razor: Just before the end of Call of Pripyat, Strelok informs you that the helicopters from Operation Fairway crashed simply because they didn't know emissions changed the locations of anomalies, making their maps of anomalies inaccurate and causing the copters to crash into them. Essentially the entire main plot of the game was based on accidents stemming from bad information, not some conspiracy or attempt by any faction in the Zone.
Healing Factor: Although it takes a while, the player character will slowly heal when not taking damage (or bleeding). Artifacts can speed up this process.
Getting 4 or more flame or electricity battery artifacts and jumping into a fire/electrical surge will restore your health and repair your armor.
Heal Thyself - Comes in two flavors, medkits which heal injuries and bandages which stop bleeding. Interestingly, the enemy is capable of doing this too as long as they have medkits.
In Call of Pripyat, it seems that the main purpose of the Mercenaries is to silence everyone who digs too deep into the secret of the Zone, including our hero, Degtyarev.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted in Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky, where Marked One and Scar wear whatever headgear comes with their current armor. Played straight in Call of Pripyat, where Major Degtyarev can equip helmets but is never actually seen wearing them during cutscenes, even when he's about to descend into a tunnel system filled with toxic gas (a quest where a big deal was made about actually finding a suit with a helmet that could allow you to survive in that gas). Major characters in Call of Pripyat also don't usually wear helmets with their armor, but (other than Degtyarev) they had the common sense to put some on during the "deadly gas tunnels" sequence.
Hero of Another Story: The series is positively loaded with these. The biggest example is probably the Forester, though - he lives in what is unambiguously the most dangerous area in the entire Zone (Pripyat is safer) by himself, is actually doing rather well for himself, and has been living there since before the power plant even exploded, making him the single most experienced veteran in the Zone to boot.
Barkeep and Sidorovich often send you to kill these guys, and both will give you suits that used to belong to some odd individuals - for example, Sid will give you a STALKER suit modified by a hiker who'd been all over the world and went through the Zone as a challenge.
Hired to Hunt Yourself: In Shadow of Chernobyl, you are only known as the Marked One who has a PDA telling you of an objective to "Find and kill Strelok". However, later in the game, it is revealed that you are Strelok all along. Even so, the objective itself does not disappear even after The Reveal.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The player. If he makes a wish to the wish granter. Asking for immortality turns him into a statue to stand for all eternity. Asking for wealth makes the ceiling crush him, Strelok believing it to be endless amounts of coins. Asking for power makes him powerful... over an endless void. Asking to make the Zone disappear makes it go away... but only to him.
The Hunter: Some characters are "professional" mutant hunters. In Call of Pripyat, the player is regarded as one after completing a quest to kill several dangerous groups of mutants.
Duty is known and respected for clearing out mutant lairs and such, when they are not busy fighting with Freedom.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted... yet, somehow, played straight. You can only equip one sidearm and one primary weapon. However, you're able to carry up to 59.9 kg of anything (including additional guns) in your backpack, however going above 50kg reduces your sprinting ability to next to zero.. Break it with a piece of bread and you're totally immobile.
Also played straight with the various storage crates which can be used to stash extra inventory, all of which have a seemingly infinite amount of space, able to store dozens of guns and outfits, thousands of rounds of ammo, weeks worth of food, and artifacts galore with room to spare. Justified for gameplay reasons; you need somewhere to store all that stuff and it's more convenient than just dropping it on the ground.
However, be aware that recklessly storing your equipment may come back to bite you in the ass. One quest in Call of Pripyat involves having ALL the equipment in one of your storage crates stolen. You can find and get it all back later on, but depending on how much you can carry and how many things you have, you're going to have to make multiple trips at full load or leave some behind.
Small supply kits, which are the main source of supplies in the dungeons, sometimes release an insane amount of items upon slashing them open. To the degree you can be killed or thrown high into the air by stuff flying out of it.
NPCs will sometimes play a tune on a guitar by a campfire to pass the time. However, they pull the guitar out of a backpack clearly too small for it when they begin, and stow it away likewise when finished.
Hypocrite: The Duty faction constantly preaches that they're striving to create a world free of the Zone's corruption, but in Call of Pripyat, you're able to find the corpse of their original founder. His PDA reveals that Duty's original purpose was literally no different from that of any other opportunistic Stalker hoping to make their fortune in the Zone. If you choose to send this PDA to the leader of Freedom in the train station, he'll gladly call Duty as nothing more than a bunch of frauds.
Depending on your perspective, this may be a case of Motive Decay or Becoming the Mask, as Duty does seem dedicated to what they claim their mission is.
I Choose to Stay: You can choose to decline the offer of getting into the chopper during the final mission of Call Of Pripyat and stay around however long you want. Once you do so, you have to fend off the last remaining soldiers of the Monolith faction, and then you are able to traverse back into the Laundromat which now has Loners occupying the building thanks to Uncle Yar and Garik showing them a new route to Pripyat. Speaking of Garik, he reappears in the building for you to switch back to the two previous maps that you've explored. You can also at this point ask him (or Pilot if you're in the previous maps) that you want to leave the Zone for good, which effectively ends the game.
Subverted in Call of Pripyat; while you still do suffer from the ill effects of vodka, it also causes you to slowly starve with each drink you take. See Death by Gluttony above.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The AI's aim can get... weird. A Duty or Monolith trooper can empty an entire magazine of assault rifle ammo at you at point-blank range and miss completely, while bandits will wing you from a hundred meters off with wildly-fired buckshot. Played straight and justified with zombified stalkers: their lack of intelligence and judgment causes them to fire wildly and blindly towards their targets. Averted completely with grenades in Clear Sky, which will Robotech to land directly at your feet.
Infinite Flashlight: Applies to all games, to both the headlamp and the night vision goggles. They never go out or even dim - at most, a low-tier NVG set will sporadically flicker a little.
The RG-6 in Call of Pripyat. It's the third most powerful weapon in the game and lacks the accuracy of the Gauss rifle or the splash damage of the RPG-7, but you can buy it from traders relatively early in the game and ammunition is a lot more common. Besides, with 6 grenades loaded it doesn't really matter if something survives the first one.
On the other hand, it takes about an entire year to reload from empty, grenades can be tricky to come by in significant numbers before hitting Pripyat and getting good rep with the Stalkers in Zaton/Duty in Jupiter... and of course, like the RPG-7, it cannot be upgraded at all and is still quite heavy.
The RPG-7 also in Call of Pripyat. It deals the most damage out of any weapon in the game, being able to kill any human and any mutant that isn't a Pseudogiant in one hit (the Pseudogiant takes two shots to kill it). The major drawbacks of this weapon are 1) the rockets and the weapon itself are restrictively heavy to carry, 2) you'll hardly be able to find them in all but two locations in the game, 3) you won't find them in traders' stock until you meet certain achievements.
The LR-300 in Shadow of Chernobyl. Not the hardest-hitting, or fastest-firing, but it's bizarrely lightweight for a NATO weapon, accurate, accepts all the accessories for the NATO weaponry (grenade launcher, scope, and silencer), and you can get almost a dozen in good condition off the mercenaries in the Wild Territory/Rostok with about half an hour's work, making them trivially easy to replace when one wears out. Ammo is also easy to come by. It's a match for the Strelok's (unique) fast-firing AK, but can be found in numbers.
The Armsel in Call of Pripyat. While not the most powerful weapon, it is quite lightweight for a shotgun, and is the only weapon of its class to mount a scope. It can easily dispatch any mutant that isn't a Chimera or Pseudogiant and even Exoskeleton-clad mooks aren't immune to the sheer power of this shotgun. With the right upgrades (especially with the full auto mod), you'll become near unstoppable, and it only gets better when shotgun shells are easy to come by and are cheap as dirt. The only thing to consider is its strenuous reload time. Of course, it's unlikely there will be anything left alive after using up the full magazine, and you can feed in a shell or two during the firefights. There's also only three or four places where you can be certain to find it, only two of which will be available to you before the halfway point. Some artifact hunting will get you enough money to pick one up from Nimblewithin a couple hours.
Strelok's unique SGI-5K. While somewhat heavy, by the time you pick it up, chances are you won't care as much about weight. When fully upgraded, it can match both top-tier NATO weapons for hitting power and while it is less accurate than the GP37 and has a lower rate of fire than the FT200M, it has better handling and unlike either of them can mount every NATO accessory, giving you a weapon that can act as a marksman rifle and an assault weapon, while still mounting a silencer, grenade launcher, and a variety of scopes. Finding it is relatively simple, once you know where to look.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Gauss Rifle, a hilariously powerful experimental semi-automatic rifle that can One-Hit Kill literally any enemy in the game and can only be obtained from Monolith troopers at the very end of the main story. Balanced out slightly due to ammo being virtually impossible to find before the Point of No Return and very low rate of fire. Game Mods often gimp it to be only useful against humans and weaker mutants, and it was changed to just that in Call of Pripyat. In that same game there's only one though and if you sell it, you are not getting it back.
It doesn't fall under Too Awesome to Use territory in Call of Pripyat, however. Cardan will offer six homemade batteries for 2000 rubles each after you show him the rifle and complete the little miniquest in the lab located in the Iron Forest area in Zaton, which is located at the very southwest corner of the map, and you can repeat the process for as long as you have the dough.
Informed Equipment: For some odd reason, player characters ALWAYS wear fingerless gloves in the first person, regardless of armor equipped. This becomes quite noticeable because armor you pick up later in game shows you in third person that you're wearing a full-body radiation suit or gloves that aren't fingerless.
Fixed in Clear Sky (mostly) as the gloves/sleeves you see are dependent on the body armor you're wearing, and the fix was completed in Call of Pripyat.
Interface Screw: Controllers. Even if it's not attacking you directly, just being around one for long enough can cause your view to sway as if you've had half a dozen bottles of vodka, which can be annoying if you're in the middle of a firefight or trying to get the drop on it. Drinking too much can cause this too, but what do you expect when you kill an entire bottle of vodka in one swig.
Inventory Management Puzzle: A major part of all three games. You've got 50 kg of weight capacity, past which you're reduced to a hobble. At 60 kg, you can't move at all, unless you're wearing the Powered Armor Exoskeleton, which (except in the third game when properly modified) prevents you from sprinting. Between armor, medkits, anti-rads, a handful of artifacts, and ammo, you'll only have room left for two or three guns (which is all you should be carrying anyway) before breaking the weight limit, leaving little room for extra hardware. There are several ways around this: Ignore most of the artillery you come across and leave it right where it is; Make several trips back and forth between the trader and the corpses to offload the extra weapons and ammo; or go the way the developers probably intended, and cache the equipment in nearby stashes. Just like a real Stalker!
Invulnerable Civilians: Majorly averted. Other than the two traders (who sit deep inside neutral bunkers that force you to holster your weapon when you enter), every character in the game world, including major characters, can be killed. Because mutants, bandits, mercenaries, and the military randomly attack Stalker settlements. Luckily for you, you can scavenge their PDA for quests and loot.
You can actually kill all but one of the traders, you just have to wait... True, code-wise that is not the true Sidorovich, since if you were to somehow go back to the first area, he would still be there, bu the thought still counts.
Played straight in one case in Call of Pripyat: two NPCs waiting for you outside to storm a building are invincible until you talk to them and start the mission - not surprising when you found them being relentlessly attacked by pack of dogs and rats.
The other mutants, however, are noted to be stupid, exception of the Burers.
Controllers, obviously, being the most humanoid mutant. One has a lair in Call of Pripyat, and will actually warn you (via Mind Powers, of course) if you come too close to said lair. Most mindlessly attack, however.
It's Up to You: Subverted in Clear Sky. On the first level, if you don't accomplish the mission objectives, your allies will eventually finish them for you. Also, in Yantar, Lefty's group is perfectly capable of assaulting the factory without your help.
Also mostly averted in Shadow of Chernobyl. The friendly AI is good enough that, depending on their equipment and experience level (and that of their enemies), they can win many firefights entirely without your assistance (though they'll usually take increased casualties). Occasionally, they'll even call you up to mock your uselessness if you can't or don't help them fight off an attack.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Shadow of Chernobyl starts out this way until you discover the true identity of your player character. The Marked One is Strelok all along.
Karma Meter: The game tracks your reputation based on your actions. You get a positive reputation for completing quests or killing mutants, bandits, or members of the Always Chaotic Evil factions. You get a negative reputation for killing members of the neutral Stalker factions. However, the Karma Meter is severely bugged, so that once you reputation gets too high, it circles all the way back to the absolute lowest negative number.
Fridge Brilliance: Perhaps it's because nobody actually believes you can be that good.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Although most people keep their really valuable stuff either locked away or actually on their person (and thus inaccessible to the player), you can freely steal food and drink from peoples' tables. Interestingly, no one seems to care.
Knight Templar: The Duty faction are supposedly campaigning for the destruction of the Zone and will stop at nothing to prevent anybody and anything from spreading its horrific corruption outside its borders. In Call of Pripyat, however, they're not what they claim to be, once their history is dug up.
You get to see someone else on the end of this when you finally get to the helicopter...and then a stampede of boars, snorks, and fleshes come burning in, setting off most of the landmines and clearing a path out for you.
Le Parkour: A mutant example in the case of Snorks when in attack mode.
Lead The Target: Thanks to a detailed ballistic system, this is often a necessity. Have fun learning how to use that VSS Vintorez and the subsonic rounds it fires.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Some artifacts in the game are radioactive, and equipping them might kill you if you don't have any countermeasures, but are completely safe while they're in your bag. Game dialogue in SoC gives us this story:
One more anecdote... A stalker walks in the bar and says:
Stalker: Hey, can anyone sell me a Goldfish artifact? Heard it can protect you from bullets.
Local: Got one, but it's unlikely you're gonna use one - it's very radioactive!
Stalker: Like I'm going to put it in my pants? Nah, I will wear it on a chain!
Load-Bearing Boss: Kill the C-Consciousness? Congratulations, you've just destroyed the only thing keeping the Zone from going out of control.
Taking the third option is honestly the best, because paying his debt legitimately will get you mugged on the way out. Wasting the group of them will net you a ton of high-end grenades and Jack's rare Armsel shotgun.
Lost in Translation: In Russian, "C-Consciousness" is "О-Сознание": either "O-Consciousness" or "R-Ealisation", depending on how you read it.
Made of Iron: In Clear Sky, NPCs can absorb far more damage than the player (and friendly NPCs wearing comparable armor). Even on the easiest difficulty, a low-ranking Ukrainian military trooper can easily survive a point-blank shotgun blast or two full magazines of MP-5 fire to the chest. Especially jarring since enemies in the first game were exactly as strong as friendly NPCs and the player, and even enemies wearing exceptionally tough armor could still be dropped by a few well-placed armor-piercing rounds. Headshots from anything will still kill anyone not wearing an Exoskeleton, and even those can be brought down with one armor-piercing assault rifle round to the head.
With late-game armour and health artifacts, the player is quite capable of shrugging off automatic gunfire, at least from a single enemy.
In SoC, if you're lucky, you can encounter a bandit with three Meat Chunk artifacts in the Junkyard. Put these on together with anti-bleed and you're a freaking walking tank, because the artifacts' effect multiplies instead of adding. High instant damage, however, will still kill you, and since each Meat Chunk makes you 10% more vulnerable to damage overall, so your increased metabolism comes at the price of taking significantly more damage.
Played straight in Call of Pripyat too. Only the most powerful sniper rifle in the game will bring down a Monolith trooper with a single headshot. Justified, since they're, well, brainwashed and ignoring damage.
Averted by a large number of enemies though, especially depending on difficulty and weapon used. Most bandits are poorly armoured thugs that go down with little trouble. Still played straight by zombies to a certain degree - they are much more resistant to torso/extremity shots (on account of being... well, mindless zombies) but still vulnerable to headshots.
Noah is outright Immune to Bullets, capable of surviving several hundred shots from a high-end assault rifle unscathed. The only way to kill him is with several headshots or a direct grenade hit. Made all the more glaring by the fact his only "armor" is a simple trenchcoat. It's suggested that he's got some insanely powerful artifacts in his possession, which may be how he's able to shrug off bullets to the torso.
The Mafiya: Although Bandits come from loosely organized criminal gangs, they operate in a thoroughly gopnik manner. Their leaders act like avtoritets, however, with Sultan easily being the most notable example of a typical avtoritet.
Majorly Awesome: The protagonist of Call of Pripyat, SBU Major Degtyarev. His epilogue reveals he goes from this to Colonel Badass, and turns down a desk job to return to the Zone.
Mascot Mook: Arguable, but Bloodsucker is one of the most recognizable monsters in the game.
The Medic: Camp Doctors who fix you up and sell medical supplies. One of them has a thing for blood, though.
Męlée ŕ Trois: Every faction, be it military, Duty, Freedom or Mercs want to kill someone else. There is balance, as the two main rival Stalker factions (Duty and Freedom), tend to occupy only the regions their bases are, only doing some raids on more neutral zones, and the military only patrolling the border, with the occasional raid on a strategically important location. Then there are Mercs and Bandits who attack almost everyone on sight (Except Call of Pripyat but that won't last long ). The zombies are self-explanatory. The only faction that doesn't have some sort of war going against someone are the Loners, though they are notoriously attacked by bandits, the military, and some Merc squads.
In the first game, Faction Wars was only available in left-behind code, and could only be restored and made into something functional by mods - for example, Military and Duty will raid Bandit and Merc bases on patrols, Freedom will ask for assistance when attacked by mutants, and so on. It made a return for real in Clear Sky, where devs implanted missions wherein you could try to help the faction grow in power. By the time Call of Pripyat rolls around, it manages to hold up a dose of realism.
Mildly Military: The Freedom faction, which has a command structure of sorts and functions as a paramilitary organization but has no real rank structure and very few rules or regulations. In spite of this they're still quite capable of kicking large amounts of ass.
Mind Manipulation: Monolith's soldiers suffer from several of the tropes on this list. They start out crazy with their religious beliefs about the center of the Zone, but once they hit the Zone and fall in with Monolith itself, they're little more than mindless tools with Laser-Guided Amnesia if they ever manage to escape.
Modular Epilogue: In Call of Pripyat, you have slides based on what side missions you completed and how you completed them, as well as slides for the main story.
Multiple Endings: The wish you make upon the Wish Granter varies depending on your actions throughout the game. Hoard money, and you'll wish to be rich. Kill all Faction leaders, and you'll wish to rule the world. Be an extremely evil character, and you'll wish for mankind to be destroyed (controlled in the English translation). Be an extremely good character, and you'll wish for the Zone to disappear. Of course, all these endings are in fact Bad Endings, because the Wish Granter is actually an evil Monkey's Paw that uses whatever wish you make against you to destroy you. The true ending involves discovering the secret behind the Wish Granter and the very existence of the Zone itself, and either choosing to join the Big Bad and help them maintain the Zone, or choosing to defeat the Big Bad and bring an end to the Zone once and for all.
Call of Pripyat has a Fallout style multi-part ending, telling the fate for each area and major character based on the player's actions throughout the game.
Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Both played straight and subverted. While you always have your knife with you, every faction likes using guns so much that it has become the standard rule of engagement, so trying to knife your way into a gunfight is downright suicidal, except as a last resort. The stealth aspect in the series is nearly non-existent.
Stealth isn't developed as well as it can, true...but doing the Pripyat crawl at the ass-end of night with a silenced weapon can actually be easier, as well as many other quests. While you're not going to sneak up and knife anyone, you can get a great position to open up with a silent weapon or an F1 grenade, which can make some confrontations child's play.
On the other hand, you can use your knife to slay certain mutants, especially Burers, as they at least cannot use firearms. The only mutants that are too impractical to use the knife on are Bloodsuckers, Chimeras, and Pseudogiants since they deal too much damage on you to try. Especially Bloodsuckers.
Another subversion; the knife can be useful against zombies (barring the ones that appear in game mods) provided that you don't get in their line of sight and you approach quietly.
And yet another subversion: in Shadow of Chernobyl, one arena match in Rostok forces you to use the knife against a Stalker clad in an Exoskeleton and brandishing an F2000. However, you also receive about four grenades in the match to hopefully get the drop on that guy.
Night of the Living Mooks: The zombified Stalkers that populate Yantar. They move like zombies, but still have enough brains to use assault rifles - but being zombies, they're hideously inaccurate.
They're back in Call of Pripyat, but are generally not a huge threat due to their poor accuracy. They're still tough, but they go down easy enough if you hit them in the head. Oddly, they're smart enough to scavenge better weapons and more ammo off their zombified compatriots, but they're completely incapable of climbing ladders. They're also largely deaf and rather lacking in the eyesight department, to the point where you can get right up behind them simply by walking even whilst wearing the Exosuits, which are about as stealthy as a clown at a mime convention. Then you can Backstab them with the knife (or a shotgun) For Massive Damage. This is mentioned during Uncle Yar's mission in Call of Pripyat, where Uncle Yar and you are strolling through a village infested with zombies, with Uncle Yar commenting on how peaceful it is ("Peaceful like a resort!") as you walk right past a shambling zombie.
Game mods often restore the "basic" zombie, which act like stereotypical zombies. However, they possess much more health than zombified stalkers, and are able to take several headshots.
Nintendo Hard: A common reviewer complaint, as the game combines "survival horror"-style management of scarce resources with the unforgiving "tactical shooter"-style action of games like Ghost Recon. To quote Zero Punctuation, the average player will likely find themselves pressing Quicksave and Quickload more often then the Fire button.
...while many popular modifications have been released with the express purpose of making the game even harder.
No Arc in Archery: Averted with all firearms having appropriate bullet drop. This is especially noticeable with the subsonic ammunition for the silenced rifles.
No Export for You: The spinoff novels. only available in Russia, written by prolific Russian sci-fi authors, it took some hard digging from the non-eastern-european fans to find out about them. and we still barely know much about them. all we know is that they take place in the 2050's, show that things did indeed get worse after CoP (a third explosion at Chernobyl wipes out the original Zone, but places five more throughout former Soviet states - and has even nastier mutants and unfortunate Stalkers left over turned into man-machine fusions), and images of the book covers are hanging around somewhere on the internet. The official website has some info on them... in Russian.
There are two book series: "Зона Смерти", "The Death Zone", which is described above, consisting of 15 books, and "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." series, set in the same zone as the games, consisting of about 60 books from dozen of writers.
The Death Zone is not set in the same universe, it is, like some other Projects, a Follow the Leader book series.
Recently a novel set in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe called "Southern Comfort" was released in english so this might be averted if we're lucky.
Non-Indicative Difficulty: The difficulty settings pretty much only influence what percentage of shots not hitting the head "glance" and do negligible damage to the player. Due to an oversight, this also applies to enemies, leading to humorous situations where you can unload an entire magazine on an enemy on Easy and the target will just shuffle off harmlessly. Once you learn how to score headshots reliably, the enemies still have a harder time killing you than you killing them.
Call Of Pripyat averts this, removing the "glancing shot" system in favor of a linear damage scale to the player. This has the effect of making the game substantially easier than the other two installments due to the player's relative health being much higher on settings lower than Master difficulty, but there is no longer a situation where you can unload an entire magazine on someone and deal next to no damage.
No Hero Discount: Mostly averted, as doing quests for factions causes respective traders to give you better prices (for gears bought and sold). Additionally, in Call of Pripyat, a fellow military technician (you play a undercover government agent) repairs your gear for free. If you elect to stay in the Zone after the evacuation, this technician is replaced by Uncle Yar, who performs the same service..
Also reversed... or something. Sidorovich pays you less, compared to Barkeep or Sakharov, for loot, mostly because he sells to newbies at lower prices and deals mostly in smuggling non-combat things out.
Non-Standard Game Over: In Call of Pripyat, when Beard asks you to retrieve a strange glowing artifact in a wrecked ship west of Skadovsk, after retrieving said artifact from the ship, as you try to leave, a Stalker named Tuna stops you and asks for that artifact you have, claiming a friend of his is dying. If you refuse to hand it him, either by telling him that you indeed have it but keep it for yourself, or lie to him that you don't know what that artifact is (highly recommended that you don't take that option), his two buddies will stop you at gunpoint and warn you to not make any sudden moves. You have about five seconds of free movement to attempt an escape (unless you took the third option, which means you won't get any free movement). If you just stand still and let Tuna walk to you, he angrily demands that you hand over that special artifact. If you still refuse to hand it over, you get a bad cutscene where Tuna stuns you with his rifle butt and tells his buddies to shoot you dead. If you do this, there's no way to control your character as it is a scripted event. The only way to avoid this is by either handing over the artifact to Tuna or shoot him and his buddies down when you refuse the first time. The latter option is better because an important achievement is unlocked after doing this quest, which also contributes to one of the game's many endings.
No Scope: It's not uncommon to see players laying in ambush with a sniper rifle at close range in multiplayer matches, as the sniper rifles are much better at piercing armor than the shotguns and the handling penalty doesn't factor in when you stand still for a couple of seconds. The VSS Vintorez in particular is used more often as an assault rifle than as a sniper rifle because of its great handling and high rate of fire.
Not the Intended Use: Mutants have a limited area they can move in. You can shoot from outside this area.
Obvious Beta: Both Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky were this at release, though they were both eventually patched to full playability. Call of Pripyat was playable straight out of the box, because the non-English versions were the Obvious Beta.
Oddly Small Organization: Strelok's Loner crew in the backstory was four people if you count Strelok himself, making it the smallest "Faction" of the Zone.
Of course, actually getting close enough to do so is so difficult that this is practically useless unless your target doesn't know you're there.
Hell, in one arena match, you're required to use this attack if you want to survive (you + knife versus some guy with a F2000, the best CQC assault rifle, and an Exo.)
You also get several frag grenades in this match... you just don't know it until you're dropped in.
It's also a surprisingly viable option when forced to engage a Controller up close - all weapons take too long to recock when pulling them back out after a psy attack.
One-Man Army: Zigzagged. There are few places where you can go on alone and take out an entire base/lair full of heavily armed soldiers and/or mutants, and still come out alive while in other places are you going to have to rely on numbers to complete your objectives.
In the first game, right at the beginning, you can tell a group of stalkers to sit out and let you do your thing Rambo-style on a car park full of bandits that are holding a semi-important NPC hostage. The leader, Petruha, will call you out on it if you do so, and if you come back to his group without completing your objective, he'll mock you for being a wussy and won't give you any support. Complete the objective by yourself and he will be astonished at your success.
Played straight in Shadow of Chernobyl, and depending on the skill of the player, can be taken to ludicrous levels. It's not impossible to rack up kills into the four digits, and keep in mind, every man in the zone is dangerous. Even the rookies are competent with firearms, to say nothing of the well trained and well equipped military, the experienced and deadly Duty & Freedom factions, and the other various Stalkers who come to the zone and face down terrifying monsters as part of their daily job. You can pick fights with all of these people. And win.
Order Versus Chaos: Duty vs Freedom. Partially subverted in that neither faction is explicitly 'good' or 'bad', Freedom isn't so much chaos as, well, freedom, and there's nothing stopping the player from allying with both of them.
Our Zombies Are Different: They still retain enough intelligence to fire and reload guns, but they are unable to heal themselves and still shamble about, mumbling incoherent fragments of sentences. If you have mods, you can encounter more "traditional" zombies, but they're much more resistant to damage than regular zombies, requiring several good hits to the head (and then some) to take them down permanently.
And some of are actually semi-transparent glowing zombie ghosts. Technically, they've been warped further by the Zone and are in some sort of odd quantum state, similar to some anomalies, but they're just harder to kill.
Personal Space Invader: The Controllers have a uniqueway of going about this. Every other mutant, on the other hand, is fond of getting in close to eat your face. Especially Bloodsuckers.
Powered Armor: Exosuits (which have a rather Industrial-Punk design, with lots of external batteries and cables), which makes the wearer a walking tank, but is also too bulky to sprint in. For you, anyway. Nobody else seems to have any problem running around in them. In Call of Pripyat, you can upgrade past that sole limitation, which more or less makes you unstoppable.
Powers That Be: C-Consciousness, the entity that controls the Zone. It's gone, now, but things are getting worse, due to their absence.
Previous Player-Character Cameo: The player character of Shadow of Chernobyl, the Marked One also known as Strelok, is an important character in the last act of Call of Pripyat.
Punch Clock Villain - Borov, a Bandit leader you have to kill in Shadow of Chernobyl, reveals in his journal that he really hates leading around a bunch of Chaotic Evil bastards who'd stab each other for fun and profit and will eventually get him killed, either by them, or by someone pissed off at the bandits enough. Guess what happens...
Ragnarok-Proofing: Almost completely averted. Buildings, vehicles, secret underground laboratories, and pretty much everything else in the Zone has deteriorated exactly as much as you would expect something that's been abandoned for two decades to have deteriorated. Paint is peeling or gone altogether, wood is beginning to rot, glass has mostly shattered, moss is growing, rust is spreading, and pretty much every vehicle is completely beyond all hope of repair.
However, the underground tunnels beneath the Agroprom Research Institute still somehow have enough emergency power left to keep a few lights on even though the Institute has been abandoned for at least six months. (Though, considering it was first a base of Duty and then taken over by military, it`s entirely possible they maintained the wiring and power for their own needs.)
As well as some of the monsters and nontraditionally anomalous locations. In few other games can you say that you just fought through swarms of mutant hamsters and traversed an endlessly looping room to find a magic oasis in the middle of a radioactive concrete bunker, only to be bitten to death by imaginary dogs.
Actually, contrary to what some games might tell you, FMJ, or full metal jacket rounds are almost always standard. The 5.45 BP ammunition is the type that chews through the Spetsnaz Berill-5M armor.
F1 frag grenades have absolutely devastating fragmentation, and you'll most likely die if you use them like in a generic FPS game. At best, you'll have to waste a bandage. You always need to find solid cover if you're gonna use these.
As well as a few scripted events in Shadow of Chernobyl. If they were once dynamic, then they were one of many features culled from the final product - dynamic blowouts are restored in Oblivion Lost, along with other mods.
The Remnant: Subverted in Call of Pripyat. Despite Strelok killing the C-Consciousness, the Monolith Cultists are not only still around, but stronger than ever. However, it's double subverted by the fact that by the time you reach Pripyat, their numbers are dwindling, and once you complete the final mission and choose to stay in the Zone, they're down to their Last Stand until you manage to kill every one of them, at which point they become effectively non-existent in the game.
Required Secondary Powers: All of the protagonists appear to have limited Super Strength; fifty kilograms is well over a hundred pounds, and although it's definitely possible to carry that much nobody's going to be able to sprint for any significant distance while packing that much gear - especially not the Marked One, who judging from his appearance in cutscenes is absolutely rail-thin and poorly muscled. At the very least, Scar has the excuse of "blowouts empower him".
The area was partially drained of water to help calm the fires at the NPP back in '86. Time finished the job, though not entirely, the place is still somewhat of a swamp.
Save Scumming: The Quick Save button is your saviour. It's not uncommon that by starting a fight, quicksaving, and quickloading again, they will completely forget that you just shot their buddy to steal his gun, and offer you a nice hot radioactive cup of tea. Due to the fact that it's entirely possible, in fact VERY probable, that mission-critical NPCs, friends, whole camps will rise and fall almost randomly, saving often is a must.
On the other hand, many bodies linger, so going to a previous area and interacting with the corpses can add a bunch of stashes to your PDA.
In Lab X-18 there are a couple of doors which can only be unlocked by inputting the correct code on a numeric keypad. These codes do not change, but until you've scavenged them, the number you memorized from a previous play through will not work.
See the Invisible: You've got trouble with bloodsuckers? Run into water and watch their trails appear on the surface. There's also the crosshair which turns red if you're looking at an enemy, invisible or not.
Serial Killer: One is active in the first region of Call Of Pripyat, disguising his kills as bloodsucker attacks. Discovering this and tracking down the killer becomes a major sidequest. At the end of this sidequest, it turns out that The Medic at the wrecked ship was responsible, due to his insatiable craving for blood.
Shiny New Ukraine: The people behind the C-Consciousness experiment chose the Chernobyl area for the experiment because it had recently been evacuated and abandoned, following the explosion of reactor 4. This allowed the researchers great freedom and easy secrecy. The Chernobyl region also had a number of large antennas, necessary for the experiment's goal: the controlled manipulation of the noosphere.
Shoot The Hostage Taker: One mission in the Jupiter area of Call of Pripyat involves rescuing a captive stalker from bandits in a holed up warehouse. If you choose to storm the place instead of doing the peaceful route, either with the help of the stalker's known allies or by yourself, once you've fought your way to the building, the bandit ringleader has a gun pointed behind the stalker. You have the opportunity to shoot the ringleader in his head, but you have three seconds to do it before he kills the stalker.
Shooting Gallery: In the novel Lead Sunset, a flashback of Major Kupriyanov is him and his military academy mates being taken for an exam that involved this. He got the lowest points, because he shot every target he saw with unerring accuracy. Including the kids. When the instructor asked him why, he said something on the lines of "The order was to shoot every target, not every enemy target. I see no difference between a cardboard hostile and a cardboard civilian". Then he was asked if he would still shoot if those were real people. He replied with a hearty "yes", because the command probably had a reason for him to kill these people. He was accepted.
Shows up in a way in Clear Sky, usually in the form of "shoot X number of crows in X number of seconds" for a tidy profit.
Short Range Shotgun: Played straight AND averted. Sawed-off shotguns have a ridiculously short range, but regular shotguns have a more realistic range. You can extend the range by using slug and/or dart rounds. Moreso if you give the weapon a rifled barrel.
Shout-Out: Gordon Freeman's corpse can be found as an Easter Egg in Shadow of Chernobyl, complete with PDA entry lamenting that he had to sell his crowbar.
The rare and dangerous mutant type known as 'Controllers' use literally the exact same sound files as Half-Life 2's headcrab zombies, although it's not clear whether this is a shout-out or just plain laziness.
The developer had licenced a number of assets from Valve so it may be more just a stock sound effect.
Several small cardboard boxes marked 'Fragile' and quite clearly labeled with the Dharma Initiative logo can be found in lab X-18 in Shadow of Chernobyl. You're likely to notice this in a Freeze-Frame Bonus as they are repeatedly thrown at your head.
The Gauss Gun looks like Fallout 2's M72 Gauss rifle exactly except that the Fallout one has a wooden stock and handle. This is reinforced by their ammo, which looks even more similar and is called 2mm EC in the game files, same as Fallout.
Dummied Out content for Clear Sky shows that .223 Pistol and Bozar LMG were supposed to be implemented at some point. Both are fan favorites in Fallout 2
Shown Their Work: At this point, the good folks in GSC Game World probably know more about the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone than the people that used to live there. They took numerous trips there in order to make the gameworld as close to reality as possible, with the only significant changes being that places of interest are put closer together, as trekking through the empty countryside for 5 hours in real time would be boring. The actual town of Pripyat and NPP are also amazingly detailed, from building exteriors to small things like old Soviet-era propaganda posters, foliage and sounds. And as the Reality Is Unrealistic example states above, they also managed to create one of the most realistic ballistics models ever, with correct bullet drop calculation and real life firearm specs being just the icing on the cake. One example is the British L85A1 rifle, whose early models in real life had very poor reliability and so were pulled from mass production; STALKER's lore actually plays on this and states that the decommissioned rifles made it to the Zone via the black market. Of course this is reflected in gameplay as well, with the L85A1 having a ridiculously low reliability rating and starting to jam after the third mag of firing.
And that just begins to scratch the surface. Another good example is the drug "Vinca", which appears in Call of Pripyat. The in-game description lists it as "Ukrainian Vikasolum, the artificial equivalent of Vitamin K. The drug increases the blood's coagulation rate, causing small wounds and lacerations to close up faster." Guess what? Although the drug's in-game effects are (understandably) stronger than one would expect, the drug is real, and the effects and description are 100% accurate to its actual purpose.
Spiritual Successor: Metro2033 and Metro: Last Light are considered by many to be the successors to this franchise. They are very similar in theme, the major difference in setting being Metro taking place mostly in the underground Metro in Moscow, and for the gameplay, that Metro is a traditionally linear fps as opposed to the sandbox of the Stalker series. It helps that both games were developed by people who left during or after Shadow of Chernobyl's development.
There is a multiplayer successor to the series by a good chunk of GSC survivors, called Survivarium.
Sprint Meter: You'll be blessing it and cursing it when you're trying to sprint the last few dozen meters to shelter seconds before a blowout whilst carrying ~57kg of gear, hardly any of which you can afford to drop because it's either 1) mission important, or 2) your weapons and ammo, and thus liable to get stolen if you just leave it there.
Stalker Needs Food Badly: If you don't eat every once in a while, you will start to lose health until you either eat something or die.
Stock Sound Effects: The SEVA suit's automatic anti-rad distribution system shares a voice with the HEV Suit of Half-Life fame (they are even under a "HEV" directory in the game data folder)
Storming the Castle: The climactic assault against the Center of the Zone in Shadow of Chernobyl, with all Stalker factions (as well as a Military assault force) making their way to Pripyat and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, battling the forces of Monolith (as well as each other). You'll most likely have go through all of them to get there.
In Call of Pripyat, the resident mechanic in the wrecked Skadovsk ship, Cardan, is resigned to hard drinking after a falling out with two fellow stalkers during a trip to hunt down a special artifact, who later passed away in two separate occasions. When you show him the Gauss Rifle after the Monolith ambush in the Pripyat hospital, however, he gets shocked back into sobriety and swears never to drink again.
Super Window Jump: Sure, there's no glass, but after raiding the military encampment at the Agroprom in Shadow of Chernobyl you're probably low on ammo, medkits, and patience, and making a hasty exit jumping out the third-story window and leaving through the nearby gap in the fence rather than fighting your way down through any military guys that are left is a perfectly viable method of leaving, especially with as weird as the fall damage detection system is.
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: When this series starts doing it, you know you're well and truly screwed. In Shadow of Chernobyl, you can raid a minor Monolith armory while in Pripyat, minutes before the final assault on the CNPP. In Call of Pripyat, you can acquire an armored suit from the military tech in Pripyat, and before each military-assigned mission can requisition a goodly amount of meds, ammo, food, and grenades (basically every kind of expendable that a stalker needs) from the tech and medic at the laundromat. Chances are you brought just about everything you could carry with you, though.
Averted in other cases, however. It's entirely possible to miss the Bandit's armory in their Dark Valley hideout (and its thirty-plusbottles of vodka) while you were busy killing everyone inside, and you'll only have time to safely root around in Freedom's armory if you chose to side with Duty and eliminate them after the battle. On the other hand, both of them are filled less with medkits or food and more with loads and loads of guns and ammo that you may not have use for. Freedom's armory does have quite a few rifle-launched grenades in it, however, which are almost impossible to find otherwise.
Take Your Time: For the main quest. Side quests WILL fail if you take too long (which includes not returning quickly enough to collect your reward). With early missions, NPCs might go do it themselves if you hang around.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Stalkers in Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat are capable of throwing grenades with inhuman accuracy, tossing them so they land right at your feet. And they do it in unison with their squad.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Averted. Bandits are seen raiding camps, extorting merchants, shaking down passing stalkers and taking their valuables, taking and holding hostages, etc. They CAN be found sitting around... until they spot you.
Thriving Ghost Town: The largest settlement to appear in the series thus far has a permanent population of less than two dozen, although depending on how many traveling stalkers are passing through at the time that number can swell to as much as fifty.
Too Awesome to Use: The RPG-7, which has the most rare ammo type in the entire game. One hit will kill literally anything... which is almost completely offset by the fact that you're only guaranteed to find ONE rocket outside of Pripyat and the NPP.
It subverts this in Call of Pripyat, where it becomes an Infinity–1 Sword instead, once you've attained certain achievements with traders.
To a marginally lesser extent, the PKM light machine gun. It weighs almost as much as the RPG, cannot be properly aimed with (without mods), is highly inaccurate, mostly due to the "no aiming" thing, and upgrading just one tier is likely to set you back 20,000 rubles. Add on to that the fact that it fires the 7.62 PP rounds, which can only be found in one faction-neutral location in Clear Sky, and only from the military quartermaster (limited supply) or looting the corpses of zombies which have it in Call of Pripyat, and the thing is the definition of Cool, but Inefficient. To put the icing on the cake, it's a light machine gun, and chews through the ammo that you worked so hard to get like a starved dog. But man does it lay down the hurt!
Patches seem to have made the Call of Pripyat version more practical. You still can't run with it and it's still inaccurate, damned heavy, and expensive to use, but you can get a (heavier but allowing for even More Dakka) version for free from Zulu in Pripyat. Ammo can be bought from the trader at Yanov if get the Friend of Duty achievement, and aside from maybe a sniper rifle to pick off enemies at a distance or a shotgun for varmint duty the PKM will carry you through the endgame, because nothing that can be killed survives an entire belt.
The Gauss Rifle in both Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky, in which it appears as a late-game weapon with pitifully scarce ammo, and the latter version is only useful for the endgame. Averted in Call of Pripyat, where it instead becomes an Infinity+1 Sword.
Too Dumb to Live / Miles Gloriosus: Magpie/Flint in Call of Pripyat for some reason thinks taking credit for the player's quest completion is a good idea when people in the same building (one who is within 30 feet) can confirm he is lying through his teeth. He also has a habit of barging about his double crosses including the one where the crosses people didn't die. When the player finishes up the quest chain, he predictably gets killed.
Took a Level in Badass: Nimble, the weedy guy your first real mission focused on saving from some poorly armed bandits from in the very beginning of Shadow of Chernobyl, and originally a recently fresh neophyte of the Clear Sky faction in Clear Sky, becomes a master arms dealer, and one of the few ways to get an Exosuit, in Call of Pripyat.
There's also Petruha, who was a rookie doing scouting duty for Wolf in the Cordon in the first game. In Call of Pripyat, he's an experienced artifact hunter who's made his way to the center of the Zone and has taken a rookie under his wing. Although, unfortunately for Petruha, since he's sporting rather mediocre equipment (yet, it's much better than what he had in Shadow of Chernobyl), it's more than likely he'll die after you meet him.
On the other hand, with a little bit of work you can trade him and his rookie buddy Awl some real equipment, resulting in two pretty badass fighters. The only thing you can't do is have them change outfits (applies to every NPC in all three games), unfortunately.
Truce Zone: The Yanov train station in Call of Pripyat, out of necessity. It's the only building in the area that is safe from emissions, free from anomalies, and large enough to house a sizable population of Stalkers, so the Duty and Freedom detachments sent to that area of the Zone have agreed to treat it as neutral ground, allow each other to operate freely within the immediate vicinity, and work together to defend it. Once you're out of sight of the train station, however, the two factions are still openly at war, and it's implied that the main Duty and Freedom commanders (who are on the other side of the Zone) are unaware of the train station arrangement.
Twenty Bear Asses: The various "bring a monster part" optional side missions. Most provide shotgun ammunition, and the best way to do them is actually to get the various mutant bits (one of the two kinds of dog tail, Bloodsucker jaws, Flesh eyes, Boar feet, etcetera) and THEN take the mission. Of course, the "where the hell is the tail/eyes/jaw/feet/etc, I see them just fine" still applies, as it'll take you quite a while to start finding parts with regularity. Technically it's only one bear ass, since they only ask for one part at a time, but the principle's the same.
Lampshaded and justified - most of the mission givers acknowledge it's inane, time consuming, and stupid, but they get tidy profits off of superstituous idiots/newbies, scientists wishing to study how mutants behave and perceive the world, and black market dealers who sell usable creature parts for money (supposedly, a whole line of illegal fur coats made of psuedodog tails are popular in Russia, and so on.)
Ukrainians With Rusting Rockets: Although the Spetsnaz troopers you encounter generally avert this, the regular Ukrainian army troopers in the Zone are poorly equipped, insufficiently supplied, inexperienced, and unmotivated.
In Shadow of Chernobyl, one of the easiest ways to obtain a semi-decent weapon right off the bat is to raid the military base that's at the far end of the road in Cordon, the newbie area. A dozen-plus soldiers, and if you're good about staying under cover, you might not take any damage at all. Unless the Spetsnaz are there, which can happen. If you kill them, though, you should be set on weapons for half the game. Eventually, when you return to Sidorovich halfway through the game, you are going to have to raid it. You'll make a neat profit off it, even if Sidorovich is rather tightwadded.
Vader Breath: The player, whenever they equip anything with a gas mask.
The player may find badly-wounded NPCs curled up and crying out in pain. If the player goes up and interacts with them, they will have the option to give them a Medkit so that they can survive. The problem with that is that the people who shot them down in the first place may likely still be around, and so will only end up shooting them down again for good. So do you save the badly wounded individual crying out for help by killing his assailants (who may be nominally friend or foe) and healing him, or leave him to die? Ties in with Video Game Cruelty Potential. If you think there might be baddies about, healing him and having another gun in the fight or a distraction could be useful. On the other hand, finishing him off and looting his corpse for ammo and gear is also a viable option. Or both, healing him, using him in a gunfight, and then shooting him in the back.
With certain mods, you can sell weapons to neutral or friendly stalkers, and they will equip it if they don't have a primary already. Try giving an Abakan and some ammo to a rookie loner that has only a puny Makarov and see if you don't get a smile on your face.
This can lead to some pretty awesome moments, as well. As mentioned above, Petruha and his buddy Awl wind up in trouble at a Boiler anomaly in Call of Pripyat. Save Petruha and they'll most likely wind up dead anyway because they've got awful equipment, but if you take the time and money to kit them out with some decent gear, you'll probably find them later kicking all kinds of ass.
Another jarring but subtle occurrence of this happens near the end of the Call of Pripyat main storyline. In one of the missions, you will be sent out with a couple of troopers to ambush and get ambushed by a Monolith patrol. If you lose a few or all of them, the atmosphere back at base goes from lively conversation to solemn silence. Also, you can find a group of mercenaries camping in a substation in Zaton. They need a day's supply of food, badly. If you manage to give them what they need, not only do they welcome you to their camp (and allow you to grab one of three important toolkits for an important sidequest), but later on, when another group of mercenaries have left their duty of guarding a scientist bunker in Yanov, you can even recruit these Zaton mercenaries to guard that bunker. If you do, they'll gladly accept you into their new encampment.
Visible Invisibility: Poltergeists and Bloodsuckers fit the "Predator" version. Poltergeists appear as a distortion with embers or electric arcs around it, Bloodsuckers have Glowing Eyes and become slightly opaque when charging at you.
Warp Whistle: Both Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat have guides - stalkers that'll take you directly to specific areas, for a varying fee. They're more necessary in Call of Pripyat, however, considering that the guides in the mission hubs are the only way to get from one map to another.
Wasteland Elder: A few have shades of this, with Beard from Call of Pripyat being closest to this trope.
We Can Rule Together: After Strelok successfully discovers the C-Consciousness and makes his way to their control center, they offer him an opportunity to join them in their efforts to help contain the Zone (and it's implied in the other ambiguously good ending that you end up helping them continue their experiments to create a species-wide Hive Mind). Canonically, he refuses, and then proceeds to fight his way through their entire guard force before killing the entire Consciousness with assault rifle fire while they sit helpless in their pods.
The scientist merchant at Yantar. "Hello? Hello." Amusingly, due to a bug, he keeps saying it even when you leave. If your surroundings are quiet, you can hear him several meters away even if you're out of the bunker.
A lesser-known one is if you try to go to the Bar without grabbing the military documents. A Warrant Officer from Duty will constantly repeat "Buzz off, STALKER. We don't let every loser go through" each time you approach.
What the Hell, Player?: In Shadow of Chernobyl, shooting Arnie, the Arena organizer, pisses the Barkeep right off, who curses you while placing a bounty on your head. Shooting his replacements gets an increasingly confused and enraged Barkeep.
In the same game, you can tell Petruha and the rookie stalker squad to not assist you on your assault on the makeshift bandit base. Petruha will tell you off for being a Rambo wannabe. If you manage to wipe the base out singlehandedly (which is quite a feat on harder difficulties), Petruha will be astonished. If you come back before killing all the bandits, Petruha will mock you and tell you to piss off.
Wide Open Sandbox: For the most part. More restrictive than Fallout, but has more overall quests, an active ecosystem, and, occasionally, people fighting desperate battles against each other/mutants. It's really brought out in game mods, which restore most of the ecosystem and AI battles.
That said, in the first game up until you reach the CNPP itself there's literally nothing stopping you from turning around and walking all the way back to the starting village if you want to. The third lets you turn around and head back to the beginning area at pretty much any time.
With This Herring: Averted. In first and second installment you start as accident victim theoretically indebted to your helpers. In the third you are equipped with average gear quite well suited for your default task.
Justified in all cases, since as mentioned you're benefitting from a Bedouin Rescue Service in the first two games. In the third you're undercover, and being dropped in the starting area with top-of-the-line gear would be too conspicuous.
World of Badass: The Zone is basically the animate personification of natural selection; anyone who isn't cut out to survive there will die, usually very quickly and very horribly. As such, anyone who survives in the Zone for any length of time is going to be pretty hardcore. Stalkers are people who venture out into a chaotic reality-warping hellhole of an Eldritch Location, which is infested with dangerous mutants, deadly anomalies, instantly-fatal pockets of radiation, and heavily-armed hostile humans who want nothing more than to kill you and take everything of value you carry. They do this for a living. Getting into a massive firefight with a gang of bandits, running in terror from a pack of hideously mutated wild dogs, walking through a tear in the fabric of reality itself in order to unearth a mysterious glowing trinket, hiding in a grate to escape a head-exploding psionic storm, and running back to town with monsters hot on your heels are all in a day's work for the average stalker. And once they've sold the booty, patched up their wounds, and taken some time to rest, eat, and relax, they head back out and do it all over again.
Zombified stalkers shuffle slowly while moaning out Russian phrases yet are still quite capable of firing and reloading automatic weapons (though they're hilariously incapable of aiming those weapons}. When they die, they do cry for their mothers, and in fact, most of their phrases are actually fragments of the stuff stalkers talk about:
...it's so cold here...
...just one more artifact, aarrrgh, then I would...
"Real" zombies and their cousins, Izlolms (hunchbacked mutants), do the same thing. At least, when restored by third-party mods. Snorks count a bit, but run on all fours, since their bodies cannot support a straight posture.