I'm going to get this out of the way right off the bat: this series is notoriously buggy, poorly translated, and unpolished. The graphics are nothing special even at max settings, the animations are often weird, and even when fully patched each game has its own unique and wide selection of bugs.
That said, I love this series. It's easily one of my favorite game franchises of all time, even taking into account its many flaws. The game is just fun
, even though all the evidence indicates it shouldn't be.
STALKER is brutally, punishingly hard, even on the lower difficulties. Even with decent armor you can't survive more than a few bullet hits, literally everything
has weight (including ammunition), your guns can and often do degrade, jam, misfire, or even outright break, your armor protects you less the more damage it takes, your medical supplies are almost never
sufficient to survive for an extended period of time, you'll constantly be short of food and probably short of ammo too. Friendlies are few and far between, and they usually have their own agenda and can't be counted on to provide much help. The wildlife will hunt you down and try to kill you. Hostile humans will hunt you down and try to kill you. The environment doesn't even have
to hunt you down, it will just straight-up kill you. The atmosphere is dark and brooding, with a tangible sense of dread every time you venture out and an equally tangible feeling of relief every time you make it back to a friendly camp. Few games can draw you in quite as well as this one does. You are weak, you are vulnerable, you are a very low rung on a very long food chain - and before too long, you'll damn well know
Surviving in the Zone is hard. You will die a lot. You won't always know why, or how, or where it came from. But you'll have fun every time, trying to outwit the positively brilliant NPC AI, or exploring the wonderfully well-realized world it builds for you, or any number of the practically unlimited things you'll find yourself doing. The game is a challenge, and overcoming it is genuinely satisfying. And, what's more, it's clearly the product of years of actual, honest-to-God effort. The developers poured their hearts and souls into this product, and really, it's hard not to love it.