Reviews: STALKER

Points of interest in S.T.A.L.K.E.R series

A very interesting blend of genres, this open world FPS with survival horror elements and some mild RPG inspiration was well received by both critics and fans alike. Despite a troubled and long development cycle and numerous delays, a long list of cut features and many bugs and glitches, it seems like S.T.A.L.K.E.R series has managed to carve out its very own niche in gaming.

One of the points of interest in S.T.A.L.K.E.R games has been its visuals. By default, players might get turned off by the stiff animations, rough details upon NP Cs and weapon textures that looks like coming out of game from alpha - state. However, the texture quality is decent and level design gives the ambient atmosphere of being inside a desolated zone of Chernobyl. Another strong point upon visuals is the lighting system. Almost every single light source casts dynamic shadows, be it from campfires, to the sun. Ironically, it can often do that better than newer games which have limits to the amount of dynamic shadows and lighting sources within a scene.

Another point of interest has to be the A-Life Simulation and the AI that was produced and cut remarkably at the Shadow of Chernobyl, but slowly restored by the time Call of Pripyat was released. The A-Life creates much more memorable moments than any story driven game has given for me, and I'm the sort of person that plays the game and doesn't bother much with the story. The downside of this whole thing is that NP Cs are not unique in sort of way or get any character developement, but it's always a nice sight of finding that Loner that I encountered in the beginning come over into the late game area and help me out with some mutants.

Then we get to the gunplay, and I have to say it, S.T.A.L.K.E.R games has an excellent ballistics simulation as well as somewhat realistic bullet drop off to go along with shooting, making it necessary to learn aiming with different weapons. As mentioned above, weapons might not look exactly the most shiniest blings, but they do their job well enough. The major downside, at least on Shadow of Chernobyl, and on many older FPS titles, is that it uses a probability system that is tied to its difficulty. On Easy difficulty the enemy will miss more of their shots at the player, but in turn so will the player miss shots in return. Some bullets just don't deal damage this way and it is quite annoying of an experience. Thankfully, the higher difficulties fix this and makes it much less tedious, and mods can outright negate the flaw.

All in all S.T.A.L.K.E.R games has some extremely strong and unique gameplay elements that has not been touched upon by other games, but also comes out being a rough diamond that can turn off gamers who do not want to invest time to make the game playable. However, getting past this limit ensures you a thrilling gaming experience no other shooter has yet to offer.

Zone of Alienation makes it glow (hopefully not from radiation)

I discovered STALKER So C rather late, and while I enjoyed my original run of the game on my brother's pc, I've recently built a pc of my own and installed the Zone of Alienation Mod for a second playthrough.

The result? Amazing. The ZOA has gone through 13 patches since it's release in April and while that causes to the game still be tempermental, what has been added to the game will make you forget the bugs.

Several new real world guns have been added, most noteworthy being the Saiga family of automatic shotguns which make carrying buckshot, slug, and dart rounds more viable much later in the game than initially.

Interacting with other Stalkers has been upgraded; there would be times I'd save the neck of a Loner, Duty, or Freedom stalker and they would recognize me as a friend with the Duty faction not threatening to blow me away for walking towards their base after helping them out enough times. Now if you save one or a group of neutral stalkers from a particularly serious situation, the merchants will contact you via radio saying they've left a gift waiting for you next time you come by.

Emissions only occurred twice in the regular game, like at the Chernobyl Power Plant, but now they occur every now and then which have lingering effects: telltale signs of an emission are an increase of mutants roaming about making walks during the day even more dangerous (night is twice as bad now). Anomalies were in fixed locations before, but once an emission passes, they move to new spots making a previous safe passage not so anymore. On the plus side, this also restores the artifacts you already picked up, and coupled with new artifacts added to the list makes artifact hunting more fun. If you don't want to risk being burned, electrocuted, or blown up by the anomalies, you now have the option to turn stashes which were had fixed locations and contents, to become randomized, so every stash becomes a surprise. The Rucksack Item even allows you to place a stash of your own anywhere you like to store goodies away unless you want to collapse from the extra weight?

This review is a revision, and while I'm not sure if it's good tv tropes etiquette to speak mainly about a mod for STALKER, the amount of work the mod's creators have put into the game is a sight to behold I can't NOT discuss it. Good hunting, stalkers.

Rough, Unpolished, Clunky, and Absolutely Sublime

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 you are.

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.

How i stopped worrying and learned to love the game

In 2008 i saw STALKER:SHOC on the shop one day, i was a bit curious about the game but now i love it. everything from it's atmosphere to their unique A-life system which gives you the feeling that anything can happen. when i bought clear sky, I was literally close to throw the DVD at those Ukrainian devs,No offense,but that game, as described by reviewers as "bugged,and "Half-baked".(although the patches did help reducing the freq. of the bugs) now call of pripyat may seem a bit...."linear" but nevertheless it was the epitome of their hard work, it made me impressed and even if one fishes the trilogy there's a plethora of mods out there and now STALKER 2 is coming in 2012, one can be ecstatic as one can experience the part as a Chernobyl soldado. BTW good:story lines, graphics, gameplay Bad:Bugs, and Glitches.
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