Broken Base: Much like many other entries in Tarkovsky's filmography, his Leave the Camera Running trademark tends to divide people till this day, as it did when the movie first came out. Even though the movie is widely praised for its smart and thought-provoking story that manages to be free of pretentiousness at the same time, the way some shots go on for a couple of minutes seemingly without providing the audience with any new information regarding the characters or the setting has been interpreted by some as Padding. They argue that getting rid of those would have made Stalker fit rather nicely within a two-hour runtime, not losing any of what makes it interesting in the process. On the other hand, there are those who like the slow pacing because of the calming, cerebral tone it gives the film.
Stalker's wife describes his crippled daughter as "a gift from The Zone." The locations for the outdoor scenes were heavily polluted, and several people on the crew suffered illnesses and untimely deaths.
The Soviet Union would soon have an area like the ZONE for real; it's called CHERNOBYL.
The sound effect of the train clacking along the rails blends seamlessly into the music.
True Art Is Incomprehensible: The lack of exposition makes the entire film open to a wide variety of interpretations, though it does follow the basic plot and themes of the novel fairly faithfully.
The Woobie: Stalker bemoans the lack of 'magic' in the modern world, gets upset when people fail to pay The Zone appropriate respect, and generally walks around halfway between panicky tears and childish stroppiness.
Most players are unaware of the novel and the film. Most of the ones that are aware have looked up the novel and film because of the game.
And even fewer people know that the game is also partially based on another short story of the Strugatsky Brothers, The Forgotten Experiment, which features concepts of quasi-natural yet explained origin of the Zone and scientists working in the Zone. Most of those that know this learned it because of an Easter Egg in Metro 2033, a Spiritual Sequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R..
Captain Obvious Reveal: If the player is even remotely familiar with the Zone, their first guess as to the cause of Operation Fairway's failure is likely going to be airborne anomalies - especially if one remembers their actual appearance in the penultimate level of Shadow of Chernobyl - making the supposedly important late game revelation by Strelok potentially come off as this trope.
Complete Monster: Yoga, from Clear Sky, is the first leader and founder of the Bandits as an organized faction. As one of the original ex-cons who came to the Zone in hopes of continuing their illegal activities, Yoga unified all sociopathic criminals operating in the Zone into one clan of mass murderers, obtaining his position by assassinating rivals. Taking control over the Garbage, Yoga dragged the Loners into participating in the Faction Wars by allowing his men to kill them for wishing to fight back against his tyranny and converting an entire vehicle scrapyard into his own concentration camp, forcing captured Loners to search for artifacts in anomalous and irradiated piles of trash. Interested in expanding his territory by attacking Loner outposts until their base and community are destroyed, Yoga allows Scar to join him only if he proves himself capable of killing a former prisoner of the concentration camp and massacring a group of peaceful Loners working at the Garbage.
The Poltergeists in the Red Forest mine in Clear Sky are a subject of many angry message board rants. They basically toss metal water heaters at you which can kill you in one hit and are essentially undodgeable. Going up against them can also result in being killed by a weapon without said weapon being fired. Nothing like being telekinetically bludgeoned to death with a dropped assault rifle.
Not to mention wild dogs. You could be a top-level Stalker outfitted with exoskeleton armor and the finest of guns, but you'd still have to make a frenzied dash past the pack of wild dogs in front of the Duty compound to get in. Alternately, you could just shoot one or two. If you get lucky and kill the pack alpha, the rest of them run away.
The Poltergeists in Shadow of Chernobyl aren't a bowl of cherries either. Sure, they can't one-hit-kill you, but you can't get rid of most of the stuff they throw, the damned things move FAST, and there are up to eight in X18, the first time you'll run into them. Aim for the center of the flying ball of sparks and be ready to heal. It also doesn't help that they can see through walls. Fortunately, they were nerfed for Call of Pripyat. Except for one poltergeist towards the end (that has ShoC's poltergeists see through walls abilities,) CoP poltergeists can only see you if you're moving, so all you have to do is stand still and they will lose sight of you. This also works for pyrogeists.
Call of Pripyat makes up for this by adding psychic dwarves who can telekinetically steal your weapon and then throw it halfway across the map. When they're not throwing gas tanks at you, that is. The burers are easy to deal with when you learn how they act: Just use a knife. They can't pull the knife out the player's hands and the knife inflicts enough damage to kill it in 6-7 stabs. Just don't try it if there's a second burer nearby. Alternatively, use the RPG.
Any enemy packing an RPG in Shadow of Chernobyl. The blast radius is big enough that you will hardly have a chance to dodge, unless you know where they are and start moving the instant they fire. Even if you dodge, you'll still get knocked around by the blast, so good luck seeing clearly enough to return fire. And of course, the RPG is heavy enough and there's little enough ammo that you can't reasonably carry it with you. Your best bet is to quicksave and try to snipe them before they see you.
When you do get one, usually mid-to-late game, the VSS Vintorez Sniper Rifle is one of the best guns in the game for any situation. Its scope lacks nothing compared to that of the two Dragunov variants', its ammo is really cheap by comparison while being every bit as powerful, it's light (more than 1,5kg lighter than an unloaded SVD) and compact enough that you have no penalties in turning speed and can even sprint with it on hand, and as long as you can reliably compensate for the bullet drop, it's deadly accurate. It helps that General Voronin showers you with high-quality armor-piercing SP-6 rounds for it in exchange for trivial missions in Shadow of Chernobyl, and there are a lot of stashes and stalkers using 9x39mm guns in Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat, so ammo is never at a premium if you know how and where to get it.
The Gauss Rifle in Call of Pripyat. It can kill every human enemy in the game and can take down any mutant that is not a Pseudogiant (though it itself can be killed in 2-3 shots from the weapon.) After you show Cardan the weapon and retrieve the documents concerning about the experimentation of the gun, he will offer you homemade batteries for 2000 RU each, essentially farming unlimited ammunition for your Infinity +1 Sword.
The FN F2000, H&K G36, USP .45 Compact (and the custom version "March"), Storm (unique OTs-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. In Shadow of Chernobyl, certain ones 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 above the first weight limit), and their negative effect is an increased vulnerability to electricity. Electrical anomalies are encountered maybe three times, and actually spawn more of these artifacts. Picking up a handful of Flashes, or if you're incredibly lucky, a pair of Moonlights 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 between maps a cakewalk.
Blind Dogs and Pseudodogs. Ridiculously hard to get a headshot on, drop near-worthless parts only one trader (Professor Sakharov) wants, and TRAVEL IN PACKS. Pack a shotgun or submachine gun and a bunch of medkits, or suffer a Death of a Thousand Cuts. Or cull their numbers from a good distance, that works too.
The same goes for the rats, although they're called Hamsters or Rodents. They lie somewhere between this trope and Demonic Spiders, since even a single one of them can tear your armor surprisingly quickly.
There's also the knife's secondary attack (see the One-Hit Kill entry below). Sadly fixed in Call of Pripyat.
If you die just as you are transitioning from one area to the next, you will spawn in dead, unable to use your weapon or access your inventory or talk to people, but mobile and completely immortal.
The armour repairing trick with four battery artifacts. Collecting at least 4 artifacts of the flame/electricity battery type, wearing them, then jumping into a fire/electrical surge will restore your HP, and more importantly and absolutely a bug and not a feature, repair your armor, something otherwise impossible in the vanilla Shadow of Chernobyl.
The "You see Ivan" meme is based on characters holding weapons using the animations for completely different ones. The meme is based on one image in particular where a bandit with a pistol holds his off hand in front of the pistol like he's holding a rifle.
Just about all the looped dialogue from the NPCs in the 100 Rads Bar since it often repeats over and over with no variation. This line in particular is pretty infamous.
"I said come in! Don't stand there!"
Should you alarm the soldiers at the military outpost in Cordon, the amusing English dialogue over the P.A. system will be replaced with Russian alerts that will never stop unless you leave the area or kill everyone there.
Narm: The English voice acting can get rather... enthusiastic. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to change all the non-essential spoken dialogue back to the Russian originals.
The aforementioned worm food line.
You can listen to the wonderful voice acting from Call of Pripyathere!
Special Effects Failure: For some reason the sound of choppers overhead can be interrupted by breaking crates. Also the glowing eyes of the mutants can look a bit weird up close; for some reason the same effect is used for actual lights.
Spiritual Licensee: There's no official connection to either Roadside Picnic or Stalker, but so much is clearly lifted from them it's often assumed (by those who are even aware of their existence) the game is licensed.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Call of Pripyat is noticeably more polished than the previous two games, adding multiple UI improvements, removing Clear Sky's infamous homing grenades and bug-ridden Faction Wars, giving the player decent equipment from the beginning and (most importantly) making the game playable out of the box without the need for multiple patches and bug-fixing mods.
That One Level: The 2nd level of Clear Sky, where crossing into the new area by the only available route has you coming out behind a boulder, on the other side of which is a mounted machine gun in the possession of the military. Well, at least they don't know I'm here — wrong; they know you're there and tell you so. Well, I'll be safe behind this rock — wrong again; after a few quick bursts, they send a number of better-armed and better-armoured soldiers after you. If you manage to dispatch them, you then have to figure out which way you can safely leg it.
Once you realize that this is essentially a death-trap unless you've got at least a dozen spare medkits in your inventory (even after knocking off the squad of heavily-armored soldiers, that MG still has a ridiculous field of fire,) your best bet is to just turn around, go back to the Swamps, and enter the Cordon from the northern entrance. Sure, you wind up next to a group of Loners that get pissy if you get too close, but it's the easier way in.
Shadow of Chernobyl has the Red Forest where nearly everything is radioactive, making it much harder to take cover properly. The vast majority of the trouble in that level can be bypassed if you don't follow the road and cut through the forest instead, because ninety percent of the Monolith or zombie enemies on that level are waiting for you on the road, and with the way it curves it's nearly impossible to get a shot off without taking loads of return fire. Cutting through the forest makes the level far easier, especially if you've packed a sniper rifle. Plus, once you've gotten to the other side, you can cut back and take all the Monolith troops from behind, netting yourself loads of equipment.
That One Sidequest: In Call of Pripyat, babysitting a group of scientists as they take readings of anomalies. A teeth-gnashingly difficult mission that comes out of nowhere in an otherwise well-balanced game. It takes the eggheads the better part of 5 minutes to do their science and throughout that time you are attacked by hordes of monsters coming in from all directions. The scientists are armed but tend to die pretty easily. And you have to do it twice. It's a case of Unstable Equilibrium in that the stalkers escorting you the first time come back for the second if they're still alive by the end of it. The only thing that makes it even vaguely easier is if you know the locations ahead of time and go there to clean out the mutants that are already there, leaving you to deal with the (relatively) smaller amount that spawn in while they're taking the measurements.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The unnamed stalker that rescues you in the intro of Shadow of Chernobyl is never mentioned again in either of the three games. It could be speculated that he probably went off on another quest and met an untimely demise off-screen or probably met a Fate Worse than Death.
Chris Powell for using his influence to avoid being convicted of rape. He then stalks women to scare them to death with their phobias and film them for his amusement.
Perry Whitley takes the cake for stalking Beth after their close encounter in "Pilot." He covertly harasses by sending her things from her past and is the Boy Toy to her friend just to get closer to her. Though it really flip-flops on him. As he seems to be unable to control himself and changes from being a calm stalker to a guy desperately seeking for help from his obsession issues.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Beth Davis. One would feel more sympathy for her if she didn't alienate everyone close to her and act like a Jerkass to her team when they express genuine concern for her. Gets even worse when essentially the whole team has come up to her at different points asking if she is alright and she still pretty much just tells them to go away.