Giganto-Spoiler: First 25 Minutes Of Clear Sky

By Jim Rossignol on July 12th, 2008 at 6:42 pm.


Initially I couldn’t actually bring myself to watch this. Those that had assured me that it was “okay, I suppose”, “looking a bit better the first game,” and – ominously – “Jim, it’s a kill x rats mission.” I hoped that’s wasn’t true. I had to take a look.

Also: it’s almost sarcastically karmic. There was me moaning about trailers that had no game footage, and then along comes twenty-five minutes of a game that I didn’t want to spoil for myself by watching. Sigh.

So…

- It has a mixture of Russian and English dialogue, but more English than before, I think.
- It looks as beautiful and desolate as ever.
- Friendly AI is looking remarkably solid. They actually appear to work with you.
- They’re bandits, not rats.
- The blow-out thing looks astonishing. Although I’m not quite sure what happened afterward.
- OH GOD THE TERRIBLE ACTION MUSIC.
- Slightly better-looking inventory.
- More shooters should have RPG-style inventories.
- Intriguing faction stuff going on? There’s already a lot of plot clues in that twenty-five minutes.
- I can’t wait to play this.
- Roll on the 29th of August.

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107 Comments »

  1. Heliocentric says:

    music volume= 0% problem solved, I dont want the game to tell me when i should feel excited, at best it robs me of the experiencing the feeling for myself, at worst it screws up and thinks i’m in danger when i’m not and i get techno music because a limping dog or a soldier with no ammo is chasing me as i walk away..

    also, for stalker clear sky, i’d like people other than yours truely to run out of ammo some times, they can fire for hours in ranged fights but if i cap them they have 15 rounds wtf?

  2. jackflash says:

    Agreed with all of those in the music = 0% camp. The music in the first STALKER was damn near perfect – so eerie and melancholic. But the techno garbage in the 1UP video made me shudder. Sort of reminded me of the music in System Shock 2, which I also quickly turned off.

    Anyone else planning to just buy on steam, or are most going for boxed copy?

  3. Erlam says:

    Was I the one totally underwhelmed by the Far Cry 2 footage thus far? I didn’t see anything that made me think it looked like a good game. I did see a lot of boring: Shoot guy, get hit, run away, heal, shoot guy, get hit, run away, heal.

    The whole gameplay feature felt… claustrophobic, which is bizarre given the scope. But all the footage looked like you could ‘go anywhere…’ on the single path that lead there.

    Onto this, I won’t watch it. CGI’s? Yes. In-game? No. I like to feel totally fresh coming into a game.

  4. Nahual says:

    God, that music is awful, but I still think there will be a mod within a week from release to either remove it all or replace it with stuff from the original.

  5. realcals says:

    looks good…so…I haven’t played Stalker; should I get that first? I mean given this is a prequel and all…

  6. DSX says:

    “We’re under attack!!!” “Go help them!!!” [walks out and guys are just sitting around fire doing nothing]… Made me laugh. So much for camaraderie.

    If resolution was high enough, and the user actually sat through the dialogues, I seriously wouldn’t mind watching an entire run through of a game as good as this one. Though perhaps after a while.. the play style would bug me. He never even went up in the tower after the first squad mission.. or explored outside on the roof of the hide-out (=

    Advice wanted: I’ve decided to install Stalker again for a second run-through. Any tips on mods etc to make it a much better, but not dramatically different game? Like bug fixes, little add-ons.. not huge changes in color palette or plot points etc.

    I’ve read about things like buy/sell from other stalkers, some sort of language fix which makes it all in Ukrainian with subtitles which sound promising.. things like that.

  7. Don says:

    @realcals: I haven’t played Stalker; should I get that first?

    I’d try to get hold of a demo first and see if it actually works. It was pretty much ok on my old PC, just the occasional glitch, but when I decided to play through again on my new ninja(ish) PC it’s just one long BSOD fest so I had to give up on it.

    I wonder if your stalker gets to sleep in this version or if he’s just a 24/7 killing machine. I rather liked the idea, that was dropped for SOC, that you had to find (or make) yourself a secure bolthole to get some shuteye. This would make the allies aspect of the game more meaningful – hack off too many people and you’ll be sleeping in a drainpipe sealed off with garbage instead of round the campfire with a few people to watch your back.

  8. skalpadda says:

    looks good…so…I haven’t played Stalker; should I get that first? I mean given this is a prequel and all…

    I don’t think anyone knows if there will be spoilers or other things that’ll ruin Shadow of Chernobyl for you, but to be honest, the story is far from the biggest reason to play the game, although there is a lot of story stuff going on in the end of SoC that you might want unspoiled.

    In any case, you should definitely try out SoC for yourself, it’s well worth a play through and it’s cheap now, my Steam says $19.99 :)

    DSX: I had only one mod, which let me repair my armour at the bar, and if you’re like me and get hit a lot (I’m not good with FPS games) armour will degrade pretty fast, which is frustrating since they’re not that easy to find (the good ones at least).

    There are also sleeping mods that lets you skip time when you’re in the bar areas, good if you’re a coward like me who doesn’t like night time ;)

    Oh, got to ask, I never tried any of the sleeping mods (sleeping was supposed to be in the game originally from what I heard) but I read that you can have dreams and be woken up by enemies and that kind of thing. Anyone know if that’s true?

    edit: About the game crashing and having a lot of bugs, I don’t know if the demo includes patch fixes. I was among those who could hardly play the game until the second patch, but after that one I had only one crash throughout the rest of the game and I hear the third patch fixed even more things, so it should be OK for most people now I think.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Night time is the best time in Stalker! Especially if there’s a thunderstorm and there are a lot of dogs about.

  10. skalpadda says:

    Oh, it wasn’t that night time was bad or anything, one of my best moments in the game was creeping through the Dark Valley during the night, seeing some enemies in the distance walking into anomalies, playing tag with two bloodsuckers in one of the empty buildings there.. It’s awesome in many ways, it’s just that I’m a coward and sometimes I couldn’t bring myself to leave shelter after dark for fear of a nervousness-induced heart attack.

    It’s not that the monsters are that scary and there’s not many of those “BOO!” moments where things jump at you. Stalker just had that way of drawing me into the world that could make walking across an empty field fill me with a strange sense of horrified fascination. There was a really odd joy to it.

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    Must… resist. Have work to do. I cannot spend all day playing Stalker again.

  12. skalpadda says:

    I know what you mean.. reinstalling it over Steam now.

  13. cctoide says:

    Anyone else planning to just buy on steam, or are most going for boxed copy?

    I’d go for boxed copy, since if this is anything like SoC in terms of bugginess (which I hope it won’t be), you might need certain patch versions to run certain mods, and Steam will always update your Stalker to the latest patch version, which can be annoying.

    Even though I have about twelve or so games purchased on Steam, the Shadow of Chernobyl box was pretty neat and nothing beat freaking sensitive people out with the nuclear tan on the cover.

  14. MetalCircus says:

    Reinstalled it last night, patched it, won’t load save games. Bastard.

    I’ll just wait for clear sky, it’s out next month anyway ;)

  15. skalpadda says:

    I’ll most likely buy Clear Sky through Steam, simply because it’s so handy for installs and there seems to be some kind of CD-eating gnome living in my apartment.

    Just double clicking the game in the Steam window and waiting 10 minutes is so much better than going out on a 2-hour search and rescue mission into the darkest reaches of The Dreaded Closet of Doom where I store.. everything.

    Thanks Valve!

  16. Cooper says:

    Box copy – always. There’s something special about paper manuals that pdfs will never achieve.

    I keep meaning to go back to Stalker. I reinstalled it last month, and then got the the underground lab bit, and just stopped playing. Those bits were never as fun (though pant wetting scary they were) as the outside areas.

  17. Tony says:

    I liked Stalker, though I’ll probably hold off of buying Clear Sky until I get a machine that is more powerful. (Read: indefinitely unless I get a mystical boost from the Cash Fairy…)

    The first time I played Stalker, though, my armour degradation was bugged. So I had a fully blue bar that did nothing on my HUD. And spent ages wondering what that was about.

  18. Justin says:

    The Oblivion Now mod for the original Stalker pulls in most of the things people talk about: sleeping/dreaming, more AI interaction between factions, more animals, weapons…

    http://stalker.filefront.com/file/Oblivion_Lost_10005_release;91748

    My Macbook Pro tends to bog down the farther I get into the game, and that just got worse with the mod, since there was more events happening. I barely finished playing the ‘vanilla’ version. However, that mod is definitely worth it. It includes blowouts like the one in the movie, which completely spooked me the first time it happened.

    It’s right up there with Half-Life 2 in terms of mood and (strangely) replayability. There is enough of a coherent visual look to the game and characters to overlook the odd dialogue. It’s strange to have a game with so many disruptive tics – the repeated dialogue, the odd behavior – and yet have it still feel real enough that Siderovich’s base seems safe, and … I don’t want to go in Yantar again.

    I think I will have to build a new PC just to run this, because I’m confident it’s an investment that will be rewarded.

  19. Justin says:

    Oh, and I want there to be a Scientist faction like before. Just so I can say to myself, “Screw you, man, I’m a scientist!” when shooting people. Sort of an honorary Phd sort of thing.

  20. Seb Potter says:

    Night-time and dogs? Jim, you’re a masochist of the highest order. I could take on a dozen monolith at once with a pistol, but a couple of dogs would tear me to shreds. A distant growling was enough to send me sprinting in the opposite direction after a while.

    I think I might finally cave and install Vista for Clear Sky. Bah.

  21. jackflash says:

    I never did find that lost gun in the original STALKER. You know, where the guy in the pub asks you to go find it, in that area before you run into the scientist who needs you to escort him? That quest drove me nuts. I spent HOURS looking for that damned rifle. That better have been a bug, or I’ll feel really dumb.

    *SPOILER ALERT*

    Another thing in STALKER that made me feel really dumb – apparently I ended the game way early. I got to an ending where a bunch of gold falls out of the sky and then it was all over. Which seemed sort of abrupt. Apparently there’s quite a bit left after that, no? I guess that warrants a re-play.

  22. Pavel says:

    2 jackflash – that shotgun is there, in that collapsed underpass (or what is it called), its in one of the boxes I think.A little jumping is involved.I finished the game twice and always found it.

    And as for the ending, first time I finished I also had this one, but second time, I completed the sidequest with doctor/hidden stash in pripyat and got the “proper” ending, one that involves about an hour of a new gameplay (and lets you see the powerplant from all possible angles) and also explains the story.

    So yeah, go play it again. NOW!

  23. Cooper says:

    Jackflash:
    If you got that at the monolith, that’s just one of the endings there. It’s the same one I got – and the most common one, as it is the default if you have over a certain amount of RU – which is very, very easy to collect in the end game.

    There is a bit more though, to do with the backstory of the game, the C-Conscioussness and whatnot.

    Strange, I can hardly remember anything of the story from Stalker now I try to think about it – it was never that good, or made much sense. But memories of the atmosphere of – at least the first half – of the game still keep coming back, and is why I went back to it.

  24. Erlam says:

    ‘I think I might finally cave and install Vista for Clear Sky. Bah.”

    Woah woah woah, do you need vista to play Clear Sky? You’d better fucking not.

  25. Jim Rossignol says:

    You’ll need it for DX10 visuals in Clear Sky, not for the game itself.

  26. Erlam says:

    Oh thank God. I can do without the DX10 visuals if it requires that awful OS, thanks.

  27. Tom says:

    Vista x64′s awesome… sh*t! did i say that out loud!?

  28. MisterBritish says:

    With a bit of .ini fiddling you’ll probably be able to coax out some of the dx10 stuff on a dx9 card, like in Crysis.

  29. No Problem says:

    Vista is perfectly fine as of today. Better and more stable than XP. People read too many inflammatory blogs and believe every word. Get over it already, buy Vista.

  30. skalpadda says:

    With a bit of .ini fiddling you’ll probably be able to coax out some of the dx10 stuff on a dx9 card, like in Crysis.

    I was wondering about that as well, I hope they don’t turn off features that actually work with DX9 like Crysis did. I’m still sort of uncertain what it is that DX10 does that DX9 doesn’t. From the screenshots I saw comparing “Crysis-with-DX10″ and “Crysis-cheating-with-DX9″ I can’t say I saw much difference. I’m curious, since I probably won’t run Vista until I do an overhaul of my entire PC (nothing to do with Vista hating, I just don’t want to pay for it if I don’t need it).

    Anyone able to enlighten me? :)

  31. Tellurian says:

    Stalker was my personal favourite last year.
    And pretty much the best “sheesh, they made this game for ME!” game since… I don’t know when. Guess the last time I played such a thing was Bloodlines.
    Maybe some day I’ll even take my second playthrough even further.
    Dogs at night? Sheesh… How about dogs at night in Red Forest? Was I the only one who had teleporting pseudodogs there?

    I’ll definetly get Clear Sky some day. But probably not around release… :( Makes me sad, this way my purchase won’t even count…

  32. A-Scale says:

    “Vista is perfectly fine as of today. Better and more stable than XP. People read too many inflammatory blogs and believe every word. Get over it already, buy Vista.”

    And slower. You forgot slower.

  33. Al3xand3r says:

    So, what makes you confident it’s more stable than XP if you don’t really believe any stories written? Just because it happens to be more stable for yourself? I can’t imagine an OS being more stable than XP is currently for me since I haven’t had a crash or error caused by the OS since about SP2. But I won’t go ahead and call it the most stable OS ever made by man because my personal experience doesn’t mean that’s how it is for everyone, so you shouldn’t do the same for your Vista… Those inflammatory posts do count since such a large number of people are having problems and you shouldn’t tell people to just dismiss that and buy it because their system could very well be one of the systems that have issues with Vista. No software runs the same for every possible configuration, not to mention the many devices which only have beta or no drivers at all for Vista yet or all the software which isn’t 100% compatible. Recommending a blind buy without making any such considerations doesn’t make you sound very rational or reliable for advice.

  34. Xander77 says:

    Re: “Take this, you Nazi”.
    WW 2 poster. “Fascist, recieve this grenade from a Soviet Soldier!” the phrases turned into a generic “Take this, biatch” by way of meme mutation.
    As the fellow is actually tossing a grenade at a guy, the meme is aptly used. But yeah, the translation isn’t doing it any favors.

  35. caesarbear says:

    The combat firefights in STALKER are awesome. It’s one of the biggest strengths of the game. You can still get some one shot kills if you aim for the head. The challenge is that you get such peashooters to start with, but the simulation-style is perfect, without the need for phony cover mechanics or an unforgiving one bullet hits you death. It got easier to handle the poorly equipped enemies, but even the dogs would always be dangerous to you. Plus getting kills by ricochet was very satisfying.

    The problems lay in healing, AI and inventory, but not the actual shooting itself.

  36. malkav11 says:

    I aborted my last attempt to play Stalker because loading saved games would CTD every time. I think one of the later patches does it, but I was too frustrated to keep trying things. One of these days.

  37. Deuteronomy says:

    I could sort of understand the “Take this, you nazi”, if it was a Freedom dude fighting Duty. But this was Clear Sky fighting random bandits. Oddness.

  38. Jonelo says:

    malkav11 , the savegames of the 1.0000 version not works with the others versions ;) .

  39. MaxMcG says:

    Bugs ruined Stalker for me – Although I went back to it a few months after it launched and really enjoyed it.

    I think I’ll hold off getting this until I know it’s stable. Looks good though.

  40. James T says:

    God, that music is awful, but I still think there will be a mod within a week from release to either remove it all or replace it with stuff from the original.

    If they’re still using the same file structure, I give it under an hour.

    DSX: Get the Smart Mod Manager to start with, that should make the installation and removal of mods nice and neat. Float32 is recommended by pretty much everybody to make the game run better — the author decided to ‘get creative’ for awhile there with some unpleasant lighting FX, but I think he’s laying off that sort of thing now. In the veneer department, skinpacks are nice to add variety (I specifically recommend Whatpayne’s rookie skinpack when it comes to skinning that particular class — the other major ‘rookie’ pack is also pleasant to look at, but it made my current game crash in the Bar area, so I switched it out), ‘tweaked blood’, ‘bullet particle enhancement’. and the ‘Gunpowder’ weapons pack. Gameplay-wise, I have no hesitation in recommending the 10-day-quest mod, which increases quest time-limits to, of course, 10 in-game days, and the no-degrade mods for standard and unique weapons. The original puny time-constraints for quests never increased their challenge, because they could always be done quite easily within the time limit — all the limit did after that was potentially prevent you from getting paid for your work, which doesn’t make sense. Meanwhile, like all weapon-degradation schemes, STALKER’s will turn your guns to ash after you’ve, y’know, fired them a bit — under the no-degrade mods, you can still pick up dead stalkers’ guns and find them in various states of repair, but weapons won’t degrade further in your possession. It’s also probably a good idea to get one of the mods that allows various NPCs to conduct weapon-repair, but those ones require you to start a new game, so I never get around to installing them.
    ‘Rules of engagement’ isn’t bad — I was a bit leery that it would nerf the game after reading its description, but its modifications to NPC perception haven’t stopped me getting into harsh scrapes with the army/bandits/mercenaries/herds of beasts, so it gets the OK from me.
    All the above can be found at http://stalker.filefront.com

    One minor atmosphere-meets-gameplay touch I liked in STALKER was the way the PDA picked up other PDAs — at the very start of the game, the little “mip! mip! mip!” of other people coming into range of you could be a comforting sound — “finally, fellow travellers!” By about X16 or so (or even Agroprom), it had taken on a very grim aspect — suddenly a flood of ‘mip!’-s wasn’t something friendly like the Bar or a Loner stronghold, it was the army closing in on your location, or a horde of bandits, or, y’know, zombies…

  41. Malagate says:

    Not only has this video rekindled my desire to play Stalker again, but James T most deliciously provided some wonderous tips on how to improve the experience, scrumptious thanks to you!
    Now all I need to do is get my gaming PC working again, stupid black screen…but then I shouldn’t come here for tech support. This Clear Skies is certainly something that might just encourage me to upgrade after almost 3 years of the same tech, even in this low res clip it looks saucy.

  42. Guys it ain't time to relax yet says:

    This may not be over yet

  43. PaulMorel says:

    I am going to buy this, but I never got through the first game.

    I don’t know if anyone else ran into this bug, but the mission system was nearly completely broken for me.

    The problem was that I did a couple missions out of order, which seemed alright since it seemed like an open world game. But after I did that, the mission system just got completely buggy. That was about 10 – 12 hours in. So I think I missed some of the best parts of the game, but since it was nearly impossible for me to figure out what to do next, I didn’t have much choice.

  44. PaulMorel says:

    The point of that comment was: “God I hope they fixed the mission system”

  45. internisus says:

    DSX: I spent a lot of time reading about mods before playing STALKER. I couldn’t really find The Perfect One For Me, but I wound up using STALKER: Rebalanced because it’s meant to fix and improve a lot of issues and features while adding stuff like sleeping but overall retaining what the modder felt was the ideal of the original game. It coopts lots of parts from frequently recommended mods. Check it out and read the feature list.

    The mod that I really want, that I don’t believe exists yet, is one that makes all resources more scarce throughout the game so that you feel that you really have to struggle to survive. At one point fairly early in my playthrough (in the army base) I stopped to manage my weightload and realized that grenades are really heavy, so I dropped all forty or so that I had been stockpiling. There are places in my savegame where you can find a literal pile of ammo that I just dumped on the ground because I needed to optimize my inventory.

    Granted, it makes sense that I had so much stuff because I had killed and looted so many dudes, but I really wanted to have to struggle and scavenge to survive–it’s not about the difficulty of fights, but about the challenge of staying supplied. Of course, there are other things that I would like from a dream mod, but that’s the main thing.

    Anyway, I’m ridiculously excited about Clear Sky despite that music. Nothing else feels like SoC. Just going around and getting into firefights felt fantastic because of the environments and the loose, gritty feel of the weapons.

  46. Jetsetlemming says:

    Guys, just to let you know; according to at least one GSC Game World employee the DX10 features will work on Windows XP if you have a DX10 video card. Clear Sky will support them without DirectX’s help. ;)

  47. Offramp says:

    I recommend the Zone Reclamation Project (ZRP) mod to those going through STALKER these days. It fixes most of the sound and quest bugs and allows you to choose which settings to tweak, like time limits, NPC weapon trading, weapon and armour degradation to name a few. It’s got everything in one mod, so you can pick and choose what options you want without the mods comflicting and causing you to CTD on loads.

  48. James T says:

    Guys, just to let you know; according to at least one GSC Game World employee the DX10 features will work on Windows XP if you have a DX10 video card. Clear Sky will support them without DirectX’s help

    Hey, that’s good to hear — I’m rocking a DX10 card, but damned if I’m gonna downgrade to Vista.

  49. Kommissar Nicko says:

    My biggest problem with STALKER was the sheer number of bodies that piled up wherever I went. It’s primarily a factor of how I play, but it seemed like it was much easier and more convenient to put to death damn near every hostile I came across. For the most part, that meant sending every single soul in that Agroprom compound to his doom. What was even worse (or better?) is that if you could put a guy down in under twenty shots–not too hard with Strelok’s rifle at least–you’d be okay ammo-wise.

    It’s not that I was mowing them down like a scythe through grain; I was more like a lone farmer and his mule, pulling an old iron plow through a rocky field. Each battle was hard-fought and tense, but I was pretty much plugging whole groups of guys just to get to the grocery store, so to speak. It started to get old. There shouldn’t be SO MANY PEOPLE in a nuclear wasteland.

    Oh, and I hated the pseudodogs. They didn’t carry any bullets.

  50. internisus says:

    My second most-wished for modification to SoC is to greatly extend the time between respawning groups of enemies. The path along the junkyard or that farmhouse in the cordon, for example, has been repopulated with bandits each and every time that I moved past them, often within a couple of game-hours as I ran errands. It’s absurd: how did they get past the other loners, let alone me?! That also contributed to my ridiculous supply cache. When there is an infinite supply of easy kills to make, there is no worry about whether you’ll run out of food or ammunition.

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