Redemption Song: Clear Sky Complete

By Alec Meer on March 30th, 2010 at 10:24 pm.

There aren’t many things that could possibly lure me back to STALKER: Clear Sky, knowing the series’ troubled second game is bookended by far finer titles. One of them, however, is hearing that Artistpavel, the acclaimed modder who compiled the spectacular Complete 2009 tweak’n'fix’n'upgrade collection for the original STALKER, has just released the first iteration of Clear Sky Complete. You’ll probably want to treat your graphics card to this.

STALKER Complete 2009 makes the first game (which turned three years old just last week) look far better than either of its successors. Honestly, it’s quite the little marvel. This rather suggests Clear Sky Complete will look similarly incredible – and the promise of bug fixes and interface improvements, on top of the patches released since release, should mean it’s a whole lot more palatable than the raggedy thing it’s known for being. I can’t help but wish it was being released for the superior Call of Pripyat, but patience is the least we owe chaps who slave away on mods out of the kindness of their own hearts/obsession. In CSC’s case, that’s tons of people.

While Artistpavel has gone to incredible efforts to ensure all these disparate new textures, lighting effects, sounds, bug fixes, tweaks et al play nice with each and with a game that’s well-known for being tempramental, most of the mods CSC contains were made by other, similarly talented chaps. You must solemnly salute them all. There isn’t a complete breakdown of CSC’s entire contents yet, but the idea is that it improves the aesthetics without altering the intended experience. These modders had time and energy that developers with a deadline hanging over them do not, and that’s why they can create such fine things. You can get a good sense of what they’ve achieved by browsing the many screenshots over on Pavel’s Flickr account.

CSC in its current form requires a spot of the old manual extraction and installation, but there’s an auto-installing executable version promised for the near future. Waiting for that would be lazy, though, so give the current release a whirl and let us know how it stacks up against Complete 09. It’ll cost you 323Mb, and it’s here. It requires the latest version of Clear Sky (1.5.10), and works with Steam and Direct2Drive versions as well as the boxed copies.

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54 Comments »

  1. Samuel Bigos says:

    Clear Sky has been sitting in Steam since christmas and I never played it because it was supposedly worse than the others. Looks like this could change that.

    • Zethell says:

      @Samuel Bigos
      So you mean, that you base your own opinion on that of others, and dont try it for yourself?

      Get a fucking life.

    • matt says:

      your a fag for trolling for something stupid for him saying that. The general public listens and does things as follows. Read a book read a book read a mutha fucking book.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Don’t shout at me but I’m not done with the original stalker yet. I had a crash issue (realised its because i have 320 graphics memory but stalker thinks i have 512) which slowed me down a few times and i’m enjoying faffing around doing randomly generated tasks.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      Don’t feel bad. I’ve started it at least three times but I always seem to run into some problem or another to stop me. It gets harder to restart each time, of course, so despite having had the game since its original release and quite liking it, I’ve never made any real headway into it.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Actually, when i do play it i find it pretty accessible. I have 2 turbo stamina artifacts which mean i can carry 59.9kg and still sprint everywhere and also 1 700% health artifact(whatever that means) giving me call of duty 4 style health regeneration. My only real bug bear is stealth is utterly broken. I stab a man in the back of the head and his friends around the corner know about it.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      The first two times I played I hit the same bug: the bus yard battle never ends. The enemies there respawn endlessly, never allowing you to complete the quest. After having run into that a couple of times it’s been exceedingly difficult to motivate myself to play again. It doesn’t help that there hasn’t been a patch since the last time I had that issue, so I’ve no reason to think it’s reliably fixed.

    • damien says:

      stealth is “broken” because the .ogg files used for sound effects aren’t properly commented. (each .ogg file has a header that explains to the engine its volume and max. audible distance. most files in stalker are not commented properly out of the box, in your example, a knife stab is heard by all the NPCs for 50 meters, etc)

    • Heliocentric says:

      Stop being a jrpg hero and leave the bus battle alone then. Its not like its critical to win that fight. But near there is where is got my cod4 artifact.

    • Heliocentric says:

      @damian is there a fix? Or at least, do the later games fix it.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Helio

      Wait… wait… you’re telling me that fight isn’t plot critical?

    • Heliocentric says:

      You can massacre nearly everyone and still finish the game.

      You are such a bleeding heart, I bet you even feel guilty in sots when a planet surrenders but you don’t have the xeno tech so all the civilians die.

      No, the quest is not critical, infact if you do save him the quest will repeat near daily when you are in the area. Its a nice place to farm ammo.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      I’ll be damned. The game so precisely funnels you into that fight I’d simply assumed it was necessary to plot progression. I wasn’t fighting for them Helio, I was fighting for me. Now that I know there’s nothing to be gotten out of it for me, fuck ‘em.

      I bet you even feel guilty in sots when a planet surrenders but you don’t have the xeno tech so all the civilians die.

      Guilty? No. Ripped off? Yes. In general, I play most games as a mercenary bastard. Morality doesn’t matter, but if doing the “right thing” happens to coincide with what’s best for me (as it often does) then I’m not going to go out of my way to avoid it either. Those alien bastards were potential tax payers, I don’t mind nuking them nearly so much as I mind nuking their wallets.

    • Heliocentric says:

      There is a mandatory fight at a checkpoint a little while later and I’m sure more in the game but generally you can let the ai do the heavy lifting, but they will reward you for being in the thick of it and claiming a good few scalps.

    • Heliocentric says:

      On a sots, the Zuul tourism cruisers are a massive help when it comes to invasions. Pick everyone up, build a hotel on the planet then drop people where you found them for a nice holiday.

      The dred can carry 500 million tourists, that can have a big impact on terraforming if you set it to max and set “tourist tax” to 200%. As in, 600 hazard world adapted in 1 turn.

    • Muzman says:

      I think to delay or make the bandit waves stop after the first one you have to head over to their camp right away. However this may just be delaying the respawn as you’re in the area and the game doesn’t want you to see.
      But yes, depending on what shape I’m in, I usually give up shortly after the second wave starts. You only get rewarded for the first. Those guys are defending the stupidest place anyway and later in the game (mild spoils) the whole joint is given over to wildlife.

      Winning the Rail Hanger fight further up is much more important (but still not critical).

    • Fumarole says:

      The first time I played though the Junkyard (?) fight I failed to save the guys there as I was off exploring elsewhere as I often do. The mission promptly ended as a failure, but I soon received another one (with the same objective and rewards a later playthrough confirmed) elsewhere on the same map. Sometimes failure can be a good thing in a game. It sure says a lot when most people simply do not realize this – whether about the game designers or us players I am not sure. Probably both.

    • damien says:

      @ heliocentric

      not a fix, per-se, however much of the information needed to get you started in the right direction can be found:

      http://gsc-game.com/main.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr3&thm_page=1&thm_id=2758&page=7&sort=ASC&sec_id=18#47767

      the thread itself is about an in-process overhaul of call of pripyat’s AI scripts, however that page of the thread deals specifically with how NPCs perceive sounds in the x-ray engine and how modders go about fixing things like the uselessness of silencers, the implementation of a stealth-game, etc.

  3. RedFred says:

    This is great news!

    I have just recently gone back to SOC with Complete 09 after a boring Friday night with alot of recreational drugs helped me get into it.

    So when I’m done with SOC I’m going to hit this pretty hard.

  4. GT3000 says:

    Helio are you in Wurm Online by chance?

    Also:

    LOUD SHOUT AT YOU!

    • Heliocentric says:

      No, i want to be but I’m looking at the game thinking its going to be a disgusting grind.

    • GT3000 says:

      Yes, it filled with repetitve tasks. You need imagination and social atmosphere to pull you through. I’d give it a shot, I’m on the Golden Valley server, if you decide to go on my in-game name is Matoc

  5. FlyingSquirrel says:

    A tip to anyone wanting to get back into SoC (Stalker 1), I recently discovered if you install Complete 2009, you have access to a teleporter that can also equip you for that segment in the game. Works really well if (like me) you reformatted and lost all your save files. I believe you just have to press T from the menu screen to activate it.

  6. MuscleHorse says:

    Clear Sky gets too much stick on here. Is it because it bears the Stalker name yet is not quite as good as the first?

    • Spoon says:

      I don’t know what consensus is, but I personally hate Clear Sky because of it’s utterly broken faction mechanics. I remember on my last playthrough, none of my stalker allies would help me fight bandits. Eventually I said fuck it, took over all of the bandit areas, and then literally 2 minutes after I left my newly conquered bandit HQ, some more spawned out of nowhere and reclaimed everything. It all felt so pointless.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I never actually had any problems with bugs in Clear Sky and I had loads with the first. Also, I found Clear Sky to be way too hard, that bit when you arrive back at the start of the original was insane.

      I think people are far too harsh with it. It’s not as good as the original no, but its still a fun game, there’s too much emphasis on action. Loved the night time in it though, when you catch the eyes of some mutants in the pitch black it was terrifying.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Just don’t bother with those faction mechanics; I had the same experience as Spoon. Pretending they’re not there works much better.

      Clear Sky’s story is less interesting and its end game isn’t too great (to be fair, neither is STALKER’s, but it’s a bit cooler and has more stuff before it). On top of that, CS has even less of the cool horror sections, virtually none at all. On the other hand, however, CS introduces a system of upgrades that is surprisingly cool. I had more of emotional attachment with my upgraded AK than I did with the player characters of most games.

      I think Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky are about equal in terms of quality, with SoC being just a tad better.

    • Other Steve says:

      (Damn you captcha..)

      I’d actually wrote something fairly comprehensive.

      TL;Can’t Submit.

      I found the unpatched original to be more stable than clear sky. The faction warfare / loot thing and a few level changer bugs rendered the game impossible to complete.

      I actually gave up on it which is saying something since i considered both stalker and COP to be easy without mods.

    • Muzman says:

      I had a pretty good time with Clear Sky’s faction stuff too. It’s weird how that works. It’s quirky as hell but mostly it worked. I helped the Loners take the rail hanger in Garbage from the bandits and sometimes it’d do the thing where it decides the base is friendly and puts your weapon away for you. Not good in a pitched battle.

      But we won and they guys held it themselves. I’d get the “bandits are back!” thing all the time, but moments later my guys had taken the place back again. I was off somewhere on another map.
      Then, because Duty refused me one too many times, I joined Freedom and waged all out war. It got ugly when I had to assassinate some Loners to take a necessary check point. But a couple of squads showed up and we had a huge assault on the Duty HQ. We won that as well. The Freedom guys held the base, but Duty guys would occassionally respawn in the main building and do nothing in particular. Things like that also mean it’s not Duty who shows up later at the mine and Limansk is different etc.
      There’s a lot of options for how stuff turns out. It’s make an interesting play diary exploring the options (I’m gonna join the bandits one of these days)

      Everything people say about Clear Sky is pretty much true; it’s short, difficulty is probably more unbalanced than the first, the story is meh and it’s pretty buggy. But there’s plenty of good stuff. The combat AI is really much much better than it was in the first and stealth works properly now, particularly at night. Call of Pripyat is much much better again ( and more importantly very solid) but Clear Sky makes me think they just might be able to get factions working great one day. I had fun playing with the faction system is all I’m saying really.

  7. iQue says:

    Great mod, if anyone feels like playing through the game again one day it’s totally worth the download.

    Clear Sky might be the worst in the series but when it’s one of the best series around it doesn’t really matter. :D

  8. malkav11 says:

    Call of Pripyat Complete may well arrive at some point down the line when this one’s tweaked into submission.

  9. Samuel Bigos says:

    Anyone have any tweaks to improve performance? I’m messing around with settings and at maximum, DX10 + AA I get slightly over 10FPS with an i7 and GTX280.

  10. Justin says:

    Between this and Call of Pripyat, I think the universe is telling me I MUST buy a better video card.

    Also: Interesting note on one of the artistpavel flickr pictures:

    Reworked leaves, grass, foliage to match the terrain (so the grass “pop up” effect is less noticeable, will do the same for CoP).

    So there’s a treatment for CoP on the way…

  11. id says:

    If this solves the problem with ATI graphics cards not being able to display barbed wire in DX9…well, that’d be awesome.

  12. D says:

    I like this new idea of yours that forcing my video card to make that horrible grinding sound and create smoke, is actually a treat rather than a punishment.

  13. Italian Prick says:

    I WANT WOMAN ON MY S.T.A.L.K.E.R games!

  14. bill says:

    As someone who bought Stalker (1) in the steam sale, but hasn’t started it yet, is it better to play the fully officially patched version, or to start out with any mods like this?

    (bearing in mind slightly older hardware will be used).

    • Muzman says:

      Depends how old is old really. Stalker 1 isn’t so much a resource hog as inefficient, if you know what I mean. I find the graphics to be pretty problem free on my oldish card, but I’m pretty sure it’s the AI that really slow it down at the processor end of things generally (which many mods make worse).

      At any rate, despite a few gripes about some aspects of the new graphics and sounds, I’d say the Complete mod for Shadow of Chernobyl gives a really solid playthrough that doesn’t alter the original gameplay much.

      I’d patch it up first and just have a look at things (the fully patched original looks pretty great) and just see how it runs before installing it it though, just in case the extra textures and so on do cause problems. (Watch out for campfires particularly. I think Complete doubles the number of shaders and effects on them which can really slow things down. For no real visual benefit too)

  15. Fumarole says:

    I can’t be the only person who thought Clear Sky was finer tuned than Shadow of Chernobyl, but reading RPS sure makes me think so. Although Call of Pripyat is outclassing them both so far.

    • Grunt says:

      CoP is definitely near the top of my “to buy” list but I’d given up on Clear Sky (Clearski?) after reading everywhere about how broken it was, grenade spam, broken faction system and all that other jazz. Knowing that there’s a Mod out there determined to polish the product until it sparkles, and reading comments like yours, has just made me put it back on the list. And as someone further up commented (iQue) it’s only the worst game in an utterly excellent series.

      It’s only £7 on Amazon, too. Nifty.

  16. pinbag says:

    I realy liked Clear Sky.

    Red forest is fucking scary !!!
    I have been waiting some time for a overhaul to finaly enjoy the game.

  17. Ravenger says:

    I gave up on Clear Sky when I encountered game breaking bugs twice. The first time was a broken mission later in the game which wouldn’t trigger properly. The second was a crash to the desktop every time I entered a particular area.

    I may well give the game another try if those issues are fixed and the mod fixes various other issues too.

    • Diasis says:

      Just a note on this, it sounds like a common LUA error, and I had this error myself that would CTD. It was an issue with one of the quests, that generally occurs when you start up CS and play through some of the game *then* install the Complete mod. However it’s heard of happening running through a Complete mod save as well.
      There is a very, very small line of text that you add to a file that fixes it perfectly.
      Open – gamedata\configs\scripts\darkvalley\val_space_restrictor_quest_spy.ltx
      Add – [sr_idle@6] following the layout of the rest of the text. So the last lines look like this;
      [sr_idle@5]
      on_info = {+val_bandit_spy_complete} nil

      [sr_idle@6]

      That fixed it for me.

  18. Sidorovich says:

    No amount of alleged graphical fidelity could lure me back to CS. There are mods that supposedly fix the faction wars too, but when the core code is so unstable, adding mods just increases the instability in my experience.

    I seriously doubt whether I can hack a second playthru of CoP either, even with mods. The series needs a serious overhaul.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Your not a fan of the red bloc roughness then? I suggest you never try and play pathologic which is the most extreme example.
      Personally I’d rather play something broken and interesting than a boring retread.

  19. dhex says:

    of course i just finished my first successful playthrough of clear sky last week. of course.

    this looks great, though. soooo waiting for stalker 2.

  20. dufake says:

    The Mod War I

    LURK vs Stalker 2009 Complete

    The Mod War II

    Stalker CS Reloaded vs Clear Sky Complete
    http://www.moddb.com/mods/stalker-cs-reloaded

  21. Hazelnut says:

    Hmm, I just played through CS for the first time (CoP really left me unsated, but very happy) and it wasn’t worthless, but it was frustrating with some of the issues/design decisions. Probably wont play through with this, since it looks mainly cosmetic, and even if I did I wont bother finishing the worst endgame ever.

    I downloaded Total Faction War v1.1 (http://gsc-game.com/index.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr2&thm_page=1&thm_id=22100&sec_id=22) and have been having a blast with it. Unfortunately I have had some freezes, but then I got that in the vanilla CS too.

  22. Ricotta says:

    Just started clear sky, moving very VERY slowly as i did in SOC. Seems fine so far, difficulty is fine on the highest setting for me.

  23. Serenegoose says:

    I’ve never finished SOC, so I’m unlikely to be playing this.

    SOC is too scary for me to finish. By finish, I mean ‘get even 1/4 into the game’. I’m such a wimp :(

  24. BryceCousland says:

    I like Clear Sky. The graphics could be a little blockier, and splotchier, but that’s just personal preference. I prefer the ol’ N64 style.
    I find it a bit awkward so many people are saying it’s the worst game in the series without highlighting that it’s still a great game. I guess that’s a personal problem as well…

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