Further New Dawns For Clear Sky

By Jim Rossignol on July 1st, 2010 at 5:22 pm.


A few people have mailed us over the past few weeks suggesting that we take a look at the Total Faction War mod v1.8 by PhoenixHeart, Darkenneko and Smoq2. I finally got around to doing that this week, and I’ve written up some thoughts below. Long term readers will recall that I previously attempted to mod the errant son of the Stalker dysnasty into a place in my heart last year, with mixed results. This is the first mod I’ve had installed that comes close to fixing what was otherwise the weakest aspect of Clear Sky, even after modding: the factional warfare.

It’s worth remembering that TFM is still very much a work in progress. It includes a bunch of smaller tweaks that as standard in other overhauls, such as the sleeping bag, but the heart of the project is in overhauling everything to bring the wonky factional warfare aspect of Clear Sky to the fore. Whereas it never really worked in the vanilla game, eventually forcing you to give up and try to wade through the linear storyline as best you could, here the storyline has been chopped out entirely. Rather than starting in the Clear Sky base you simply wake up in a tricky situation in the zone and fleet to find a guide. That guide will take you to any faction base of your choosing – including at least one that I didn’t recognise from the original game – and from there you can immediately join up and start getting involved in the faction war.

The principles of the factional fighting remain the same: there are multiple points across each of the areas of the zone which can be captured by the arrival of an allied squad. Enemy squads are also out and about and will attempt to take positions held by their opponents. The mod does a great deal to rejog the AI that makes all this happen, building on the original system which told you which areas needed attention. There’s also the continuous radio-chatter from neutral stalkers across the zone who report what they’ve seen, such as enemies, and will even report have rare items to sell, and where they can be found for the trade.

You job is essentially as a kind of roaming commander and fire-support unit. You can ask squads to move about to different locations – most significantly between different zones – but you don’t have to stick with them. You can go ahead and clear out enemy held areas, or monsters that might endanger the squads, or get on with scavenging, trading, or scouting. This makes the pattern of play quite different to the original game. You aren’t really ever carrying out traditional quests for the story game, and instead you’re much more concerned with shooting dudes, and staying well equipped. EDIT: I should also mention at this point that you can also take on NPC companions, who can follow you around and help out in combat. These can be picked up in the faction bases, and also the neutral trade centre.

I’m rather enjoying wading through all this, despite it being fairly laborious at times, but I don’t seem to quite have the hang of capturing the relevant points on the map while also defending the areas that are under attack, thanks to having limited allied squads to boss about. As such I’m a long way from seeing if the end game is achievable, which should result in domination of the zone for your chosen faction. (I’m also getting pissed off because it has the accurate grenade spam in.)

In conclusion then, this is a genuinely interesting mod (especially if the team continue with their stated intent of building a new storyline for the mod) and I will likely be coming back to it. It is, I hope, the final fix that will save Clear Sky from its status as the weakest Stalker game, and give us a proper reason to play it as an alternative to Shadow Of Chernobyl, or Call Of Pripyat. Go take a look for yourself, and perhaps keep an eye on future updates.

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23 Comments »

  1. Centy says:

    Ah Jim talking about Stalker it really doesn’t get much better than this. I still haven’t even given Clear Sky a go I just keep replaying Chernobyl until I have a PC capable of fully realising Call of Pripyat which has sat gathering dust on my steam list since it came out.

    • Muzman says:

      Centy: If you’ve got a system that can handle SoC I’d dare say you’d be fine with Call of Pripyat (unless you’ve been playing SoC without full lighting (a cruel disservice) or you’re waiting to turn CoP all the way up with DX10/11 or whatever, which is a worthy goal). The subsequent games are very well optimised.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I actually found that Call of Pripyat was unplayable on my system without making the graphics pants. The first two I can turn the settings up and it looks gorgeous but not CoP. That’s why I haven’t played anymore than the first hour of it.

    • Muzman says:

      In the previous two games having graphics drivers that were very recent often produced terrible frame rates, where older ones did not.
      Obviously I don’t know in this case, but that’d be the first thing I’d try.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I will have to go back to it then. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Grunt says:

    Having played Clear SKy recently I see no reason to ever go back to it, while SoC still ranks as one of my favouritest games EVER.

  3. Chris R says:

    Oh come now, Clear Sky isn’t that bad once you get a few mods installed, like the CS Reloaded mod. I’m replaying it and it’s quite fun. Try out some of the mods until you find one that you like.

  4. Vodkarn says:

    Oh man, now I have to go play through it again. Goddamnit.

  5. Handsome Dead says:

    I can’t even play Clear Sky. Every time I have to quickload (which is all the time) the game crashes to desktop. I installed Clear Sky complete too. Didn’t help. Sadface.

  6. Freud says:

    I kinda backed into the series and have only played CoP and I’m unsure if there is much point to playing CS. I actually have bought CS but never got around to playing it.

    I loved playing CoP and feel quite content with that until Stalker 2 comes along.

  7. Hazelnut says:

    Thank you RPS! I played 1.1 of this mod a few months ago and had a blast – look forward to playing this version. I just love the stalker series so much. :D

  8. Heliosicle says:

    I’m just waiting for CoP complete…

  9. ilurker says:

    A lot of what was wrong with CoP’s graphics wasn’t the shaders or effects, it was the assets themselves. The LURK project has a tentative version in testing for CoP which makes a ton of difference with nary a hickup to performance, and it’s fairly easy to convert Clear Sky asset mods to CoP because so many are reused. I suspect once some serious work is put towards it by the usual suspects we’ll see some pretty impressive CoP mods coming out of the woodwork.

    They even have fog!
    http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/8735/fogv.jpg

  10. Mistabahsi says:

    This is indeed a fantastic mod, it turns the game into more of a ‘sandbox’ experience. It’s worth noting that you don’t actually have to join a faction either, you can play the game as a Loner just doing odd jobs for the non-faction traders and wandering the Zone for as long as you like (one for all the survivalists out there).

    Also something you may not have come across yet jim is the NPC companions you can recruit (try heading for the bar at the loner base in Garbage), they work much like the companions in Fallout 3 (except they don’t constantly spout irritating dialogue or kill themselves by falling off things).

  11. Ravenger says:

    I gave up on Clear Sky after encountering game breaking bugs not once, but twice. SoC was a much better game, certainly much scarier.

  12. PhoenixHeart says:

    I’d like to point out that those of you who dread going through it again, this is a COMPLETELY different game. We tore out the entire main storyline, and will be replacing it with our own.

    The constant and game crippling bugs of the original Clear Sky are gone (to be fair, we have a couple of our own, but Smoq almost always gets those patched and fixed the day they’re reported, and you usually don’t even need a new game.)

    Thanks for the review, Jim! It really brightened our day when one of our buddies on the GSC forums said “hey you guys just got featured on RPS!” Also, you didn’t go over the companion system :( There’s one companion you get right off the bat, he’ll be sitting somewhere in your base, just talk to him; and a second that you can recruit from the Depot, as long as you bring him some armor from your faction.

  13. PhoenixHeart says:

    Something I forgot: If anyone gets a CTD and would like to report it and get it fixed, post all reports here:
    http://gsc-game.com/index.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr2&thm_page=1&thm_id=22416&sec_id=22
    Bear in mind that it is still in Beta, and that while we do our best to kill bugs, some do slip through into release.

    This is also the discussion page for the mod where people can discuss and ask questions about it.

  14. Casimir's Blake says:

    Yet another Stalker mod with no new maps. There’s a lot of talent in the Stalker community, but almost no-one (outside of the peeps making Lost Alpha) are bothering to make properly new content.

    This is a good Clear Sky mod though, if you can get past the start which is utterly laborious. Poor weaponry and almost no cash, it’s not much fun at first.

  15. Alez says:

    man i wished i had this mod when i played clear sky. It was the only thing i liked, faction wars. As soon as i got tired of that broken system and tried to do the story i lost all interest.

    Also, i am the only one in existence who enjoyed clear sky but not the others. Mutants and monsters bore me but the faction wars between people was an interesting thing.

    Really, i want un-monster-ized versions of all the post apocalyptic games out there.

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