The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 3

By RPS on December 3rd, 2010 at 12:00 pm.


The third window on our advent calendar is making strange buzzing and throbbing noises. What ever could such emanations mean? What kind of place will be whisked away to if we open this particular portal? Let us dare to find out…


It’s… S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat

Jim: There was an element of uncertainty about Call Of Pripyat. The omens were disturbing. While by no means it bad game, Clear Sky, Pripyat’s precursor, was a deeply flawed experience. Bugs, malformed features, and peculiar game design made it seem like a dismal rehash of the original Stalker game. It wasn’t clear whether GSC would be able to return to their original form for the third sequel/expansion in the series. (GSC talk about a genuine “Stalker 2”, which would make these games expansions of a sort.) As it turned out, no, they wouldn’t quite return to same themes and standard of Chernobyl, but, instead, would take the same world, engine, and characters, and do something a little different. Some might say better.

We had to wait a little while for this. The news from Russian and German versions of the game was that it was good. I patiently waited, becoming increasingly optimistic about it. Six months later the English language version finally landed and, lo, it was good.

While Call Of Pripyat is much the same open-ended shooter with RPG elements, it is more open ended than ever before, and exhibits even more of the RPG elements that made the previous games so interesting. There were set pieces that could play out in a number of ways, depending on your dialogue choices. There were hidden side-quests, there were weapon and armour modifications that could be made cheaper by getting the tech drunk on vodka, and more advanced by scouring the world for tools: tiny objects among the vastness of Stalker’s levels. It felt, ironic given the desolate setting, like a far richer game world than either of the previous titles.

To say the world is vast is perhaps not quite the right word: Call of Pripyat’s three large levels were as big as perhaps two or three of the largest individual areas from the original outings in the zone, and they were littered with fresh weirdness – new facilities and ruined buildings, new anomalies, this time often warping the trees and land. They didn’t feel quite as naturalistic as before – a little more game-like, perhaps – but they were not short on atmosphere, or on action. The distortion of Stalker’s world was far more physical in 2010. It felt like GSC were being more creative, more expressive. This was no where better evidenced than in Pripyat itself: the abandoned city finally becoming a playground, rather than a linear combat sequence, and delivering a story all its own: of trapped soldiers, struggling to make sense of what had happened in the events after the original game, fighting a desperate fight in the hollow streets at the heart of the disaster.

The best things about the game – the need to survive, the AI interactions, the crushing violence of the combat – they all remained intact. Stronger, even. Pripyat was a mutant, but a potent, nimble one.

And it surprised me. Several times. Not just by being fantastic overall, but in little tricks and unexpected events: the deliberate surprised that GSC had written into it. It wasn’t as frightening, of course. The claustrophobic nightmare of Shadow Of Chernobyl’s underground sequences were notable by their absence, with the one key underground sequence in Pripyat actually being a far more gung ho “big fight” sequence which you have to prepare a team of allies to face. But it still managed to pull out sequences of events that I couldn’t have anticipated, and strange little vignettes for me to investigate and puzzle over.

This is probably the most interesting first person shooter of 2010, and certainly one of the finest games of the year. I will, no doubt, find myself returning to it again and again as I wait, impatiently, for GSC to deliver that genuine sequel, and the one true herald of the sandbox shooter worlds we were promised.

Alec: Pripyat made me love STALKER again. It seems someone, somewhere always gets incredibly cross whenever I mention that I didn’t enjoy Clear Sky, as though I’m contravening some international etiquette law and not simply expressing that it didn’t incite the same feelings of desperate survival and awestruck outsiderdom that the original did. Clear Sky tried to do clever things, yes, but it didn’t do the things I wanted.

Pripyat brings the moodiness, brings the dark heart of the Zone back – making the on-paper curious decision of essentially doing STALKER redux rather than being a true sequel. It speaks of perfectionists going back to their masterpiece, determined that this time they can do it better.

Whether they did it better is a moot point – for all its brokenness, the freshness, the strangeness and even the sombre narrative of the original STALKER is probably to distinct to truly recreate – but Pripyat shines so bright to me because it’s the most definitive statement yet as to what these games, this universe is supposed to be. It’s not simply that it puts STALKER back on track, it’s that, for the first time, it seems fully aware of just what that track is.

Perhaps Pripyat’s relative slickness and lack of bugs means a little something is lost in more professional translation, but that didn’t trouble me. It folds scripted and random into each other neatly, so the former usually seems like the latter – and the net result is a more fleshed-out Zone. It’s one of action gaming’s most affecting playgrounds, and yet more proof that the STALKER series is quietly the most important evolution of shooters in the last decade.

I’m forever amazed more games don’t explore the path it’s travelled; I fear there remains this great misconception that it’s too esoteric, too unforgiving, too broken, too Russian, too PC for anyone with a mega-budget to sensibly experiment with. Pripyat, the sturdiest and most accessible of all the STALKERs, confidently proves that to be absolute bollocks.

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83 Comments »

  1. BooleanBob says:

    One day… I will get around to playing this.

    My Steam library currently has more games that I haven’t played than that I have.

    • Crainey92 says:

      Im exactly the same mate.

    • MacBeth says:

      Ditto… I’d better start with the first one though!

    • Ziv says:

      I think that by the time I’ll get to play the stalker series it would count as old, or nostalgic.
      At least by then my computer will run it smooth as butter X).

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Do so. Sooner rather than later.

      This and Mass Effect 2 were tied games of the year for me. CoP for pushing its Ukranian eccentricities to a peak, and ME2 for finally being a sci-fi action/RPG worth playing. Because there hasn’t been one in so many years. There are so many other reasons but those will do for now.

      This year has been a good year for PC games. There haven’t been many good releases, but the good ones have been truly excellent. (Amnesia as well, I’m also tempted to include Minecraft since this is the year it finally “broke out”.)

    • bob_d says:

      Sigh. Yes. And I continue to buy cheap games off Steam faster than I can play them. Damn them and their sales.

    • akemichan88 says:

      Amen Brother. Amen.

      No seriously, I have around 75 games on Steam (all bought in 1 year, can you believe that?) and to be honest, I have maybe played 10 of then from start to finish, and about 3 of them are games I play every week (L4d,L4d2,TF2).
      The thing with me is, I start a game, then around halfway through I either get stuck/bored/excited about another game, making me leave the first game in question, only to return to it after a couple of months when I suddenly had the thought: ‘Oh, I was playing that, how far in it was I again?’

    • sauron says:

      Only 75? I envy your self control. I’ve nearly 200 more than that, of which I’ve maybe played to any extent whatsoever (meaning non-zero, bu not necessarily substantially so) 50 of them. And yet I continue to buy.

    • Byth says:

      I just started on Saturday (yes, the last Saturday in November) and I have 12 games, of which I’ve played 7 and have seriously started 3. I love Steam.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      I did exactly the same. Bought the STALKER bundle in the last steam sale and didn’t play either for a few months, but when I finally got round to playing (firing up Pripyat up first) I had the best gaming experience I’ve had in the last few years, let alone this year. Play it, you won’t regret it. Bump it to the top of your ‘games I ought to play’ list while the graphics still look good (especially with the Atmosphear mod), don’t wait any longer!

      Be prepared for very little explanation or tutorial starting with Pripyat but as RPS readers I expect you’ll be comfortable with being dropped in at the deep end of a fantastic FPS/RPG world.

      If Jim and John’s words haven’t convinced you I’m sure mine won’t, but seriously, get involved! I was glad when I finally did.

  2. Hunam says:

    I’ve never actually managed to play this for more than 15 minutes as I get some insane stuttering, like full on 5-10 second pauses with the characters arms on the screen flying around at each one as I walk across the landscape. It’s a known issue with Windows 7 64-Bit but so far no fix has come along.

    Boo.

    • Urael says:

      Surprising, and saddening, to hear that, Hunam. I’m on Win7 x64 and have enjoyed a flawless and fascinating experience.

      I’ve not yet finished it but I will…someday….when I’m not being ‘magpied’ by other titles.

    • Hunam says:

      :(

      Strange thing is, the original runs fine.

      Could be an nvidia problem mind, both my PC and my Dad’s PC which I get the problem on have Nvidia cards (460 and 285)

    • goatmonkey says:

      I had the same problem but have thankfully kept my XP on a partition for these games and a few others that wont work on Win 7

    • Hunam says:

      That’s what I’m going to do as I need some new drives anyway, so just going to go dual XP/Win7, shame though as I wont be able to run it in DX11, thems the breaks I suppose.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Try switching to DX10, there’s a lot of issues with DX11 (possibly driver-related). There’s very little difference between the two in this game anyway.

    • Navagon says:

      One thing that Nvidia cards aren’t so good at right now is tessellation. One thing that Pripyat has which the original doesn’t is tessellation. Switching to DX10 does sound like the best option in your case.

    • Hunam says:

      It does it in DX9 and DX10 too.

    • suibhne says:

      I’m also on Win 7 64-bit and the game runs nicely for me. I’ve spent many hours in CoP.

  3. Andreas says:

    I still think this stands as my GOTY, closely followed by Mass Effect 2

  4. Mana_Garmr says:

    The tunnel sequence to get into the city was fantastic. Leading my group into the darkness, freaking out at every little noise thinking it was an ambush, trying to hit fast moving little rat-creatures without accidentally shooting my own crew, or crossing into their lines of fire.

  5. Jonathan says:

    It’s on my “To Do” list, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get round to playing it. I did try it for a few hours, but found the opening to be so lacking in direction it was offputting. Trying to play something complex like this drunk probably didn’t help much…

    The first Stalker was easily my favourite game of 2007 though, and probably my favourite game of at least the last five years, so I do have faith that Call of Pripyat is worthwhile.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      STARTING to play something like this drunk is a bad idea. If you are already familiar with the world and mechanics, however, it can be a great experience.

  6. WMain00 says:

    Pripyat was good fun. Tempted to install it on Steam again.

  7. netsukemonkey says:

    Ah, STALKER. Probably responsible for most of my gaming time this year. And definitely responsible for my most enjoyable gaming moments ever.

    CoP was great and I’m actually reminded of the emotional impact the ending had on me (THE ONLY SPOILER THAT FOLLOWS IS ABOUT PRODUCTION VALUES). It kind of reminded me that the huge cutscenes and epilogues of big budget games are wasted if you don’t have a story or world that the player feels engaged in. And because I felt invested in CoP the simple way that the ending played out, to show the impact I had on the world, was fantastic.

  8. Daniel Johnston says:

    This would be a good point for someone to remind me people if there are any good mods I they should be installing before I they start playing. Anyone?

  9. Mistabashi says:

    Indeed it’s a cracking game, I particularly liked the more RPG style sidequests and the general lonely, desolate vibe.

    Why does everyone insist on using Atmosfear mod though? The Zone should not be a bright, pastel-coloured place, it should be dark and gloomy. That first screenshot in particular looks ridiculous to my eye. Personal preference comes into it of course, but I can’t help feeling that lots of people are installing just because it’s popular…

  10. neems says:

    Awesome game. Is there some sort of mod or tweaked setting going on in those screenshots? There seems to be far more grass than I get on mine – I always seem to be walking around in a portable patch of grass that centres on my feet.

  11. Mccy_McFlinn says:

    Definitely one of the games of the year and a shame it didn’t get as much commercial success as it deserved. Hopefully, some mods on par with those released for the original will come along soon getting me to play through for the third time.

  12. mlaskus says:

    Most accessible of all the Stalkers? I bought Shadow of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat on one of the recent Steam sales.
    I loved SoC, it was great, though I have only played it with the Complete mod.
    I uninstalled CoP after about an hour and I don’t intend to try playing it again until the Complete mod gets released for it.

    Does the Complete mod make all the difference or are those simply completely different games?

    • Mistabashi says:

      They are just different games – Call of Pripyat is a more rambling, RPG-like game, whereas the original is much more linear in it’s plot (eg it always tells you exactly what your goal is and marks a big ‘X’ on your map).

      The Complete mod is mostly graphical, plus restores a few minor elements that were cut in the original like enemies throwing grenades.

    • Grey Cap says:

      Steady on, Mistabashi. CoP has a fine compass, and it’s extremely rare to not have a main quest with a marker; the only possible exception I can think of is the ‘assemble a team’ quest. In the beginning of a game, you even get a quest (with marker!) to find the ship where you can find side quests…

      I found the first two hours to be disappointingly low on enqouraging loot, mind you!

    • Muzman says:

      It’s true, but I think he means the way it’s laid out. In the first game you were given discrete objectives which you mostly did one step at a time (Talk to Wolf, Rescue Nimble, Cross the embankment, Meet Fox, Visit the Garbage, Meet Siery and so on).
      In CoP you have your over arching mission set out from the start and you’re dropped into the wilderness. You can go investigate the crash sites if you want, or talk to some guys and visit the Skadovsk, get some missions, find some gossip, go for a wander etc.
      It’s a lot more self directed. Your main mission and the other things you find out and do are related but in more fluid ways. That’s the point I think. Not that it’s unclear when you’ve got a task to perform or when you have information to help you do it.

    • Grey Cap says:

      Well, when you put it that way, I have to agree with you (plural). Of course, for me that was kind of a selling point…

  13. Brumisator says:

    I haven’t lived with my parents for about 8-9 yea´rs, but my mum still brought me a candy christmas calendar…I eat it up one day ata time, in synch with RPS’s calendar.

    GET OUT OF HERE STALKER! hooray.

  14. bitbot says:

    I loved CoP but I sure hope they put some more effort into the English version of STALKER 2… or at least allow you to play with Russian voices and subtitles. CoP had some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard.

  15. Javier-de-Ass says:

    game of the year

  16. Navagon says:

    Hell yeah, now we’re talking!

  17. Simon Dufour says:

    Nice. I didn’t know it was that good. I’m happy I bought it. It’s installed, simply never launched it.

  18. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Didn’t play this because the second one put me right off, Doubt I will, I think that the stalker games riff off other games a lot and RPS overlook that even the first one was broken beyond forgiveness, it’s true it has a tremendous value not to be forgotten however.

    • Zaraf says:

      First 2 felt like unfinished games (and actually were), but the third is fine.

      I mean it’s still a bit “rustic” like the others due to the limitations of the engine, but the gameplay is fine and rather well-balanced, and doesn’t really need adjustments with mods.

  19. fuggles says:

    Funnily enough when just using vanilla patches I’ve had no problem with SoC or CoP. By all acounts CS is crap, but for me SoC is the best in terms of the bleakness of the atmosphere as well as the level design and general plot. CoP was good, if short, but I’d still hold SoC up as the shining light.

  20. Urthman says:

    Perhaps Pripyat’s relative slickness and lack of bugs means a little something is lost in more professional translation

    Oh please. Games are not rock music. Bugs and lack of polish don’t give you some sort of raw energy or a cool lo-fi, distorted sound.

    A bug free game is not overproduced, it’s simply better. If Chernobyl is in some ways better than Pripyat, it’s not attributable to the bugs.

    • IdleHands says:

      Not that I really disagree with what you said but a counter point could be made about bugs adding something. Bugs (that are non game breaking) can create wonderfully weird and fun quirks to games that the fanbase love and create a new layer of enjoyment for them, I mean look at the Spy crab from TF2 it went from weird bug / glitch to official taunt.

      Perusing this TV trope you can see a long, long list of bugs that the gaming fanbase hold dear-
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoodBadBugs

      Of course the problem is that these bugs are never intentional and the developers can never be credited for it’s genuis or fun. And nor should they, bugs can add elements to a game but it still shouldn’t be completely forgiven by gamers. Anyway just food for thought really on the topic.

    • MultiVaC says:

      Get out of here, Stalker!

  21. Hazelnut says:

    Oh, mmmm, that wonderful Stalker experience. I’ve spent more time in the stalker games than any other game franchise I suspect. I have no idea why there aren’t more open(-ish) RPG styled (quests etc) FPS games.

    So looking forward to Stalker 2!

    Some great mods for the stalker games are: Total Faction Warfare (CS) & SGM (Pripriat)

    My return on investment for these three games is massive, probably 10-20p per hour or something ridiculous. GSC, thank you.

    :-D

  22. ZenArcade says:

    This was my faveourite game of 2010, hands down. Really thought it was ‘stalker’ enough to be related to the others, but just different enough to still be exciting and interesting. Plus, dare I say it, the most ‘finished’ of all the games, right out of the box, I think i only really encountered one or two bugs in my whole time playing it.

  23. Inigo says:

    I’ve never got round to playing any of the Stalker games (except for Build 1935), but I’ve sat out in the snow drinking vodka and eating bread & polish sausage while being attacked by dogs. Which is close enough, I guess.

  24. qrter says:

    CoP didn’t really do it for me. Strangely enough, the world of CoP feels less alive to me than the previous games. Kind of empty. Part of it seems to be that you now have three large areas, which meant there was less variation in surroundings and atmosphere, in a way.

    I was also kind of sad that they never have been able to hit the same levels of clammy-palms-scariness since the first game (not even in the underground Pripyat passage – although that was a nice sequence in its own right).

    (One thing I really disliked in CoP was how stashes were handled – I know there were a lot of problems with the stash system in SoC and CS, but this thing with objects lying around in the world.. I thought it was horrible.)

  25. laikapants says:

    I want so slightly badly to not be horrible at this game. But no, I die a horrible death every time I play. Still, it is might pretty right before I die.

  26. TooNu says:

    I’ve recently (2 weeks ago) played through this again. It’s a great game but the MODs available make this game even better. This mod SMRTER improves everthing and, for me at least, is essential to enjoying the game more. Now I can’t make a link because I don’t know how but here is a copy/paste job. http://stalker.filefront.com/file/SMRTER_Pripyat;108615

    • TooNu says:

      Oh snap!

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      The author is still working on “v0.45″ which will supposedly add new maps and a boatload of extra quests.

      I personally couldn’t care less about Atmosfear and all those other visual mods – make some maps you lazy sods – but more content for this game is desperately needed. The ONE negative I would give CoP is that there simply isn’t enough of it, especially after the underdeveloped “final segment”. (No that doesn’t mean the game is half-finished, it concludes nicely in fact, rather that could have had more content and be more fleshed out.)

  27. Taillefer says:

    One of my favourite things about COP is that it’s an FPS by day and a survival-horror by night. Pitch-black nights (absent from an unmodded SOC, iirc), were a panicky, terrifying experience. It puts you under that constant pressure of trying not to stay out too long. And if you do get stranded then everything recognisable becomes unfamiliar, every noise makes you tense, more deadly monsters roam around, every little light becomes a beacon of hope; you race towards the shining torches so you can travel with other people for safety, only to find they’re currently being mauled by a group of bloodsuckers, which have now noticed you.

    You learn to fear the dark early on. So, of course, you just know they’re going to give you a night-time mission at some point.

  28. MrEvilGuy says:

    Stalker games are special.

    But after finishing the 3 of them I am starting to feel too confined in their worlds. They need to expand and make those worlds bigger!

    Stalker games though – they provide plenty of those rare moments that stick with you forever. Everybody should be playing these.
    Plus, now I really want to go visit Pripyat.

    • DXN says:

      I hope they set Stalker 2 somewhere other than Chernobyl, great as it is as a setting. I think it could work just as well in, say, China — they must have some abandoned power stations or other facilities, or maybe one of those “ghost towns” that were built but never populated? Or maybe a “superfund” type site — either on the American continents, or maybe in Africa… or around the ship graveyards in India, or the military-hardware graveyards in Eurasia… but heck, if it is Chernobyl, I won’t complain. :P

    • Tusque d'Ivoire says:

      Any broader setting/area/futuristic vision might get the whole franchise a lot closer to the fantasy setting of the fallout games i think.

      Stalker is to me more of a realistic setting, they would need any other abandoned/irradiated areas they include a lot more toned down sci-fi wise. though i like the idea of bigger and different settings than the ol’ sarcophagus…

  29. Lucas says:

    The original is still my favorite. CoP’s tame environments and RPG-ified progression really dampend the experience for me even though they softened its rough edges. I prefer a more dangerous and unpredictable Zone. Secretly I continue hoping for an entirely new (and seamless) environment for Stalker 2, but I know its unlikely. They won’t take as big a risk again or spend as long crafting a masterpiece.

    • Basilicus says:

      Fully agreed, and this is coming from someone whose game wouldn’t let him finish. I got *SPOILER?* stuck under the pipe right before entering the plant itself, perpetually crashed, and eventually just threw my hands in the air and said, “Let’s just say my character died right there,” an explanation which somehow seemed to fit the game perfectly.

  30. Etho says:

    I love this game, though I haven’t finished it yet. I played the first one, and it was great, but it was crushingly difficult and buggy enough that I never got too terribly far in it. I skipped right over Clear Sky, but one day I spotted CoP on sale, and thought “Hey, why not, RPS liked it.” It was an impulse purchase, with disposable income, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

    I proceeded to do nothing else for two weeks. And I still didn’t beat it, because it is just so much fun to wander out and explore. I made it to Pripyat, but I haven’t finished the missions there.

    It was still hard, but with auto-saving it was a bit more forgiving, since dying only set me back a little bit and not hours. And less buggy, of course. Just an excellent game.

    I played Metro 2033 hoping it would be similar, but It just didn’t engage me quite the same way. I think after playing CoP, M-2033 just felt a little too linear, a little to on-rails. It felt like a STALKER game that had been market-tested and focus grouped.

    So, given my experience with Shadow of Chernobyl (awesome, but too punishing) and Call of Pripyat (awesome and just punishing enough), would it be in my best interest to pick up Clear Sky?

    • Grey Cap says:

      Clear Sky is focused much more heavily on huge, long, continuous (somewhat punishing) firefights against humans. And is still, as far as I know, in the habit of throwing you uncompletable missions and refusing to spawn the NPCs you need to escort for said missions.

      Still, the firefights are great! So, you know, a half-hearted recommendation. Just MAKE SURE to download a mod which, and this is importamt, reduces the number of grenades your enemies throw.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      To be fair, Metro 2033 does suffer with poor gunplay. Otherwise it shares with Stalker an tremendously imaginative and creative experience and sense of artistry. It’s utterly linear, but it’s hugely atmospheric and memorable for many, many reasons. Not a perfect FPS game, but a fantastic and singular experience. Deserves to go on the RPS Christmas list. Right behind CoP, I’d say.

  31. Michael says:

    Have only played Shadow of Chernobyl previously which was and is a great game but also very tough going at times. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. The grass pop up almost put me off at the start but not much later and wow! Such an interesting world, so full of atmosphere, fraught with danger and intrigue. Really amazing game. Once started it was all that was played on this PC for a couple of weeks. And what weeks they were…

  32. espy says:

    SoC is probably my favourite game, hands down. I then skipped CS altogether and now got CoP in the Impulse sale. And it’s fantastic. I agree with every word in the article.

    Stalker is raw and sophisticated at the same time, like a complicated and mostly brilliant album by great musicians, played on dodgy instruments and recorded on an old four-track in someone’s kitchen (see the band Women, for example). Once you’ve transcended/embraced the noise and the weirdness, the true structure and ambition shines through and instantly becomes irresistable. And the Stalker games are dedicated, they follow through and take no prisoners, for better or worse. In a era of focus groups and target market optimisation, that alone is admirable. They have backbone and heart.

    I haven’t been playing much this year, but this is my GOTY.

  33. Wasabi2k says:

    Like many this is in my Steam Library waiting to be player (along with Batman, Psychonauts, DOW II etc etc etc).

    My first play was the original on my old PC which wasn’t much fun due to chunky framerates which put me off, might be time for another go.

    Dickish Comment: “probably to distinct” should be “probably too distinct”

  34. Basilicus says:

    I still think SoC was the superior game, if only for the rawness of its atmosphere. That game was thick with it. Only game to ever make me limit my daily playtime because it was too oppressive (and I’m a huge fan of things that scare the crap out of me).

    The only thing SoC was missing, and this was pretty big given the oppressive atmosphere, was an option to go into 3rd person mode so you could see your character hunker down in terror and cry like a baby for an in-game hour or so.

    In fact, I blame SoC’s hardcore atmo and ‘persistent’ world and Far Cry 2′s chaotic action dynamic and mature storyline approach to open-worlding it for making me underwhelmed enough with (the admittedly solid) Fallout 3 I had to go, “Game of the Year? Really?”

  35. Justin says:

    According to Steam, I’ve put 172 hours into Shadow of Chernobyl. Call of Pripyat, close to the same. These games are actually rewarding to replay.

    I like the relatively smaller maps in Shadow of Chernobyl. There was more variety between maps, and I’d also argue that larger doesn’t mean more to see. Exploring the areas around Agroprom or the Wild Territory took a nice long time, for instance, or at least felt like it.

  36. thebigJ_A says:

    The only STALKER I’ve played is Clear Skies, and I didn’t even finish that. It’s not that it wasn’t good, mostly, it’s just that, somewhere in the middle, it began to drag, and I just sort of stopped playing. I don’t have the time to go back and play it over from the beginning (which I’d have to, since it’s been so long I won’t remember what I was doing).

    Can this be played with no knowledge of STALKER the first, and a patchy knowledge of the first half of CS?

    • Muzman says:

      I’d say you could quite happily for the most part. When you get to the very end you might be saying ‘Who? Wha?’ a bit but that doesn’t really matter in the least for most of the game.
      What you lose by not playing the others is experience with the world and the mechanics, since the game doesn’t give you much of an intro. But half of CS would probably do the job there.

    • LoopyDood says:

      To tell you the truth, you’re quite lucky to have not played Clear Sky to the end. The entire ending sequence is… very bad. It might have ruined your perception of S.T.A.L.K.E.R..

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  38. bill says:

    Quick question, how does it handle on lower powered pcs?

    My laptop JUST managed to get through SoC on pretty low settings, but with dynamic lighting on. The last level, and the city in the middle with dozens of stalkers hanging out, brought it into “i hope smoke doesn’t start coming out” territory though.

    Is this more demanding, or more optimized?

  39. Maxrmk says:

    This is easily one of the hardest games I have ever played. I’m just so lost. Can anyone give me some starter tips/links to a good guide?

  40. H.Bogard says:

    Cool story, bro.

  41. Basilicus says:

    zhengun has a great point. The lack of consumerist American accoutrement he mentions here, which would have been an obvious inclusion – if not focus – for Western developers, really helped to shape the decidedly Russian aspects of the Stalker series of computer-playable fiction games.

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