Saving Of Chernobyl: Stalker, 75p/99c

By Alec Meer on December 6th, 2010 at 9:10 pm.

The jury is, as far as I can tell, still somewhat out on the Games For Windows do-ever, but Microsoft’s Steam rival has certainly been offering a few tempting mega-discounts lately. This time (as LewieP tips us off to) it’s the original STALKER (Shadow of Chernobyl) for less than a pound/dollar. Only lasts for today, so get a wriggle on if you want it and aren’t one of those chaps claiming a moral objection to GFW.

Shadow of Chernobyl, incidentally, remains my favourite of the three STALKERs, although I suspect I’d direct anyone new to the series to start with Call of Pripyat. Chernobyl’s certainly rougher, but that’s part of its singular charm for me. It’s also a milestone game: the right shooter at the right time, a vital statement of what gun games could become, just before the vast bulk of them peeled off into either mega-budget console linearity or high-barrier-to-entry multiplayer fare. Shadow of Chernobyl remains a prophecy of what might have been. Perhaps even of what might yet be.

It’s as essential a play as any game of the 21st century possibly could be, as far as I’m concerned.

(Oh, and grab the Stalker Complete mod anthology for it, won’t you?)

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79 Comments »

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  1. Navagon says:

    Awesome game. This is a stupidly ridiculously good deal. But unfortunately it’s on a stupidly ridiculous site.

    • dadioflex says:

      I bought Viva Pinata just to test GFWLMP. Apart from having to enter credit card details, as opposed to Pay Pal, as some have already mentioned, the process was pretty smooth. I HAVE a boxed copy of Viva PInata but when I tried to play it three years ago GFWL plain didn’t work. Worked fine this time though.

      The client is about as clunky as Impulse but it doesn’t need to be running to play the game.

      I’d buy from them again, but the price would have to be right. This sale is a really good start. If MS want to buy my love with cheap games then I say bring it on.

      EDIT: oh, anyone know if mods work with this version of Stalker? (Even at 75p I’m not buying it, I already have a boxed copy and a Steam copy. Epic game.)

    • Navagon says:

      Some people have no problems (myself included). Many people find it utterly impossible. Such as the many who are regionally restricted.

      GWFL is still one of the most ludicrous business models out there. It’s certainly on a par with Impulse and Greenmangaming in that regard, if not moreso.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      @dadioflex The client is about as clunky as Impulse but it doesn’t need to be running to play the game.

      When I play it doesn’t keep the marketplace open…but it certainly forces the processes “WLIDSVC.EXE” and “WLIDSVCM.EXE”, which do not stop once you stop the game. I uninstalled the program associated with those and it did let me boot up the game still (tho marketplace wont work w/o them). However…it would no longer let me save my game without those processes, so actually in the end it does require an external program to boot the game.

      Also I don’t know about you…but this game took overnight to download which seemed rather long. A game that size usually takes a few hours or so on steam for me.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Nic Clapper: Which game are you talking about? Deus Ex/Stalker (non-GFWL), or Shadowrun/Viva Piñata (GFWL)? If it’s a GFWL game, perhaps that’s GFWL requiring the service and isn’t really related to the marketplace.

      My steam copies of Dirt 2 and GTA 4 won’t even launch if I kill that service, and that definitely has nothing to do with Microsoft’s marketplace client. I don’t have Stalker on GFWM, but I did get the $0.10 copy of AoE3, and as far as I can tell it’s unaffected by whether the service is running or not. I think what you’re noticing is the GFWL requirement of whichever game you got.

      Even if you’d purchased the game on disc, you’d still need to be running the service to save. But the requirement for the service to be running doesn’t sound like any DRM which they add to non-GFWL games like Stalker. Of course, one could complain that installing the marketplace requires installing the GFWL client also, which will start the unnecessary service, but it’s pretty hard to avoid having to installing the GFWL client for at least one of your games, anymore.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      “Of course, one could complain that installing the marketplace requires installing the GFWL client also, which will start the unnecessary service”

      Doesn’t this mean it doesn’t matter what game it was? To get the games you need all this junk regardless of a game being live or not yea?

      But yea was Viva. My main prob with those processes is they are sneaky. I expect to have things stop running when I shut them off, and in this case they don’t. I quit a game on steam…well steam is still running but I can SEE that its still running…shut it off and then its gone. In this case tho I quit the game and they keep running secretly in the bg.

    • dadioflex says:

      Shrug.

      Viva Pinata was one of the first GFWL games. It’s ALL ABOUT GFWL, right down to the internal mail service. I kinda assume that if I want to play it I’m going to need to be running the GFWL services. For VP they aren’t EXTERNAL services, they’re essential.

      Stupid game had me up to 1am chasing flippitybops and hullajigs all over the place so I could run the same stupid maze time and again. Stupid addictive game.

      I downloaded the game on Sunday, nearly 8 gigs took me maybe 2.5 hours. Definitely slow, maybe slower than Steam but Virgin Media are doing so much bandwidth capping and traffic management I don’t know what’s normal.

      Anyway. I didn’t like GFWL when it was on Red Faction Guerilla and am still pissed off that the saves I thought I was making in the cloud, weren’t. Definitely hated it when I first tried VP, some three years ago. Right now it’s working fine for me. Next game I try might tip me back the other way. At 76p per game I’m prepared to be mildly put out at worst.

  2. Javier-de-Ass says:

    I don’t see how gfw is any more ridiculous than steam

    • Chesterton says:

      Exactly.

    • SF Legend says:

      GFWL doesn’t even have a fucking download speed display.

    • Mattressi says:

      Steam works.

    • Vinraith says:

      Actually it’s markedly less ridiculous than Steam, being as you’re not actually tied to the client. GfW Marketplace is actually just fine, it’s GfWL-infested games (like Steamworks-infested games) that you have to watch out for.

    • MD says:

      “GfW Marketplace is actually just fine”

      I’m sure it is for some people, but for some of us it’s ridiculously broken. I’m by no means a Steam apologist, but at least it works pretty smoothly.

    • Mistabashi says:

      @ Vinraith:

      See Nic Clapper’s post above; it seems that GFW Marketplace games are indeed tied to a client, it just runs in the background without your knowledge.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      @Javier-de-Ass says “I don’t see how gfw is any more ridiculous than steam”

      Things I dont like so far:
      Slow downloads
      Limited and very clunky interface (steam is ugly and pretty clunky in places…but this is way worse)
      Hidden processes must run and continue to even after you quit out

      Speculation/Fears:
      If these crazy deals work out and bring gfwl on the road to being a hit, do you really expect the service will stay free?
      If these crazy deals dont work out…and gfw fails once again, do you really expect ms won’t ditch gfwl entirely and you’ll still be able to download your games from them?
      To use paypal currently you must purchase ‘points’ blocks…I fear if successful all transactions will require points blocks.

      Just a few things that came to mind… Thing is any digital service is ridiculous in that you never really ‘own’ the games. That much is true. But after that I feel its easy to compare services on other levels, and when you do, I honestly don’t see how anything can come close to steam. It def has its issues, many that drive me crazy in fact. But at least for now, I think its the best service available.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Steam isn’t a steaming (har har) piece of shit. GFWL is.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mistabashi

      What Nic’s seeing is Window’s Live ID, an obnoxious little process that exists in all versions of Windows post-XP, I’m afraid. It’s not the GfW client, as you can run GfW games after uninstalling that.

    • panther says:

      why are you white knighting a terrible service

    • Mistabashi says:

      Those processes aren’t part of a default Windows installation (they exist no-where on my Vista installation). They are part of the Windows Live system, which is presumably a requirement of the Games for Windows Marketplace login process, as well as other things like Windows Live Messenger etc. And if the above post is correct, uninstalling them prevents you from being able to save your progress in this game at least. So whether you call this a “client” or not, it seems games downloaded via Marketplace require some background processes in order to function properly, regardless of whether you can ‘see’ them or not.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mistabashi

      Interesting, I suppose messenger has always been the source of that in my previous Windows installs. That’s certainly an unpleasant tie-in, I agree, I wonder if it applies to apparently DRM-free titles like AOE3. I’ll have to check.

      It’ still no worse that Steam lock-down, of course, but it’s no better either. That’s a pity.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      @Mistabashi “What Nic’s seeing is Window’s Live ID, an obnoxious little process that exists in all versions of Windows post-XP, I’m afraid. It’s not the GfW client, as you can run GfW games after uninstalling that.”

      I was able to run Viva Pinata w/o the processes running, but I was not able to save my game w/o them. So, games that aren’t dependent on the live might be ok (I’m not sure), but games like that one aren’t worth playing w/o the option to save.

      PS: Im running XP

    • Vinraith says:

      @Nic

      Wait, wait, so you’ve only tested this with Live-integrated games? I know THOSE won’t function properly without GfWL (or a crack), the question is whether GfW-purchased games that are not GfWL games (like STALKER, or AOE3 from last week) have any kind of check. I know they don’t require GFWL installed because they run fine after I remove it and save fine after I remove it. If they require some other hidden component I’d like to know that, and if they’re genuinely free of tie-downs I’d like to know that too.

      Edit: In other words, what Blather Blob jut said above.

    • Caleb367 says:

      @Vinraith

      Well,GFWL actually damages many games when it’s working. A couple of examples: GTA IV and Fallout 3 have performance and stability issues that go away when you blast GFWL with the xliveless hack, Red Faction Guerrilla had a slight but noticeable frame rate increase when i removed said client. I haven’t tried DoW2 without Live yet, seems to me to run somewhat worse than it should, but I think multiplayer support will be toast without Live.

  3. SquareWheel says:

    Except they don’t accept Paypal.

    • Tom says:

      Or let you buy anything if you live in Australia.

    • quijote3000 says:

      Or Spain. Seriosly, GFWL is the only place with regional restrictions. Other digital distributors are just happy with accepting my hard-earned money in exchange for a game

    • Nic Clapper says:

      I found out you can use paypal but you currently can only use it to buy their point blocks…

    • Soulsick says:

      @quijote3000
      Not entirely true. Even Steam has restrictions placed by publishers and country ratings.
      Australia has no 18+ rating (at least for now) so I _still_ cannot buy a legitimate copy of GTA Vice City. I kept seeing it on their promotions popup for sales but could never find it in store.
      The irony is that GTA 4 _is_ available on Steam. I’m not sure this is an issue with Australia tbh as I’ve seen San Andreas and Vice City in EB stores. So…. I’m now very confused…
      Talk about double standards.

      Unless you’re saying that GFW won’t let you buy anything at all? Which is a bit stupid if that’s what you mean =P

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      @Soulsick.

      Steam has far less region restrictions than other download services. There are many games restricted as unavailable in Australia from the likes or D2D, Impulse, etc but those same games are available for purchase through Steam. Would seem that Valve have a bit more pull with publishers encouraging them to relax region restrictions (if not regional pricing).

      The GTA games are some of the few that have long been region restricted on Steam. It’s got nothing to do with classification however as you’ll find them classified MA15+ or less if you check the classifications database (http://classification.gov.au/www/cob/find.nsf/Search?OpenForm).

      Games for Windows Marketplace itself is however severely region restricted via the web interface (no access for Australia). It appears in Australia you can purchase (I could add SoC to the cart anyway) if you download and use the GFWM Client. But it’s just awful. Nothing highlighting specials, no search ability, you just have to browse the whole list of games and click on each to see what price they are. It must be embarrassing for whoever developed it.

  4. The Pink Ninja says:

    Wish you’d told me when they were selling Viva Pinata for 99p two days ago, I was gutted to find I missed it T__T

    • Bhazor says:

      Well you can get it for £2.70 from Amazon.
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Microsoft-Viva-Pi%C3%B1ata-PC/dp/B000VWQWHC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1291671970&sr=8-3
      But yeah I’m miffed about it getting ignored in favour of the elevnty billionth S.t.a.l.k.e.r sale. It really is the second best game on the Xbox 360 (the best being Rare stablemate Banjo and Kazooie) that everyone needs to own.

    • Soulsick says:

      I wanted to enjoy Viva Pinata.
      But all it became was an incessant amount of notifications that would interrupt any task you were trying to do. I wish the game had just left me alone to place a new building, or finish whacking a bad pinata out of the garden but instead it just wanted to pester me until I literally couldn’t play the game it was so stressful.

      And the constant need to breed worms with those horrible… HORRIBLE.. breeding mini games, just to keep things running.

      I spent less time planning my garden and more time screaming. Seriously, most stressful game I’ve played in a long time.

  5. Paul says:

    Stalker is amazing game, but getting it through GFWL is offending. Stalker does not deserve such a treatment.

    ..wake me up when they start paying ME to use their service. And I am not doing it for under 30 bucks a game.

  6. JC says:

    Best game ever made, based on best film ever made, based on a book I haven’t read.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      The book is pretty good

    • Andrei Sebastian says:

      Really?!
      So far I understood the book it’s just a mediocre-to-good sci fi book, that Tarkovsky dramatically improved beyond recognition (much like Kubrik did with Space Odyssey).

      For a book to be of interest in this day and age (when there’s practically no time …for anything) it has to be genius.

      If that’s the case I would like to know.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Tarkovsky’s film works better as a series of photographs. I’ve seen it several times and I still don’t have a clue what it’s about.

  7. Xercies says:

    With the complete 2009 mod this game is really really great! What a bloody good deal/

    • airtekh says:

      Agreed. Complete 2009 fixes a ton of bugs and makes the Stalker experience an unforgettable one.

      It also happens to make the game look jaw-droppingly beautiful, second only to Crysis for my money.

    • Premium User Badge

      Faldrath says:

      Question about the 2009 mod: when I first tried playing Stalker, my problem was that there was no option to display subtitles (English isn’t my first language, so subtitles are a huge help). Is there such an option in that mod?

    • Mistabashi says:

      I’d just like to point out that all the bug-fixes in Complete mod are provided by the Zone Reclamation Project (ZRP), so thank Natvac, Bardak and co for the huge amount of work they’ve done in fixing up the game.

  8. noobnob says:

    Ah…this is one of those games that are constantly on sale. If you have any problems with GFWM (I did, sadly), there’s a good chance that it’ll pop up during the Xmas sales of every other digital distributor out there.

  9. Zogtee says:

    Shame GFWL still doesn’t let me actually buy games.

  10. a.nye.123 says:

    Anyone seen the crazy deals on Steam at the moment?

    • noobnob says:

      Collecting 28 achievements for a TF2 hat is a fucking steal.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Less crazy deals and more of a sheer genius counter to all of the pre-Christmas sale activity between all of the digital distributors. I love it when competition comes together. And, you have to admit, that top prize of 100 games of your choice is rather tasty.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      That is a completely genius (and slightly evil) way of making people buy a lot of games. The more games you own to get achievements from, the better chance you have winning.

      How many sales do you reckon they are going to get from this one?

    • Premium User Badge

      abhishek says:

      Seeing as how all the 3 discounted games have broken into the top sellers list, I’d say it’s working out pretty well for them.

  11. ZIGS says:

    Yesterday I went to buy Blacklight from GFWL, it gave me an error and told me to try later. I did, gave me the same error. Gave up and thought to myself “what the hell was I thinking?”

  12. MrTambourineMan says:

    If you don’t live in UK or USA there’s a good chance you won’t be able to buy shit from GFWL. So – GFWL F… you very much.

  13. Heliosicle says:

    This may sound stupid but I’d rather pay £2.50 or something and get it on steam with the rest of my stalker games…

  14. Premium User Badge

    thesundaybest says:

    I know this has been said many times, but my god GFWL. I set up an account yesterday to play Dirt 2 multiplayer, and the number of times it told me I had to install an update I just installed boggled the mind. Trying to use Impulse/Stardock was, if possible, even worse.

    Steam, whatever flaws it may have, always works perfectly well for me.

    • Vinraith says:

      GfWL has nothing to do with this. Unlike the Steam client, which imposes itself on any game you buy through the Steam store, games bought through the GFW client do not require said client beyond the installation process. GFW does not impose a “GFWL” layer over your game the way Steam imposes it’s Steamworks layer. STALKER is not a GfWL game, buying it through GFW does not make it turn into one.

    • AtlasAbe says:

      Steam works perfectly well? hah. I tried to buy an indie pack during the latest sale, it wouldn’t accept paypal or credit card. steam support got back 4 hours after the offer had gone. I tried to buy a gane on impulse, it worked like a charm first time. Impulse also actually works if your behind a proxy server too

    • Fumarole says:

      Microsoft really should have used another name besides Games for Windows Marketplace. It is too close to Games for Windows Live has thus been tainted beyond recovery for many people.

    • Mistabashi says:

      I don’t know about Steam “imposing itself” on games you buy, plenty of the games I’ve tried can be launched without Steam if you just create you own shortcut to the game’s exe.

      And since Steam largely works without issue I don’t see why it’s such a problem anyway. You’re more likely to have problems with any third-party DRM used.

      EDIT: Based on Nic Clapper’s post at the top of the page, it seems GFW is actually running two processes in the background when you launch the game, so while there’s no visible client there is still something running, it’s just doing it in ‘stealth mode’ without the express knowledge of the user.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      GfWL has nothing to do with this.

      Sure it does. Someone figured it’d be a smart idea if you were logged out after each update, then logged back in to see if there were anything else to download. As opposed to just checking once, then downloading and installing them all.

      Unlike the Steam client, which imposes itself on any game you buy through the Steam store

      Not all games do that. For instance, Super Meat Boy uses SteamWorks features, as well as being DRM-free, also running just fine without the client.

      STALKER is not a GfWL game

      DIRT 2 is, though.

  15. espy says:

    I played a game with (or rather despite) GFWL last year, and that process was so abysmal that I’d recommend paying ten times the price just to not have to deal with it. See, I tried so hard to eradicate that experience from my memory that I can’t even remember which game it was.

    I have no idea what GFWL is like now, but I’m not going anywhere near it.

    • Mistabashi says:

      This isn’t Games for Windows LIVE, it’s just their online “Marketplace”, so you don’t need to use the client to run the game.

      However, there still seems to be some issues with the system, regarding payment options and regional restrictions.

    • espy says:

      Aha, I missed that. Well, one more marketplace next to Steam, GoG and Impulse. That I can live with.

  16. Deuteronomy says:

    I purchased Bioshock 2 from GFWM a while back when it was on sale. I actually thought the experience was quite good for a first time sign up, especially compared to the bullshit I remember going through with Steam at the beginnning, and I really like the obviously Silverlight client. In fact everything Silverlight seems to be awesome, the Zune desktop client, Netflix, Windows Phone 7 etc.

  17. Slamelov says:

    I am one of those chaps claiming a moral objection to GFW. (And I have Stalker SOC allready)

  18. MD says:

    Played some CoP the other day, and I’m super-impressed by the strides they’ve made technically. Everything pretty much works, and it looks fantastic. (Had some beautiful lightning effects in my last session.) But what the hell is with the invisible walls? It’s disgraceful, both for the fact that they exist at all and how annoying and, well, invisible some of them are.

    • noobnob says:

      From the game’s development history, the game was meant to be much, MUCH more open, none of this invisible wall stupidity that plagues “open-world” games. It had to go through a streamlining process, as it happens with many ambitious projects, due to several issues. Don’t know the specifics.

    • MD says:

      Man, that’s sad to hear. Here I was thinking they must have got the hang of their development process, but it sounds like they exchanged one set of problems for another.

    • noobnob says:

      Wait, no. My apologies, because the thread was about SoC, I instantly read CoP as SoC, for some reason. Everything I typed up there was related to SoC, I did not play CoP yet.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      Have you played Clear Sky by chance? I really like the first game and was wondering if its worth getting CS or if I should just skip to CoP?

    • MD says:

      @noobnob: Ah, fair enough. I’m early in CoP, and have found some ridiculous invisible walls so far. My memories of SoC are a little hazy, but from memory they usually at least put up a fence or something.

      @Nic Clapper: My advice would be to go straight to CoP, but honestly I didn’t give Clear Sky a proper chance. It didn’t feel right, and I hadn’t heard good things about it, so I didn’t bother persisting.

    • Soulsick says:

      I was about to say!
      I haven’t encountered any invisible walls in CoP yet, but thats not to say they’re not there.
      If anything it would be main story line stuff.
      I’m finding enough freedom and variety in the quests that I haven’t felt like I’m in a story. I know the game is fixed, the quests were created by a game designer and there is a finality to the game. But the world feels open, and it feels dynamic enough that there is almost a veil that the story sits behind. I haven’t lifted it at all, I’m too happy running around on my own plotting my next target.

      SoC on the other hand, whilest similar, was very linear. Even the map was pretty much a big linear path from start to end. Things like clearing a building out only to have it re-infested by bandits a few minutes later got annoying. And the non-stop attacks on certain areas which slowly ground the friendlies down got frustrating. Too linear for my tastes, but a nice try.

      I really love CoP. I feel free, but I don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. I look at the map, and I’m right in the thick of it, but I’m not in over my head (although I can be at times) and the conversations allow enough of a personality to be formed in your character. I don’t have to backstab my friends just because some random guy asked me to, instead I can turn him in and shoot him in the back.
      Brilliant game.

  19. Shazbut says:

    I didn’t buy Stalker until last year. It was a mistake to wait that long. Incredible game. I remember being put off that it didn’t receive overwhelmingly positive reviews upon release. I seem to recall scores in the high 80s. With the Complete mod, it deserves a score in the early 90s at least. I consider it listed in the hallowed group of First Person Games That Matter

  20. Premium User Badge

    lurkalisk says:

    If they keep this up, they might be building something big here (provided they fix a few problems).

  21. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Thankfully I’ve already got it so no temptation to be drawn into a pact with the devil for me so far.

  22. noodlecake says:

    GFWL is alright… It does the job. Gets me games reasonably cheap. It could have the worst interface ever and force my computer and use up 500mb of RAM and it’d still be fine as long as I get cheap games. I’m happy to use GFWL and Steam. I think being all fanboy-ish about it is a bit sad myself.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Does it have iDeal as a payment option?

  24. gulag says:

    Alec, when you place SoC in context it does indeed stand at a fork in the road of FPS development. It’s a shame more games didn’t take it’s lead. Would you put it in the same league as the original Half Life and it’s sequel, or even Deus Ex? What, if anything, do you think it draws from these pre-cursors?

  25. Eversor says:

    Not owning STALKER is heresy anyway. Everyone that is guilty in this must make amends. Now.