Posts Tagged ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl’

The 10 Best Games Based On Books

Books! They’re like films without pictures, or games that are all cutscene. Old people and hipsters really like them, teenagers think they’re like totally lame, and quite frankly we should all read more of them. There are countless games inspired by books – most especially Tolkien, Lovecraft and early Dungeons & Dragon fiction – but surprisingly few games based directly on books. Even fewer good ones.

Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that a game can, in theory, cleave closer to what a book does than a film can – with their length and their word counts, their dozens of characters and in some cases even their own in-game books, they can to some degree do the job of a novel. They don’t need to be based on books – and often they can do so much more, thanks to the great promise of non-linearity. Of course, the real reason for the dearth is that novels are so rarely the massive business a movie is these days. You might get a forlorn Hunger Games tie-in here and there, but suited people in gleaming office blocks just aren’t going to commission an adaptation of the latest Magnus Mills tale, more’s the pity.

I suspect that, over time, we’ll see the non-corporate side of games development increasingly homage the written word, but for now, these ten games (and seven honourable mentions) are, as far as I’m concerned, the best, and most landmark, results of page-to-pixel adaptation to date.

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How Save And Restore Classic Videogames

“Hunting for distribution rights is essentially detective work,” says Marcin Paczyński, Head of Product at GOG. “Rights can repeatedly change hands or be split up between different parties, and it’s our job to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Preservation of old games involves more than just an extra patch. The journey from dusty unplayable relic to polished, cross-platform installer is a minefield of technical and legal obstacles. The team at Good Old Games remain the industry leaders in the restoration of classic PC games, tasked with reverse engineering code written more than 20 years ago, unraveling knotty licensing issues left behind by defunct development studios, and battling lethargy on the part of skeptical publishers. It’s a thrilling and, at times, gruelling process, but – as the GOG team will testify – it never fails to surprise.

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Warning: in this piece I’m primarily talking about Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which isn’t out on PC as yet, though I’ll willingly devour at least one item of clothing if it doesn’t walk this way eventually. Anyway, I talk about STALKER and Dear Esther too, so everything’s OK.

Playing The Chinese Room’s new game, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, what strikes me almost immediately is not the mystery, the science fiction trappings or even the extreme prettiness. It’s that I’m in England. A very particular England.
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The 50 Best FPS Ever Made

Gathering together the best shooters is no easy task, but if you’re looking for a new PC FPS to play, look no further.

Your favourite game is at number 51.

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Own S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Get It Free And DRM-Free From GOG

The one certainty with news items about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. [official site] is there’s at least a 70 percent chance they’ve been planted by Jim. Thanks Jim! continues to blow the horn in support of DRM-free everything with a new game reclaiming service, which you can check it out for yourself in this generously placed link. The idea is that if you bought a game legitimately but the game no longer works because of unsupported DRM or other causes, then you can enter your original game key in order to get a free copy of the game through GOG’s DRM-free online store.

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Don’t Just Stand There, Etc: The STALKER Bundle

Discounts on the STALKER trilogy (which seems like the wrong way to categorise the series somehow, but never mind) tend to wheel around pretty often, but this is particularly good deal for the whole set. There a certain games which are buried deep in RPS’ DNA, and the semi-open world, post apocalyptic survival/horror/action STALKER is one of them. If you haven’t played them, you are everything that’s wrong with humanity missing out some of the most ambitious and atmospheric shooters of all time.
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Get Into Here: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Studio GSC Reopened

Back on the road.

Y’know GSC Game World? Oh, you do! The Ukrainian studio behind spookyhard FPS series S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Oh, you must! You remember – they seemed to close in 2011 but held on a bit longer, still working on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 for a few months then cancelling it, and since only resurfaced to weigh in on confusing brand rights issues. See, I knew you knew them. Well, they’re back, baby! Boom! And other exciting onomatopoeia. They’ve announced a return to active game-making, and chatted a little about what went down, including about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s fate.

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Um: Areal Devs Are At It Again, With STALKER Apocalypse

See this here? This is a bargepole. It is, I would say, approximately ten feet long. What I’m doing with this bargepole is very deliberately not touching something with it. Even if said bargepole were a hundred feet long, I would still be very deliberately not touching something with it. That something is a crowdfunding attempt for a game called ‘STALKER Apocalypse.’ The people making it previously tried to make a game called Areal.

Yeah, the Areal that got abruptly pulled down from Kickstarter because it made all kinds of dodgy promises about being a spiritual S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel. “Stalker is just a word”, apparently. Uh.
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Don’t just stand there, Come Watch …Familiar Areal Footage

I don’t want to get into any speculation of my own about what’s genuine and who has the right to do what in terms of STALKER’s heritage right now. Let’s just look at the brief in-game footage devs West-Games have finally pumped out to support their slow-moving Kickstarter, and see how we feel then.

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Areal Kickstarting S.T.A.L.K.E.R. “Spiritual Successor”

When we first saw the announcement, I had no idea someone making a 'spiritual successor' to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would cause such a mess.

If you took a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. design document and replaced the words “Chernobyl disaster” with “weird meteorite,” you wouldn’t be far off from Areal. Think post-apocalyptic open world survival FPS with non-linear missions, populated by simulated life and mutants, and fizzing with dangerous anomalies. That sounds pretty enticing in itself, but developers West Games also have a few former S.T.A.L.K.E.R. folks working on the game, including the series’ lead designer.

As you might guess, it’s on Kickstarter. However, West Games don’t have much to show of Areal at this point. Their pitch relies heavily upon S.T.A.L.K.E.R. footage and pre-existing artwork not made for the game (some even made for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.). Given that they’re only looking for $50,000 (£30,000)–nowhere near enough to realise such ambitious ideas–it’s a mite concerning.

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All STALKER Games Saved From GameSpy Server Meltdown

GameSpy has officially exploded, and games are still fleeing from ground zero while green smoke and shrapnel billows every which way. It’s been a messy process, to say the least, with some games finding happy new homes while others collapsed on the street side, never to rise again. STALKER, thankfully, has made it out at the last second, with whatever remains of GSC releasing a patch for STALKER, STALKER: Clear Sky, and STALKER: Call of Pripyat to migrate online functionality onto their own servers.

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In the Zone: How Gamers Experience The Real Chernobyl

I am standing in the middle of Pripyat in what was intended to be the site of the 1986 May Day festivities. Now an expanse of cracked concrete, the iconic rusting ferris wheel stands behind me. No one else is in sight, as I’ve been left here alone to get on with some measurements. Looking down at the Geiger counter in my hand I slowly make my way back and forth across the area, taking readings at regular intervals. This is my last research trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the end of six months spent tagging along with tour groups and later helping as a tour guide.

I should be used to this space now, but I feel uneasy. Occasionally I anxiously look up and scan the thick line of trees and shrubs that border this area and break line of sight with the nearby ruined buildings. I try to rationalise my way out of this fear – I tell myself the worst thing that’s likely to happen is the embarrassment of trying to cobble together an explanation in Russian for what I’m doing if Pripyat’s police guard wanders by.

But there’s more to my unease than this. It’s not that I’m alone, it’s that I’ve been alone here before. Only the last time was whilst playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl.

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Impressions: Stalker: Lost Alpha

Stalker: Lost Alpha is out, but it’s not finished. Typical Stalker, really. The game, a fan-fronted effort to reconnect all the elements that were cut from Shadow of Chernobyl, was leaked during development. The developers have chosen to release it earlier than planned, and I decided to try it out. It’s still Stalker, still based on the first game, but at the same time it’s not. It’s as close to a remix as I’ve ever come across in gaming, bringing in new elements, but still reminding me of the original. It’s all different, but if you loved the first Stalker, instead of reinstalling the original and modding it, when this is fixed it’ll be your next install. I guarantee it.

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