Ultro-Mod: Stalker Complete 2009

Jim’s already done an extensive round-up of the more interesting mods for Stalker: Clear Sky, but me, I’m happy sticking to the original Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. While the Oblivion Lost mod and its million features is the most renowned fan-tweak, there’s much to be said for retaining the game’s original structure rather than necessarily embracing such sweeping changes. With that in mind, I’m very much enjoying replaying SHOC with the Stalker Complete 2009 modpack. Primarily, it simply makes the game much, much prettier. How pretty? This pretty:

More shots below.

There is an argument to be made that we shouldn’t get so hung up about graphics, but in a game so based around exploring a unique environment, graphics are truly part of the experience. And this mod definitely improves that experience.

Despite the size of the overhaul (some 900 new textures, a whole new sky and weather system…) It’s impressively subtle – you’re not slapped around the face with new!new!new! but rather no longer feel as though you’re playing a game from 2007. It looks and feels fresh and modern. Lighting – the new day-night cycle’s particularly spectacular – and textures are what’s most lovingly touched by the hand of mod, but on the non-graphical front much of the in-game text gets a more grammar-friendly rewrite and the HUD receives a much-needed overhaul. There’s also a ton of bugfixes in there. So, perversely, it’s an amateur effort that makes the host game more professional. Highly recommended for Stalker vets and newbies alike. Go get.

Oh – and you can also ‘dress’ NPCs by giving them new clothes. Fashion parades in the Zone: whoda thunk it?


  1. Freudian Trip says:

    @LittleGreenMan Yeah, how dare those retards think the game was ridiculously hard at the beginning without thinking to mod the game to artificially make it easier. What idiots.

  2. James T says:

    Uhm, people complaining about rubbish kit at the start evidently haven’t heard of the Basix Mods. These mods changed the earlier missions so that they would give you semi-decent stuff, and you could get unique stuff in the 3rd(?) mission if you asked one of the guys in game.

    I felt a little coddled by the granting of the neato guns and equipment (even if it did make sense), but Basix was excellent, I loved all the minor variants of guns you could find (the Spetsnaz carried their own type of Abokan, for example), and remember liking the tweaked gun statistics and so on. The thing holding people back is probably (oh, I don’t know) the fact that the author never made a Basix version compatible with the final singleplayer patch. That didn’t exactly do wonders for its prominence — you’re the only other person I’ve seen mention it outside of its own pages on Filefront.com.

    …Actually, he did do one version for the final STALKER iteration, but it was ‘Basix Spawn’, or ‘Basix Monsters’, or whatever it’s called, one of those fucking idiotic mods that floods the entire Zone with hordes of beasts like some Japanese bullet-hell shooter. Flushes the entire tone of the game down that high-res toilet Alec snapped.

  3. Joseph says:

    I have never played any STALKER game but I have read about RPS’ love for them (or at least the first one) and they sound great. I am downloading the mod now and going to get SHOC and play it tomorrow. Hells yeah.

    To answer some questions that have been asked:

    Designed and tested for STALKER version 1.0005/1.0006. Starting new game is required!

    @ 1680×1050:
    8800GT 512MB: 30-60 fps, some stuttering.
    GTX 260 896MB: 60-100 fps, smooth.

    You need better hardware (a video card with plenty of memory) to run it on high settings because it has bigger textures.


  4. Evan says:

    STALKER I didnt find to hard. I just moved slow. If they didnt see you coming you did way more damage. Some of those tweaks, like the repair thing and health give sound cool. Although more guns I dont get. I hardly used the 20 I had, esp the pistols. I’ll give it a shot, see how my 4850 handles it. Might have to upgrade to Crossfire now!

  5. Wedge says:

    FUCK. I guess I’m going to have to give the game a go, AGAIN. And hope somehow I won’t end up with spastic game breaking bugs this time.

  6. Little Green Man says:

    @James T
    Yeah, I think the later editions ruined the actual mod, making it like EVERY OTHER ONE. Personally I can see why GSC took those Zombs out. They suck.

    Freudian Trip: Yes, I know what I said sounds quite moronic, but I always felt that this game was only worth playing modded, and most people are, even if it is only the unofficial patch. Plus, it wasn’t ridiculously hard for me, but I know that a lot of people could have found it hard, and none of those people in this comments section said they then found a mod that fixed it. Basically I was trying to be informative but probably just came over a bit of a jerk.

    Ahh well.

  7. jonfitt says:

    Holy frijole, that’s pretty.

  8. Ralph says:

    Thanks Alec this mod really is amazing and I’m sure I will play through this game start to finish at last this time.

  9. Howard says:

    Gods damn you, Meer! I was just enjoying not liking Damnation. Now I gotta download this mod, install STALKER again and play that!

    (secretly rubs hands gleefully – SQUEE! PRETTY!)

  10. Freudian Trip says:

    Any answers on whether this works on Clearsky?

  11. Anaphiel says:

    Freudian Trip, this is strictly for Shadow of Chernobyl. There really isn’t a comparable mod for CS, but the CS Enhanced mod (written about right here on RPS) covers a lot of the same territory.

  12. Freudian Trip says:

    Goody, expand-alones how I hate you.

  13. Howard says:

    Forgot to ask: how compatible is this with Oblivion Lost? Will they play nice together?

  14. Dr Gonzo says:

    Clear Sky is prettier. After all the patches and a little tweaking I can play with all the lovely dx10 effects and its amazing looking, especially the rain running down surfaces.

  15. Brian says:

    Lucky me I got it from Steam for $5 or $10, can’t remember :P

  16. Serondal says:

    I liked stalker but I got rather far into it and found that my game always crashed after coming out of some epic kind of dungeon level later in the game. Nothing I could do could get me past it (I never tried starting over from the start of the game) so I just gave up and haven’t touched it since, the game looked fine when I played it the first time, so this isn’t gonna change my mind :P It’s a great game, just can’t finish it even though Iwant to. I just read on wikipedia how it ended and now I’m fine with never playing it again.

  17. Weylund says:

    This mod eats my machine alive – it’s a 2.4 Ghz dual core with an 8800 GTS 512 and 2 gigs of RAM. This mod *starts* a new game already swapping to a page file. Turning down some settings and installing the Float32 mod helps a bit but that’s only because they *slightly* lower the base memory usage, thereby reducing page file hits and massive lag proportionally.

    Is there any way to run STALKER with this mod without using 1.5 gigs of RAM and constantly swapping? The author’s own site was probably the most helpful I’ve found and I haven’t been able to solve the problem.

  18. Anaphiel says:

    Weylund, STALKER is really RAM-hungry at best, and this mod and SMP make it even worse. You might get some relief from the stuttering by using the -noprefetch command on launch (append -noprefetch to the “Target” section of the launch icon’s properties). With that switch the game doesn’t pre-load as much data up front, keeping more RAM free at any given time.

    I had the same problem with the mod with an 8800GT 512, and never really got perfectly smooth play until I ran the game under Vista 64 with more than 2GB RAM. I still have the same 8800GT though, so the problem seemed to be more about RAM than the video card.

    The other big gain can be had by ditching the gamedata/shaders folder (uninstalling Sky4ce or Float 32, whichever you have loaded), but for my money that’s a big part of the visual appeal of the mod.

  19. rasmus says:

    And the original game is available for free somewhere too now, isn’t it?

  20. Weylund says:

    @Anaphiel: beautiful. I’ll try the command, or (gulp) ditching the shaders. That would suck.

    I may just need more RAM – here and in general. Thanks.

  21. Justin says:

    Priboi Story is worth a look, in part because it is similar to the storyline in the next Stalker release, and in part because it’s good. There’s a 1.1 release and a patch for that 1.1 release.

    I’m about half-way through it, and it doesn’t suffer from the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach that Oblivion Lost has, but still has (different) blowouts and anomaly effects.

    I don’t know if it’s Priboi Story or the SKyAce mod, but the thunderstorms are realistic and violent enough that I actually, in game, want to stay indoors. Whomever recorded the thunder did it pretty darn close to a lightning strike.

  22. ZeeKat says:

    AMK needs more love – it’s great for stalker chat (uh, rss? twitter?) alone. During firefight with bandits at car park you see that some dude sent message there are assault sounds from the direction of the car park, then after finished fight you see aforementioned dude coming around and checking bodies for loot – none of the messages from chat are fake, they’re some actual NPC reporting about monsters around, fights or just expressing relief that fucking rain is over at last and it’s nice to see clear sky (no, not that one) again. Also there’s a cool feature that you can knock the weapon out of hands of the enemy with the good shot and leave them with just a pistol – works both ways, by the way – I’ve lost fast-firing AK that way once then found it again few days later in backpack of some bandit that found it (couple hundred of meters away from the place I’ve dropped it). Shame it’s shoddily translated in places.

  23. B-B-B-Brian says:

    Hmm, all this talk of giga-normous STALKER:SC mods and no mention of Rebalanced? I’ve played through a good 70-80% of the game on both vanilla and with OL (possibly AMK got involved at some point) and Rebalanced is by far and away the best of the lot. Not only does it add a truckload of new features, it also sexes up the graphics somewhat and, crucially, it does all this while changing the difficulty and general gameplay for the better.

    The original game veered wildly from facile to punishing while OL adopted a ‘kitchen sink’ approach that made the game unfair in the extreme at times. Blowouts at the most inappropriate moments, packs of pseudodogs roaming through the Cordon… mice were thrown in frustration. Rebalanced makes the game a notch harder (it can only be played on Master difficulty level) but your mistakes are always due to your own incompetence and lack of respect for the Zone, which is now a damn sight more ‘realistic’ and thus much more dangerous. No longer does anything take 10+ shots to put down, bleeding out and starvation are now serious threats, mutants are now a force to be reckoned with (bloodsuckers are scary again!), the broken A-Life system has been finally fixed… the list goes on. You owe it to yourself to at least give it a look; in my opinion it makes STALKER the game it was always meant to be.

    Plus it has the best shotgun in any game I’ve ever played. Seriously, worth a try for that alone.

  24. damien says:

    people continue to ask. please dont install any mods over Oblivion Lost unless you either:

    a) understand how to merge, replace, rewrite and or edit out all of the conflicting (weather, mostly) script calls the two mods contain

    b) really just want to be frustrated by stalker needlessly crashing on you whenever you try to run it.

    if all you want is the textures of Stalker Complete 2009, they can be found at argus’s site:

    link to argus-textures.ru

    link to gsc-game.com (forum thread).

    link to stalker.filefront.com
    (link to a mod that seems to merge the overlap in config. files between argus’s textures and Oblivion Lost. – i haven’t used it as i dont play OL, but it seems worth a shot.)

    artistbabel has done wonderful things with the weather with trojanuch’s and eggchen’s help (along with many others), so i’d really recommend trying complete 2009, tho.

  25. Anaphiel says:

    ZeeKat, I’m with you: I like AMK more than OL, although I have to say that OL is more stable, and yeah there are some pretty shaky translations in AMK. My only real complaint with AMK is that it’s harder than a coffin nail… I like the unforgiving nature of combat in STALKER, but in AMK it usually boils down to who fires first. It’s like a Rainbow 6/STALKER hybrid.

    B-B-B-Brian, Rebalanced is indeed pretty impressive and oddly overlooked. 1.05 is getting a little long in the tooth though, and while ShadowState at the time mentioned that it was the final version, it looks like he is working on an update that will use some of the newer sound, weather, and graphic mods and address some of the little quirks that are left in Reb. He took a nice approach with the mod, not being slavishly devoted to the original game but not going nuts throwing in new features either, focusing on fun. Probably my second favorite of the megamods behind Complete.

  26. tssk says:

    Well I’ve tried this on a fresh intall of STALKER. Black screen. I’ve followed the instructions to the letter. Any tips?

  27. ZeeKat says:

    Works on mine, Polish version with 1.0005 patch (makes funny things with localization, but works perfectly), have to run it with -noprefetch or it was nearly unplayable due to excessive swap usage (apparently 512 meg 8800GT isn’t that much for it). Installed latest patch to this mod as well.

    Anaphiel: AMK was impressively stable for me, I can agree on difficulty level, though. Close encounters often ended up with me being instantly shot in the face (that swaying effect didn’t help too – even if you survive first hit you’re unable to fight back for a moment). AMK makes you damn cautious.

  28. Weylund says:

    @Anaphiel: it worked. I still get stutters occasionally, but it’s great. Thanks.

    Edit: I do wonder about the excessive memory usage I see from some engines. Remember Vietcong [sic] and its sequels? Their engine underperformed and used excessive amounts of RAM.

  29. Anaphiel says:

    @Weylund, glad to hear the prefetch thing helped.

    STALKER’s memory usage actually makes some sense to me, as the game is so AI-driven… there are literally hundreds of script files all firing off and working in tandem, lots of routines to keep in sync, etc. And mods like this add to the overhead with their own AI and weather routines, not to mention the much larger textures and bump maps. So while I doubt the engine is especially efficient or optimized, it’s also doing a lot more than your typical FPS so I cut it some slack.

  30. tssk says:

    Getting further. A clean install now results in crashing instead of black screen along with an error message. I did install the mods in the correct order. Was there anything else I needed to install?

  31. Heliocentric says:

    Tell me your specs, if you have a gpu with less than 512 ram(stalker doesnt understand cards having 320 and see’s simply “more than 256”) you’ll need to go without graphics on anything other than a low/medium. Even a high end card if you don’t have 512 memory you are screwed.

    But that’s just 1 issue, state your os and rough specs.

  32. tssk says:

    NVIDIA 8800GT with 512meg. XP of course.

  33. ReapeR says:

    Huh! Dont you now any about Narodnaya Solyanka for AMK??? Visit us: link to amk-team.ru

  34. sinister agent says:

    The main thing from stopping me getting into STALKER is I can’t get past the first mission. Do I really have to lower myself to putting it on Easy? The starter pistol you get is so puny it seems like I need about 10 hits to take anyone down? Any help would be appreciated.

    That mission had me spitting blood, too, and my first instinct in any game is to spend ages carefully scouting and sneaking and isolating people before offing them as quietly as possible. Stalker makes that nigh on impossible, though, while simultaneously making direct assault useless as well. I’m looking for mods to change a lot of things about the game right now, because I’ve been playing it for two days getting more and more irritated by its brokenness.

    For the start, though, I found that the best thing to do is to sneak upstairs (or run up there – it all amounts to the same anyway since the bandits are practically psychic and will find you however careful you are) in the building on the left. Kill the bloke on the balcony and then retreat up to the roof, and you should be able to pick most of the guards off from above as they mooch about trying to work out what’s going on.

    Oh, and if you’re not two feet away, and can’t go for a head shot, don’t even bother firing – it’d be like spitting at a tank.

  35. Serondal says:

    What I did was go to the military base and wait for the military guys to come out on patrol then hide behind trees and snipe them in the head with my pistol until all 4 were dead. At this point you gotta be fast , run up and get their assault rifles and I believe they’ve got greandes? Another patroll will be coming along any second so you gotta get out of there but if you wait just out of their attack range you can toss grenades and them to great effect and get a ton of ammo right off the start. With an assault rifle the first mission is cake.

  36. Joshua says:

    I guess I enjoy breaking games that want to break me.

    I’m surprised that no one’s recommended wiping out the town of Cordon and looting all the guns / ammo / medkits from the corpses before you proceed to the first mission.

    You’ll earn yourself a shotgun with plenty of ammo and a rifle. Slam the rifle on single-fire mode and proceed to meet up with your friends at the waypoint.

    From there, allow your teammates to distract the bandits. You’ll want to flank them while they’re engaged. There’s a hole in the building on the right, iirc, and I’ve found that to be the perfect spot to lean in and take a few life-ending pot shots.

    Remember to crouch or walk as you set yourself up for an ambush. The AI in STALKER is not psychic. It will not cheat. It can, however, hear your character and prepare for engagement with you based on sound. The game designers provided you with a sound meter in the top-left of your HUD. Learn to use it.

    If things go tits-up, just sprint out of the enemies’ line of sight and do your best to ambush them again.

    PS – Quicksave abuse. Save when you’re in an advantageous position. Save after a stealth kill. Save yourself some frustration. STALKER is not a game for the impatient… try to think of each engagement as a puzzle and intelligently utilize everything in your inventory to put yourself on top.

  37. Matt says:

    I think what I did was help kill one guy and then grabbed his rifle. Plus more ammo.

  38. phenom_x8 says:

    AWESOME !!
    its my second playthrough with STALKER (the first one was uncomplete3 years ago).
    Starting with a new game and feels like very different game than what I have been played before!
    Its trully like a new experience. Thanks for this article RPS, thats why I <3 YOU so much!

  39. Dark King says:

    Played this mod, loved it. And I was one of the few (?) who really enjoyed STALKER on release, bugs and all.

    This mod has been updated since this review was published, and an optional add-on released:

    *changes to AI to reduce the RADAR-esque NPC ability to hear you at 1km away
    *improved NPC AI for general stuff
    *optional pack for realistic weapons (one-shot kills are a lot more common now, and headshots on just about any enemy from any weapon will be lethal)

    Definitely worth having another look to see the updates.