Have You Played… STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Don’t stand there, I said come in.

How have we not included a STALKER game in Have You Played yet? How is that even possible? Well, look, if you haven’t played any of the semi-sandbox shooter series, I will grudgingly suggest that you begin with third game Call of Pripyat as it does a little bit more guiding and doesn’t have anything like the technical issues.

First game Shadow of Chernobyl is the post-disaster series’ highlight for me though: proudly strange, powerfully sinister and peculiarly beautiful. It is a brave, noble attempt to build a working world, one of conflict and co-operation among the mutant-haunted ghost towns surrounding Chernobyl. It is maudlin and unpredictable, throwing in dark new challenges and deeply disturbing foes regularly. It is also blighted by dodgy acting and number of bugs and flaws. I love them all.

STALKER wouldn’t get made today. A version of it might, but not one this strange, this experimental, this unhelpful, this slow and methodical. Treasure STALKER. We may never see its like again.

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93 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    I am thinking I should dive back into clear sky again, it’s the only one I didn’t play thoroughly.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      The faction system in Clear Sky is underrated. It was one of the few gaming experiences I’ve had where I really felt like a grunt slogging it in a real war.

      • Ialda says:

        Clear Sky as a whole is criminally underrated. Granted, after SoC the element of surprise is lost, and you don’t have the big open-world regions of CoP, but the game is as good as SoC to play with some new and really beautiful locations.

        • Don Reba says:

          Clear Sky has a different tone due to the core developers having departed after CoP and founded 4A Games.

          • ToomuchFluffy says:

            “…departed after CoP.” Did you mean after SoC?

            Anyway, it’s true that Clear Sky is very much worth it, though also very different. For example, it’s the only game in the series in which anomalies are really dangerous and specific artifacts are almost required to properly explore some of them. The Great Swamps are still one of my favourite maps in the whole series. It’s one of the few maps where I really feel like I could get lost. There is so much empty space and while I think it’s very much worth exploring, it doesn’t really offer much in terms of traditional rewards. Which is one of the reasons why I like it.

          • Don Reba says:

            “…departed after CoP.” Did you mean after SoC?

            Yes, thanks! A few years ago 4A said they were working on an open-world game. Wonder if that is still on the cards, haven’t heard much about them since they moved to Malta.

      • SlimShanks says:

        Clear Sky seemed pretty damn fun to me, the factions system is indeed very cool. Yet another great mechanic left behind like litter from a roadside picnic.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        I do like the faction system, but ultimately, bugs make it untenable. I’ve played CS a few times, and I can vividly recall sitting on top of the train tunnel in The Garbage to clear out the bandits’ main base with an SVD, and I took them down to a man after the neutral STALKERs asked to assault the base. Then, my allies just sort of faffed around for about an hour without ever entering the base, then left. Once I left as well, all the bandits immediately respawned and took back their main base as well as the three surrounding ones. It was the same thing with Duty vs Freedom, it’s virtually impossible to actually get one side to take the others’ base. It’s not impossible to clear it out, it’s just impossible to get the friendly AI to move in once the enemies are gone.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, the faction system would be cool if it worked, but it doesn’t.

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          Hm, I don’t remember ever encountering that issue. If anything, the faction war was too easily won, in my game.

          I was playing CS Complete, though. It’s possible that the mod tweaked the faction AI (I can’t recall one way or the other).

          • SlimShanks says:

            I actually played played through the whole game vanilla, just a couple years back. No problems. *shrug*

          • popej says:

            It’s come on leaps and bounds with various patches and mods. But yeah, it was utterly broken when CS was released. The developer acknowledged it to their credit but it took a while to get it to a remotely playable point.

            Agree though, criminally under rated game.

        • Muzman says:

          Yeah there’s a whole lot of weird conditions involved in making such an assault work right, including taking specific camps across map borders (sometimes held by neutrals or other allies). It’s too finicky like that. But fun to play around with once you get the gist. I don’t know if any mods iron it out, specifically. I think it worked a bit better under Complete (as things tend to).

          When it’s going well you can get that system tinkering pleasure that I think Shadows of Mordor gave to people.

    • cautet says:

      There are some mods that make Clear Sky really good. The faction warfare somehow makes you see mutants differently. In neither SoC nor CoP would I willingly stumble around in the dark without a night light on after carefully scouting out an area to risk blundering into mutants. Something really special about that game.

      Although it is the most irritating of all of them, especially at the start. How many games make you run past a machine gun right at the start? Not some game-fakey machine-gun post but a proper suicide-to-go-near-machine-gun-post.

    • Cropduster says:

      CS is pretty great in it’s own right.It’s problem was it was released as a full a sequel when it’s value really comes as a faction warfare expansion for SOC.

      The new areas were cool but overall the story content was pretty forgettable. But emergently retaking the zone in the name of the glorious bandit kingdom never gets old. If only that buggy gate wouldn’t lock me out of my own base (still the most buggy and poorly optimized of the 3 sadly).

  2. Don Reba says:

    If you liked STALKER, you might want to try GSC’s Venom: Codename: Outbreak (yes, that’s a subtitle subtitle). It’s made on an earlier version of the same engine and by the same lead developer and artist and has sort of a similar feel to it. It’s pretty glitchy, though, and you’ll be lucky if you don’t encounter any game breaking bugs.

  3. Nerdy Suit says:

    Ugh, the RNG shooting in these games is horrifically broken and takes me out of the experience. I’ve considered giving the games another shot, because the atmosphere is so enthralling, but no one will ever be able to convince me that the RNG shooting isn’t broken as hell.

    So many fans try to act like this game has realistic shooting. You play as a hardcore trained military dude, yet despite his training and your perfect aim as a player, the RNG will cause you to consistently miss enemies 10 feet away. When you finally do hit them, they’re bullet sponges and can take a silly amount of shots. Realistic? Far from it.

    Unbelievably creepy atmosphere? Yes. One of the most unrealistic and poorly designed shooting systems I’ve ever played in a FPS? Yes.

    • kamikazemelon says:

      Hey! I agree with you. There is a great mod scene for STALKER, my favorite mod for the original was the “realistic weapons and damage” mod, which, for me at least, made the combat much more tense. Enemies go down in a couple shots, but so will you if your armor isn’t up to par. It also increased accuracy and range on every weapon and if it didn’t fully remove the RNG accuracy (it’s been a while since I played), it at least, for me, solved the same issue you’re having. Of course it changes the balance a lot, end game becomes pathetically easy, so a hardcore difficulty mod wouldn’t go amiss if you’re finding it too easy. Give it a try! The first “pistols vs. military squad” encounter almost made me regret my STALKER SHOC preorder but I’m so glad I stuck with it. Truly, we may never see another game quite like it.

      • Nerdy Suit says:

        Well…I will try that mod! I’ve been thinking of giving the game another go again based solely on the awesome atmosphere, despite my hatred for the shooting. If there’s a mod that at least somewhat fixes that (I played it years ago and was apparently unaware of the mod) then it’s definitely worth a try!

        • Ichi_1 says:

          This may be the same mod already mentioned but there is a ‘real guns mod’ which I believe removes the RNG of shooting.

          There is also a survival mod where you have to eat and drink on a regular basis and sleep in a sleeping bag in a safe area, lest you get killed in the outdoors while you are taking a nap.

          • ShadyGuy says:

            Calling the inaccuracy of the STALKER weapons RNG is wrong. It’s not like Morrowind where you can be right in front of an enemy and still miss because of having bad skills in a type of weapon.

            In STALKER bullets have a drop off over distance, so they become less accurate the further away you are from your target. But if you shoot someone point blank in the face with a makarov you’ll hit them every time.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      The bullet sponge thing is a bit weird- you’d expect the enemies to get spongier on higher difficulties, but that’s not the case. Increased challenge levels give both the enemies *and* you more damage, which means you die a lot faster, but so do they. The top difficulty levels make the game so so much better.

      • klops says:

        Didn’t the first Metro had that same thing? I remember Ranger mode or something like that

    • skalpadda says:

      Yeah, it’s a wonky artefact of the RPG progression system. Tying RPG-style accuracy stats to real time FPS mechanics just never feels good. Once you get the later guns that don’t suffer from ludicrous inaccuracy the shooting is quite good though, and as others have mentioned it’s moddable.

    • Cropduster says:

      Well fair enough, but that’s actually one my favorite things about these games. Each bullet is an actual game object that is effect by things like gravity and spray pattern, so you have to take those into account, rather than point’n’click.

      Also regarding bullet sponge enemies, one of the difficulty modes (stalker mode if I remember) makes combat much more lethal for both the player and the enemies, which is what most people touting “realism” will be talking about.

  4. jj2112 says:

    I tried to recently, but when I saw ten soldiers trying to go through the same door to reach me and the idiotic behavior of the AI in general I quit. But the setting and atmosphere are great.

  5. GernauMorat says:

    Among the greatest PC games ever made

    • Ross Angus says:

      Agreed. I’ve played one game from the series every Autumn for the past nine years or so.

    • Cropduster says:

      Definitely the finest FPS by land air and sea for my money! It’s very hard to go back to any hit-scan joyride fps afterwards.

      Great modding scene too which is just as well considering the state of the base game. Although I remember uninstalling the RU version of stalkersoup when nu-metal/drum and bass starting playing during combat, kind of detracted from things methinks.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Right up there for me with Deus Ex (proper Deus Ex), Civ II/IV and X-COM. Just an incredible piece of art. Even the wonky game engine contributes to the feeling of a broken down, unpredictable post-apocalyptic wasteland.

      The only game I’ve played since which gives me the same sense that I’m playing something really special is Metal Gear Solid V, which I’m currently 70 hours/26% through.

      I find it incredible that no major western studio has had the brains to steal the feel and gameplay of STALKER and put it into a better coded engine with more content. It would be unstoppable.

  6. Scobie says:

    This is one of my very favourite games, or at least it was back in the day. It’s still great, but Call of Pripyat outshines it in most respects, so you should probably play that instead. Don’t even think about Clear Sky.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Please do not listen to this person. All three Stalker games are entirely worthy of your time for different-but-similar reasons, Clear Sky included. And this is coming from somebody who never even modded them – do that and there are even less reasons not to play ’em, since the major bugs have long since been squashed from what I understand.

      • Numerical says:

        For me Clear Sky is probably the worst of all three, mainly due to the respawning enemy faction in the swamp area where it manifests the most.

  7. ggggggggggg says:

    Lots of fans appear to agree with you actually. I think many of the major gameplay overhaul mods seriously adjust how all the guns feel to be more like other shooters

  8. Kefren says:

    When I first tried SoC I couldn’t get into it; but a few hours in and I was hooked. So many great memories. And when I replayed it last year (with the Complete mod) I had the same experience. Brilliant.

    I hated the start of Clear Skies, but once the people with me died while I hid up a tower shooting down at mutants, the same pull grabbed me, and I had a really good time.

    This weekend my girlfriend was away and I psyched myself up for my first playthrough of Call of Pripyat. And I just couldn’t get into it. Many hours in I gave up and uninstalled. Maybe I’ve had all the experiences STALKER can offer, or maybe the graphics were a step back from the Complete mod (most comments said not to install ft for CoP, it was too buggy), but I was mostly bored. I felt like I was playing a game, not living in the world as I had with the first two. Strange.

    The next night I tried Dark Souls for the first time, expecting that to be a game that would swallow up months of my time. And hated that too. Third person games are always at a disadvantage with me, because you’re so far removed from everything I feel I have to squint at blurry textures; I don’t really like using a controller for games like that, because looking around every tiem you enter a room feels like a chore. I tried dsfix but the game wouldn’t run with it, so I tried once more without and realised I was genuinely bored, so uninstalled.

    Who’d have thought it?

    Still, I had a really good time with my first playthrough of Fallout New Vegas recently; and my weekend was completed by FTL, Broforce and HoMM2, so it isn’t that I have gone off games, just that the games most heavily recommended by others seem to be ones I can’t get into. (I had the same problem with things like Bastion, and To The Moon, both of which I hated; but I loved Gone Home).

    • SlimShanks says:

      Oh no, those are two of my all time favourite games… That’s rough. But the same thing happens to me with other games… Someday I will get more than five hours into divinity.

    • manny says:

      STALKER had a emergent gameplay not a fixed storyline, instead you were newborn in the world. Pretty much no game gives you that, as they all have stories, this would include both the sequels, which I enjoyed much less.

      I was truly blessed to have installed lost oblivion mod for stalker the first time I played, and indeed I only started getting bored after I figured out there was some type of main story and quest I was supposed to be on.

  9. Aerothorn says:

    “How have we not included a STALKER game in Have You Played yet? How is that even possible?”

    This is what happens when Jim doesn’t work here anymore :(

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I feel like Jims unfortunate abduction by aliens led to a sad decline in STALKER and Men of War posts.

      Damn aliens.

  10. CloneWarrior85 says:

    SoC is the best storydriven STALKER game, whith CoP being the one with the best gameplay.

    Don’t listen to CS bad comments, the game mechanics are really amasing, and were a bit new for it’s time.

    For those interested there’s a mod that adds all the maps from both first games into CoP, but of course, no story, but you still have sidemissions to do, and survive. The mod is Call of Chernobyl, and it’s on moddb.

    There’s also Escape from Tarkov, an online STALKER looking game menus the mutants, in the making. Online missions plus freeroam. Looks very promissing.

  11. Sin Vega says:

    Hated the first one and eventually gave up on my annual attempt to give it another chance (yes, I’ve tried all the overhaul mods, no, none of them fix its issues without creating more).

    Buuut the third one was much better, even if it’s a bit more reigned in, and the combat is still nowhere near as “realistic” as it purports – endlessly hammering the ‘bandage’/’medkit’ buttons while trying to snipe/overwhelm spongey enemies never felt right. But it’s worth it in the third one. And it’s absolutely terrifying, to the point where I completed it in my mind by deciding that my player character, instead of breaking into a tunnel filled with poison gas, deadly traps, and sealed off with industrial machinery by someone trying to keep something contained, made the sensible decision to simply turn round and report to his bosses that the person he was sent to find was dead. I mean, come on, 4 out of 5 is a good result, and I’d made a comfortable pile of money already. Nothing to be gained from that madness.

    That atmosphere, though. Brrrr.

  12. Geebs says:

    Stalker is the only game apart from Morrowind that properly gave me a sense of being stuck, miles from anywhere, running out of supplies, down some godforsaken hole with something that could kick my teeth in as soon as look at me. I love it.

  13. Elric666 says:

    Get out of here, Stalker.
    Get out of here, Stalker.
    Get out of here, Stalker.

  14. vahnn says:

    I’m ashamed to say I never played Clear Sky. Thought about trying it out, but based on my recent attempts to replay SoC and CoP, I don’t think I have the patience for this type of game these days, or at least not on an aging engine. And while Call of Pripyat arguably had better gameplay and definitely had fewer technical issues, Shadow of Chernobyl stands out in my mind as my favorite of the series.

    I’ll still never forget my first encounter with one of the psychic mutants. There was a ladder leading down into a dark tunnel. It was alright night time outside, and it was dark, but that tunnel was somehow darker. But down I went anyway! This was the first time I noticed an effect that I never saw in or heard in Call of Pripyat, but it’s stuck in my head to this day, I can still hear it and feel the fear I felt that day: The “emergency” lighting and fixtures on the ceilings of those tunnels. It was a bunch of red lights, but it had a sort of back plate on it that spun around, so it cast its light in a rotating 180 degree arc. And as it spun, the back plate made this faint, grinding and creaking, along with my footsteps, to make the only noises in an otherwise complete absence of sound. It just put chills down my spine.

    So I pull myself together and start trekking forth and come across a long stretch of tunnel. Here, one of the emergency lights is broken about half way down, and I’m standing at one end, looking down a long, dark stretch, and see a tiny bit of that rhythmic, pulsing light at the far end. I start walking… I get to the darkest part and that was when the psycher walks around the corner and starts doing his physic attacks. I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t played the game, but the first time you encounter it, especially if you’re already as scared as I was, is absolutely terrifying, and completely disorienting. I turned tail and started running like a bunny from a wolf, but there was no where to hide until I got back to the far end, being subjected to its attacks the whole way back.

    I never went back into that fucking tunnel.

    • Rimesmoker says:

      If I had to guess: you forgot to disable AA ingame and stuff (not in the dsfix.ini) and that caused the crashes. DSFix is surprisingly stable if you follow all the instructions. If you have a controller please try IT again, it’s such a sublime experience once you get hooked. (Although, if you have the money, DS3 is far easier to get into).

      • vahnn says:

        I think your comment was misplaced. You’re talking about DSFix and DS3. This post is about the STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.

    • Premium User Badge

      Erayos says:

      Funny you mention this tunnel, it was exactly what put me off of the game. I don’t remember why I was in there, I just remember being scared enough to turn tail and not go back playing this game.

      I loved what I experienced before though, so I should probably go back and play it.

  15. thomas16632 says:

    i loved soc, and i redid it with Oblivion lost mod, which i loved even more. I don’t know about complete, didn’t have the time to play it, i just tried it quicly, but it missed so much of what’s in oblivion lost, being prettier isn’t enough for me.

    anyway, one of the game i enjoyed the most in my life. In the top ten of my life, clearly.

  16. Viral Frog says:

    I keep trying and trying but just cannot enjoy the game. I’ll probably give it a few more goes before I decide it’s not the game for me.

  17. fearandloathing says:

    What abouts mods, more talks on mods, mods mods give me back my mods

  18. KastaRules says:

    Best. Game. Ever.

    • KastaRules says:

      I’d also suggest to fans of the game to read the book “Roadside Picnic” and watch the movie “Stalker”.

      • vahnn says:

        They’re both very good.

      • vahnn says:

        I would also recommend A Visitor to the Museum (aka Posetitel Museya), a another Russian film that evokes a lot of the same feeling as Stalker. A lot of striking scenes in this movie.

    • SlimShanks says:

      Do it, they are both totally excellent! I can’t even decide which is more amazing.

  19. SlimShanks says:

    Right, someone mentioned Stalker, so here I am plugging the Misery mod again. For any veteran fans, this mod adds so much content, depth, and atmosphere to the game it can’t be believed until you have played it. It is very hard though. Check it out at least:
    link to moddb.com

  20. C0llic says:

    Such a great game. I remember there being some disappointment it was scaled back from the completely open world they had planned, but what we had was still dripping in atmosphere, and felt pretty unique at the time. It was a bit ropey and buggy, but none of that really mattered.

  21. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    “STALKER wouldn’t get made today.”

    Tell that to legion of weirdo open-world post-Soviet survival shooters on Steam Early Access.

  22. ToomuchFluffy says:

    It’s still the best of the three in my opinion. Though I have to make clear that I have been using the Complete-mod for years and have changed quite a few of the numbers and some of the sounds myself (weapons-balance, some AI-related things etc.). It’s basically my personally crafted perfect STALKER-experience. ;-) Aside from my own changes, I just find the A-Life to be the most well crafted. The way it is implemented just seems more moderate and deliberate than in the other games. It’s usually not two or more groups meeting somewhere on the map to murder each other, but rather wandering people or mutants possibly intersecting with stationary or other moving people/mutants. In SoC they usually have good reasons for wandering around. In CS movements are more strategic, which still can be interesting and in CoP (which I have played the least so far) it feels like CS, but without there actually being a faction war. But at least in CoP the mutants play a much bigger role again.

  23. GenialityOfEvil says:

    The world in Call of Pripyat just didn’t grab me like Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky. It felt like a demo area.

    • Cropduster says:

      I agree, while bigger on the surface, it feels like a smaller game overall.

      Like how rather than having, and fighting from, two separate bases, the Freedom and Duty just hang out at different ends of the same pub.

      • Jay Load says:

        Can we also talk about how you spend 90% of the game in the large open world area and 10% of your time actually in Pripyat?

        Me, I wanted far more Pripyat than CoP delivered. Exploring that in SoC was a magical experience.

  24. Freud says:

    I started the first one but it was so buggy and wonky I gave up. I did play through Call of Pripyat a few years later and that was a very satisfying Stalker experience to me that I don’t particularly have an urge to go back and play the first one.

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      Lost Alpha is a free standalone remake of SoC very well worth playing through.

  25. malkav11 says:

    I did. Died over and over and over to the bandits in that first firefight in the opening area of the game, quit, didn’t look back for years. Then later the Complete mod came out and for whatever reason I installed it and tried again. Something about the changes that mod makes made that initial hump much easier to get over and I was hooked, eventually playing it to completion. Fantastic atmosphere and world, slightly shonky but endearing mechanics. One of my all time favorites.

    I’ve tried to get into Clear Sky, but the faction system is so broken it really wasn’t gelling for me despite various other improvements. And Call of Pripyat…I’ve played a few minutes after finally giving up on Clear Sky, but I don’t know if it’s the game or me but I wasn’t hooked the way I was with Shadow of Chernobyl and there’s so much else clamoring for my time that I haven’t been back.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s a pity things fell apart so hard on further entries in the series. I guess Survivarium or whatever exists but multiplayer is absolutely the furthest thing from what I want from these games.

    • Jalan says:

      As much as I enjoy the complete mod for it, it really does make some things a bit too easy. Of course, I’m not among those who moan over it and actively tell people not to play the game with it installed at all but I can see (somewhat) where they’re coming from.

      • malkav11 says:

        You say “too easy”, I say “playable”.

        • Jalan says:

          I’m not in disagreement with you (I guess I wasn’t entirely clear on that). Making the early hours of the game more tolerable instead of almost masochistic in challenge are a good thing but some of the later segments where the mod interjected changes are just easier than they should be.

          • ToomuchFluffy says:

            Could be, but I haven’t played SoC Vanilla for so long that it’s hard to tell. As far as I’m aware it makes most weapons more precise (good for the early stretches!) and less powerful. I also remember reading that the AI’s perception may be worse. I myself use Complete as a base, but I have changed so much about the weapons and AI that it’s probably more difficult than Vanilla. For example: The Sig 550 is a really powerful weapon for medium and longer distances now, but the Mercs have it as well ;-)

  26. Monggerel says:

    Even if you get past the glitchy, uncanny, broken gameworld that GSC jury rigged together from half-remembered lines of Soviet science-fiction novels and bits of family members, STALKER is, in itself, just a miserable experience. A game so bleak and devoid of anything to give meaning to your actions or even, on a fundamental level, any emotions save fear and frustration followed by momentary relief, that it could only ever appeal to the most morbid breed of pessimists the world’s ever seen.
    Russians, I mean.

    No wonder it’s one of a kind. No healthy consumer wants garbage like STALKER (that’s why nobody paid for it).

    I love the game, but I love it against my better judgement.

    • ToomuchFluffy says:

      Not sure what “meaning” in a positive sense and enjoying something have to do with each other. STALKER has great atmosphere and an interesting world with an actual high-level AI. It means something to me, but I have never wanted or needed to attach some kind of specific “meaning” to it.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Yeah, I think if you go to your recreational video game time expecting it to bring more meaning to your life, you’ll only be sorely disappointed. But especially if you choose to play post-apocalypse games! I mean shit! The whole APPEAL of those games is that you’re so utterly unmoored from purpose!

  27. CitizenX3639 says:

    Easily one of my favorite series and annyoyed it does not get near the recognition it deserves. It was the game I learned to mod games, read code, install mods and still one of only 2 games that when I rebuild my PC I install(company of heroes the other). The sound, sights, atmosphere of trying to reach Chernobyl, only Bioshock comes close. Currently playing 35MM if you need that STALKER fix, you should check it out.

  28. Glacious says:

    Oh man.

    After listening to the legends about the game for years, knowing I would really enjoy the setting, I finally picked up STALKER (I like the general consensus to leave out all the full stops) earlier this year and played it a few weeks ago. It crashed my PC something fierce. I suspect a memory leak, but whatever the clash between the game and my system was, it reached the point my PC would restart over and over, not even getting to POST. Had to leave it unplugged at the wall overnight before it would boot again.

    I did some detective work without success and sadly uninstalled the game. After years of slow burn anticipation, I was quite disappointed. I picked up the Metro games earlier this year and am playing them instead and enjoying them, but it’s not STALKER.

    After a period of mourning, I intend to follow Alec’s grudging suggestion and try the third game to see if I can get back to Pripyat.

    • Don Reba says:

      Did you ask for help at GSC’s forum? Lots of helpful folk there.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      Download Zone Reclamation Project, the unofficial patch for the game. It fixed virtually all of the game’s CTDs.

  29. noxohimoy says:

    I will not take it anymore. I hadn’t a STALKER kind of game for years. This is enough!

    I better have a new one or hell will break loose! THIS IS MY LAST WARNING.

  30. jonahcutter says:

    The “decline c-consciousness” ending to SoC is one of the great video game endings.

  31. Cropduster says:

    I found the bad endings much more satisfying than the “true” one.

    Climbing through the reactor core with all it’s bent graphite rods, then using all your meds to limp to the end of the chamber, a broken radioactive mess, only to be deceived and destroyed at the finish line.

    So good! Probably one of my strongest gaming memories. The true ending’s infodump followed by scripted shooting was a bit of a let down for me after that.

    • Cropduster says:

      In retrospect I suppose a rad suit would have made it easier (and less memorable) but IIRC I’d dumped mine to carry more pepperami and red bull.

      • Arathorn says:

        Heh, priorities!

        What disappointed me most about the good ending is that after everything is explained and you’re at the scientists behind it, instead of finishing the game you are suddenly forced to spend another hour on rooftops shooting endless enemies without really getting anywhere. The game should have stopped at the end of the build-up through the reactor complex, instead it just fizzles out.

  32. Pharaoh Nanjulian says:

    I have. I was playing it last week, having downloaded L.U.R.K. I got given the collector’s edition when it was released, having followed in on the GSC fora for some years (Tarkovsky being one of my favourite directors). I still have never completed it, as there were so many mods that I had to try! There still are. The lighting is fantastic, and the opening areas don’t get old.

    I have told myself that this time, this L.U.R.K. installation will be stuck with until I finish the game…

  33. RJGrigsby says:

    If you love STALKER, try out Lost Alpha. Not a Mod, persey, but the game as it was (supposedly) envisioned.

    Done by Dezowave along with a couple of the original devs, it’s the complete game, free, and from what I understand, THQ and GDC’s blessings. (But, please, buy a copy of the original.)

    I don’t recommend it as a first STALKER experience, because there’s a lot of annoying and needlessly tedious long distance “Fed-Ex-ing”, but if you’re a fan, don’t miss it.

    Currently enjoying Lost Alpha with the “Lost Alpha Mod”. Minimal problems, but, it is STALKER, so…

    Cheeki breeki!

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      They really nailed the overgrowth of vegetation and making it feel like an alien land.

    • Don Reba says:

      along with a couple of the original devs

      I don’t think that’s true.

  34. Gordon Shock says:

    For some weird reason, nowadays, when I play a game that doesn’t engage me 100% I would get flashback of other games while playing.

    Those are mostly made up of Half Life, System Shock 2, Fallout 3, Just Cause 2 and Stalker. I guess those games are the ones that left an indelible mark on my subconscious with their fantastic world building and writing. Who needs VR when those two (when well done) are enough to suck you in and not let go.

  35. Scandalon says:

    Yes. (Never “finished it” though.) Some of the most atmospheric/emotional of my gaming memories.

  36. kud13 says:

    Yes. Yes I did. All 3 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games 1 and 3 with Complete, CS without.

    I played SoC around the same time I was playing Bioshock. After playing a hide and seek sawed-off duel with a couple of bandits in the early sections of Garbage, it’s virtually impossible to ever take any mainstream shooter seriously again. The tension, the sound (I’m a native speaker in both Ukrainian and Russian, so I obviously didn’t play the English version), that feeling when sprint around the corner and pull the trigger a split second earlier and see the enemy’s corpse soaring away with the force of impact…. priceless.

    And SoC can be truly horrifying. That’s what CS was missing for me- the horror of the X-labs. CoP gets some of it back, but it feels a lot more of a theme park RPG.

    One thing I really liked about Cs was the genuine feeling of progression. You start out in the swamp, where the radiation is constantly sapping away at you, with piss-poor guns, and any stray bullet leaves you leaking blood. Then 20 hours later, you are back to hand in a quest, in your hazmat suit, with artifacts absorbing all the rads, and not a thing can touch you. And you feel like you are the bad-ass veteran.

    Along with Deus Ex, Bloodlines, System Shocks, Witchers and Alpha Protocol, one of my most played games ever.