We've previously covered Lost Alpha, a massive labor-of-love project to rebuild the original Shadow of Chernobyl from the ground up, reinstating concepts and content that never quite made the final cut. While the first release of Lost Alpha suffered nearly as badly from a messy development cycle as the original game, the updates have continued, and the massive patch released this week makes it a far more tempting prospect, whether or not you've played a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game before.
Earlier this year, Dezowave's Lost Alpha saw a massive re-launch under the Developer's Cut banner. The DC release made major improvements to performance, stability and injected a chunk of new content into the world to help flesh out the expansive but previously under-populated new maps introduced in the remake. The new update (Version 1.4005, full patch notes here) brings an enormous list of tweaks and changes, many of which are balance and polish-oriented, including several improvements to the underlying renderer and engine.
The simulationist/survival aspects of Lost Alpha have been built on a little more in this new update as well. Healing in combat is now a riskier proposition than it used to be, with the process becoming a little more Far Cry-esque: weapon holstered, medkit applied, and the restoration of your stats takes effect over a short period rather than immediately healing your gaping bullet-wounds. Not everything is harder on the player, thankfully, with tweaks made so that hunger and dehydration will wake you from your sleep, instead of just silently kill you.
You can pick up S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha via ModDB now - a hefty 6gb download, either all in one via torrent or split into four parts - a much simpler process than in previous releases. While of questionable legality, it's an entirely standalone release, and requires no game in the series to be installed.