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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?

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