Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Stealth Tigers Are Lying Kats Eat Rats

Stalker:SoC is a memorable, atmospheric and eerie game. Developed by GSC game world from the Ukraine, it is set in and around the Chernobyl NPP and the surrounding exclusion zone. In an alternative universe a second event occurred after the nuclear meltdown during the 80s. This event has turned the zone around the power plant into a gold mine of artifacts, banditry and scientific exploration. The modding community has fully embraced stalker and mods big and small litter the internet allowing players to fully customise their stalking experience; new players should approach mods with caution.

With the promise of wealth and power, men (no women) called stalkers hunt for artifacts, kill radiated mutants, play guitar around the campfire and drink vodka. Bandits prey on new stalkers and two strong factions have setup large bases in the zone. The Freedom and Duty factions have incompatible ideologies and have aligned themselves against each other. Military forces have orders to kill any non-military personnel on sight.

The player begins the game not knowing who they are; their mission is to reclaim their memories, kill a man named Strelok and survive the hostile exclusion zone. You are given a pistol and an easy mission to help fellow stalkers. In no time you will be crossing large sections of the dangerous zone, using trader bases as safe areas and stalking with the best of them.

Stalker has three standout gameplay elements; gun play, atmosphere and fellow stalkers. Pistols, SMGs, shotguns, assault and sniper rifles all behave uniquely, choosing the right weapon for the job is key. The arsenal at your disposal consists of both Warsaw Pact (AKs, Dragunovs, PMm) and NATO (MP5, G36, FN2000) country weapons. Most weapons can be modded with scopes, silencers or grenade launchers. The number of mods concerning gun play is almost overwhelming, modding stalker can add new weaponry or tweak existing weapons.



The atmosphere of stalker is probably its most memorable feature. Weather, shadow, light, night and day are all impressively rendered by stalker's XRAY engine. The night is dark and the sounds of howling dogs, gunshots or unknown growling can be unsettling for a lone stalker. Moving through an abandoned house or factory will have you on alert for bandit ambushes, wild animals or worse. Picking up a high-res mod pack will enhance the visual experience.

"Get out of here stalker", and, "Don't just stand there, come in", are a few things your fellow stalkers will say to you as you cross their path. Conversations with traders, faction leaders and fellow stalker help push the game's story along. Although you start as a loner there is always a bond between true stalkers. During fights, if friendly faction stalkers are near they will help you; even Duty and Freedom members will lend you a hand if you haven't joined a side yet. Running towards a group of friendly stalkers can be the difference between life and death.

Stalker is a true classic adventure FPS and if you haven't played it you probably should. It is advised to play vanilla stalker with only official patches for your first playthrough. Mods can then be added for replays, weaponry or graphical enhancement.


"Get out of here stalker"
9/10


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