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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Surprise STALKER reveiw? Such is life in the zone.

No, I mean the game.
     In this post I'll be reviewing the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of games as one, seeing as their all pretty much the same thing with slightly different story lines. This doesn't take away from  the general awesomeness of this game, however.

     STALKER is a open world FPS set in the Chernobl area of Ukraine, near where the nuclear power station famously exploded and flooded the area with deadly radiaiton. The USSR (who controlled Ukraine at the time) ordered a mass evacuation and the large city of Pripyat, right next to the reactor, was completely abandoned. The series is set in the present day, around 25 years on from the meltdown. The games are all about exploring the "Zone" around the powerplant, which hides many mutated monsters and strange anomolies caused by radiation and other strange forces. The landscape is also constantly changing due to "Emissions" coming from the reactor core and sweeping across the zone. If you are caught outside during an emission, you're pretty much f**ked, so you have to hide in any nearby caves/abandoned buildings.

If you are outside during this, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

     The series uses an inventory and weapon/armour upgrading system similar to the Resident Evil series; each gun or piece of armour takes up a certain amount of blocks in your inventory, and when it is full you can carry no more. All equipment also has a set weight, and the most you can carry normally is around 60kg, which further restricts the amount you can carry. Whilst this may not seem so bad, keep in mind that all medicine/food/ammo also takes up space and has its own weight, turning you into a packmule of sorts. The inventory interface is also quite confusing to anyone new to the series, and it can be quite annoying till you get used to it.


     However, combat makes up for the inventory drawbacks. It is very realistic- if you get shot by bandits (or the asshole military who want to kill everything for some reason) or slashed by some monster you start to bleed, and if left unchecked you can bleed out and die. This is remedied by bandages, which you much carry around in bulk if you don't want to find yourself dying after every fight you thought you'd won. This pisses some people off, but I like the realism- it adds a new level of strategy to fighting and ,coupled with the limited carrying capactity, really makes you think "is it really worth killing those things or will running away be better?" When you choose to fight, the guns are just as realistic- they detoriate over time, and once they get below a certain level they begin to jam when fired, making you reload to fix it. Again, this is awesome to me as it makes the game that much more absorbing, but some people can't stand their gun stopping mid-fight. Each gun can also be fired single shot or full auto, with some rifles adding a burst shot option as well. 
     Enemies in the game range from human bandits and soldiers to mutated rats and zombies, with a lot of range inbetween. Most of the monsters share something in common, however- they are all sh*t scary. 
     The monster above is a bloodsucker, and guess what? These f**kers are invisible. They run around you, totally see through, and only "uncloak" themselves to tear your sh*t up. Thankfully, they mostly hunt alone, but sometimes you can run into their nests. If you do, only god can save you. There are also many other monsters, like mutated dogs and even mutated humans. The strangest, and scariest, monster by far, however, is the controller.
 Looks like David Cameron has let himself go a bit.
     These freaks can zombify soldiers and bandits, turning them against you. They are also telepathic, and mess with your head so that many copies of enemies appear that arent there. They also copy themselves, making them extremely hard to find and kill once they've noticed you.
     My favourite part of any STALKER game has got to be the intense atmosphere. This game sucks you in and makes you feel as if you really are in the zone, armed with an AK47 and balls bigger than a ford. The musical score is excellent, proving the right backdrop to any instance in the game, and the graphics are superb- if you have a good enough computer, they're easily comparable to Crysis. However, some of the game almost feels rushed and not entirely there- but thats where the modders come in. One team of said modders have set out to "Complete" the game by making the graphics even better and improving some clunky game mechanics, and currently have mods available on all the STALKER games which really do make the game even better.

The main reason the mods are so good is that they dont get. . . distracted. . . by other "things".

     The STALKER games really are some of my favourite FPShooters of all time; immersive, realistic and fun are a rare combination in any game today. I hope this review was entertaining, and as always I hope it made you at least consider buying the game.

 "Selling" games since 2006.


  1. I've heard lots of good things about the STALKER games. Thanks for the review!

  2. I remember hering something about this long ago, I just forgot all about it. The game looks pretty amazing though. Not sure how I missed this. Thanks!

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