646th played so far

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: GSC Game World
Publisher: GSC Game World/THQ

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has been on my list for quite some time, as an open world post apocalyptic shooter is the sort of thing I’ve grown to enjoy – a Fallout 3 without RPG elements.

We actually watched the movie as preparation for the game and it made for some interesting context. While the gameplay is obviously not like the movie, we still get something similar in atmosphere.

Our Thoughts

There is an atmosphere in this game that comes through from the movie. The story of the latter gets weird, but it creates this atmosphere of a mysterious wasteland that’s deserted and slightly weird. Here, it’s not as abandoned as in the movie, but it’s rough, you’re outnumbered and, especially early, surrounded by far more powerful enemies. Your first mission is to raid this farm with a group, but whenever I tried, everyone around me died and I resorted to sneaking around, sniping the enemies out one at a time until I could release the man I was looking for.

I looked up some hints for some extra gear to use and further advice to make it through the early sections, some advice on where to go and who to talk to. A bunch of characters early on have some missions, which give you some good direction on collecting, handling anomalies and so on. It’s all fairly indirect, but it works to show you the game, preparing you before you go into the real zone.

While fairly unforgiving, the game always felt manageable to me. There were certainly some areas where I felt I didn’t figure it out yet, but on the whole it’s been going well enough.

It starts with a simple story – take revenge on someone, based on an entry in your PDA, while you help your “saviour” with a few jobs while you gain some power that way. I get that it will expand later, but the draw is really the large world, not dissimilar to Fallout, with a lot of leftovers from the past and plenty of places to explore. It’s still fairly populated, other stalkers walking around the area while you do. You’re in competition with them on one level of the game, where you try to become the top stalker through doing better than them or eliminating them. Of course their power is appropriately large, so it’s not as easy as it seems. Not just that, but these stalkers have their own plans and will continue their own business. There is a complex AI where they go through their own cycle and do their own things, responding to what you do, but doing more than just sitting there. It creates a living world that challenges you more.

Final Thoughts

Stalker creates a wonderful living world that is a joy to explore with a large number of missions and plenty of challenges. I’ve got to return to the world again for the blog, but I think it’s one I’m happy to return to so I can play around in it.