For those who have never played the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl or its two sequels Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat on PC, it's more than worth a look. While definitely lacking the polish of a game like Fallout 3 - graphics left something to be desired (while still being a massive resource hog) and at least one quest was so broken that it couldn't be finished - but overall, it's an interesting, open-world FPS. Granted, I'm a little bit biased, given that i'm a massive fiend for all things post-apocalyptic and Chernobyl-related; nonetheless, something about the gritty, washed-out aesthetic, weapons that ranged from "decent" to "nearly useless," and unnerving atmosphere gave it a quality that somehow felt compelling.
Thankfully, for those of us in the pro-S.T.A.L.K.E.R. camp, everyone's favorite romp through the irradiated, Eastern European hellscape will ride again - at least, for now. Our friends across the pond recently posted on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Facebook page that "The Stalker team is extremely happy! Why? Because we are continuing work on Stalker 2 after the holidays." While reports that its Ukranian-based developer, GSC, was facing closure have been debunked, the certainty of a new entry in the series is anything but. A message from official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Twitter page read "We will do our best to continue. However, at this moment, nothing is certain," and Edge magazine reports that GSC is "still in the process of seeking funding to back up the project." We'll keep you updated as the news rolls in!
For those who have never played S.T.A.L.K.E.R., hit the jump to read on!
image via S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Facebook page
Inspired by the book "Roadside Picnic" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - incidentally, this also served as the inspiration for the fantastic Soviet film, "Stalker" - the game found you as as a nameless character inside the Zone of Exclusion around Chernobyl, with no memory of how he arrived, and carrying a PDA with the cryptic order, "Kill Strelok." Over the course of the game, you take on the role of a "Stalker" - this stands for "Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers, and Robbers," according to Gamespot - seeking artifacts that have formed within anomalies that have cropped up within the Zone. Supernatural weirdness and radioactive frolic ensues, as you struggle to regain your memory, all the while enamored in the power struggle between the respective agendas of the "Order" and "Freedom" factions.
While never achieving a large amount of success - I don't recall much fanfare surrounding its release - the game has a devoted cult following, of which I'm clearly a member. So for those looking for something new, you can find the PC-exclusive S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl on Steam, at this link.