I'll just come right out and say it: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is one of my favorite PC games. Yet such sentimental silliness finds itself forever mired in confusion, betrayal, and a love that simply will not die - however cruelly my Ukranian mistress may deliver her innumerable punishments.
On paper, I should hate it. The "gritty realism" of the game's combat is featured most prominently in guns that lack the ability to shoot straight, and kick back like the protagonist has some kind of degenerative muscle disorder. The number of bullets it takes to kill your character depends largely on the game's temperament. Some quests will automatically complete; some will automatically fail - regardless of your actions.
Yet still, I love it. Perhaps it's the charm of its myriad quirks; perhaps it's the fact that yours truly is the official "Armchair Sovietologist" of Gay Gamer, as well as the game's influence from Andrei Tartovsky's "Stalker" (which itself was influenced by the book, "Roadside Picnic"): an excellent film for those that enjoy thoughtful, atmospheric stories, complete with one of the most poignant, and bitterly true quotes about writers that have ever graced my supple, Western ears.
Sadly, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Developer GSC Game World saw the fall of its studio, and with it, the disbandment of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Team. Since then, there has been speculation about the game's fate, the most recent of which claims that rights to the cult franchise have been sold to Bethesda.
Said claims come from Ukranian blogger Sergei Galyonkin, who originally broke the news of GSC's closure - something that was attributed to the challenges of selling a PC exclusive title to European audiences, as well as the company's failure to breach the console gaming market - and is attributed to a "reliable source." If the claims turn out to be true - Rock, Paper, Shotgun received a "no comment" from Bethesda's PR - the company's acquisition doesn't mean that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 will see the light of day, at least in its previous form. Rather, it would allow for the creation games under the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. name, using the company's own technology.
Despite Bethesda's ambiguous response - i've always considered "no comment" to be mere PR-speak for "yes, but we're not going to say yes" - the official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Facebook page casts doubt on the reports, stating that "According to my sources the news that Bethesda purchased the Stalker rights is false. I will continue to keep a look out and if I hear anything new, you will all be the first to know!" Moreover, in response to one reader's disappointment at Sergei Girgorovich's alleged decision to move the franchise westward, he who runs the Facebook page issued a flat-out denial, saying that the GSC boss "has not sold the IP rights to anyone."
In the meantime, part of the old S.T.A.L.K.E.R. team is currently at work on Survarium, a forthcoming free-to-play, MMOFPS title by Vostok games.