Review by Stabbersis
Clear Sky's Disappointed Parents
Originally, I had picked this up and threw it down almost as fast, finding the head bob and the inaccurate weapons too much to bare.
However, I am glad I tried it again on never ending recommendation from everyone, and so I tried Clear Sky, and threw it down almost in the same manner.
This time, however, I'm not glad I tried it again, and having written a scathing review of that, I decided I'd come back here and praise the better of the games.
It's not a perfect story, but you're made a part of the world in a believable way that doesn't force you to behave any one way. The game has multiple endings, depending on how you choose to play the game, giving it a bit of replay value, but through your play of the game you pretty much come to know everything about The Zone, and it's told in a rather compelling way, as your character himself is understood to know nothing either, so you are far deeper into the game itself.
However, do not expect a major story, it's no RPG or Adventure, but the world is there and you will experience it fully.
Pretty much identical to Clear Sky, nothing outstanding, it does what it was designed to do. Might be really immersive on a surround sound, so don't let the 7 turn you off to the idea of enjoying it, it just lacks music or highly realistic sound.
In my experience, sound falloff rate is a little too high.
Gameplay (beginning) 5/10
Gameplay (running) 8/10
The game starts off terribly, so prepare for this. Guns begin weak and inaccurate and you're likely to die from just about anything you meet.
However, once you get past this fairly disheartening beginning, it tends to play really nice, aside from the really annoying stamina system (default, there's no indication on your HUD for this), and max weight.
While the weight system is manageable, you'll find yourself constantly throwing things away just to carry things to sell, unless you're an economist of gear.
The stamina can ultimately be offset with artifacts that'll let you run and jump to your heart's content with no drain.
Gameplay is 9+/10 if you mod the game, the community actually made the game far more professional.
However, the immersion of the Story really is what gives the gameplay the whole of it's strength. It's a comfortable blend between Oblivion and an FPS, leaning far more toward FPS than Fallout 3 did, so it doesn't quite warrant "Oblivion with Guns."
Honestly, if you can get your hands on this game, I would whole heartedly suggest it to you no matter what your genre preference is. FPS junkies get their shooting (though, they may be disappointed, it's not run and gun and blow up as much as normal), adventure junkies get their immersive story, survival horrorists get a dim and dark world.
The only real complaint I had about the game was equipment degradation, as there's no way to undo it. Seemingly, there was a bug originally that prevented armor from taking much damage (thankfully), but weapons would gradually degrade to the point where they'd jam constantly and you'd be forced to find something else.
This may not be much of an issue for scroungers, nor will the weight system, but I tended to play the game in such a way that I was more adaptive, as you generally would fight guys with NATO or WARSAW rounds (until later, where there's a different caliber I'm not sure offhand), you either keep a high condition weapon on hand so as to feed off of the available ammo instead of having to constantly restock at a trader.
If you're fine with just scavenging, you could theoretically play the game on the challenge premise that you're never allowed to carry assault weaponry (or, if you're feeling gutsy, nothing at all) so that you have to take enemies out and loot them to fight. I wouldn't advise it unless the game is just too easy for you.
However, no matter how you play the game, you should find yourself actually wanting to proceed, even if it's just to freer-oam as a STALKER or to steamroll the campaign, you'll actually feel a part of the world.
I personally found no points of abject horror, but I'm not one to experience them, but I did feel compelled to behave tactically and otherwise behave as a person, not a gun toting maniac. There were moments that I was anxious about turning the next corner, so if you're susceptible to the fear aspect, you should find it, as the game does offer enough to people of the type, I'm just numb to it.
Now, while it's not standard, I do recommend investigating into Mods, as they add to the game, or attempt to make it more like it was originally supposed to be (as Oblivion Lost instead of Shadow of Chernobyl, so much so that they title of one mod is Oblivion Lost). There are Tweaks and alterations abound to fix the game if you don't like it as is, or you want more.
Further, if you HAVE played Clear Sky, and not this, you should immediately feel both at home, and enjoy it more (aside from a few things that it did better, such as artifact hunting and repairs).
While Clear Sky boasts a more alive Zone, it also seems to revolve around you a little too much, and Shadow of Chernobyl seems to take your help when you want it, but otherwise treats you as just another person. You may need to adjust to this, but I promise the experience is better.
The game is one of the better games I've played, especially when modified to touch up on its shortcomings, and if you can make it past the first 30-60 minutes, you should enjoy the game from that point to finish.
I played the game fully through without mods, and again with, and while I recommend the with more, it's still heavily immersive by itself.
There isn't really much else to say, as the game's experience is only had in the game, and it's hard to quantify it beyond a rich world created from the original Russian/Eastern European story originating the idea.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (US, 03/20/07)
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