Without a doubt, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl has been one of the most highly anticipated PC titles this year (and a few years before that) so naturally, I found it difficult to restrain my enthusiasm when the preview code was given to me to test-drive. According to the fact sheet I was given, S.T.A.L.K.E.R has been known to have compatibility issues with Windows Vista but that’s all good if you’re running Windows XP. Well, kind of.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl is a FPS that has been ‘in the works’ for a long time. All sorts of production related hitches have held up the anticipated title and now it looks like a final build may be ready for release in March. Hoorah!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R has all of the best elements you can expect; thrills, edge of your seat suspense, loads of things to kill and be killed by and radiation…by the truckload! The story that drives the game is that you are a ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R’ - a member of a band of elite mercenaries whom do bad things to people, mostly military dudes in really badly designed uniforms.
The structure of the game revolves around your character interacting with other characters in the game much like an RPG. The interaction is dialogue driven with multiple choice answers. You have various conversations with characters which works like a ‘chain’ - one interaction leads you to another and so on and so forth until you complete your objective. Very simple and very cool. You get to hunt and kill to your heart’s content whilst traversing the various surroundings where everything is irradiated and dying or worse - just plain hostile and ready to kill you!
The combat system is very intense. In this game you need to be as resourceful and efficient as possible. The very first thing you need to do is find a weapon or risk beating down wild, irradiated dogs with your bare hands. Not a good situation to be in. It’s fairly easy to pinpoint enemies in the game with the use of a map system that highlights red and blue dots; red being bad. We liked the idea of the map and it’s certainly handy for moving around in dark, dank underground places. Getting wounded in this game really is extremely bad for ou. Nasty things can happen like bleeding to death or worse; succumbing to radiation sickness and dying a slow and painful death. And if that’s not bad enough, what do you do when you have no ammo and all you can see on your map is bright, red dots in the dark.
Your screen will display several important icons; two on the lower left-hand side that represent your health and your armour, an icon on the middle right that represents your PDA with valuable information and mission logs, an icon that indicates the damage count on your weapon and of course, a radiation icon showing your urrent level of radiation sickness. Geiger counter sound effects will haunt your dreams after playing this game, I swear!
Without giving too much away (and we’re just frothing at the mouth to play the final build once the game is eleased), S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl is the action title for the season. If you’re a fan of FPS games with gritty, intense violence and combat sequences that will have you hiding under your blankies calling for your mommy, you won’t want to miss out on this!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl is currently scheduled for a March release but we’ll keep you posted once a date is confirmed.