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Got STALKER the other day. I got the metal box. It makes every other game look like a plastic box containing a book and cds.

I really loved the sound of STALKER when they started showing it off 10 years ago. A huge free roaming landscape. Exploring with a “if you don’t fuck with it it won’t fuck with you” feeling. Other STALKER AI going about their business, learning new things and giving you the information.. and all wrapped in amazing graphics.

So I was kind of disappointed to find out that it was pretty much Half-Life 1 except with only 6 maps.

First of all, HUGE ROAMING LANDSCAPE. The levels are pretty big. Lets just take a minute to establish who you are. You’re some army guy. You can be shot, bitten and fall about 60 feet without dying. So it’s a little bit confusing to find that you can’t go somewhere because there’s a 4 foot barbed wire fence in the way. Instead, to get from level to level you walk into a trigger and it asks you “DO YOU WANNA CHANGE LEVELS??”, then it loads the next level.

Second of all, Exploring. I liked the idea of exploring shit. Finding stuff on corpses and trying to find out what happened to make him die and stuff like that. But it’s kinda obvious that it’d be hard to make that into a game. So obviously fuck all that off. Instead have enemy guys attack you for no reason every few feet.

Thirdly, the amazing Stalker AI. Somewhere during development the amazing AI got rounded down to a few basic things :

Sit down
Play Guitar
Wonder around aimlessly on your own
Keep saying the same thing over and over again
Shout at player in Russian
So not as great as I thought it was going to be. When you’re talking to people they say a huge chunk of text that you can’t be bothered to read and you click on an answer. It usually results in either them giving you money or telling you to go on some mission. Because you can’t be bothered to read the text you pretty much always have no idea what you’re meant to be doing but there’s an arrow on the radar that tells you where to go.

But there are some good points.

The weapons feel good. The tracers are cool. When you search a corpse it sometimes reveals information about where something is, that’s fun.

Even though enemies will randomly respawn into areas you cleared 10 minutes ago, the world is persistent. So if you throw something on the floor somewhere it’ll probably be there all game.

The graphics are kinda weird. 80{a1da5f31666ba9e4b613f74c475fa44930e0dd96d95a00cdfc356ce4f15804bc} of the time you will be playing a bad looking game. It won’t have any shading and everything will look kinda fullbright. But during some time in the day things will start casting shadows and it will look pretty sweet.

This game is SCARY. There’s a couple of times I’ve had to go underground and both of them were really fucking scary. I didn’t really expect it to try to be scary so it was really scary when some invisible guy started whispering to me.

It’s worth getting, but pretty far from what it was hyped up to be 4 years ago.


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