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    davidTaylor's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC)

    [January 24, 2008 03:36:17 PM]
    Entry #2
    My experience in the second gameplay session was slightly less positive. Earlier in the game the weaponry was pretty much just pistols and double-barreled shotguns, as the game progressed the weapons got better and the enemies got stronger armor. The problem is the enemies seem like they can take much, much more damage than before. The reason this is an issue is that the weapons don’t seem to be increasing in power at nearly the same rate as the enemies are gaining health, for example at one point I ran up to a soldier and emptied about three-quarters of a clip into him at point blank range before he died. Now this specific example seems to be the exception rather than the rule since most enemies die quicker than that, but the enemies can still take a lot more damage then they could previously. Now obviously to the game needs to get more difficult as the game progresses, but I just don’t really like the way the enemies are getting harder. This change in the gameplay isn’t a huge deal when I’m just exploring by myself, but it made the escort mission I had to complete rather frustrating. Despite this complaint, the things I liked so much in the first gameplay session are still very much present so I’m still very much enjoying the game, just not quite as much as before.

    I think that the most innovative/unique feature of STALKER is the level design and atmosphere as documented in the first entry. The gunplay is generally well executed, but the realistic(-ish) weapon dynamics can be frustrating for players (like myself) who are used to more standard first person shooter gun physics since the firearms are much less accurate than I’m used to. The lack of accuracy can make the early game a little bit frustrating since the player starts out only having access to pistols, shotguns and submachine guns, all of which are fairly inaccurate. But the player will eventually learn how to deal with the inaccuracy of the weapons so it’s hardly a deal breaker.

    I really liked the world that the team behind STALKER created, but I wish it was more continuous. As it stands now the world is broken up into different areas and the player has to wait through a load screen when moving from one area to another, which can be rather annoying. Another issue with STALKER is that cash becomes pointless after awhile because the player gets so much money for completing the various missions and so they quickly end up with more money than goods worth buying. Given that pretty much everyone else in the world is just barely scraping by, it seems odd that the player-character is absolutely rolling in dough.

    I generally lean towards the school of thought that one of the main appeals of the first person perspective in games is the feeling of really being in the world, and that cutscenes that leave this perspective are to generally be avoided in most situations. STALKER features two types of cutscenes that could be looked at as leaving the first person perspective. The first one is various visions the player has at various points in the game. I didn’t really take any issue with these scenes since they’re visions and as such they take place in my characters head and so they don’t kill the sense of immersion (the voice sync is a little off though). The second kind of cutscene is when the player encounters one of the large scale battles that take place in the game. When the player encounters one of these battles the camera flies over the area to give the player an idea of what’s going on where. I think that this type of cutscene was a bad idea because I generally found this cutscenes distracting and annoying (especially since they couldn’t be skipped). I can appreciate that the developers wanted to let the player know what was going on up ahead but I think that given the player has a map and a radar, they can figure out what’s going on and so it’s really not worth the loss of immersion.

    One last gripe about STALKER is that there are no women at all in the entire game. This doesn’t meaningfully affect the gameplay in any way, but it seems like a very weird choice to make on the part of the developers.

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    [January 24, 2008 02:33:06 PM]
    Entry #1
    S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (which will be referred to as STALKER from here on out) takes place in the area surrounding the Chernobyl reactor called the Zone. The year the game takes place in is 2012, in 2006 there was a mysterious second explosion that caused much of the wildlife to horribly mutate and created all sorts of odd physical anomalies. The player takes the role of an amnesiac that was found unconscious by the side of the road, the only clue they have as to what is going on is a note in their PDA telling them to find and kill a man named Strelok. Gameplay takes place in the first person perspective and consists primarily of firefights with hostile characters and also exploring the Zone in order to find Strelok and attempt to solve the mystery of the second explosion.

    I like this game quite a bit. The game had a bit of a rough launch and even with four patches it isn’t perfect, but there are user made mods that can fix many of the remaining issues, and even with the bugs and glitches that still remain STALKER is a compelling experience.

    The sense of place is amazing. I can think of only a few other games that manage to feel like you’ve been transported to a whole new world. The game is divided up into discrete areas that you visit, so it’s hardly the expansive continuous world of something like Oblivion, but each of the areas is open enough to give the player the feeling that they’re actually exploring at their own pace instead of being forced down an arbitrary corridor. Much of the area is empty from a gameplay perspective, in the sense that there are no enemies to fight, nor are there usually any particularly noteworthy items to uncover, but this works to the games advantage since it make the world seems like it has reasons to exist outside of giving the player something to do. While climbing a hill to find nothing more than a burned out car and some grave sites doesn’t mean much in terms of finding some cool loot or getting into an exciting firefight with some bandits, it does wonders for the players sense of immersion.
    Also, at various points in the game the player needs to go into underground laboratories to find things that serve to advance the story. These sections of the game provide a distinct contrast to the more open areas that most of the game takes place in. Like the aboveground sequences the underground labs also have ‘pointless’ areas that serve to create of feeling of being in a real place. The labs are inhabited by various killer mutants and the like, but the mutants are often few and far between leaving the player free to speculate about what sort of Soviet mad science took place here.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 24th, 2008 at 14:35:49.

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    davidTaylor's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 13 January, 2008

    davidTaylor's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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    See info on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC) by dkirschner (rating: 3)
    2 : S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC) by dumpster_fox (rating: 5)


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