Review: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

A wounded, amnesiac loner is found near death from the wreckage of a military track. With only a tattoo on his arm giving him the nickname of ‘Marked one’, a series of horrific hazy flashbacks and an order to “Kill Strelok”, he is against all odds in a terrifying wasteland surrounding the zone of alienation near Chernobyl’s nuclear plant.

So begins S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, one of the most atmospheric first person shooters to come out in the past few years. Combining elements of  Roadside picnic, a book by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, and Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky’s film; Ukranian developers GSC Game World made this game an enjoyable, as well as exceedingly creepy experience.

Although the main quest is notresolved until the ending , the game goes for the sandbox style, where quests not only get you rewards, but some specific ones aid you in getting a better ending for the game. Barring the odd bug  which have been repaired in previous patches, the randomly generated quests make it more of a living world, where man and abomination are equal monsters .

The graphics engine developed for the game allows it to be quite cinematic and when paired with the minimalistic, haunting ambient music, it makes the game quite immersive. Physics is kept mostly on the realistic side, with armour degrading over time, weapons being affected by the curvature of Earth as well as weather . The game also reminds you of the frailty of the player, as even when fully armoured, a few bullets can end the game.

To read the rest of the review pick up a copy of Forge Press and turn to the games section, page 14 of the fuse pull out. Available Friday 5th March.

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