Archive for the ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’ category

STALKER News

April 30, 2012

Although it seems many on the internet have already heard, I have recently learned that GSC Games has closed its doors and shutdown the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Project.

The developers, however, did not wish to see their life’s work gone to waste and have established Vostok Studios and are making a new game modeled after S.T.A.L.K.E.R., called Survarium.

I don’t know why they are not using the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. name, but I suspect it is a legal issue. They intend to share much with the community, and have established a YouTube channel where they are showing development diaries. I’ve embedded the first below. The video is in Russian with English subtitles (poorly translated, but quite intelligible).

For those who do not wish to watch the video, here is a basic summary.

When the company went under many of the developers decided to try and save the game. They had to abandon the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. name if they wanted investors. They decided to go for some kind of free 2 play model mmo¬† shooter. The concept would be something like “the Zone has consumed the world,” but obviously not literally, due to above mentioned legal issues. The devs felt that leaving the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. name behind would free them from the existing canon and allow them to explore more ideas.

Personally, I’m pretty bummed. Although S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in this form is probably better than no S.T.A.L.K.E.R. at all, I’d still prefer my good old single player experience. I actually had an idea like this once, and interested to see what they do with it. They really want player feedback, so if you have some constructive ideas you’d like to share, please go to their website here.

STALKER 2 Teaser

April 9, 2012

The Official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Facebook Page has posted a teaser!

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Animations

In the video we can see they have far more detailed and varied animations for both the Bloodsucker and Stalkers.

I am a little sad to see that the characteristically large feet and chests of the characters has been replaced by more realistic ones.

Perhaps that will allow the series to appeal to a wider audience? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

A STALKER Mod worth looking at

March 3, 2012

Fellow Stalkers are surely aware of the must have Complete mods, available at moddb.com and created by the eminent artistPavel. For the poor, unfortunate Stalkers out there who do not know, STALKER Complete 2009 transforms Shadow of Chernobyl from a game with vision and potential into one of the greatest games to have been put out in the last 20 years, directly rivaling the Half-Life series. The other two chapters of STALKER, the prequel Clear Sky and the sequel Call of Pripyat, have there own Complete mods (here and here).

The stated goal of the Complete mods series is to improve the games in as many areas as possible (from graphics overhauls to AI improvements to new weather systems to much needed bug fixes) without altering the original game play. With Shadow of Chernobyl this is a winning strategy. The game is nearly perfect in concept, it just needs some help smoothing out the edges.

For CS and CoP a more aggressive approach is necessary. These two games suffer from critical problems that make them shrivel in the looming shadow of their predecessor.

Clear Sky has its vaunted Faction Wars mechanic, which is so riddled with bugs and bad design that it fails to live up to its visions of tactical warfare over the Zone and its environs. You can crush your enemies at the heart of their territory and kill their leaders a hundred times, and yet they return a few (in game!) hours later. If they cannot be crushed permanently (and this would make sense because CS is a prequel and all involved factions are present in the following games), then at least give us a few days (a week even!) of respite before they magically come up with a dozen or two new Stalkers to reoccupy their old base. Heck, have your faction actually OCCUPY their old posts and make them fight for it!

Call of Pripyat suffers from a completely different problem: A lack of momentum. From the beginning of the game you are dropped into the middle of nowhere, without any indication of which areas are safe. If you are quick you can catch a pair of Loners, one of which is a Guide, and they can take you to Zhadovsk, the large Loner camp in a boat near the center of the region, but you don’t know if that place is even safe until you get there! From the very beginning you are given such freedom that you don’t even know what to do with yourself.

Now, I’m the type of player that chaffs under a linear design, I do everything I can to avoid the main plot until it is clear there is nothing interesting left to do. At every step of the way I avoid the next main quest objective until I’ve done everything else. Its why I don’t beat the main quest in Elder Scrolls games until I’m lvl 30+ from Morrowind to Skyrim, and its why I had over 50 hours logged into SoC before I finally reached the Wish Granter. (All hail the Monolith!) And yet I was practically begging for more direction. I have lingered for almost 20 hours around Zhadovsk, only finally reaching my second (or was it third?) crashed helicopter (out of five, its your first main quest objective) in my last play through. On top of all that, the inclusion of emissions as more than just a plot device to be used as a big stick for knocking Marked One unconscious so hordes of Military Stalkers can overwhelm a previously vacant facility turning a creepy walk into a deadly firefight, is poorly handled, since the player can barely make it to a destination safely before an emission is triggered. And if you can’t find one of the very (very!) few safe areas in a region, to bad, your toast, load that save and make that 30 minute walk again!

Clearly, these issues cannot be solved using artistPavel’s design methodology. Which is why I’ve been searching for a better mod for these two games for a while now. I tried Faction Fronts, which promised to enhance the original game concept behind CS, but failed in my eyes. It also hasn’t seen any significant news in months, and hasn’t had an update in well over a year.

Which brings us to STALKER PreSky. The aim of this mod is to remake CS to take place prior to the events in CS. The player is just another Stalker, and there is no main story. Freeplay right from the get go and a proper Faction War. I hope. Full release isn’t expected until later this year, but you can get a look at the fairly ambitious features list.

Please share any good STALKER mods you know of in the comments!

Good hunting Stalkers!

[UPDATE] It has come to my attention that Faction Fronts has indeed had several updates, there is actually a 2.0 Beta available. The developer has stopped putting these up on ModDB and is using his own distribution method with a custom, self-updating launcher that ALSO updates the mod. Impressive!

Northern Passage sneak peek!

February 15, 2012

Northern Passage – Sample chapters.

Behold! A sample of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Northern Passage, the sequel to the phenomenal Southern Comfort. All S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fans should secure a copy of Southern Comfort, it is a most excellent book. Believe it or not, it is almost flawless, and that means a lot coming from me, I assure you. While reading it my only complaints were a few spelling errors and one other minor mistake, all of which were corrected in the second edition!

I’ve already written a full review at Barnes and Noble’s website, so if you are interested please read that.