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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Review

Default RPGWatch Feature: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Review

May 13th, 2007, 10:05
No, it's not an RPG but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. packs an open-ended structure and enough atmosphere to appeal to many action-oriented RPGers. Mike "txa1265" Anderson takes a trip into the wasteland with a review in an After Action Report format:
If you have ever been to Chernobyl then you are either dead or I know you. Let's face it - nobody comes here now. They will let you in, but they sometimes fail to mention that you aren't allowed to leave. There is no more place for cameras and microphones and special interest groups looking to trumpet their latest political cause on the backs of our dead; now this is a place for the dead and the nearly dead and some other unspeakable things. When you look into the eyes of the people you can see their desperation and mistrust. You cannot walk anywhere without feeling their eyes on your back. Everyone is armed pretty heavily, but there are still rules. You don't walk around villages with your weapon out unless you are a perimeter guard or want to end up dead - we've all seen too many go crazy from the stress, depression and radiation poisoning.
Read it all here.
More information.
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May 13th, 2007, 10:05
What can I say, the review pretty much features my own opinion of STALKER. Don't expect a RPG, expect it to be a simple shooter and you'll suprised that it is damn good one. The 4 stars are ok if you compare STALKER with other shooters - there is none that has the complexitiy of STALKER. Excellent review - an enjoyable read.
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May 13th, 2007, 10:20
STALKER is one of these rare games (nowadays) that try to make something new …

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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May 13th, 2007, 11:26
I agree. I'm pretty solidly hooked. The gameplay is really excellent, among the best of its type that I've ever played. It's not exactly easy to approach, though, and being all open-ended 'n stuff, it's very easy to "play it wrong" — that is, play it in a way that's boring, frustrating, or both.

However, it's not nearly as hard as I'd been led to expect (at Veteran level anyway) — it's certainly hard, but compared to some insanely hard bits in Far Cry, for example, it feels quite well balanced, with a solid mix of easy and challenging fights, a wide variety of tactical terrain to fight in, and a bunch of "treasure hunting" to spice it up. Perhaps I was lucky in that I didn't follow the hype too much; going in, I didn't really know much about the game — just that it was supposed to be an open-ended shooter set in a lovingly hand-crafted rendition of the Chernobyl zone, with anomalies, artifacts, and mutants.

Speaking of, I especially like the anomalies, artifacts, and mutants. The anomalies are deadly, beautiful, and consistent in a weird way; the artifacts "make sense" — that is, they're not the awesome-pieces-of-alien-technology that I was expecting, but something that's entirely consistent with the back story, and the mutants are an almost unique mix of pathos and horror. When looking into the warped, tortured face of one of them, I almost get a feeling of "there, but for the grace of God, go I" …and then I remember it's just a game (whew).
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May 13th, 2007, 12:54
It is certainly worth a 4 star rating, just not a 4 star rating on a cRPG site.

Favourite RPGs of all time: Wizardry 6, Ultima 7/7.2, Fallout2, Planescape Torment, Baldurs Gate 2+TOB, Jagged Alliance 2, Ravenloft: The stone prophet, Gothic 2, Realms of Arkania:Blade of destiny (not the HD version!!) and Secret of the Silver Blades.
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May 13th, 2007, 18:19
I greatly enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R . I imagine that not having followed the
development or being aware of the hype prevents me from being dissapointed
for any missing features.

What really got me most was the brilliant atmosphere, I guess. I wonder
if that same feature is the reason that this game reminds me of Gothic1
in some instances (or perhaps is the unseasonably early heat wave here in
Greece…)
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May 13th, 2007, 22:34
I followed the game from the very beginning of development, when first bits of info started to appear on the Net. there was a time when I was pretty hyped myself, but latest coverage of the development set my expectations lower.

now, when Im playing the game im pretty satisfied nevertheless. although I feel sad about the lost potential. the worl is so huge and hand crafted.. and they could have had so much more content! like unique quests, properly implemented factions etc - it could have been "FPS-Gothic"!

still its one of the best shooters I ever have played

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May 14th, 2007, 01:28
STALKER is the only FPS where I not only played it exclusively until I beat it but I instantly downloaded the patch and started a new game on the highest difficulty immediately after beating it.

I tend to float between multiple games. It takes a real gem to keep my attention long enough to beat it nowadays.

I hope the mod community can keep it going even longer.

I had my doubts that a first person Fallout (IE Bethesda's version) could be worthwile until I played this. You have to admit it reminds you a bit of fallout. Now I have high hopes for FO3 (yes I know apples and oranges but it still changed my outlook)
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May 14th, 2007, 03:13
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
It is certainly worth a 4 star rating, just not a 4 star rating on a cRPG site.
I'm not sure what that means. I went out of my way to say it is NOT a RPG, and I never rate differently based on context - I wouldn't call the SpongeBob DS game I played last year a 2/5 in general but a 5/5 in the context of 'bland licensed THQ dreck'. Neither would I say 'STALKER is a 4/5 game, but only 2.5/5 if considered as a RPG'.

Thanks for all the kind words to everyone on the write-up.

— Mike
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May 14th, 2007, 03:42
Wasn't Stalker originally designed to have much stronger RPG elements? Character-development, statistics-dependant combat, etc?

I remember vehicles were originally implemented but then removed
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May 14th, 2007, 05:35
It was with some amusement and piqued interest, nevertheless, that I saw and read the Stalker Review Feature. Found the main of the article distracting and pointlessly dramatic. Though I agree with the substance, the conclusion.

Stalker is just a FPS. It could never live up to its hype. Still, at least it has been released. Somewhat gimped but, very original and mod-friendly. It deserves the recognition.

I wonder when we can see new RPGs with as much originality and atmosphere, if nothing else.

[re:some comment] And comparing Stalker to FO3 seems a bit premature atm.
After Oblivion, I am doubtful that Bethesda could even match Stalker, let alone create a sequel to one of the best RPGs since man discovered the miracle of fire and cave drawings.

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May 14th, 2007, 08:30
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I'm not sure what that means.
I just meant I didn't really think that the review belonged on an cRPG site, even though it was a good review. Are we going to be getting a review of Crysis too (just kidding)

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May 14th, 2007, 09:56
Re first-person Fallout — I've never had any doubts that it wouldn't be feasible as such. OTOH Oblivion isn't a good indication that Bethsoft could pull it off.

What is FO, really? OK, for some people FO == S.P.E.C.I.A.L., and for them, a first-person FO is by definition impossible, since you can't very well have a first-person turn-based non-twitch game, can you now?

For me, though, what makes FO stand out so much is the freedom constrained by natural limitations (i.e., you can go wherever you like, but go in the wrong place and you'll be shot, irradiated, blown to pieces, or worse), the setting, the unique, dark humor, the strong characterization with some of the side characters, the huge proliferation of quests that somehow still link together into a coherent world, the feeling of progression, and the feeling that your choices actually matter. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. checks a surprising number of these boxes.

Whether we'll ever see a FO3 worthy of the name is another question altogether. But first-person or third-person, twitch or turn-based, I don't care — they're just different ways of getting you into a world, and it's the world that matters.

BTW, I just found Gordon Freeman's PDA. I guess that counts as an Easter egg..
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May 14th, 2007, 13:09
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
I just meant I didn't really think that the review belonged on an cRPG site, even though it was a good review. Are we going to be getting a review of Crysis too (just kidding)
OK, that makes sense - I asked about that because STALKER isn't a RPG but there is considerable interest with people here based on having qualities that many of us like in RPG games. Dhruin decided to let me go ahead with it based on that.

And, no, I don't think that this is an indication that RPGWatch is going to become 'your source for up to the minute coverage of Halo 3 for the XBOX360'

— Mike
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May 14th, 2007, 16:12
Nice review Mike, with an original touch.

I don't plan on playing this game, but I'm just happy to see there's at least one reviewer out there who isn't an idiot.

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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May 14th, 2007, 17:41
I printed the review out (hope this is OK ) and read it - all of it

To me, it was (and is) a very original and creative way of reviewing a game. I certainly felt like I was in the game, and felt the hopelessness and the despair of the stalkers…

Also, the review reminded me of the 'i'm so getting this game' (when I can afford to buy it, that it ). The only grievance I have is that STALKER is an FPS, which mean I probably have to try a demo out first or something like that, since I tend to get motion sickness —- when playing FPS games.

Just wanted to say, nice review
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May 14th, 2007, 19:19
An unusual review. I like it, very original.

I have the same problem as you aries100, and I got it from STALKER as well, hence why I stopped playing. It's an annoying, but understandable, reaction.
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May 14th, 2007, 19:22
Another great review, thanks! Have any of you read the short story or seen the movie that it seems the game is (at least roughy) based on? Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky is the story, and the movie is STALKER directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Both are excellent. I'm looking forward to checking the game out… someday.
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May 14th, 2007, 19:30
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
I tend to get motion sickness —- when playing FPS games.
I have heard that some people can improve this by changing the 'field of view' and head-bob and stuff like that. I'm lucky I've never had this issue.

— Mike
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May 14th, 2007, 19:46
If you get motion sick from S.T.A.L.K.E.R, there is a mod out there that removes head-bobbing (the swaying of the crosshair). It is VERY annoying that there is no in-game option to turn it on/off so luckily there is this mod. You can find that mod right here . The file is called "No Headbobbing Mini Mod" and it's only 3.9KB.
I didn't get sick from the head-bobbing in S.T.A.L.K.E.R but it annoyed the living crap outta me so this is "mod of the year" material IMHO .
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