STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl

by

 

 

IN GAME 

I’ve been fighting the same battle for 45 minutes. The camp leader is dead. Sergiy, a guy I befriended at the beginning of the firefight, the man I gave my last set of bandages to so he could keep fighting, died by my side 5 minutes ago. The Polar Explorer, a jovial young fellow who had just arrived in the Zone, is dead. Before the battle we were sharing an energy drink.

Right now I’m sitting in a derelict toll booth, crouched under a broken window, and the bullets refuse to stop. Earlier I thought I had killed the last of them, so I wandered around the camp for a while. As I kneeled next to Bes’s body, mourning his loss and eating some sausage, a bullet ricocheted off the helicopter next to me and into my leg. I barely made it to this booth, where I have managed to stop the bleeding and reload. I’ve identified three targets over the hill, and they know I’m here. My only chance is to lure them into the valley next to the camp, where I know there are some radioactive anomalies which might slow them down. I’m turning off my flashlight.

[…]
I’ve found a bus in the valley to hide behind. They had to chase me around the camp fence so I had time to stop by Bes’s again and pick up his AK-47. It’s been upgraded with a muffler so the bandits will have harder time pinpointing where I am. The mutated jellyfish I’ve strapped onto my belt seems to be helping my blood clot, but the radiation is making me terribly dizzy. I’ve finished my last bottle of Journeyman’s vodka, but I feel like by now it’s doing more harm than good.

The bandits are getting closer, wasting their ammo on the side of this bus, but they seemed to have taken a position a few meters away from where I know is an extremely radioactive area. They don’t seem to want to get any closer.

[…]

Finally it’s over. The cold steel of a broken-down helicopter I’m temporarily calling home feels like a mother’s womb. A wasted whore of a woman who didn’t want me but who couldn’t keep Misha the tax collector off of her loins on a late Ukrainian night, but a mother nonetheless. By crawling over here I managed to lure the bandits into the radioactive trough – I watched with relief and disgust as their bodies writhed with pain in the throes of death, the alphas and gammas making short work of their ghostly porcine vessels.

As for me, I’m fucked. I must have sucked up dozens of rads walking over here, and my Geiger wont stop clicking. The anti-rads are sticking out of my arm like an Andalusian bull’s worst nightmare. For whom the bell tolls…probably for me.

OUT OF GAME

“STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl” is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in a while. This shows that we don’t need Silicon Valley venture capitalists and preppy CNET journalists drinking free mojitos at E3 2007 to tell or define what makes a good game. If it were up to them, we would all still be playing Oblivion, a game which shipped with equal parts frustration potential and unoriginality.

The truth is that the creative Kiev-ites at GSC Game World, the developer that managed to put together this excellent game, know what your average intelligent and demanding game-player of the 21st century wants. I don’t know if I’m part of the principal demographic that most developers are trying to reach, I probably am, but I’m forced to write off most contemporary games as miserable failures.

The Ukrainians have rediscovered why I spent hours playing games like Chrono Trigger when I was a bit younger. Not that STALKER has anything to do with Chrono Trigger, and the appeal for each game comes from completely different sources, but they’ve tapped into the same quality muse which so rarely opens her arms to game developers.

I won’t go into the reasons why STALKER is such a good game, you can read this to see why, but everything about it makes me smile (even the terrible translation). The plot is loosely based on the 1971 science fiction novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. I can’t say much about it, but I know that the Scandinavian Congress on Science Fiction Literature named it the best book of the year printed in Sweden.

I’m still not very far into the game, nor have I ever even seen this book, but I know that it tells the story of treasure hunters looking for radioactive artifacts which have been imbued with powers which defy laws of physics as they are commonly understood. The most sought after of these artifacts, having achieved almost legendary status among said treasure hunters, is an item called the Golden Sphere, which has the power to fulfill your deepest desires. Even though I haven’t read the book, clearly Michael Crichton has.

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2 Responses to “STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl”

  1. Andre Says:

    Video: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Mobile in action
    http://symbiansmartphone.blogspot.com/2007/08/stalker-shadow-of-chernobyl.html

  2. dave Says:

    stalker- is one of the best game i’ve ever played.

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