Guest Author - James Shea
"STALKER: Call of Pripyat" is an open-world first person shooter. Like its predecessors, Call of Pripyat takes place in "The Zone" - a mutated wasteland formed after the (fictionalized) disaster at the Chernobyl power plant.
The game puts you in the shoes of a STALKER, one of the hardy inhabitants of the aforementioned Zone. The Zone has a wealth of bizarre artifacts and dangerous mutants, and so there are those who make their living collecting the former and destroying the latter. There are other factions in the game as well - bandits, scientists, those who wish to preserve the Zone, and those who wish to destroy it. In Call of Pripyat, the player's personal goal is to find out what happened to a squadron of helicopters by following leads and searching wreckage. However, this takes a back seat to the general experience of the game, so the main quest isn't particularly intrusive.
STALKER is a first-person shooter, and a fairly realistic one at that. The game is based around survival - things like ammunition and grenades are fairly scarce, and you'll have to take whatever you can get from ammo stashes and dead STALKERs. The game has a detailed inventory system, requiring you to care for your weapons and armor as well as eating and sleeping. You can only take a few bullets before being dropped (though healing at least is pretty easy with just a medpack), so being careful and using tactics are a must.
The main draw of the Zone is the aforementioned artifacts. These are items with varying powers that are located in energy fields known as "anomalies". Anomalies are similar to minefields in that there are a lot of dangerous areas and a fairly thin "safe route". The player is equipped with an infinite supply of nuts and bolts - throwing these into an anomaly field will trigger a discharge (if it's unsafe) or fall harmlessly to the ground (if it is). The player is also equipped with a detector (which is upgradable), which shows how close artifacts are. Artifacts can either be equipped for a stat boost or sold for a good amount of money.
Of course, there are many enemies in the Zone as well. These range from packs of feral dogs and mutated pigs to braindead zombies (who still use guns, somehow) to more supernatural and powerful creatures. You also have to look out for your fellow man, as well - though it seems a little too easy to keep people neutral, and comparatively hard to actually anger them and make them hostile. Even the bandits don't seem to mind your presence most of the time.
One of the best parts about the game is the openness and natural feel of the environment. Besides more artistic things like the weather effects and the design of the mutants, the Zone feels like a really immersive environment. Unlike a lot of games, the AI gives you a real sense that other people are doing their own things, and the world isn't just counting on you. You can come across other STALKERs hunting mutants, looking for artifacts, or fighting rival factions. Even animals come in packs and will fight each other. During the Zone's frequent "emissions" (storms that are lethal to humans who are out in the open), the player and other STALKERs will have to run to cover or die, rather than simply be teleported to safety.
The gameplay on the whole might be a bit intimidating for the average gamer. Again, the game is hard, and a few stray bullets can take you out. However, if you think of the game as simply being a first person Survival Horror similar to Silent Hill or Resident Evil rather than an action game, it generally makes more sense. Still, the atmosphere goes hand in hand with the gameplay, rather than being separate or ignorable. On the whole, STALKER: Call of Pripyat is a good game for anyone who'd like to experience a real open-world environment without it just being a gigantic, lifeless city.
This software was bought by us with our own money from Steam