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Tuesday | September 18, 2018
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (PC)

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (PC)

Those of you who fondly remember S.T.A.L.K.E.R. from last year will be waiting in some anticipation of the follow up. Does Clear Sky have the same vast landscapes and immersive environments?

The original STALKER had atmosphere and dramatic overtones in abundance, it was a wonderful world, and you felt in the Chernobyl devastated wasteland called “The Zone” that you were not only on a mission to win, but you simply had to survive.

Unfortunately Clear Sky has lost some of the charm of the first game with some rather complicated and shoddy scripting as well as a few design issues which somewhat ruin the potential enjoyment.
The premise of the new game (a prequel to last year’s) is that opposing factions are locked in a war inside The Zone. The idea is that you will side with your chosen faction and fight for control of The Zone.

The game starts rather well with a capture point battle set inside a huge swamp, once this is over you are then placed back in the old mechanic of wandering the environment (only being kept in by the indestructible barbed wire). The only way the game progresses is by beating the primary missions.

This leads me to one of the main problems with the title, the dialogue and scripting. We all know the game makers aren’t native English, however the original game didn’t seem to suffer from such poor storytelling and the narrative grates considerably.

The action element of Clear Sky is also rather lacking in execution as we are forced to endure waves of enemies in numbers almost reminiscent of Serious Sam which means you will be going for the quick save button on a regular basis. Those of you wanting (or expecting) an atmospheric exploration at your own pace may be disappointed by the pacing.

The AI is questionable in that the enemies tend to opt for limb ripping grenades rather than flanking gunfire tactics. It is fascinating for a short while but then become rather tedious.

It also puts too little cash and equipment your way so sometimes the odds seem almost insurmountable. If you couple this with the fact that the bandits can steal all your kit if you stray too close then you can perhaps begin to understand why I lost so much hair playing. This brings me back to the previous point of continually being forced to save. Quick load has  never been used so often!

This is not to say everything is bad, I still enjoyed the overall gaming experience even with the array of issues and game balancing problems. Some of the missions brought a smile to my face and although it not really a hardcore RPG there are certain elements of Deus Ex intertwined. The trading mechanic is sound and while at times the game takes on Doom style ‘run n gun’ elements, it can still make for a decent shooter.

Graphically the game is very impressive, with new lighting techniques to update and enhance the already capable engine. This comes at a price however, to play the game with most of the settings on full, you will need a relatively modern and high end graphics card, perhaps something like a 4870 or 260 GTX.

I mentioned earlier that the factional war is the key focus of this title and you can join in this battle by signing up to one of these factions and putting the odds in their favour. When you sign up to a particular faction you are then given specific missions which earn you the chance to get particular items in the shops.

The Zone is still wonderfully created with a rich expansive feel to it and those who loved the first game will jump at the chance to reenter the environment and explore everything that is new on offer. The option to repair and upgrade weapons is a great addition and something which I longed for in the original title. The artefacts that were placed in the first one are still here but in much fewer numbers, they are also extremely difficult to acquire. The difficulty is mainly due to the game mechanic – you need to equip a separate tracker which means you can use no more than a pistol at the same time. Some may like the added difficulty and realism, however frequently I found myself caught in a location with nothing more than a peashooter to defend myself against the incoming hordes.

In the first game we were introduced to the “blow outs”, these large radioactive anomalies didn’t appear for more than a few scripted scenes however in Clear Sky they occur at random intervals. If they appear in your vicinity you have to run for cover or risk being obliterated completely in the fallout. This makes for a tense, exhilarating experience which adds a certain dynamic realism to the unstable world STALKER is set in.

Unfortunately, much like the first title, Clear Sky is rampant with bugs and balance issues which threaten to ruin the game totally. Sometimes you can be in the middle of a combat situation and are hidden well, only to find that 30 guys know exactly where you are without even trying to look. Worst of all, several of my saved games corrupted, meaning I lost 4 or 5 hours of game time. To top it all, sometimes the enemies just throw grenades on a constant basis, making progression a painful and laborious affair.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky is not a complete failure, over the coming months there will be patches and bug fixes to tidy things up, much like the first one, however as it stands today it is hard to recommend. There is also the problem with game balancing which will need some serious work to fix.

Overall I have to say I was rather disappointed, however the biggest let down was the fact that I know, under the hood there is a decent game.



Still an atmospheric world, however sometimes progression is painful.


The original engine has been given a lick of paint. Quite striking.


The dialogue is cheesy and clearly suffers from some translation issues, but the quality is overall quite high

The factions are varied and the potential is high, once they iron out the bugs
(not an average)

Hard to recommend really as it stands, wait a month or two once they fix it with some patches.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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