In 1986, the world's worst nuclear disaster occurred at the Chernobyl power station. Soviet authorities established a 30km 'Exclusion Zone' around this nuclear wasteland, but in 2006 a second explosion rocked the stricken reactor, obliterating all living things and causing the Zone's boundaries to ripple outwards. From this epicenter came waves of mutated creatures, deadly radiation, and a strange, anomalous energy. The Zone was cordoned off by the military, who would shoot on sight anyone foolish enough to brave the horrors within.
I picked this game up on the date of release after anticipating it's arrival for many years. It had a less than stellar launch to say the least (couple of patches and mods later) It became obvious that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SoC is one of those unique experiences that no PC gamer should miss out on. From the unique lighting, to the eerie atmosphere, to the now infamous locales (Chernobyl NPP, Pripyat etc..). Once you get into it, the immersion is unlike any other game. So much to explore, see and do, it will keep you coming back for more. Once your done with vanilla, make sure to grab some weather/gfx overhauls & mods etc. to enhance this already fantastic game. Mods: ZRP, Priboi story, Super Mod Pack, L.U.R.K., OGSE, ABC Inferno, Oblivion Lost + many more and my personal favorites Narodnaya Soljanka: DMX 1.3.2 : dkz-02 & STALKERSOUP. Just to name a few... This game is in a league of it's own. Thanks to GSC & the fantastic modding community!
There's something about the atmosphere in this game series which is unique, and although each of the episodes have something or the other that makes them stand out, this one is still the complete package that captures that feeling best.
The game can be very gritty and somber, but also charming and funny, and even though it is more science fiction than fantasy, there's a pervading sense of the possibility of something magic happening just around the corner.
I keep going back to it.
STALKER it not what we where expecting. It wasn't truly feeform like we where promised, it somehow looked different from the early screenshots, and even certain areas didn't make it into the game! Not to mention the hideous amount of bugs when it was first released (and for a quite few months after that). In the end though we still got a excellent experience, a harsh existence in a wasteland of Russian wilderness and towns. But the features we got where pretty great. Lots of waring factions, lots of weapons that you rely on the players skill, having to survive and do many kinds of missions, great length and graphics.
I still had a few issues, like there being no prone only "low crouch" and being really hard to see at night even with my brightness turned up.
The real shining light of all this is the mods going for it. It brings to life the weather system and A-life, where enemies fight each other when your not around & task can be completed or failed without you having to be there(thus no longer revolving the world around the player).
Graphics overhauls, music, new enemies, gameplay (like difficulty and realism) ect.