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.