Clear Sky Complete is a part of the Complete mod collection, which is a series of modifications created by professional artists dedicated to enhancing the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. The Complete mods focus on improving the original game’s graphics, sound, and atmosphere, while preserving its core elements. Built upon the success of STALKER Complete 2009 (which was downloaded well over 200,000 times), this entry in the Complete collection continues the tradition of aesthetically updating the game without changing the original story or gameplay. Fans can expect a polished and pure Zone experience designed around the most graphically demanding title of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series - S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky.
I was already aware of the relatively poor opinion of Clear Sky as compared to Shadow of Chernobyl or Call of Pripyat, so my expectations were low. But I was pleasantly surprised and actually liked it, more than I thought I would. The Swamps I found to be a very well-designed and interesting level that looked very different from what I'd experienced in SoC, and I was very impressed with the graphical improvements and the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment.
Unfortunately it was even buggier than SoC and I had problems with sound and random CTDs, to the point that it was almost unplayable, and I hadn't even got out of the Swamps. Then I installed Complete and this fixed lots of issues for me and made it look a lot better too, beautiful at times and the reworked areas from SoC really shone. So for a while, I was very happy with Complete.
However it didn't resolve some very fundamental issues that CS had: a bungled Faction system that didn't work and didn't make sense, the ridiculous flash-drive quests which I soon hated, buggy vendor behaviour, and endlessly spawning bandits in the Garbage no matter how often you clear the Hangar out. I appreciate that these are issues with the game itself and not with Complete, but it can hardly justify the name of "Complete" if it doesn't fix very much. Then as I soon found out, the same weaknesses that eventually put me off SoC Complete existed in CS Complete too - rebalancing that made the game too easy, disproportionate bullet damage, too high a weight limit for the player, too fast sprinting and a dumbed-down enemy AI.
Oddly although at first I viewed the "Wish Granter" feature as just a tool to facilitate cheating, I found that I grew to quite like it as it gave me an easy way to make visual and physical changes to the game environment to my taste and actually to make it a little harder. I can understand why it's frowned upon, although you don't have to use it.
As I motored through the story, which in itself wasn't anything like as engaging as SoC, any aspect of real challenge soon disappeared and it really became adventuring and exploration. I finished the game with Complete installed then removed it and started again with another compilation of mods more suited to the game xperience I was looking for.
This review seems more negative that it is, so I should point out that for a beginner who wants an all-in-one mod package that improves graphics while fixing lots of bugs without taking too much away from the game's original design, Complete's fine, it does the job and quite competently so for a one-time playthrough. On replay however the shortcomings in terms of what it does and doesn't do become readily apparent.
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