After what seems like an eternity (over 4 months infact) since the russian language release we are finally seeing a release date for STALKER; CoP. And for many this has been for too long to wait. (Me included, this is infact a reveiw of the russian language version played with a BETA version of a closed caption mod but it is essentially the same)
For those uninitiated STALKER is a unique first person shooter set in the exclusion zone arround Chernobyl NNP which uses a blend of Atmostphere, openness and a pinch of RPG.The series is renound for its difficulty and its immersion. I would encourage people to check out 2007's STALKER; Shadow of Chernobyl.
a note to those who played cleay sky, this game is much more stable, runs smoother and is more compatable (Dx7 all the way to DX11)
Right, lets talk gameplay and gameplay enhancements, the inventory, medpacks, bandages, and especially upgrades system have all seen major enhancements with the addition of new drugs. It all feels highly intuitive and a world apart from the frankly broken "Clear Sky". The weapons are now even more functional and realistic with improved bullet physics and better all round balence (pistols are now more important etc).
A quick travel system has mercyfully been fully intergrated to accomadate the totally revamped and larger levels. This new even more open play areas (there are 4 in total) are HUGE and contain a lot of life thanks to the improved a-life system performing in an exellent way in almost all instances. Mutants are more deadly, better spaced and intellegent (the Snork is down right deadly this time) and wandering bands of STALKERS will have realisitc firefights with bandits. One letdown is that AI cheracters no longer take cover as well as in Clear Sky but this is a small niggle in a an otherwise much improved AI.
The large levels also accomadate lengthy and well fleshed out side quests that make up a good portion of the available gameplay, the main story can be compleated in arround 6 hours (think of it as STALKER; epidose 1) but the sidequests often can compete with the main quest to hold the intrest, one such involving a whole basement ful of bloodsuckers.
The Story is a bit of a letdown, the premise is shown above and thats pretty much it, your a stalker (well stalker milliraty spy thing), your in the zone investigating some crashes it is well told and builds up a little more along the way (some in engine cutscenes make an overdue appearece). None of the delicious glimmers of "roadside picnic" that peppered the first game but it does the job, anyway STALKER is firmly in the groove of games like HL2 in that the game unfolds as you play it rather than being told about it.
Graphically the game is a mixture of the sublime and the... not so sublime. overall it creates a distictive effect with dtynamic pretty much everything but some lazy texture mapping and bad textures still occur. The lighting is amazing and the character models are much improved but it still lacks the polish of most modern big FPS hitters.
This eddition looks solid (although the germans and russians got a lighter! and some cool patches. and a nice tin.) for a special edition its good value.
The main praise of Call of pripyat is the Zone itself feels rich and lived in once more, immersion is an understatement and terrefying x18 stlye labs make a welcome reapearence (including one incident involving the sound of a crying baby...) its not perfect and to an extent feels dated but its made with love and you still won't find anything like it anywhere else.