'S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl' Game Review

Format: Windows PC

First a disclaimer- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (or simply Stalker) is not a real horror game, it is however a FPS set in an apocalyptic Chernobyl that pits the player against military units, bandits and a whole variety of beasts. The game does offer enough beasts, mutants and levels designed to scare the player to justify a review on Esplatter.

The game is part FPS, part RPG and part survival horror. Stalker remains a personal favourite because of its ability to combine combat, exploration, and horror so effectively.

There is also another reason why stalker justifies a review on Esplater, it is a great game. The game is set in Chernobyl following a second fallout, this second fallout somehow produces anomalies, artefacts and monsters. You are a stalker, a wondering wasteland good guy, your job is to collect artefacts, run errands for the boss and kill some guy called Strelok.

The main mission might involve you hunting down Strelok but because of the open ended gameplay, the player can go off and complete a variety of side missions Stalker does have a hit or miss appeal to it, some people will love the open ended gameplay and immersive environment others will find the game unfocused and unfinished. This defines Stalker, players have to take the good with the bad.

The game is highly unpolished but this is the price you pay for offering the players so much. The expansive non-linear style is what makes the game so enthralling. Because of this do not play this game expecting a Call of Duty style experience, where the player is pretty much running in a straight line shooting aimlessly, the closest comparison would be Boiling Point but even this does not seem quite fitting.

Stalker is at its best when it is pitting the player against human foes such as bandits but the game provides some scares and tense moments when the player is forced to face mutants, zombies and other unnatural enemies. While the game is set in large sprawling environments some of the best moments of the game are in dark underground environments where the player is forced to rely on a weak torch and brilliant reflexes.

Stalker manages to succeed because it sucks the player into its world .This is the biggest achievement of stalker, the game might set the player in a bleak post-apocalyptic environment where death and decay surrounds the player but most impressively as the same time the world feels completely alive. A flock of birds above you, wild dogs in the distance, the sun setting and areas such as the bar which are full of fellow stalkers who sit around, drinking talking and even playing guitar, make the player feel like he is in a living breathing world, an accomplishment that is truly impressive.

Despite all the positives the game suffers from some unsightly bugs and can be frustrating but it is a rewarding experience and one of the most intriguing and original FPS games around. Stalker is one of the best FPS games around and if the player has the time, effort and patience to get into the game, truly get into the game it can be one of most rewarding and unique game experiences around.

Rating: 5/6

-- Review by Robert "Spartan" Bryden