The Most Compelling Review

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 9, 2007

Filed under: Rants 49 comments

I’m mulling over the idea of picking up STALKER- Shadow of Chernobyl. It’s a recent title with no demo, so it’s a risky proposition. While scanning the page at Gamestop looking for system Specs, I came upon this edifice of incoherent languacide:

iv nva playd this but it sounds so pointless 2 get this. their r only 2 reasons u would have this game. those r if u dont have a 360 which is known 4 shooter games lyk gears of war, graw 2, battlefield 2, splinter cell double agent and soon 2 b unreal tournament 3, and last but not least halo 1,2,3 which i have all but halo 3 but aalready reserved. Also if u have wii they have no good shooter games. ps3 is just an underpriced shitty blu ray player n games have no good exclusives. if u dont play ne consoles download gunz or soldier front off if you want 2 get so pc games which r the best pc games n r free

I tried to put this into Babelfish to see what it really says, but they don’t offer Idiot -> English translations. So, I had to decipher it myself. Here is the review in English, as closely as I can render it:

I have not played this game, but I find the justifications for its purchase to be uncompelling. For readers who do not own an XBox 360, I’d like to inform you that the platform is noted for its many contributions to the shooter genre. The Halo franchise in particular is noteworthy, and I’m proud to announce that I have already paid for Halo 3 and am eagerly waiting for them to finish the game. Also, The Wii is a substandard platform for fans of the shooter genre. The Playstation 3 is underpriced. It is merely a Blu-Ray player of substandard quality. The Playstation 3 has no exclusive titles, which is a serious omission for a major platform. If you don’t list any consoles as your platform of choice, then might I suggest acquiring Gunz or Soldier from a particular game portal. PC games are superior to other forms of games, and they are free of charge.

This proves something I’ve suspected for years, which is that there are four types of people in the world:

  1. I liked Halo
  2. I did not like Halo
  3. I did not play Halo
  4. HALO is best gam 4 evar and ur retarded i u dont leik it.

This STALKER review is perfect. I am putting it here as a taunt to all of the Halo fans who have left me rude responses and sent insulting emails due to my scathing comments on Halo from last year. (The really rude ones have been deleted, since I have higher standards than Game Stop when it comes to allowing subliterate ankle-biters to pollute my site with crass asininity.)

This review sort of sums up the very essence of the debate with Halo zealots that I’ve witnessed over the years, and perfectly distills the very nature of the exchange. So from now on when I’m trying to explain the whole thing, I’ll tell people, “I dislike Halo because it was a game with repetitive scenery and a threadbare story, while other people disagree and say this.” Which will be a link to this post, wherein a Halo fan reviews STALKER by not playing it, preordering Halo 3, and then talking about unrelated games.

Yes, I’m being childish and stupid, but the same can be said of Halo, which sold eleventy bajillion copies. So I’m in good company.


From The Archives:

49 thoughts on “The Most Compelling Review

  1. Morrinn says:

    I borrowed the game the other day and while it looks like something I might be intrested in Its been nearly impossible to actually get into it deep enough to tell.

    I got the game installed without a hitch and began playing it… It was nice and all, but soon texture bugs and wierd ass interface bugs started plagueing me… So I did a number of fixes to the Graphic interface and finally gave up and went hunting for a patch.
    One was easy enough to get from the developers website and soon I got the game up and running again… Exept now my old saves were obsolete and I had to start all over again… *Pain*.

    Worse still, the texture bug was still around so the game tends to act up and force me to restart.

    So, I start the game over again from the start. I soon pass the point where I gave up before and try my best to dive deeper into the story and enviroment.
    Now, I’m wandering around and get into a long gunfight versus some bandits, I leap from cover to cover, flanking the enemy and picking them off from the safety of higher ground. Half way through the battle the Game autosaves. Fine, good to have a backup save since its been a while since I last saved.
    Then, soon as I finish the fight I open the menu, and re-save over my old file.

    Once I’m back into the game, two things happen.
    The game autosaves *again* and then I die.
    Apparently I got some radiation disease that slowly picks off my Hitpoints. Fun…
    Now, here’s the tricky part… Both my main save fgile and the autosave are dumped roughly 10 seconds before I die from radiation poisoning, which would be fine, exept the game apparently starts counting those seconds before you actually finish loading the enviroment… So once I’m actually free to open my inventory and administer some rad-away stuff, I’ve succumbed to the poison and died…


  2. bbot says:

    It’s Oblivion in Russia, with guns. It also requires a pretty beefy computer, FYI. Load times are 45-60 seconds long, on my fairly modern computer. Stalker also could use a quicksave function.

    I like sentence fragments. They are great. I love them.

  3. Courtney says:

    Technically, they aren’t sentence fragments. Each of them have a subject and a predicate, and a modifier here and there. They’re just simple sentences, that’s all.


  4. Phlux says:

    Let us know what you decide about STALKER. I’ve been mulling that one over myself. I heard about it before it went gold, but then heard zero buzz about the game. It can’t be a good sign that it’s already been discounted in price. That means it’s either not a good game, or they just did a terrible job promoting it, which means they probably have little to no publisher backing, making the game essentially vaporware and can expect no patches or enhancements.

    I hope I’m wrong though, the screens look nice, and it sounds interesting. Vodka as an anti-radiation medication stirs a certain part of my nerd-cortex.

  5. Thad says:

    (Must resist pointing out that it should be “I'd like to inform you now”) Oh well…

    Interesting article about game designing here
    in which they say things like:
    “Because you look at games like Halo as an example, you know people didn’t think that the things in Halo were that innovative because they’ve seen all that stuff before … but it was the quality of execution that really resonated with gamers.”

    “A lot of the innovation and requests in terms of technological features and hardware come from the game developers themselve. If we’re not building the graphics chips that the developers want to use, then we’re just wasting transistors and die size.”

    But then
    “A good game designer is someone who actually reaches out to the public to see what they want and that’s why [NHN does] a lot of surveys to find out what consumers actually want to play,” he says. “Instead of having this great gift or skill of being a really great designer, I feel that it’s best to listen to the customer more.”

  6. Ash says:

    Stalker-ing in between Jade Empire sessions. Shamus, the game’ll *gut* your PC – this is a game that’s killing graphics hardware. C2Duo 6400, Nvid 7650, 1gig, just about functional.
    p.s. – bbit, F5 works.

  7. Henebry says:

    Another notable quality about this review is that it isn’t a review. The author seems to have been trolling through the gamesite looking for a place (or more probably multiple places) to stash his little rant comparing different platforms. This is behavior isn’t limited to Halo Fanboys, either. You see it all over the internet: guys who have a beef of some kind and who, rather than hosting a site dedicated to their private obsession, go around planting their beef here, there and everywhere. I guess it’s the internet equivalent of the guy who talks every conversation round to his obsession of the week.

  8. Vykromod says:

    bbot Says:

    “Stalker also could use a quicksave function”

    It’s got one. F6 to save, F7 to load. The game has a whole pile of undocumented keys for some reason, some of which are kind of important.

  9. Ace says:

    Well, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Halo. It was fun multiplayer, anyway. Then again, I wouldn’t go as far as defending guys like -that-. I’m amazed you could decipher that though. Thumbs up for that!

    – Ace

  10. Cineris says:

    In Halo’s defense, the game that it was supposed to be bore pretty much no relationship to the game that was ultimately released. I blame Microsoft’s acquisition of Bungie and subsequently pressuring them for a release. Hence we have a FPS with notoriously low levels of detail, architecture that seems like it was meant to be viewed from a top-down view, very repetitive indoor environments, rock-paper-scissors weaponry, and a sketchy single-player story in place of what was supposed to be a genre-breaking free-form level-less squad-level tactical combat game.

  11. Woerlan says:

    Three things about Halo:

    1) Played the PC version of the game at a pal’s house and was moderately amused.
    2) I only finished it to see the ending. It hinted that the game could have been so much better.
    3) I’ve never been happier that the copy was pirated.

  12. Andre says:

    Cineris, I know what you’re saying, and I was following Halo’s development for years before Microsoft acquired Bungie. I’ll admit I was psyched about the game they were hyping at the time, but in retrospect I have to acknowledge that the game being hyped was and still is impossible. They weren’t hyping a great first-person shooter, they were hyping a comprehensive reality simulator. I remember watching an official video showcasing how the dirt in the game was going to behave like real dirt, and the insects were going to have individual AIs that behaved as real insects do. Oh, and the entire world was going to be loaded into memory all at once, none of this ‘separate levels’ garbage. And physics. Lots and lots of physics. They were trying to do entirely too much, and it showed by the never-ending development cycle. If Microsoft hadn’t stepped in when they did, one of two things would have happened: either they would have realized they were aiming too high and released whatever half-finished garbage product they had at the time, or the game would have surpassed Duke Nukem Forever as the ultimate in vaporware.

    Yeah, the final product was crap, I’m not saying it wasn’t. All I AM saying is that the amazing, earth-shattering game that Bungie was hyping for years before they were bought out by Microsoft was never a possibility.

  13. Zerotime says:


    P.S. I thoroughly enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Though, I have kind of had a thing for the general idea of it ever since I found out about The Roadside Picnic.

  14. Josh says:

    One thing that has always bothered me about Halo is that you’re supposed to aim with a thumb joystick. After playing FPSs with a mouse, this is like trying to play golf with a chunk of rebar. Maybe the Halo fans can explain why they put up with this. Do people buy mice for their Xboxes? Or do Halo fans tend to be folks so young that they never did play FPSs on a PC?

  15. Jimmeh says:

    You made a mistake in your “translation”.

    “download gunz or soldier front off

    “suggest acquiring Gunz or Soldier from a particular game portal”

    The name of the game is “Soldier Front”, not “Soldier.”

  16. neminem says:

    Wow… I sadly had no problem reading that post in its unaltered form. I think it’s because all weekend I’ve been reading passages about alchemy, from a time in which English spelling was rather less standardized than it is today. The word “lyk”, especially, is something I’ve probably seen a fair amount.

    P.S. The set of people in group #1 is definitely not empty. I liked Halo greatly – it’s one of the best FPS party games I’ve played. It’s definitely not the best FPS in general, though, and certainly not the best game of any sort. You want to talk threadbare scenery, though – try Goldeneye. I have no idea why so many people think that’s a good game – I thought it was rather lame, even when it came out.

  17. neminem says:

    Oh, yeah, also… in your translation: “I have already paid for Halo 3 and am eagerly waiting for them to finish them game.” Might want to fix that.

  18. lazybratsche says:

    Vykromod Says:

    Apparently the quicksave is broken if your account name in Windows has a space in it. Another lovely little bug. It works for me, since my account name is just one word, but not for a friend of mine whose account name is in two words. Sucks for him, since quicksave is pretty necessary at times.

    I like the game (the setting especially), but it really needs a few more patches before being really playable.

  19. Gharlane says:

    Here’s a dialectization into hacker speak of the “review”.

    1v nvA playd thisd but it sounds so pointl3Ss 2g3t this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~ THEIR R ONLY 2 REASONS U OWULKD AHVE THIS WAREZ, lolololololololololol~~~ thosse r if u d0nt have a 36O which sI kno\\\\////\\\\////n shotrer wArez 7yk g34rs 0f war, gr4w 2, vbattleffeuld 2, splint3r cell double agent and soon 2 b unreal tournament 3, aNd lsat bu tnoit least ahlo 1,2,3 which i 4hvve all but ahlo 3 but aalready reaserved also if u hav3 wii they shv eno good shottAr war3z, ps# si juust an underpriced ShjiTt bLu ray playa rn warez have no good exclusives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~~ 1f u dont play Ne consoles d0ejn7oad gunz r solde1r front off w\\\\////\\\\////w!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~ IJJI!!!!!!!1 LOLOLOLOLOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~~~ Com ify ou wantt 2 get so pc WaReZ whIch r the beast pc ware n r frere

    Too bad the translation doesn’t work the other way, hehe.

  20. Luke says:

    I have not played Stalker, but this review is priceless! I can’t stop laughing.

  21. MintSkittle says:

    I can’t believe he thinks the PS3 is UNDERpriced. It’s the most expensive console out there.

  22. Shamus says:

    Looks like I’m giving STALKER a pass for now. Maybe I’ll pick it up in a year or so when I have a newer machine, the patches are out, and the game is cheap. Doesn’t look like a wise choice for me right now.

  23. Thad says:

    Looks to be good reviews of Stalker on the Great Games Experiment

  24. Dirk says:

    I look forward to eventually having hardware that can stutter along in STALKER. I’ve watched the movie that was the source of inspiration in its original Russian, and although I won’t lead everyone to the torrents themselves, the open English subtitles are right here:

    I wouldn’t be too worried if STALKER isn’t very good right now. Heroes 5, another Russian game, started out as rubbish and, in what is virtually unheardof in Western game development, actually got fixed and improved. Almost everything that people asked for has been fixed, including many mechanical changes and balance issues. It’s almost like Blizzard made it, except that the fixes were made in a few months, not a few years.

    Oblivion started out as almost completely unplayable, improved its stability but not its balance or quest bugs, and still does not run on the “minimum” hardware requirements as Shamus has pointed out. It takes another few hundred megabytes of modifications (Oblivion Overhaul, Oblivion Enhanced, Unofficial Oblivion Patch, and any character development mod) just to make it tolerable. Bethesda isn’t the one making changes – it just made a couple of half-assed patches and *paid* plugins to expand content. For shame.

    Russia has a strong advantage in this industry, because not only does the mafia play games sometimes, they also know where to find the developers to discuss their complaint

    As a data point, even though it’s still a recent game (even newer than Oblivion), Heroes 5 runs just fine even on my crummy Radeon 9000. It’s smooth, it looks nice, it’s stable and it doesn’t need any modifications to be enjoyable. Truly the stuff of legends.

  25. Will says:

    Anymore, I don’t even bother trying to play a freshly installed game without checking for patches. It’s a sad critique on the industry. As a matter of fact, C&C3 is installing right now, and the first thing I’m doing is running any auto update feature that may be included.

  26. josh brandt says:

    Yeaaah, it does kind of beat the heck out of your hardware. I have a 2.1GHz Athlon with a 512MB AGP (yes, really, AGP) Radeon X1600 Pro and 1GB RAM, and it’s not too bad, but certainly not super-smooth. There are occasional stutters I haven’t quite figured out, and I have some of the options turned way down. (Like tufts of grass, but I dislike tufts of grass anyway. I turn them off in Oblivion, too.)

    It’s worth noting that there are both DX9 and DX8 renderers, but they’re labeled something non-obvious like “Full Dynamic Shadows” and “Dynamic Shadows On Objects Only.” People with older (or slower) cards can switch to DX8. I’m running it in DX8 myself… In DX9, it chokes pretty badly. (In Jade Empire, the gem that gives you a damage shield made of particle effects also bogs my machine down until it’s unplayable…)

    Maybe I’m just very forgiving when a game sucks me in like this… There are certainly bugs. The mission system will occasionally start missions for no obvious reason when you enter areas, and sometimes doesn’t tell you. Then, 2 game days later when the mission times out, upi get get a little “Mission Failed: Camp Elimination” message. And a couple of times I completed missions I didn’t know I’d started… Those are just the side-quests, though, which you can do for extra money or to make friends.

    It also seems to have been designed by gun fetishists. There are, for example, at least 5 variants of the AK47, a pseudo-MP5, a bunch of pistols, a bunch of nearly-identical assault rifles, the standard double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, a couple of weird bullpup weapons, and at least one sniper rifle, each with its own description and stats, and there are at least 2 or 3 types of ammo for each (some of them share ammo, though, so it’s not like there are hundreds of types, just dozens). My inner 12-year-old gets all gleeful when I find something I haven’t seen before. They’re laid out throughout the landscape so the farther you go the better your weaponry. I’ve just finally found a sniper rifle, and I’m looking forward to doing terrible things with it.

    So, yeah– if you’re not totally taken by the whole concept to the point where you can deal with the rough edges, it’s probably worth reading reviews and waiting for another patch or two to come out. It’s still a great game, though, even in its current mostly-polished form. I haven’t found any show-stopper bugs (unlike Oblivion). I also haven’t seen the graphical problems other people have described.

    I also haven’t seen the autosave thing Morinn mentions in the first comment. Maybe that was something the patch removed? It autosaves when you move between regions, but that’s it. Maybe it’s an option I have disabled? And F6 and F7 are quicksave and quickload…

    Sorry to post these lengthy diatribes in your comments. 8)

  27. eloj says:

    All you need to know: The first patch broke save games.

  28. Tower says:

    I tried running the rant through babelfish, and got a strange, yet in some small way almost vaguely profound result.

    This device of punitiveness played of nova.
    It is temporary and therefore resounds of the realized justification only two of you with this conclusion make of it.
    Which at least this game of R, if or not to admit 360, they burden war.
    It does not artilleryman the game of luck, draw 2, or justify
    company/signature 2 and of surrealism the match is significant and soon takes 3 batteries. Cut the amount doubly of end or incentive and I haul 1, 2, and 3 of that whole exclusive that I pull ahead, but remove of it what is already for the possession. Ulteriorly, if it or wii, none a good one will have the artilleryman of the game, and that is the ps3. Simply underestimated to blue. Player of the startings is sufficient, yet of that, that not extrinsic to it is no good compartment of the subdivision if the game is you, downloading guns of the commandos of this section no, or before An ulteriorly equal soldier, if you exit, realises therefore with a transient PC you had better take liberations of the PC into the game with n. r. r.

  29. Tallain says:

    Congratulations on making my day.

  30. Smileyfax says:

    I rather liked Stalker. There were several things I didn’t like about it, though.

    For one, a stealth game seemed to be nearly impossible. The only time I really tried to make a go of it was at the Agroprom Institute, and I gave up halfway through.

    Weapon accuracy could be better. Only near the last third of the game or so do you get rifles which score headshots about one out of every three shots. Also, a method to repair damaged guns would be nice.

    Also, the economy is incredibly broken. I ended the game with nearly 200,000 rubles. Quest rewards need to be toned down greatly, and people should have more worthwhile things to buy.

    My personal favorite is the blue status bar which never went down at all during the game. It had a shield icon, so was it supposed to indicate armor strength? I never noticed my armor deteriorate.

    Other than those issues, though, Stalker is a fine game. Just tone down a few of the graphic options if it starts fussing.

  31. Shamus says:

    Tower: That is brilliant.

  32. Zerotime says:

    Smileyfax: The first patch fixes the armour degredation thing… only now it means that you have to replace your suit every dozen firefights, which gets annoying, and fast. Luckily, near the end the game basically hands you a free exoskeleton every thirty seconds.

  33. The Meal says:

    Speaking of reviews… Shamus, did you see Jeff Green’s Cudgel of Xanthor preview in May’s GFW magazine? Good stuff. No links yet available, but once I come across one I’ll shoot it to you. You’ll get a kick out of it.


  34. Blake says:

    I can’t recommend STALKER enough. I’m a huge fan of wandering around the discarded, broken down remnants of humanity and exploring ruined civilizations so I’m naturally disposed to this sort of thing. Some of the quests are a bit buggy (even with the patch), but I’ve never had any graphical problems with the game.

    I ran it in ‘Static Lighting’ on my AMD 2400, ATI x800, 1Gb RAM and it ran and looked just fine (40-50 fps). I now run it with ‘Full Dynamic Lighting’ on my newly upgraded rig (Intel 6300 Dual Core, 8800 GTS, still 1Gb RAM) and it looks great and runs quite smoothly (again, about 40-50 fps. Yeah, dynamic light hits the frame rates that hard.).

    The exploring and creepiness (as well as the inventory system) remind me a lot of System Shock 2, but without the RPG-lite stat leveling. The large environments and outdoor battles are a lot like Oblivion with guns, though with none of the RPG trappings.

  35. josh brandt says:

    One thing that separates it from Oblivion is that critters seem to have their own lives– they don’t automatically attack the player. I’ve seen (mostly from a distance) blinddogs harrying boars (until one of them wandered into an anomaly and blew up), and sometimes you’ll be shadowed by packs of pseudodogs who are obviously eyeing you up and will sort of dart at you but won’t quite work up to attacking. And sometimes things totally ignore you. Compare to Oblivion where the wildlife is either a deer (and runs away) or a wandering monster (and attacks you). It makes the landscape feel much more _alive_ than Oblivion, or, really, any other big free-roaming game I’ve played. Being ignored in a video game is such an unusual experience that it really stands out.

    Okay, I’ll stop now, for a while.

  36. Telas says:

    Smileyfax: I ended the game with nearly 200,000 rubles.

    That’s under $8,000. You went through all that to put a down payment on a new car?

  37. Purple Library Guy says:

    Smileyfax: The economy is incredibly broken?

    Well, that’s Russia, right?

  38. Pete Zaitcev says:

    The book is quite different from the movie. By legend, Mr. Tarkovsky retained the Strugatsky brothers to write the script. Then he sent them around until they threw away all the sci-fi from the book. And then, the game has nothing to do with either the book or the movie.

  39. Space Ace says:

    You know, you can whine about Halo being such a shallow game for having no story, repititive enemies and the wrong weapons, but I can say the exact same things about Half Life 2.

    Every gun besides the Gravity Gun felt weak, and as such I spent half the game wielding the Gimmick Gun. I also spent half the time shooting Combine mooks. There were interesting segments with gunships and such, but both those and the ammo for the weapons used were few and far between.

    And then there’s everyone fapping over the “mystery” of HL2’s storyline. Who is the G-Man? Why is Gordon doing what he’s doing? etc. etc. etc.
    Well, let me enlighten you. That’s not mystery, that’s a collection of the largest plotholes you’re liable to find in any medium.

    Aside from the ability to throw rubbish at your enemies (which I’ve been doing since Deus Ex) and an interesting universe, it wasn’t that special. Get over it. Yeah, the facial animation was nice. Too bad I spent most of the game fighting gasmasked stormtroopers.

    And you thought you were a blasphemer?

  40. Steve says:

    [Tower] Amazing. Reads like William Burroughs.

    [Shamus] I don’t know how you found the patience to wade through that splat of incomprehesible garbage.

    I moderate a couple of forums and we recently had someone who was fond of that style, adding the refinement that he eschewed the period and comma entirely.

    With no proper capitalisation and no periods it became too much like hard work to figure out what he was trying to say for almost everyone. He got upset that no-one answered his posts (I doubt anyone read them after the first couple). Someone suggested the use of capital letters OR periods to give a hint of where his sentences were supposed to start and end. He became abusive (I think, he may have been abusive all along but no-one could tell) and eventually I had to ban him.

    He came back in a couple of new guises posting as ‘supporters’ but it was plain to even me that this was the same guy.

    What I don’t understand is why people post on the web, which exists solely to facilitate communications between human beings (eventually), yet do their damnedest to prevent meaning leaking out of their epistles.

    [Shamus and Tower]

    The thing about William Burroughs writing is that although it starts with a kernel of meaning, the process by which it is transformed into ‘The Nova Express’ or ‘The Ticket That Exploded’ destroys that meaning to produce something that looks pretty to the right audience.

    As always, thought provoking and enjoyable. Thanks everyone.


  41. Nik says:

    Shamus, first time I have posted here but thought I’d leave my tuppence worth of thoughts on Stalker.
    First off, it undeniably has it’s problems. You need a decent rig to even think about running it. I have a great alienware beast that plays most everything with setting ramped up to max. It had problems with Stalker untilled I turned a few things down.
    Secondly, it can be fustratingly hard. The weapons have accuracy issues, (in an attempt to add realism I’m told). I forget to save for up to 30 minutes at a time, and once past the first stage, I found myself having to reload umpteen times because I forgot to save.
    Thirdly, it can be fairly glitchy when running quests. It’s annoying but you get given quests even when you havent approached the activating NPC. Because of this, I have found that I often fail a mission I didnt even realise I had. This is because I tend to play through in a fairly linear fashion. Ie, take a quest, complete, take a second quest, complete etc.

    However, if you have the patience to look past these issues, it can be incredibly rewarding. It features some of the most intelligent AI I have ever played against. This can be seen in previous posts about the wildlife, but also in the NPC AI. One game I approached a village, and wiped them out. I came out of the village and blew away what I thought was another set of bad guys. Turns out in my enthusiasm, I took out some of the good guys. I reloaded and when I approached the village, the good guys were at it with the bad guys, before I even got there. Like oblivion should have been, the fact that these guys just do whatever they ‘feel’ like really ads immersiveness to the game.

    Ok, so in conclusion, if you take away all the buggy stuff, I’d say this would be what I may have imagined a first person ‘Fallout’ to be like, albeit an RPG ‘lite’ version.

    Just my thoughts. It’s the first time I have posted here, but I have been a fan now for some time. Keep up the good work.

  42. DanD. says:

    Like the above poster, I thought I’d chime in with my recommendation of STALKER. Definitely get the patch, though, which besides fixing some bugs also improves the aforementioned broken economy somewhat.

    Good points:
    –The inventory system is nice — lots of hard choices (do I take the nice weapon with the rare ammo, or the crappier weapon with plentiful ammo . . .).
    –There is a nice mix between nonlinear exploration and new areas opening up as the story progresses.
    –The look, sound, and feel of weapons is great. The ballistics model is more advanced than it might look at first — not only do bullets drop over distance, but they also penetrate thin or weak materials and ricochet realistically. A metal shed isn’t much protection against a high-powered rifle. A lot of people knock the early weapons as being too inaccurate, but can you really expect a headshot from 100 yards with a 9mm pistol? (Let alone a sawed-off shotgun!) There is also a nice variety of weapons.
    –All the areas are beautiful, detailed, and atmospheric. You’ll descend into underground areas that are sometimes very creepy. Weather effects (especially the sky and lightning) are awesome. Ambient wildlife AI is well-done (boars are territorial and charge you, but won’t wander far from their lairs; dogs will attack only in packs and flee if you hurt them; and so on).
    –The AI is sometimes scarily effective at flanking — there are so many times that I’ve been waiting for someone to pop out from cover, only to be shot in the back after he circled around behind me.
    –Multiple endings! They are pre-rendered and well done, and sometimes not triggered by a last-minute decision — choices throughout the game can affect which ending you get.
    –You clearly gain power throughout the game, thanks to equipment. Going back to early areas and shooting bandits with an advanced assault rifle never gets old.
    –Lots of fun little touches, like attachable scopes, grenade launchers, and silencers (though their attachment options are limited). Hidden ‘special’ weapons and equipment. Exploration is nicely rewarded with the occasional cool find.

    The bad:
    –The story is largely a no-show.
    –Sidequests are almost always worth ignoring. Their main reward is money, and merchants rarely have anything worth buying (though the patch addresses this). In fact, having too much money at game’s end can get you a ‘bad’ ending.
    –NPC dialogue is terrible and frequently annoying, and always full of typos.
    –Travel can sometimes be a pain in the neck.
    –Stealth mechanics are unforgiving, though can sometimes be rewarding.
    –Mostly decent AI only makes the holes more glaring — enemies don’t work as a team, hardly use grenades, etc. Probably for the best, though; since enemies will often be similarly-equipped but in larger numbers, they already do a good job of killing you. :)
    –Little interface and gameplay nitpicks. Some features, such as the reputation and alignment systems, are half-baked or otherwise have no effect.
    –Still some bugs left after the patch, such as my absolutely most despised bug, the ‘dud’ grenade bug. (Switching away from a grenade launcher attached to a rifle causes the next shot with the underbarrel launcher to, without fail, be a dud.)

    All-in-all, STALKER is like the openness of Oblivion combined with the postapocalyptic environments of Half-Life 2 with the inventory, atmosphere, and even some story elements of System Shock 2. Highly recommended, as long as you are willing to overlook some of its weaker elements.

    As an aside, performance is great on my system (which Oblivion brings to its knees). The first tweak it to switch to static lighting instead of dynamic lighting.

  43. Retlor says:

    ‘You know, you can whine about Halo being such a shallow game for having no story, repititive enemies and the wrong weapons, but I can say the exact same things about Half Life 2.

    Every gun besides the Gravity Gun felt weak, and as such I spent half the game wielding the Gimmick Gun. I also spent half the time shooting Combine mooks. There were interesting segments with gunships and such, but both those and the ammo for the weapons used were few and far between.

    And then there's everyone fapping over the “mystery” of HL2's storyline. Who is the G-Man? Why is Gordon doing what he's doing? etc. etc. etc.
    Well, let me enlighten you. That's not mystery, that's a collection of the largest plotholes you're liable to find in any medium.’

    Shamus rags on a game you love, so so go out and criticise a game that he has not really ranted about at all. What’s more, the criticisms you make, especially the one about plotholes, have been made by Shamus himself before.


  44. Scourge says:

    Stealth.. stealth in Stalker.. Hah! I tried to sneak up onsome, I crawled from behind, taking cover, moving slowly and then when I peek around the corner do I get shot by him.

    Then again am I not trying to hide, I stand in the midway part of a tunnel and the enemies are running into me while I shoot them but they do not see me at all? How is that realistic?

    Anyways, when looking over all the flaws is it a rather decend and enjoyable game, especially when using a few mods and modding it yourself.

  45. Warren says:

    One thing that gets me with the Halo fanboy rant is how he has correctly spelt every single game title he mentions! How can somebody spell “tournament” correctly, but struggle with “like” and “never”?

  46. Varil says:


    I couldn’t get into Stalker. I saw a beautiful, wonderful, post-apocalyptic paradise buried in there, and just couldn’t get over my “DO IT AND DO IT ALL NOWWWWW” power-gaming RPG impulses long enough to advance in the game. I kept running into huge bandit attacks which ultimately led to the decision : Go back and sell their loot, or leave it because it’s too heavy? If I keep selling, I’ll never get anywhere. If I *don’t* I’ll regret it forever. :(

    …that said, the combat was kind of annoying. I kept getting my rear handed to me on a gilded platter, ow. Sneaking is very, very useless if you aren’t willing to reload continuously. Even trying to sneak, I was usually spotted first.

    Oh well. I’ll play more of it eventually. Just not now.

  47. Randolph says:

    This post is great! Its a sad truth that industries which are dominated by the tastes of 11 year olds, or worse, 17 year olds with the intellect of 11 year olds, are often reduced to imbecility. Take, for instance, the current state of American pop music industry. Or the American film industry. Or, in fact, the entirety of the American media machine.

  48. Eric says:

    Halo rockz!!!!! faggio!!!! I want tohave master chief inside me to have his babies!!!!!!!! Halo has the most indeoth gameplay arseholez!!!!! It was so emotional!!!!!!! I love GAMER FUEL!!!!!!!!!

  49. Tacoma says:

    STALKER is unfortunate. It’s just not fun. My reasons:

    1: The game is not very open, it’s about as railbound as Doom1 but outdoors. You just don’t have many choices, they’re mostly problems with exactly one good solution.

    2: The stealth is either impossible or snail-crawl boring. I want Thief style stealth because it’s fun. I don’t want realistic stealth because it’s lame.

    3: Enemies’ gear sometimes drops but mostly you can’t loot them. When you can loot stuff it’s so heavy getting it back to base is a chore. When you sell it the stuff is almost worthless. The stuff you can buy is really expensive and also heavy. So you have the chore of bringing your ammo and medical arsenal from one storage crate to the next as you advance along the rails.

    4: You can’t clear an area, it seems like more deadly goons move in all the time. You’re constantly under attack by brutally effective enemies with better arms and armor, incredible aim, and no chance of not spotting you. Sort of like how you have trouble spotting them because they blend into the landscape so well.

    5: Loading takes forever. Saving takes forever. Moving anywhere takes forever. But you must save, load, and move constantly.

    6: The game environments are alright, the visual effects are alright, but it’s not amazing. It’s not awe-inspiring. It’s just good. But I’d gladly have it look like Return to Castle Wolfenstein or System Shock 2 if the performance would be better. I don’t need blades of grass. I need a game that runs right.

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