STALKER: Save Early, Save Often

  By Shamus   Dec 26, 2007   40 comments

STALKER gets talked about as if it’s a roleplaying game, but it isn’t really an RPG according to any of the half-dozen vague and nebulous definitions out there. It’s an unconventional FPS with some freeform elements to it, but you’re not going to be making any complex moral choices, delving deep into anyone’s backstory, or agonizing over the allocation of skill points.

Okay, here’s my inventory screen.   Say, where is the character screen and “level up” prompt?
Okay, here’s my inventory screen. Say, where is the character screen and “level up” prompt?
The RPG comparison is understandable. The game begins with a dialog with an NPC, who gives you some inventory items. These are things that normally only happen inside of a roleplaying game. The gritty world of decay and radioactive ruins looks and feels like the classic Fallout, which I still cherish as a brilliant example of what a good RPG should be. It looks like an RPG, it feels a bit like an RPG, and for the first few hours of the game I kept wondering why it didn’t play like an RPG.

Here is how it happened with me: STALKER put on a sexy little outfit and suggested we should go out and have some fun. I doused myself in cologne and made sure I was wearing my “I roll twenties” boxer shorts. Then halfway through dinner STALKER starts talking about how we’re just friends and that I shouldn’t be getting any funny ideas. Excuse me? Okay, I admit that STALKER never explicitly promised roleplaying, and maybe I was just a little overeager. But still, I think STALKER owes me an apology for sending out some seriously mixed signals here.

This looks strikingly familiar.
This looks strikingly familiar.
But not being an RPG isn’t STALKER’s problem. It’s main problem is that the game is mercilessly, brutally, preposterously hard. It works very hard to be a realistic tactical shooter, which is a terrible idea in a game where you fight waves and waves of psychos with machine guns. The last thing you want is realism, because you end up with a game which is realistically impossible without continual use of the save / load system.

Part of the problem is an interface one. The game doesn’t have good cues for when you take damage or when your health is low. In other games the interface has several ways to let you know when you take a big hit. The screen fades to deep red for an instant. The character makes pained noises. The view kicks to one side. These effects become stronger for more serious hits, so that you can know when you’re in trouble without looking for your hit points. STALKER doesn’t have this. Most hits feel about the same and make the same fastball-hitting-a-leather-couch sound effect, so you can’t really tell how hard you were just hit unless you look. This lead to a lot of needless deaths because I was focused on the firefight and was unaware of how low my heath was.

But even setting aside the feedback issues, this game is just too dang hard. Mistakes and bad luck can be instantly fatal, and obsessive saving is required if you don’t want to waste time replaying the same areas repeatedly. Some people like a challenge, but not everyone wants to see the loading screen two and three times for every encounter. Some people have a low frustration threshold. Some people are just playing for the story and exploration. Some people just aren’t good at these sorts of games. These people can have fun too, as long as the designers leave room for them on the difficulty scale. STALKER’s difficulty scale has four steps from “novice” to “expert”, but even “novice” is an exercise in frustration. To make matters worse, once you start a game you can’t adjust the difficulty on the fly. If you pick “normal” and then after a few hours discover the constant deaths are sucking the fun out of the game, you can’t just bump it down to “novice”. If you want to play on novice, you have to start over from the beginning.

Another fun trip to “game over” land.
Another fun trip to “game over” land.
(And just wait ’til you discover that “novice” is still “hard” in comparison to most games out there. Even on “easy” the bad guys still have lightning quick reflexes, the ability to see you through walls, and deadly aim. Playing on easy just slows the tempo at which you need to tap the “medkit” button during a fight.)

Games like this are when I tend to bust out the cheat codes, so I can get through the dang thing without spending my precious allotment of videogame hours staring at the loading screen. I’ve said before that the more likely you are to need them, the less likely you are to have them, and that holds true here. STALKER has not one single cheat code to help you through a tough fight. If you’re going to play STALKER, you’re going to do so on the terms set down by the designers, and they have decided that painstaking trial-and-error is the order of the day.

“But I like a good challenge.”, whines the fan.

That’s what the “hard” difficulty is for. No matter how much challenge you want, easy should still be easy.

“Maybe you just suck”, says the fanboy.

Maybe so, but could they maybe include a way through the game for me anyway? I really don’t think that’s asking too much.

202040 comments. (Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.)


  1. Z!re says:

    STALKER can not be approached like either an RPG or an FPS.
    I know it sounds like fanboy hype, but STALKER is different.

    I remember when I first played, I ran around and strafed while shooting, died a million times…

    Then I realized you have to approach this game a little different, without the preconception of it being an RPG or an FPS.
    Once you learn how to play you’ll realize that easy is actually quite easy, and novice is downright boring.

    I’m not saying you’re a bad player, or that you’ve missed anything, STALKER is just a different kind of game that needs to be approached without preconceptions.

    I’d know, I have been where you are, frustrated and annoyed looking for cheats…
    And after a few more hours of play I realized STALKER can be very entertaining, if played like the game it is, STALKER, not an RPG or an FPS.

    Taking out the military patrol near the starting village with only a knife, using stealth and cover, is quite satisfactory when you remember how they used to fill you with bullet-holes just a few hours/days ago.

  2. Adam says:

    I have not played but some of the reviewer said that the game physics reward stationary fire over strafing and dodging.

    I would get this but I have very very little play time and if the wife saw a new game I would be sleeping on the couch right fast.

  3. empty_other says:

    I myself played the game like i play SWAT 3. Might be because i had recently learned how to play SWAT 3 like a pro… Unfortunately the game later began to feel like an fps (when you finally got out of the city, and the next city, and down into the sewers). So i tired of the game after the 30eth death in the same general area. And that the game kept crashing every 3rd reload didnt actually help.

    Anyway, the “feeling” of the game is very well-made. And i do want to bring out the game again, but are at the moment preoccupied from gaming.

  4. DGM says:

    “That’s what the “hard” difficulty is for. No matter how much challenge you want, easy should still be easy.”

    Heh. Reminds me of Devil May Cry 3, before they made a special edition version that fixed the problem. You had to let the game kick your sorry rear end a few times – not that you could actually stop it from doing so – just to get access to the game’s easy mode. And even that was still pretty difficult.

  5. thak says:

    I’ll second the “trainer” option.

    As an overworked parent of two boys, I don’t have a ton of “alone” gaming time, and watching a loading screen isn’t my idea of fun.

    I downloaded one of the trainers and used it strictly to allow me to carry more stuff. That way, I could always have enough food to heal me back up after a big firefight, and I didn’t have to micromanage my inventory.

    That way, it was still “hard”–you couldn’t just run and gun–but I didn’t have to re-load every 3 minutes.

    I’m with you, Shamus: developers need to understand that not everyone is a 14-year-old high school dropout with hours and hours of time on their hands…

  6. MintSkittle says:

    For trainers, I’d recommend http://www.cheathappens.com , but that’s just me.

  7. guy says:

    this is the sort of thing that makes me glad i don’t play FPSs. RTSs lack this sort of problem… mostly. the final nod C&C3 mission took like 4 attempts with a strategy guide in my lap.

  8. Rob says:

    Every time I play through this game the quick save button is most hit key, firefights are brutal and they can get even worse when you have to keep someone alive.

    Just a note on the first picture, is that a screen shot of your game? If so I can tell you why you’re dying so quickly. You need different artifacts slotted for combat.

    Artifacts that give +health don’t give +health they give +regen and sadly the only way to know that is to read it on a website. Also anything that increases your “bleeding” will help you die quickly.

    Also I can’t highly recommend using the scope on a weapon enough.

    Of course if that’s just a screen shot you snagged from somewhere, well ignore my ramblings.

  9. guy says:

    escort missions always suck, no matter the game.

  10. SimeSublime says:

    Thanks for your post, you’ve told me pretty much all I need to hear that any money I spend on the game would be wasted. Not to say that it’s a bad game, just that I wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of it.

  11. Thad says:

    I remember playing ODT(*) (can’t on XP, waah!), and could only do the full “plot” (as such) if I played hard as could only access level 7 with that. Certainly needed cheat codes for that, and there is a section near the end of level 7 which is just DIAS gameplay.

    (*)Although there are “dialog” bits and the player can increase the character’s stats, I think of it more as a sci-fi dungeon crawl than RPG or anything.

  12. Rhykker says:

    Nice review. I especially like the “going on date” metaphor.

  13. josh says:

    No offense Shamus, but you are not in the top 50th percentile of action-based gamers. You are the kind of person that the “easy” difficulty was designed for. From this post, I can learn that Stalker is a fast-paced game that requires reactive gameplay, but not how hard it is. Your analysis of its RPG elements is, of course, quite interesting and informative.

  14. Shamus says:

    Josh: I have no idea what you mean by “top 50th percentile”. That’s… half the gamers out there.

    I’ve been playing FPS games since Wolfenstein. I’ve played them a lot. I know the difference between easy and hard.

    This game is hard.

  15. FhnuZoag says:

    Yeah, STALKER is pretty punishingly hard at the start, but very easy at the end.

    Things to bear in mind:
    -Getting a good gun is important. Very important. Getting your hands on some sort of AK changes the game massively, and then getting a scope for said AK…
    -Don’t move and shoot. Move into cover, stay still, crouch and shoot with iron sights/scope. Close quarters battle is more risky, though. Approach at night and use the light from others’ torches to spot your targets.
    -Get a mod that improves early game weapon accuracy. There’s also a show quest rewards mod that improves things greatly.
    -Medkits. Use them, love them. Check your HP constantly, and jam the bandage and medkit hotkeys. ([ and ]) This makes the game really easy, because STALKER lets you carry unlimited medkits, hence making you invincible unless you take a lot of damage at the same time. You get much more medkits than you’ll ever need.

  16. AngiePen says:

    Stuff like this is why I just don’t play these games. I’m not good at games requiring a lot of fast reflexes (we called them “twitch games” back in the old days) and I’m one of those people who gets horribly frustrated and wanders away if I have to restart more than a couple of times in a play session. And if, several play sessions later, I’m still having to restart a couple of times each session, I’ll get frustrated and wander off anyway, even with however many hours invested in the game. [shrug] At this point I just don’t bother buying them, and games which review like this do nothing to change my mind.

    No matter what the genre, though, I agree with you that Easy should be easy. Making Easy hard and having it get harder from there is just stupid because it needlessly limits the game’s audience. I hope the developer takes enough pleasure from the snot value of having a “killer” game to make up for the lost revenue.

    Angie

  17. guy says:

    [channeling annoying fanboys] you’re just incompetent, even though you did beat quake on “rougelike” difficulty. [/channeling annoying fanboys]

    in seriousness, yeah, that’s a fairly stander response to calling a game hard. for those of you who missed it, shamus once beat quake on “nightmare” difficulty starting over the whole game when he died.

  18. Jeff says:

    Quake’s a heck of a lot different though.

    This is indeed on the realistic side, and I had absolutely no difficulty with it (on Easy, mind you).

    Consider standard military training: you don’t run around shooting unless you absolutely have to, and then it’s only just to keep lead in the air for cover.

    Running and gunning is an FPS convention that fails utterly. When you’re alone against a dozen gunmen, having more than two engaged at once should make you think you’re going to die. Stealth does wonders, and never once did my enemy see me through walls.

    This reminds me strongly of my friend playing this, who got utterly whipped at the beginning because he played this like the traditional FPS. He had the same problem with Call of Duty 4. Any game that says it’s “realistic” means you can’t play it like Unreal, Quake, Counterstrike, Halo, etc.

    You need to play it like, as someone said, SWAT4. Cover and caution. If any soldier acted like a person in a traditional FPS, he’d never survive one tour of duty.

  19. Jeff says:

    Oh, regarding RPGish elements, you do make a few choices, though they’re not all that important, and you delve into your own backstory. The amount that you discover about who you were will affect the ending.

  20. Zerotime says:

    guy: Performance in one game doesn’t equal performance in another, different game. I’ve never managed to beat Quake on easy mode, after a decade of trying, but I had no issues with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. .

  21. Corsair says:

    Shamus is right. The game is hideously difficult for the first couple hours. I got lucky, I managed to have a good solid run and nail a small group of fairly well-equipped Russian Mercenaries, mostly by luck, but also with my caffeine-enhanced reflexes. The game is a bit like Mass Effect – it starts out hard, gets harder, and then gets a lot easier, really fast.

  22. Hi, Shamus. I wasn’t sure how else to contact you, but I saw a video I really thought you would like to check out. Maybe you can write a blog entry about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw

    You may also like the blog where I ran across this video: http://www.geekpress.com/

    :)

  23. Epizootic says:

    I find you can’t play the tactical shooter like a ‘normal’ FPS. You cant just dive in on full auto. Use small controlled bursts of 3 shots or less, preferably from afar. I attacked the soldiers at the bridge to get some initial kit. I recommend use hit and run tactics. shoot a couple of enemies dead, then run around the map to the other side of the terrain – they’ll be searching the area where you were, not where you are. Surprise them again and repeat. Keep changing your location. Also – crouching and using cover are your friends!
    I don’t know how obvious those tips sound but they worked for me. Might I suggest buying the modifier ‘Tunder’ assault rifle that the trader occasionaly has in stock. It lasted me the whole game (it doesnt degrade very fast for some reason).

  24. Ben says:

    What I’d really like is just plain ol’ explanation. I got this game when it came out, and had no clue where to start quest and weapon wise or what artifacts to look for. Heck, I STILL don’t know how to find artifacts. I wondered if I should go to the next area or not, I had no clue where to find monsters I needed to do quests, I had no clue if killing other stalkers would cause problems in the long run. The list goes on. I really want to love this game though.

  25. Zereth says:

    Everybody saying that normal FPS stuff isn’t helpful are right, but that’s not why it’s hard.

    I once, after a long firefight with lots of hiding behind cover and leaning out to shoot people and such, made sure there was nobody else around, then got to looting. Suddenly, I’m shot from behind by a burst and killed almost instantly by somebody who wasn’t there 30 seconds ago. Unless they added missions to turn off the bandit cloning devices that are evidently hidden around the Zone, I’m never picking the game back up.

  26. ClearWater says:

    Ehm… Violets are #EE82EE (or at least, violet is). But I’m pretty sure they’re not green. Except for the leaves.

    Oh, it’s supposed to rhyme. *Hand to face*. Never mind. That’s the first time I’ve seen #00FF00 rhyme with screen.

  27. Itzchy says:

    Having played through STALKER and going through it again right now… Some thoughts:

    You can change the difficulty mid-game. There’s a slider in the Options Menu under “Gameplay”.

    As others have mentioned, this is not Quake or Wolf3d or even Half-Life. The real beauty of this game is the realism… which means sprinting to get in range with your double-barrelled shotgun (read, up close and personal with the enemy) more than likely results in you missing as you’re gasping for breath trying to steady yourself.

    Cover and concealment, and accurate, stationary fire is the key. Always use your iron sights. Think actual military engagements, not Quake rocket circle-strafing.

    To make the game easier, grab the Stalker Suit (or Merc Armor in patched games) in the starting village when you set out. It’s hidden in the roof of the last building on your left as you are coming into the village from Sidorovich. Climb the ladder next to Wolf, make your way around onto the top of the roof of that building, then do a sprint jump to the opposite roof, and go around. The armor is in a breakable crate hidden under the rafters, you may have to crouch or low-crouch to get it.

    Speaking of which… a lot of newbies (including myself) often miss this: Some wooden crates and blue metal boxes can be broken open for goodies. These provide a real boost in starting out… yielding ammo, medkits, etc.

    As the man above said… use artifacts. Find some good combinations, like bulletproof % artifacts that give off radiation, artifacts that actively reduce radiation at the expense of endurance (sprinting time), and artifacts that give you endurance.

    STALKER is a challenge to most gamers. Seasoned gamers. I, too, started out from the days of Wolf3d and Commander Keen. Perhaps because gamers are expecting it to fit to a genre, and when we first go down in a shower of Makarov bullets, we tend to go “OMG WTF I AM 1337 G4M3R THAT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!”

    I think the key to playing this game is to throw all the expectations out the window, and find time to learn how to play this game as an individual well. I was so frustrated the first few times I went through (looking back at it, thinking that I could go Rambo on the first mission was kinda stupid) but after giving it some time and a chance, I realized that this game is indeed one of the more classic, genre-defying games and I really enjoyed playing it… so much so that I’m actually going through it again, and enjoying it even more. :)

    Cheers… and have a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year… even in the Zone. :P

  28. guy says:

    you know, the reason why most FPSs are not realistic is that when one guy faces a dozen, the dozen rarely lose, unless the one is in a tank.

  29. Tuck says:

    Interesting…this game sounds very similar in difficulty to GRAW (Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter) and GRAW2. Except probably easier/less frustrating, since in GRAW you have nothing in the way of medkits/health/upgrades and you have to rely on pre-defined checkpoints as you can’t save the game at all.

    And GRAW also has no cheats.

    But it’s still awesome fun, and feels very very realistic!

    Maybe I’ll try STALKER sometime.

  30. Itzchy says:

    Another point: silenced weapons are useless in this game. That’s because of the AI. The moment you shoot an enemy, that enemy will shout and alert everyone else of your presence. The only one-shot-kill silenced weapon (and the only worthwhile one getting) is the Val Silenced Sniper rifle, and even then it’s iffy because of the poor range (very realistic) and the bullet drop (even more realistic) of the subsonic rounds. Also, that ammo is heavy!

  31. ngthagg says:

    #28: Not that I’m trying to nitpick, but these two quotes:

    “The real beauty of this game is the realism…”

    and

    “Some wooden crates and blue metal boxes can be broken open for goodies.”

    seem kind of funny put side by side.

  32. Smileyfax says:

    You know, I actually use ‘realistic’ tactics in FPS games instead of run-and-gun. It usually means I end the game with a huge amount of ammo.

    My experience with stealth in STALKER was basically that it was broken. In one mission where I was told to snag some papers out of a building, I was spotted about a billion times (and stubbornly reloading after each time, wishing to finish the mission without having tripped the alarm). I eventually gave up after trying to sneak out after grabbing the papers; hiding behind a bush at midnight was apparently not sufficient enough cover. (I did go on to beat the game, but I never did bother with stealth again).

  33. Itzchy says:

    Stealth IS broken… which is why also silenced weapons are a pain in the behind. What I did for that mission was to go building to building combat, thus reducing the number of enemies that I had to face at one time to manageable levels (read: 2-3 as opposed to 15. And tower snipers.)

  34. Rob says:

    Can’t believe i forgot this but the single most annoying thing that I have experienced in the game was when bandits would snipe me from AFAR with the crappy pistol you start out with. I’d be taking huge damage from long range, take the bandit down and go over to find out what amazing weapon he was destroying me with and find instead a crappy pistol.

    On silenced weapons; I found that silencers did work, more than once I was able to take down the straggler that no one was watching and move up and take the rest of a “squad” but more often the AI was always watching it’s “squad mates” and I’d pick one off the rest would notice he was down but weren’t sure where I was giving me enough time to hit a second guy before they all zeroed in on my location and opened fire.

    Also the papers mission is a pain in the butt because you come up inside the compound where there are roving patrols and snipers in guard towers. Last time I did it I had to run out side of the compound and wait for them to come to me.

    The plus side of all this is I started playing again last night with fakie’s mod which makes it both more fun and somewhat easier. being able to purchase anything from merchants is quite nice, now if only I can remember to dig around and turn a couple of the mods off.

  35. Sandling says:

    Hi Shamus, I only comment every couple of months but I’ve been waiting for you to review Stalker for a while. I hope I can give you some insight on how to enjoy it so you can tell us some of your own in-game stories instead of brutally criticizing it, as it often rightfully deserves. It’s made it’s way into the hearts of a lot of people, but the designers didn’t get everything right and it’s important to compensate for them so you don’t wind up playing through as a critic instead of a gamer.

    It’s possible spend a lot of time talking about what Stalker is and isn’t, but it’s much easier to consider Stalker being Stalker and that’s it. It plays in it’s own way and it’s necessary to adjust to the system. Don’t think of it as a twitch-fest like UT2004 or Quake, but also don’t think of it as a tactical shooter like Rainbow Six or SWAT, because neither of those games play in a persistent world where you need to care about your inventory and making a profit. or where your next suit of armour is going to come from.

    Start on Easy. The game’s difficulty curve is very weird because it isn’t a curve; it’s a straight line. That means it’s really difficult in the beginning and really easy at the end. Start on Easy or Medium, and learn the game’s mechanics. At some point you’ll likely feel as if you’ve reached a plateau and you’ll want to move up to the next difficulty. I wound up finishing the game on Expert, but I only bumped it up to that after clearing the Red Forest. And it is possible to change the difficulty inside of the game, using the slider bar under in the options, as someone else has already said.

    The quick save key is your lifelong friend. I’ve been reading Twenty Sided for a while now and I know you hate repeated deaths, but unfortunately that’s how Stalker was designed. Don’t get down on yourself because you’re screwing up, because the game is realistic and most people wouldn’t be able to last five seconds if the game’s world was real. A lot of situations in the game are impossible, but you can always find the 1% chance where you make it out alive as long as you remember the quick save key and get used to seeing your corpse. Think of it more as a really complex puzzle game, where you need to find that right set of variables where you can get through and on to the next challenge, it just takes tries to learn how each puzzle works. The solution is often other people’s deaths of course, but there are other options as well, like running away from the Controller in the first lab instead of confronting it.

    Stalker is a game of resource management and scouting. You need to constantly be aware of your surroundings, and the binoculars can save your life. It’s not necessary to engage every bandit you see, and often it’s better if you remain hidden and wait for the enemy to pass, then sprint to get some distance between you and them. Sniping is always your best option, so if you see danger up ahead and you can’t pass it, crouch down and go for some headshots. If you need to engage in close quarter combat, and you often do, peek around corners and remain crouched so you’re a smaller target for the AI. Climbing up stairs is standard fair in FPSes, but in Stalker it’s actually a very dangerous thing to do and you need to be aware of how you can use the angle of the stairs as cover if you come under attack.

    The last suggestion I have is use a guide, at least to find yourself some bounty. Stalker loves to hide useful bits of armour and artifacts in some really bizarre places, like the merc suit hidden in an attic at Cordon. It deserves a lot of criticism for this, but you can make the game fun for yourself by using a guide so you know where these useful objects are. Often getting them becomes a mission of it’s own and adds a lot to the game if you let it. And don’t use a trainer, upping the amount of weight you can carry will spoil the game for you.

    Outside of comments on how to play the game, I honestly do choose to call Stalker an RPG, as it’s the only true CRPG I’ve ever come across, because you inadvertently become the character you are playing. The game is so hard, so brutal, and yet so atmospheric that when you reach a certain point, you’ll become part of the world, as if danger is all around you and you need to be cautious so you’ll be able to make a profit on all the goodies you’ve got in your backpack. It’s incredibly engrossing, and the only game I’ve ever found myself accidentally thinking like the character, something that nothing else has been able to do so far. (To Adam @ FtB: It’s not LARPing!)

    Also, thak, speaking as a college student who doesn’t have that much time on his hands, if you don’t have time to get good at Stalker, you actually have the choice to not play Stalker. Please don’t make the argument that the game needs to be changed so that it fits your life; it’s compelling to a lot of people as is and we’d all hate to see it altered. Not having the time to play something is a legitimate excuse, and if someone is badgering you about it they’re just wrong.

  36. Sandling says:

    Go forth my wall of text! Conquer them all!

    That said, I really hope you enjoy the game Shamus, and I’m looking forward to a post where you give your take on the ending of Stalker.

  37. Luke Maciak says:

    Heh, I guess I didn’t find this game that horribly hard because this is how I play most of FPS games – I use caution and cover. Some strategies I found to be working:

    Find a roof, or high ground and snipe from there using some sort of a rifle. You can easily slip into cover by simply backing away from the ledge if they start shooting back. I actually never had them climbing up to get me – they would usually grab cover below, and try to shoot you when you stick your head out so you needed to move a bit.

    Hide behind a tree and throw bolts to distract enemy. They will usually come to investigate and when they do you can treat them to a nice shotgun shot to the face. Piles of dead bodies are also good for drawing attention. Sometimes more troops will come to investigate what happened to their friends.

    If you get surrounded you need to keep moving behind the cover trying to separate the enemy and pick them off one by one. This can usually be done rather easily because given area large enough they tend to scatter throughout it. Shotgun and close distance is your friend.

    What I didn’t like was the fact that you could easily kill yourself by accidentally stepping into an anomaly or equipping the wrong artifact. I once died because I equipped something that gives you radiation, and then couldn’t find anyone in the area who would sell me booze or drugs to cure myself. Sigh..

  38. Jeff says:

    Regarding silenced weapons, it’s kind of odd that some of you have trouble. Yes, I noticed that the AI tend to alert his friends of your presence, but I also noticed they tend not to have your location. I recall clearing areas by shooting from afar with silenced weapons, and watching in amusement as they run about in a panic, trying to find me.

  39. SilverMan says:

    Having read many reviews of Stalker, many have incorrectly classified this as a FPS.
    Stalker is a tactical first-person RPG.
    Having played both FPS and RPG titles and with a knowledge of game development, a distiction should be made in how to define a FPS and a RPG.
    The question is what qualifies as a FPS.
    The viewing perspectives and the main elements of gameplay. The elements of game are the use of weapons with fewer decision elements made in order to progress in the level or story. It can be said there is a linear progression of events.
    At times sub-quest/missions can be included to make for more variety but this does not take away from the pacing of the game.

    This brings us to pacing. Pacing of FPS is a generally not
    in real-time! Linear goals are important in order to
    progress. Accomplishments of these goals are needed move forward in the story.

    Next the focus of details is one of the main element that make up FPS titles. This alone can classify something as a shooter or a role playing title.

    Where is the focus of detail?
    In a FPS its mainly in action, fast furious action, speed of execution of actions, quick decision making, quick responses,discovery, the journey and the mastery of combative opposition.

    Can a rpg title incorperate these also?

    Yes, but with the attention focused on what is
    needed to perform these actions or task. This extra attention changes the tempo of game which makes it unique.

    This brings us to the next question.
    Where do the attention or details of the FPS focus the least or not at all?

    The details as to what makes the actions or attributes occur.

    These details are needed to makes a RPG title!
    How many FPS shooter care, if the weapon you pick up
    is usable or able to be repaired!
    How many FPS shooters care if the character is hungry!
    How many FPS shooters care if the character is tired of
    running or moving quickly!
    Do FPS care about the quality of the characters journey!
    Being you will carry over what ever has occured.
    and more, etc….

    These attributes are what makes up a RPG.

    Next we have the level of emersion.
    In FPS titles extensive character info is disregarded, because this would change the pacing of the title. Character emersion is more geared towards the technical aspects.
    Story and level emersion tends to be linear.

    The details that are not included in FPS or needed for
    RPG titles. First-person PRG’s are unique. There is a
    greater emersion of story, characters, the details of actions, etc..
    First-person RPG tend to have a real-time environment that can incorperate elements of the FPS, such as combat but incorperate greater details such as tactical combat.
    Thus what is possible in a FPS would not be recommended in a first-person RPG title.
    For RPG titles pacing tends to be non-linear or for better wording, more freedom or choices, such as traveling or mission quest.

    More can be said, but with this a clear distinction can be made. Stalker the first-person tactical RPG, is a RPG,
    not a FPS.

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