STALKER: Final Thoughts

By Shamus
on Jan 7, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

stalker_atmosphere.jpg
I’ve read a couple of reviews for this game to see what the mainstream press has to say about it. It was common for them to ding the game for having “dated visuals”. This only solidifies in my mind the idea that reviewers live in their own little world where everyone plays games two months before they come out and owns a $3,000 computer. It’s like the fashion / modeling agent who spends all day working with preening 18 year old girls who have breast implants and skeletal physiques. Show him a fit, healthy woman in her mid-twenties and he’ll recoil in horror at the obese old hag. Their visual palette has been so distorted by their profession that their capacity to judge what others will find pleasing is nonexistent. For the agent this is regrettable, but for the game reviewer… Man, that’s your job.

The game looked great on my videocard, which I believe was forged by NVIDIA sometime during the latter part of the Bronze Age. It was choppy and the special effects were all turned off, but I still found the game to be wonderfully atmospheric and visually engaging. I can only pity the reviewer who will look at this game running in all of its high-detail glory and say, “Meh. Looks dated.”

The load times were a little long when compared to more traditional titles, but the environments were truly immense. Each region of the game is a huge, sprawling area of indoor and outdoor areas to run around in. The load times were easily worth it when compared to how much time was spent exploring each area.

There is an old saying in software development, “The first 90% of the features take up the first 90% of development time, and the last 10% of the features take up the other 90% of development time.” This is a common pitfall – particularly in young, unexperienced companies – to greatly underestimate how long a project is going to take. Development houses with clout and cash can afford to keep working until they feel a game is done, but a team of newbies being bankrolled by a publisher don’t have that luxury. Sooner or later the investors are going to tire of paying all of those salaries without getting the promised game in return, and that’s when things turn ugly. When this happens, the publisher only has three choices:

  1. Continue pouring money into this game, knowing every day that the game doesn’t ship makes the game that much less likely to be profitable. The cost of the game rises, the title gathers bad press, and the underlying engine gets older.
  2. They can kill the project. If they don’t want to risk any more money, they can withdraw their support. The developers can either attempt to finish the game without funding (exceptionally rare) or give up and go back to their old day jobs. The project vanishes, and the investors never get their money back.
  3. They can force the developer to ship the game as-is, bugs and all. This is the all-too-common ending for delayed titles, and it looks like this is what we got with STALKER.

(I should add that all of this glosses over the supreme difficulty of marketing a game which the developers keep promising is “six months from release”. This turns into yet another money sink if the game’s development lasts longer than the marketing campaign.)

stalker_town2.jpg
It will be interesting to see what developer GSC does next. I understand they are working on a prequel to STALKER, but what remains to be seen is how well they learn from their mistakes. This summer they were shooting for “early 2008 release”. If they can deliver on time, they should be able to sidestep most of the problems with STALKER and finally deliver on the promise of the original game. I haven’t seen a release date yet, so It’s starting to look like the GSC design team has more imagination than discipline. I’ll be happy to eat those words if they pull it off.

I originally had a post in mind that would enumerate all of the outstanding bugs in the latest patch, but I think that’s beating a dead horse. The game, even five patches after release, is still glitchy and odd. It’s at least stable (for me) but it’s far from polished.

I stand by my assertion that the game is just too danged hard. I was following the conventional wisdom of tactical shooters, and I still wound up at the “You Are Dead” screen far too often. Saving every thirty seconds is not a solution. Death is an immersion killer, and “easy” difficulty should be easy. This – even more than the copious bugs I encountered – was the #1 impediment to fun with this title. Many people pointed out that they had no problems with the game. Good for you and all, but that’s beside the point. Lots and lots of people did have a tough time getting through this game. Was it the unusual gameplay? Low framerates? Bad play habits? In the end, it doesn’t matter. Some people stopped having fun, and quit. Some people (like me) pushed through anyway, despite the tedium. In both cases, this was a failure on a very basic level. The game stopped being entertaining and provided no way for a frustrated player to proceed short of rampant abuse of the save / load screen.

This isn’t a difficult problem to solve. All they need was an easier bottom skill level, a few tips for struggling players in NPC dialogs, and some basic cheat codes. It doesn’t take much, and it makes all the difference in the world. It certainly has a more profound impact on fun and enjoyment than things like making sure the edges of alpha-blended particle effects are properly antialiased. For crying out loud.

Bugs and player feedback aside, developer GSC has really caught my attention here. I like the direction they went with the dusty old amnesiac protagonist plot, and I like how they tried to smarten up first-person shooters. Let’s see if they can do it again without the bugs and punishing gameplay.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!



201535 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Gahaz says:

    Try knocking Crysis off of peoples high horse like that. The only thing that title has is PC melting (and thats literally mind you) graphics wrapped around the old shooter formula. I love that when you say that, forums come alive with people who BOUGHT hardware JUST to run that game screaming for your blood. I won’t deny it, my wife has spoiled me with a behemoth of a computer and i bought Crysis, but it is so average its silly.

    “I am a super-soldier that has to fight aliens (and some humans), look on my regenerating shield and fear!”

    Add to that the fact that I have a monster beast of a PC and still that game chugs along at about 39 fps, in comparison to Unreal 3 that runs at 76 fps, or Call of Duty 4 that runs at a crisp 86 on my rig.

    Sorry, whenever you gripe about graphics being too important, it gets my blood up. I am more interested in playing Morrowind or SystemShock 2 on this PC than these newer titles.

    And yes, Stalker was better than the sum of its parts.

    Edit: AN EDIT FUNCTION!!!!!!!!

  2. Benjamin Finkel says:

    Which reminds me, I’m still having trouble finding a copy of System Shock 2. Which makes me very, very sad.

    Ben

  3. Gahaz says:

    Mr. Finkel…

    http://video-games.search.ebay.com/system-shock-2_Games_W0QQ_trksidZm37QQcatrefZC12QQfromZR40QQsacatZ62053

    other than that its amazon, where it sells for the low, low price of 72.50 :(

  4. krellen says:

    I like easy difficulties. I dislike when easy difficulty still means “damn hard”.

    Despite the copious hours I put into video games, I am a “casual gamer”; I’m not playing for a challenge. Even when I’m playing an RTS or a game like Civilisation, I’m playing it for the story therein (or the stories I make up to explain the game, in the case of Civ), and challenge can take a short dive into an empty pool for all I care. Cheat codes are a godsend; all games need them, so people like me can play them. :D

  5. Davesnot says:

    I’m buying a new PC.. I buy behind the tech curve.. and still pay too much.. but I buy behind the curve in order to play games two-steps behind the curve.. that way they run well.. my closest link to new game hype is here.. so I don’t get all amped up to see whatever they’re saying I have to get.. By the time they hit the bargain shelves.. or are packaged as classics… they are affordable, fun and run… who cares when I got to experience it??

    Only one guy was first to the top of Mount Everest… but people still climb it and have the experience of their lives..

    Hell.. The computers that ran the world in the 80s.. well.. they still ran the world.

    The pleasure people got from Zork is still obtainable from Zork.

    We are in a state now where we keep thinking we can play a game that is real… but no matter how close we get.. it ain’t real.. Imagination has always been one of the key things in the pleasure of gaming.. get rid of that.. and you lose the fun.

    I miss shooting at spinning “rocks” from my triangular “ship.”… I think I’ll load up some Asteroid Deluxe!

  6. M says:

    A friend of mine just gave me his old copies of Baldur’s Gate and Riven; I’ve never played either one, and I’m looking forward to them as much as I would have when they first came out.

    The single most-played video game on the planet is none other than Tetris, and variants thereof (no idea how accurate that is, but it can’t be far off); any argument that the graphics make the game is laughable.

    The visuals, on the other hand…the style of the game itself can be indispensable for suspension of disbelief. That’s a horse of another color entirely.

  7. roxysteve says:

    You forgot choice four: Hurriedly cram all the unfinished bits into the exsisting infrastructure and ship “as is”.

    This is why on Starship Titanic you find umpteen clues in one place at a certain point in the game and why the hot zones on various interaction points are too *&^%ing small.

    It doesn’t explain why the interplay with the robots was designed to be so sucky that I personally doubt anyone finished this game without a cheatbook of some kind.

    A great gaming milieu undermined by a lousy concept that could easily have been disposed of, insufficient funding and not enough playtesting. It’s popular to be nice about Douglas Adams, but I’ve yet to find a game derived from his work that sustains enjoyment for more than a few minutes. Shame too. SST had the potential to be really notable. Instead it got remaindered within six months.

    I wish someone would re-issue RAMA for XP.

    Steve.

  8. Telas says:

    Nice analogy.

    It’s that “framerate-pixelpolish-blingblingbling” attitude that set Sony’s PS3 up to be taken down by the lowly Wii in a David vs. Goliath episode of Biblical proportions.

    Hopefully the videogame industry will recognize that, and all of its implications. (Hopefully, they don’t think that all we want are five-second Japanese microgames.)

    If the story, action, and gameplay are compelling enough, I don’t care if a game delivers a full DX10 experience with 2048x antialiasing. If I wanted realistic multiplayer first-person-shooter action, I’d get up, walk outside, drive to a paintball field and have at it.

    Yes, some advancements are great. I like the improvement in faces between Half-Life and Half-Life 2; it made the NPCs much more human. I like that RPGs no longer limit me to an 8×8 grid to play on (ahem, Wasteland). I like that I can see distances and ceilings in NWN2 without a hack.

    But do I need to see every single lighting and pixel gimmick possible? Do I even notice the water effects in HL2 that got reviewers all wet? Hell, no; I’m too busy trying to drive the airboat, shoot the cannon, and maintain enough situational awareness to keep me alive for the next few seconds. Write a good enough adventure, and execute it with good enough gameplay, and I’ll take “dated” graphics any day.

  9. Robert says:

    I guess I’m a gaming heretic. I very rarely play twitch games, but if I do I want very easy gameplay and stunning visuals. I’m hoping Sony eventually comes out with a Wii-style controller for the PS3, because then I’d buy one.

  10. Gahaz says:

    Tesla,

    The Wii is an odd situation. Alot of its gains are coming from it just being different. Its fun, sure, but I wonder how long it will last before there is some fallout. I like my Wii, don’t get me wrong, Metroid was amazingly fun, but sometimes I find myself wondering how long it can last. Eventually it may get glossed over when the other consoles, after they age a bit and the developers get a handle on it, I think that it will run into some limitations. Not because of of graphics, but from power alone. When the latest PS3 title on BluRay comes out that spans 4 continents of territory with enhanced AI that is just a joy to play, we may end up scoffing at the Wii. Please take none of this seriously, just speculation and thoughts from my mind as it wonders. I just hope my Wii doesn’t go the way of the gamecube. Great console that fell way back.

  11. Zerotime says:

    The exact same day my copy of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. arrived, the bits for the computer I bought to play it on (C2D E6600, 8800GTX, 2Gb DDR2, etc.) did as well, and once I’d gotten the thing working, I thought the game looked amazing. Much better than Splinter Cell: Double Agent, the only other game of that generation I had on hand, which refused to run properly on my new hardware until six months down the track. And if you want to talk about bug-ridden heaps of unplayable crap, that’s the game for you.

  12. guy says:

    I REALLY, REALLY, HATE THE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF GRAPHICS CARD REQUIREMENTS. I HAVE A NEW GAME THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE A GAME THAT IS TWO YEARS OLDER AND RAN ON MY OLD GRAPHICS CARD, AND I HAD TO GET A NEW GRAPHICS CARD FOR IT. I REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT GRAPHICS. ALSO, MY CAPS LOCK IS ACTING UP. kidding.

    EDIT: FUN WITH EDIT FUNCTIONS.

  13. Kobyov says:

    Just wondering, did you ever read the book that STALKER is based on? (Roadside picnic, english translation here) I found it made the game a lot better for me. Oh and game to really avoid for the specs: Empire Earth 3. Reccomends a 512MB SLI graphics card. FOR A RTS!!!! — if your considering it, it does a lot better at differentiating factions than EEII, but having only 3 factions and 5 ages makes me weep for my tech tree.
    EDIT: Fixed URL

  14. straechav says:

    While I am not one to cry for the latest hardware, nor do I crave the latest tech, I am rather visual person. I do, after all, do professionally paintings/photography, so crummy visuals usually make my eyes bleed. But this has less to do with high resolutions than you’d think at first glance.

    I’ll give you an example: I think ADOM is absolutely gorgeous compared to Nethack. That’s one of the major reasons why I prefer ADOM of the two (aside the generally better gameplay and such). I’m not kidding, even in Roguelikes I think visuals matter.

    But, I do appreciate great visuals. While Half Life 2 doesn’t exactly make me drool anymore these days, I think the art-direction is beautiful, and the mood of the game is great. That’s some fantastic design, and I have more than once stopped in the game to just admire the scenery (I’m talking of the original, not the episodes. EP2 is beautiful)

    Remember the place where you had to shoot two combine cars, with several boats grounded, and the high piers all around you, and you had to shoot one of the container walls off so that you could drive the airboat under the pier and then jump to a tunnel? That particular area is gorgeous, I wish I’d have a place like that near where I lived as a kid. I’d have spent all my days there.

    Another nice example of graphics is The Witcher, where I often just stopped to look at the sunset, there are some beautiful vistas in that game, and they set the mood brilliantly. Too bad the first “level” of the game (Kaer Morhen (sp?)) is the most heavy in the game (If you can play that level, you can play any other in the game. In that sense it seems like a design decision) because it has great mood to it.

    Example of good-for-nothing high-spec requirements is Oblivion and NWN2. The games are heavy as hell, but even on full spec, they both look uglier than Half Life 2 and The Witcher, both which run better. That’s what good art-direction gives you. It helps to immerse in the game, and makes it seem more real.

    While you can argue for Tetris being the most popular game, you have to realize that in Tetris the gameplay is the game. In The Witcher (for example) the story is the game, and the story would not work as well if it was as abstract as Tetris, it wouldn’t draw you in. The only other way it could work would be as a book.

  15. malfunction84 says:

    straechav,

    Most people can identify two big motivations of gamers: “Skill” and “Story.” I might posit that there are two more, Skill’s distant cousin “Sink” (“Time Sink,” that is) and Story’s distant cousin “Soak” (as in, sit back and soak it all in, appreciating the art more passively). Everyone likes a different mix. Sounds like you enjoy your share of Soak. :)

    I agree that Story and Soak are better served by graphics, but let’s not forget music and sound. They contribute to the mood as well. I remember first emerging from the sewers at the beginning of Oblivion and being wowed by the grass and leaves blowing in the breeze, clouds perched in the sky, the reflections on the water, and the peaceful score overlaying the sounds of local wildlife. I remember actually heaving a relaxed sigh before pressing the “W” key to continue my quest.

    It’s too bad computer troubles forced me to replay that part more times than I cared to.

  16. Zaghadka says:

    As Gahaz says, Crysis is MAXIMUM average.

    What a snore. Pretty, though. Like a courtesan or call girl you know you’ve paid too much for and is too high class to put out.

  17. Davesnot says:

    straechav:

    That’s what good art-direction gives you. It helps to immerse in the game, and makes it seem more real.

    In The Witcher (for example) the story is the game, and the story would not work as well if it was as abstract as Tetris, it wouldn’t draw you in. The only other way it could work would be as a book.

    Uh… if it takes excellent graphics to make it work.. why then would it work at all with a book.. not many pictures in the book…

    As many fiction writers will tell you.. if you hint at the details, the reader’s brain will make things much more real than if you describe things down to the last grain of sand.

    Shamus… played any good Infocom games lately??

  18. Kajen says:

    I agree on Crysis. It sure looks nice, but after two hours running around the island and fighting… whatever… I decided it was time to fire up my old (not even bronze age) machine and play some System Shock2.
    Much more rewarding if you ask me.

  19. Blackbird71 says:

    Personally, when it comes to graphics, I can take ’em or leave ’em. I’ll enjoy a well-crafted vista and the like, but all the beautiful scenery in the world won’t make up for bad gameplay. Likewise, I can enjoy a game with poor graphics if the gameplay is engaging and the story intriguing.

    I’ll always remember a conversation I had with a friend back when 3D graphics were still fairly new. I told him of a slightly older game I was playing, and his response was “but, it’s sprite based!” He was absolutely incredulous that I could enjoy something with “dated” graphics. In my opinion, this philosophy makes you miss out on some great games. Just because technology has changed and the graphics are no longer cutting edge doesn’t mean that the game has changed and has become any less enjoyable. The nice things about games with older graphics is they’re usually cheap and shouldn’t have a problem running on your system, regardless of how recently you bought a new graphics card. I still pull out the original “Monkey Island” once in a while for a bit of fun :)

  20. roxysteve says:

    Robert:
    January 7th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I guess I’m a gaming heretic. I very rarely play twitch games, but if I do I want very easy gameplay and stunning visuals. I’m hoping Sony eventually comes out with a Wii-style controller for the PS3, because then I’d buy one.

    Bugger that. If I’m going to play virtual tennis I’d rather the PS3 came out with a holographic Sharon Stone a-la Total Recall to play with. Tennis, that is.

    Now I need to lie down.

    Steve.

  21. RudeMorgue says:

    I recently bought what is probably a middle of the line gaming PC so I could properly enjoy the wonders of the Orange Box. I had intended to pick up Crysis and Call of Duty 4, but the gameplay of the Orange Box games, despite the fact that they aren’t really bleeding edge, graphics-wise, made any other game, for the moment, superfluous.

    As for the Wii, other than a few minutes worth of novelty, it leaves me cold. The graphics — yes, graphics — are crappy, and most of the games are just annoying. Wii Sports is fun for a while, but I’ve never gotten the urge to play it since the first time, despite it being readily available.

  22. Chris says:

    I’m not too big on fancy, shiney graphics, and my taste in games reflects that. I’d rather play a fun old game (super mario world, either of the N64 Zelda games, etc.) than some shiny new game with graphics out the wazoo relying on a tired old formula. My brother, on the other hand, is the complete opposite… He not only thinks that graphics are more important than gameplay, he thinks that only “realistic” (that is, everyone looks like a normal properly porportioned human, nothing cel-shaded or cartoony, etc. Pretty much, prince of persia, GTA, and most FPS’s) are any good, because “omg liek maroi’s noes is 2 bigs!!!!!1!shift 1.

  23. Miral says:

    I’m with krellen. One of the reasons why I prefer PC games over console games is that they’re much more likely to come with cheat codes, or failing that, to have a trainer or even just a raw memory editor. I do try not to cheat too much (and I haven’t needed to all that often), but it’s a comfort to know that the option is there if the game decides to ramp the difficulty up to “insane”.

    I describe myself as a “casual-hardcore” gamer — I do play games a lot, but I’m in it more for the story than for the skill challenge.

  24. MikeLemmer says:

    RE: the Wii

    On the Nintendo DS, it took developers 2-3 years to figure out what they could do with it and make the stylus shine. Therefore, I’d watch the Wii releases for the next year or 2; I think that’s when the system’s potential will be tapped.

  25. Mark says:

    For myself, I really appreciate good graphics in my games. While it’s not a deal-breaker, all things being equal, I’m much more likely to give up on an ugly game than a pretty one. I just seem to have a different standard of “good” than other people. It’s not all art direction, either.

    In a game, the graphics should tell me immediately exactly what it is I’m looking at. I should be able to identify objects, locations, and objectives in this way. The original Doom was a failure in this regard, because while it was easy to identify pickups and enemies, there’s no reliable way to tell doors apart from walls and no easy way of knowing where I’m supposed to go. I consider all of these graphical failures, because of the way that other games have used graphics to correct for them.

    Pitfall has great graphics. Sure, it uses only 16 colors and pixels big enough to choke a wumpus. But you can tell what your character is doing, you can easily identify important parts of the environment, and you can look at an enemy, immediately recognize what real-world thing it represents, and comprehend what it’s capable of doing.

    Half-Life 2 is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen. This isn’t because of how fancy the lighting and shading effects are, but rather because of how effectively it uses them. I don’t care that going from a light place to a dark place adjusts the dynamic range of the scene. I do care that I need to use a flashlight when I’m in the dark, because I can’t see what’s lurking there without light. Zork is the classical example of needing light to be safe in the dark, but it wasn’t until Half-Life 2 that there was a graphical game that made that exact same concept work as naturally as that old brass lantern. And it is precisely because of the Source engine’s handling of lighting and the absence thereof that it worked this way. Yes, I know – other games have had dark corridors and flashlights beforehand, but where before did they work so naturally? Where before did a flashlight’s beam look like a flashlight?

    And let’s not even go into the use of camoflage in the fight with The End in Metal Gear Solid 3

    Some games have used gigantic draw distances in order to draw the player’s attention toward his destination, so that, even without any other cues, he still knows in which direction he’s going. Some games have used advanced water effects that make it obvious when something is under the water without explicitly showing what. Some games have used smoke and particle effects to obscure the player’s view, requiring him to move forward or look for a better perspective. And I remain confident that graphics technology still has things to show us which can be used to improve gameplay.

    It’s important to design the art of a game around the technological limitations of the hardware, sure, but that’s only half the story. A game that uses its graphics effectively is better than a game that does not, and the more advanced your graphics, the more opportunities it gives you.

  26. Jeff says:

    Gameplay trumphs graphics everytime, although graphics give good first impressions. It’s all moot though if there’s nothing to back it up.

    Oblivion was amazing for me at the beginning, and then my opinion of it slowly wore down with the crappy mechanics. Someone on IRC last night put it best, you’re running quickly to go nowhere. The game scales with you, and if you’re not good enough (ie. min/maxing to a certain extent and knowing what you’re doing) you actually fall behind the high level bandits in full Daedric equipment that show up.

    On the other hand, I recently installed Nethergate Resurrection, one of those small games from Spidersoft, so clearly graphics isn’t the most important thing to me.

  27. RPharazon says:

    Dated?
    I started playing Morrowind again after all the Xbox Live downage malarkey, and the first thing I noticed were the blocky bodies. I fixed that with the Better Bodies mod. I now live peacefully with my Nord Warrior. I noticed it’s way harder than I remembered. I’ve been spoiled by Oblivion. >_>

  28. Chris Arndt says:

    “I’m buying a new PC.. I buy behind the tech curve.. and still pay too much.. but I buy behind the curve in order to play games two-steps behind the curve.. that way they run well..”

    I tried that. Usually what happens is that the OS won’t support the games.

    And you know… that keeps happening.

    I have a lot of DOS games that I never played through because my Windows 95 machine just couldn’t sync the Win95-oriented sound card to the DOS program(s). These are mostly Rebel Assault and Dark Forces.

    My Freedom Force games were/are buggy with Windows XP and I shudder to try them on Vista.

    I kept upgrading my Quicktime to watch new Quicktime media but the Quicktime that is necessary to run Simon and & Schuster’s old Star Trek games or Star Trek programs is quite specific… and the programs don’t run with newer versions of Quicktime. ANY newer versions of Quicktime. So Somehow the newer versions just were not recognizable as Quicktime to older (game) programs.

    Merely three examples. I’m sure you kids have more.

  29. Space Ace says:

    What is everyone on about saying Crysis is “average” (Does that mean it’s bad? No? Then what are you whining about?).

    I finished it a few days after I got it because I couldn’t put it down, it was so engaging. Sure, the story isn’t exactly the best out there, but the game isn’t about the story. Honestly, if you find fighting aliens and North Koreans so boring, why did you even get the game in the first place? It was all over the damn previews, nevermind the reviews.

    As far as I’m concerned, Crysis is one of the best FPS games in recent history. It freshens up old concepts and offers the player an almost unprecedented degree of freedom. And there’s the AI, which is, you know, pretty smart.

    No, Crysis was one of the highlights of last year, and will continue to be a benchmark for the new one. It’s easy to alledge the game is going by on nothing but looks, but in this case, the blonde has a PhD.

  30. Nyxia says:

    I hate the fact that graphics are becoming so important in selling games than the actual gameplay. I (and I’m sure there are others) feel that graphics are the last thing you need to worry about in a game. Screw the visuals, give me a 32-bit game I can play for a couple hundred hours and not get bored of. All I need is a deeply involved plot, a decent (and somewhat unique, no less) gameplay system, and some likeable character personalities. Throw in a huge field of play (maybe one world, maybe a couple), and you’ve got an instant classic.
    On a side note, the reason I say this is because I always hate when RPGs end. It always seems like there could be more to it, like the ending is rushed, and it leaves me with an empty feeling inside. Is it too much to ask for a 200+ hour RPG?

  31. Divra says:

    I still think Freespace 2 is the hands down best pc game ever. It’s graphics cut the mustard until about three years ago, being at the forefront of digital eye-candy for 4 years, and it was immersive in a way most games can never aspire to.

    And it ran slick as a silver bullet with full effects on a 450 Mhz Pentium 2…

  32. Gildan says:

    Divra, you might want to poke around here. http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php

    Some years back Volition released the source code for FS2 to the community, and they’ve been busy modernizing it ever since. I’m reasonably sure the General Freespace Discussion section has a link to an installer that grabs pretty much everything you’d need to get started, though it might not include the very newest stuff that’s still being tested.

    Its not the easiest site in the universe to navigate, especially if you just want to find the latest code or updated models and whatnot, but all the other source code websites tend to be massively out of date.

    With the latest MediaVPs and builds that support normal mapping FS2 easily matches far more recent games in terms of graphics. And of course the gameplay is as great as ever.

  33. Even says:

    I think you really should check out the mod community if you still hold any passing interest to the series. There’s a whole lot of mods released these days that tweak and enhance the gameplay to suit different tastes. They’ve done various overhauls to the game which can make a significant difference towards the enjoyment of the game. Judging from how you perceived the game, I would heartily recommend trying the Complete 2009-mod. It comes with a graphics overhaul, bug fixes and a few tweaks and fixes to rebalance to the gameplay, of which most notable is having the ability to repair your gear.

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/stalker-complete-2009

    About the sequels, I also recommend at least checking out Call Of Pripyat. While not necessarily the most engaging story-wise (plot doors here and there), it’s by far the most polished and balanced out of all the games in the series. The gameplay changes are fairly big compared to the original.

    Clear Sky might be also worth checking out if you’re interested in some backstory for the first game. While still suffering from its own problems, there’s some mods out for it as well that address them to various degrees and it has its own version of Complete.

  34. Joe Cool says:

    I’m pretty sure you read comments on old posts, Shamus, so this is probably the most appropriate place to drop this, but have you seen the latest tale from “Tales from the Trenches”? He doesn’t name the game, but it’s pretty easy to deduce he’s talking about S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

    If what the anonymous tale-teller is saying is true, then the cause of the bugs in the game wasn’t the inexperienced new developer running out of time and goodwill from the publisher, but rather the publisher themselves intentionally burning up their cash and time for the sake of settling personal vendettas.

    If true, this is an outrageous shame, and goes back to what you had said in a Stolen Pixels some time ago. Are video games art? Maybe, but publishers certainly are doing their best to keep them from being art.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>