STALKER: Bargain Bin

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 18, 2007

Filed under: Game Reviews 42 comments

A while back I saw the bad buzz surrounding the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and decided to give it a pass. High system requirements, crashes, rampant bugs, sluggish performance and that sort of griping led me to stay clear of the thing until it hit the bargain bin.


I guess it just did. I don’t know that I’ve seen a game go that low from the lofty heights of A-List pricetag. Usually they bottom out at $9.99, and in rare cases, $4.99. But less than four dollars? That’s yard sale prices, right there. I know in some places the game is still retailing for about $30. I don’t know if the $3.74 was a mistake perpetrated by my local Target, or if they really wanted rid of the thing, but it’s just too cheap to pass up at this price.

I know a lot of the problems with the game have been ironed out in a series of patches, so it will be interesting to see how it all turned out in the end.


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42 thoughts on “STALKER: Bargain Bin

  1. straechav says:

    I actually rather liked it. As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Finland and the mood of the game is pretty much spot-on. It looks JUST like russia… plus the mood is rather paranoid. It does have a whole heap of problems, but it was fun game.

    Of course, I played only the patched version and either because of that or something else, it never crashed on my computer. Nor did I encounter any massive bugs. Maybe I’m exception to the rule.

  2. Rob says:

    … $4! I’m gonna hit my Target during lunch and hope against hope it wasn’t a mistake. I’ve been itching to buy it ever since i borrowed my friends copy. It’s a ton of fun and the mods for it make it even more enjoyable, very hard though. Highly enjoyable.

  3. Ian says:

    I don’t think I would have believed you if you didn’t post the picture. :P

    I’ve been kind of curious about this game for a while but was put off by the high system requirements as well as the crashing issues and such that I heard about. I’m kind of interested to read your thoughts on it.

    Also, no more CAPTCHA? :o

  4. RPharazon says:

    Heh. I wanted to try out this game, but my computer would melt down into a pile of Silicon.

    Also, does the Magnesium Alloy casing make a difference in its burning intensity?

  5. Nyxia says:

    Dear lord, from $29.96 to $3.74? I think someone must have been hitting the seasonal eggnog a bit too heavily. By the number of stickers present on it, it must have been marked down several times before they decided to hit rock bottom. But that does seem a little unreasonable to set as the price, unless it was returned. You might wanna check to make sure nothing’s wrong with it =)

  6. Strangeite says:

    That is very low. I am betting on pricing mistake; however, if the SKU rang up in the register as $3.74 and they did not have to manually lower the price, then maybe it is correct.

    The target website has it listed as $29.99.

  7. SimeSublime says:

    I’m looking forward to hear your thoughts on the game. I didn’t follow the build up, as I thought it was just a FPS game, but after it released I heard it was actually supposed to be an RPG. Sadly, I heard little about it an noticed it vanished rather quickly, implying that it wasn’t very good. But if you greenlight it, I may have to pick it up.

  8. FhnuZoag says:

    Nah, Stalker’s definitely a FPS, not a RPG. But it’s an exploratory FPS, not something like Half Life. It’s sort of to the FPS genre what Knytt is to platformers, though the atmosphere and shootiness is different.

  9. Zack says:

    I wonder if a target employee mistagged the game so he could pick it up on the cheap. Sometime you will see things marked down extremely low where the employee plans on going back after their shift to pick it up.

    Do tell how the game was though.

  10. Zack says:

    Also worth noting that the captcha is not showing and I was able to post without entering one. Maybe that is because the browser remembers my name/email, but wanted to warn you before there was a flood of spam, just in case…

  11. Roam says:

    Ouch. Years and years and years of development and it heads into the bargain bin within a month or two.

  12. Strangepork says:

    Wait. You actually left the house ?

  13. Shamus says:

    I turned off the CAPTCHA for the morning to see how much spam it was intercepting. There were only about 50 in two hours, which was a lot less than I expected.

    Curiosity satisfied. It’s back on now.

  14. roxysteve says:

    Shamus, I’m still getting a clipped image on the personal avatars. I’ve ctrl refreshed the browser etc (using IE6) but nothing avails. I presume they are supposed to float above the box with the comment in? Is there anything else I can do from my end to improve the lie of the avatars?

    [Everyone] Please don’t offer the ubiquitous “use Operafoxillascape instead” advice since I am locked into using IE at work and couldn’t change browser even if I were inclined to.


  15. Shamus says:

    roxysteve: Sadly, I don’t think you can do anything. This… quirk… is IE6 specific. There might be a way around it on MY end by changing the way it floats in the CSS. (I’m open to suggestions from more savvy CSS types.) I’m using IE7 here and I don’t know that it’s possible to downgrade, so I have no (easy) way of experimenting with it.

  16. Mike R. says:

    Hey, off topic for this post, but good news:

    Big Hobbit news! Just announced from New Line, MGM and filmmaker Peter Jackson:

    — MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute The Hobbit and a sequel to The Hobbit.

    — Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as executive producers of two films based on The Hobbit. New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is set for 2009, with The Hobbit slated for a 2010 release and its sequel scheduled to be out in 2011.

    — Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Said Peter Jackson, “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. … We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle-earth.”

    Does this mean that we can expect a sequel to DM of the Ring around 2014 or so?


  17. Telas says:

    To downgrade, you need to uninstall IE7 (Windows Internet Explorer 7 in your Add-Remove list) and reboot. PITA, because I think you need to get the IE6 upgrades, possible reboot, tell Windows Update that you don’t want IE7 (but please don’t remove it from your list of updates), then test, then reinstall IE7.

    And I don’t know how all the add-ins will work on a downgraded browser… *Shrug*


  18. MintSkittle says:

    As of an hour ago, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was still $29.99 on Steam. So you saved about 87.5%. Good catch Shamus.

  19. Kyle says:

    There’s an easier way to downgrade to IE6 from IE7, and even leave your IE7 installation intact. It’s a nifty little program called Multiple IEs.

    I work for a web company, and we officially support IE6 & 7, so we do heavy testing in both browsers.

  20. Dev Null says:

    Hah! Beat this: 4 games in 1 box – $7.99. Just found the Disciples Gold box marked down from a markdown at Le Target. Yeah, ok, its turn-based strategy. And while I’m always intrigued by them I rarely have the patience to stay with them when they go all same-ish, but c’mon; for $2 I’ll try just about _any_ game for an hour or two.

  21. mos says:

    I really liked STALKER.

    That is all.

  22. MintSkittle says:

    I’m always up for some turn-based stategy. Looks like I’ll have to find this Disciples Gold Box you speak of.

  23. Davesnot says:

    I can’t pass on any games under $4!! Hell.. I even got a backyard sports game once.. .. once..

  24. Jansolo says:

    I didn’t play STALKER but a friend did it.

    In his opinion is a great videogame. As FhnuZoag said, STALKER is not a RPG, but if you like FEAR you’re going to enjoy this game.

    We have not supercomputers, so you can play the game at a reasonable way, provided you have no problems with your graphic card’s drivers.

  25. Psychoceramics says:

    STALKER is a mutant hybrid of Oblivion and a generic FPS. It has the character development and plot of an fps, while having random side quests and the freedom to go anywhere. It doesn’t look nearly as good as either of them though, at least not outside, where you spend the majority of the game.

    It has potential, but it missed the mark. I’m hoping they do better with prequel.

  26. Corsair says:

    I have to disagree, Psycho. For one thing, the plot is actually quite deep and interesting if you actually get into it. The problem is, the game is extremely intensive and VERY hard, especially early on.

  27. McNutcase says:

    Whereas today I saw a copy in Gamestop for $39.99…

  28. Jansolo says:

    In fact, you have a GREAT game: FPS, RPG, some plot within…

    …and everything for 3.74$

    Worth the money.

  29. kamagurka says:

    A friend of mine whose judgment I trust was raving about this game for weeks. And even a mediocre game is worth that kinda money.

  30. Inane Fedaykin says:

    Can’t wait to see what you post on the game.

  31. Grue says:

    I liked Stalker lots also, although I was never able to understand the plot from within the game. About 80% of the way through I started reading a walkthrough/guide, and then I could appreciate the complex story.

    Even with the bugs, the game’s atmosphere and tone still sucked me in and made it a very memorable experience.

  32. MaxEd says:

    Shamus, if you’re in the mood for some RPGs, why don’t you try Eschalon: Book I by Basilisk Games? This indie game came out about a month ago, and it’s really nice RPG. That’s the second shareware game I bought in my life, and believe me, that say A LOT about it :) They have demo version on their web-site, so you can try it before buying. Also, it would be interesting, reading your thoughts on this game on TwentySided :)

    Link to game:

  33. Jeff says:

    I rather liked STALKER, but then again I like both RPGs and FPS games, especially realistic ones (as opposed to games like UT, Quake, or CS where you can hop around like an idiot with perfect accuracy).

    …it could also be that I like buying shiny toys, and I like guns, so I love any game where I can buy big shiny guns…

  34. Doug says:

    I looked for it at my local Target last night. No luck. It always looked like a cool game. I’m also looking forward to your thoughts on it after you’ve played.

  35. Craig says:

    I love me some bargain bin games. It makes so many short and uninspired, but kinda fun games worth the price.

  36. Epizootic says:

    I *LOVE* Stalker. I recently picked it up for $50 (AUS) which I thought was a bargain at the time. I really like the exploratory aspect of the game, which I thought was its strongest point.
    Downsides were the two hours I spent tweaking my underpowered system to 1. run the game smoothly and 2. not lock up after 30mins play. I did succeed and it was very enjoyable overall.

  37. Bizarre says:

    I got STALKER free with my graphics card.

    Considering how much I paid for the thing (an Ultra) it’s probably the least they could do :p

  38. Smileyfax says:

    Target does occasionally have phenomenal deals on budget-rack games. $10 for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, $7.50 for Jade Empire Special Edition, $4.50 for Galactic Civilizations Ultimate Edition.

    Before you play STALKER, I recommend getting a mod that improves weapon accuracy. You’re going to lose a lot of gunfights unless you learn to compensate well enough otherwise.

  39. Scourge says:

    well, Stalker was an interesting game, the story however was or rather is very complicated and you won’t understand it very quickly. At least most people I had to do with had problems understanding what was going on. (Probably their own fault for just cliking madly through the dialogues)
    Anyways, it has quite na interesting story but the biggest Drawback was the 1.004 patch which changed the game so majorly, especially how creatures and NPC’s are spawned, that NO mod that was created ’till yet runs smoothly! Yeah, 1.003 patch and your mods are fine, install 1.004 and they are gone.
    I guess people stopped Modding the game after that, I can pretty much understand that, and now they just want to make money yb selling it cheap.

  40. Tacoma says:

    Oh goodness. I have STALKER and I stopped playing it when I got tired of constantly loading ……. loading …… on the freakin’ “easy” setting. And I’m pretty good at both first-person shooters and sneakers. After the crucible of online play I can normally just demolish single-player easy mode so I usually go straight to Medium. But STALKER … dang man.

    I actually killed the patrol on the first road outside the beginning village. And when the nearby military blockade sent out their army of like 30 dudes (all wearing armor and weapons better than mine which I couldn’t loot) I wasted them all one by one as they tried to come down a set of stairs into an underground bunker I holed myself up in. With the lame newbie shotgun.

    Basically I got tired of playing the game in the precise way they planned or else exploiting AI glitches to play it the way I wanted. STALKER is the exact opposite of freeform because even if you break out and manage to do it your way it feels like cheating and it’s unsatisfying.

    I watched a “Let’s Play” video of STALKER to glean any cool ideas for a Shadowrun or Gamma World adventure and uninstalled. They really need to put “X% of players thought this game sucked” on the packaging.

  41. Rutskarn says:

    3.74? You got ripped off. STALKER is now 1.99 on Steam.

    1. Shamus says:

      And it’s STILL a ripoff!


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