STALKER: Die A Thousand Deaths

By Shamus Posted Friday Dec 28, 2007

Filed under: Game Reviews 48 comments

I had another post cooking on the story and other gameplay elements in STALKER, but the discussion generated by the last post and the various strategies offered by other players prompted me to revisit the difficulty issue.

One thing that’s clear is that some of us are playing different versions of the game. There have been five major patches to this thing as they took it from “unplayable” at launch to “buggy but tolerable”. Some people described stealth tactics that I don’t think are even possible in my build of the game. In my game, once foes are alerted to me, they tend to zero in on me regardless of noise / cover.

* I’ve played enough tactical shooters to know you don’t rush in and circle-strafe during combat. What I hated was that this never applied to the bad guys. I’d be lying prone, the enemy would be standing and moving, and yet as we traded fire with identical weapons (or worse, his would be the same weapon in worse condition) he’d hit me at least as often as I hit him.

* Someone mentioned the bad guys who respawn right behind you. This happened to me three times. It’s 100% fatal, since he’ll kill you before you can even get turned around, but in the long run that was a small portion of the unfair deaths I endured.

* The biggest thing that was killing me was the lack of good armor. I guess you’re supposed to gather up all of the hardware after a battle and stagger all the way back to the previous shop to sell it. That’s a very long boring hike, so I wasn’t doing this. Which means that I had far less cash than the game intended. I just carried around the most expensive stuff and sold it whenever the plot required me to go back to town. It wasn’t until near the end of the game when I saw armor on sale for $200k, when all I had was $60k, that I realized I was supposed to be scavenging the dead to make ends meet. The result was that my armor was always a couple of tiers below where the designers intended, and it was always badly degraded. This was the #1 reason bad guys were one-shotting me at every turn.

The slow crawl back to town is indeed tedious, but it’s a lot more fun than staring at the loading screen.

* Armor degrades too quickly in my opinion. On some of the longer missions in the game, my brand-new armor would be all but ruined halfway through. I’d been in the bowels of some crazy lab with armor below 30%. I couldn’t go back and get more, and proceeding with armor in that condition means lots of save & reload funtime, because any half-decent hit is a fatal one.

* I mentioned getting shot through walls, and after testing this a little I’m guessing it happens only at low framerates. The problem arose when I’d be up against a thin wall I was using for cover. (The inside of the trailers is a good example of where this would happen.) It seems like bullets reach through the wall a few inches, and if you’re against the wall you get hit. That wasn’t too bad, since you can excuse it by saying that the walls were just too thin to stop bullets. (Although mine never went through.) But the problem arose when I was inside and trying to evade enemy fire. They always knew where I was in the trailer and fired right at me, even if they couldn’t see me. Even the snipers. Boo.

* If you get too close to an enemy, your shots don’t seem to register right. Again, this might be a low framerate issue. I ran up to a guy early in the game and gave him both barrels of the shotgun, right in the face. That should have been massive overkill, but it didn’t seem to do any damage at all. Without hesitating, he dropped me with a single burst from the Viper. This sort of thing happened often enough that I gave up on the shotgun. I thought the weapon was useless, but the real problem was that I needed to stand back a little.

* Some people mentioned stealth tactics. I’m playing version 1.0005, and I can’t imagine how stealth tactics could work. Because of the bullet spread, you can’t reliably drop anyone in a single shot unless you get in very close. Once they yell out, their friends turn and start firing on your position. Even if they have never seen you, they seem to know right where you are. I’d be in a building and I’d see the muzzle of some bandit’s gun (and maybe like, his knee or elbow) sticking through the wall, pointed right at me. As I moved around, he’d track me even though there was a wall between us. Boo.

* Other things got me killed as well, mostly due to unclear objectives. Near the beginning of the game I had to pass the railroad bridge. I knew I was supposed to get to the other side, but due to the badly-mangled English in the game I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to go. I took a shot at the guys standing guard right under the bridge, and they whipped me before I could kill one of them. I concluded this was the wrong way, and tried that side tunnel full of lightning anomalies. (Why else would it be there, right?)

About fifteen deaths later I realized this tunnel was impassible.

The fence at the top of the hill is one of those “videogame” fences. You know, three feet high, shoddily made, and utterly impassible. I did manage to alert the guys below and got picked off a couple of times looking for a way through.

After half an hour I was frustrated and baffled. Exactly what am I supposed to be doing here?

I gave up and fought the guys guarding the bridge. I had a pistol and the starting “armor”. They had machine guns and good armor. I was able to overcome them with vigorous abuse of the quicksave key, but it didn’t feel rewarding to do so. The immersion of the game was utterly broken for me. I was bored and frustrated and sick of it and I’d only been playing an hour.

It would be a long haul after that before I got to the “good” parts of the game.

Again, all of this applies to playing on “easy”. Unclear gameplay mechanics, buggy hit detection, cheating enemies, vague goals. Once you’re aware of these issues you can work around them, but this game is a jerk to new players, and teaches you to play by murdering you. On easy.

It’s bad design, and marred what could have been a much more enjoyable experience. This game could have been a classic. I haven’t talked about the parts that worked yet, but they exist and I’ll get to them eventually. I’m reviewing the game they way I experienced it: With all of the annoying crap, bugs, and frustration, right up front.


From The Archives:

48 thoughts on “STALKER: Die A Thousand Deaths

  1. Mike R says:

    I am confused, why keep playing it ?

    If a game is that frustrating I throw it away..

  2. Nathanael says:

    This game seems to suffer from many technical problems indeed. Is there a way to get the patches installed to see if they worked this out?

  3. empty_other says:

    If its where i think it is… did you try NOT fighting them? Seriously. And really, really out of place in that game…

  4. Nuramor says:

    Like empty said. If you approach them without a weapon in your hands, they wont fire at you as well. I think thats the only place in the game where that works :D

  5. roxysteve says:

    I can’t wait for the bit where you have the best armour, the best weapons and have killed everything in the game world only to have a huge pile of rocks drop on you from out of thin air.

    For my part, I used to enjoy playing short, nasty solo skirmishes of Tiberian Sun Firestorm. I know, I know, easy peasy lemon squeezey, but the point is that sometime in the two weeks before Xmas something got “upgraded” on my XP box and now the game is crashing every three minutes.

    Bug happens, everyone dies.


  6. Nentuaby says:

    … good grief. You’re playing along in a first person shooter and you’re supposed to divine that the solution to a heavily armed and defended emplacement is approaching it unarmed and in the open? Christ, even RPGs don’t make you do that anymore.

    Wish I’d thrown a boot at that cat…

  7. Gahaz says:

    And isn’t this an awesome game! Its one of the best! Its even, just now, getting a port to the Xbox 360! Those lucky console guys are going to get to live the fun we have been enjoying for months!

    /end sarcasm

  8. Luke Maciak says:

    Shamus, I crossed that tunnel on the third try. Here is the secret:

    1. enter the tunnel when the anomaly subsides (they go in and out)
    2. there is a long pipe close to the entrance – crawl in using CTRL+Shift
    3. the pipe will take you almost all the way to the exit
    4. from there it’s just need good timing to get through the two remaining anomalies.

    But yeah, I didn’t realize that they wouldn’t shoot you if you approached without a weapon in your hand. :/

    That fence pissed me off too. I hate these impassable fences with a passion.

    You are right about one thing – mission objectives are very unclear. Half of the time I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing. I thought the PDA was a nice attempt at immersion, but the interface design on that thing was horrible.

  9. EvilGod says:

    i have no idea if you really want to know it but there are actually several ways across this boarder:
    1. pay the guards. i think you have to approach unarmed
    2. brute force. killing the guards is nearly impossible at the start of the game
    3. the tunnel. took me some time but it is possible, when use the anti-electricity-artefacts
    4. sneak above the guards. the fence is open on the bridge, fast but tricky
    5. the whole in the fence. all the way to the east there is a whole in the fence, protected by some dogs, found it by accident, while trying to “fall of the edge of the map”

    any way
    my 2 cents

  10. Lynx says:

    Gee. This sounds decidedly like a game I don’t want to play. It particularly sound like my boss giving me vague instructions about what to do….

  11. Cadamar says:

    Amazing. The single most important factor in a FPS is not the weapons, not the environment, not the setting, not the story, but the AI. Good, realistic AI is critical to the success of a game. From what you are describing of the AI behavior it sounds like a level of simplisity (from a programming standpoint) rarely seen since the VGA days. Hell, from the sound of it the guards in Wolfenstien 3D behaived more realisticly.
    Then to have crap like being able to walk up to the guards without a weapon in your hand? It’s an FPS! WTF?
    Unless there were some serious hints about how the guards could be bribed then it is completely unrealistic to expect a player to figure that out. Especially when in all other circumstances they emmediately fire on you with super human accuracy as soon as they see you.
    Thanks for the review Shamus. Looks like this is one that will not find a place on my hard drive any time soon.

  12. Luke Maciak says:

    Re: Guards seeing through walls – I got mixed results on this. Sometimes they could indeed see me hiding behind some wall the same way Shamus described. Then at other times I was actually able to trick them.

    For example, if I hid behind a tree or a car wreck and crouched they lost track of me. At one point I hid in an old bus and had 5 guys circling it searching for me. I low-crouched inside close to the door. As someone was passing by I would shoot him with a shotgun which was almost an insta-kill at this distance.

    Funny thing was they never really figured out I was inside. They would circle the bus, see the bodies by the door and carefully approach to examine them giving me a clear shot.

    I did the same thing hiding behind trees. I would throw bolts from cover to attract them, and then shotgun them in the face when they came close.

    Then again at a different point I was inside a walled area facing some very heavy firepower just outside a gate. I found a hole in the wall and figured that I flank the enemy. Then I went back through the hole to pick up a gun that I forgot about only to see enemies abandoning the gate and running alongside the wall towards my hole. How did they know???

  13. noneofcon says:

    I personally got through the tunnel by throwing bolts at the anomalies. That would cause them to go off, after which it was safe to pass through for a bit. (I haven’t tested it with the lastest verison of the game though).

  14. Tom says:

    Hope the game was worth the four bucks you spent to buy it.

  15. Kimari says:

    Seriously, why you keep playing this game? It’s either masoquism or an experiment on how far the human brain can be pushed with frustration until it finally implodes.
    Let’s see what wavatar i get :)
    (if my english seems broken, please excuse my lack of leet-skillz, I’m from argentina… yeah, lucky me)

  16. Kimari says:

    it’s… it’s… pink *sobs*

  17. Z!re says:

    I guess we just don’t play games the same then, Shamus.
    I’m in no way an expert at FPS games, far from it actually.

    And yet I never had the difficulties you describe.

    When you claim the tunnel is impassable, that tells me you’re simply too frustrated to even try to play the game.
    I know, I’ve been there…

    The tunnel is very much passable, there’s even a PDA by the corpse right outside the tunnel, telling you what to do.
    I also can’t remember any time the English was so bad I couldn’t understand what to do.
    On top of that, there are markers on the map telling you exactly where to go.

    And regarding the group of soldiers guarding the bridge.
    You can talk to them, some NPC tells you this.
    Or you can kill them, having done it several dozen time I can’t really say I find it difficult.

    If I find some recording software (Other than trial FRAPS) and time, I’ll record some random stuff for you, and you can tell us what you did different?

  18. Christian Groff says:

    You don’t wanna play “I Wanna Be The Guy”, a freeware game which is a classic 2-D action platformer. A friend of mine played it and was cussing up and down becasue he kept dying.

    On the first screen.

    By falling cherries.

  19. nilus says:

    Really I have to ask why you keep playing the game if its that bad. It doesn’t sound like fun.

  20. straechav says:

    To everyone asking why Shamus is playing, I don’t think he’s said the game is bad, he’s said it’s frustrating. I can understand that, even though I had nothing like his troubles when I played it. And I didn’t play on easy. I found out the best way to kill enemies is to find a tactically good place, crouch, and aim carefully. Any movement will fuck your aim completely (as it does in real life, and I am not arguing the game is realistical, just that it’s true) and thus the kills were fairly easy. Just headshots, and they were down with few shots. There were some insta-kills and such, but they weren’t quite so profilic for me as for Shamus.

    My major complain about the game was that it leaves VERY unclear what the fuck to do… most of the time I just wandered around, killing bastards, mutants, and trying to survive.

    Also, unlike most FPS’s I noticed that it is a good idea to avoid killing anyone you don’t NEED to. I kept the fuck away from any useless fights that weren’t related to missions, because they would eat my bullets and my armor – for very little gain, seemed to me be counterproductive.

    That’s really different from normal FPS games, I think. Funnily, I never had any trouble with the game behaving unlike normal FPS nor being any kind of RPG. I tend to follow the game’s internal logic as opposed to my own expectations.

  21. kanthalion says:

    Why does he keep playing? For Science!!1!

  22. Uninverted says:

    Remember that $3.74 price tag?

  23. Chaos Fact says:

    Christian – Have you seen UltraJMan and cloud#### running through I Wanna Be The Guy, with commentary, on YouTube?

    Also, I just did a short (and, compared to Shamus, incompetent) analysis of IWBTG myself. If anyone cares, have a look; if no one cares, I’m not surprised =P

  24. FhnuZoag says:

    IIRC, the way the guards on the bridge worked was they they would call out to you to lower your gun as you approached (almost all NPCs do this, actually), and enter dialogue, *provided* that you went to them first. If you started off being trying to enter the side tunnel, then they go hostile, thinking that you were trying to cheat them.

    Oh and another mod to check out is the repair mod, which lets shopkeepers repair weapons and armour. It’s pretty much essential, IMHO.

  25. Spiral says:

    They’re bringing this to 360. I wonder if they fix ANY of these issues; even the translation.

    I already hate games where I fight the controls; this seems like a nightmare.

  26. Otters34 says:



    It had to be said, or we are none of us nerds.

  27. Varil says:

    I never got far into Stalker. I’m a crazy exploring-murdering-looting psycho in RPGs, or even “Not Really” RPGs like Stalker. I couldn’t pass the second area because I would get in a fight, kill everyone, take their stuff, and sell it. On the way back I get hit by bandits. Kill, loot, sell. Bandits? DO IT AGAIN.

    AND I COULDN’T STOP. My loot-OCD gives me a hard time in every game, but this is probably the worst one yet. :(

  28. Itzchy says:

    I’d rather die a thousand deaths… than surrender to the Zone!

    Hope someone gets that quote.

    Anyway, yeah, bullets go through thin walls.

    Enemies track you through sound, but if they can’t see you, they aren’t as accurate.

    I’ve never had accuracy problems to the extent you described it, Shamus, except if I was on full autofire. I ususally change the fire rate of my auto-weapons (keys 9 and 0) to single shot.

    As soon as I get scoped weapons, I use ’em.

    Get the “Repair Mod” available out there. If you email me, I can send you my personally edited files that allow you to repair at the traders, as well the changed weight limit to 300 pounds and 350 max.

    It is a classic, however, marred by bugs, IMHO. I love this game. :) I just hope you can enjoy it as much as I did. And ditto on the tunnel above… alternatively, buy some antirad drugs or vodka and run across the irradiated tracks to the right of the underpass as you approach it from the starting camp. Cheers!

  29. Curaidh says:

    I played Stalker.
    Meaning I talked to the people and gathered all necessary information.
    The Checkpoint under the bridge can be crossed in all the ways described by EvilGod. And you get the Info on ALL these ways if you just talk to the other Stalkers and collect the PDAs from dead ones.

    I’ll tell you my “final” way of crossing that checkpoint.
    First: Take out the military patrol near the starting village for some AK Power. How to do it? Approach the Road from the Side of the village. Crouch and Sneak to a tree with a bush beside it. Wait for the patrol to pass you. Kill the last guy of the patrol with 2-3 aimed shots of your handgun, then get the fuck away! Run back to the village and circle it, the patrol will immediately lose your position again cause they need a few seconds to zero in on your porition.
    Sneak back from the other side and grab the dead guys AK, finish the rest of the Patrol with your newly gained firepower. Now the checkpoint is a total piece of cake.

    Sneak up to the railroads above the checkpoint, lie down, and headshot one of them. Now the rest knows your position, but for them there is only one viable way up to your position, and that’s going up directly next to the bridge.
    So you just stay where you are out of sight from below and aim at the “start” of the bridge. The guys will come up one after the other and you will see their heads about two to three seconds before they start firing. They always come up with their back towards you, so they are very easy targets for either your AK or your Handgun.

    Another one of my favorite options is: Go in unarmed, the guys tell you to talk to their “boss”. then you go to their stashes in the center of the checkpoint, steal their nades and back out of the checkpoint without ever talking to their boss or giving them any money.
    Now toss their own nades at them. Happy Fragging.

    If you try to play Stalker like any other FPS, you WILL fail. Surviving in the “Zone” is all about creativity.

    Oh and btw. the bandits spawning behind you have been fixed in the third patch.

  30. Smileyfax says:

    You had money problems? Bizarre. After the first few hours, I did zero looting, only did missions, and I ended the game with over 200,000 rubles.

    Of course, this was the unpatched game, in which armor hilariously enough didn’t degrade. I’ll have to play through again to see how it goes.

  31. Curaidh says:

    Sorry for doubleposting, wanted to add another thing:

    “I'd be in a building and I'd see the muzzle of some bandit's gun (and maybe like, his knee or elbow) sticking through the wall, pointed right at me. As I moved around, he'd track me even though there was a wall between us. Boo.”

    Check your own PDA. You can “track” all bandits, stalkers etc. if you scouted their position, cause their position is then marked on your map, even if you have lost sight of them. It’s even explained ingame saying that you can track the position of their PDAs!

    You yourself carry a PDA, why should the enemies not track YOU the same way that you can track them?

  32. Jeff says:

    Three things…

    First, I never had a problem with the checkpoint, because from the very start of the game, you’re already told to put your weapon away, and indeed all the characters react in kind. Even your friends get annoyed, and eventually point weapons at your face. So the first time we booted up the game and got there, I was just annoyed I had to pay. However, now that they see you as neutral (it does wear off!), you can rob their bodies when bandits or monsters attack. Handy way to grab a nice gun and set of armor.

    Second, after bribing the soldiers, my friend and I wondered if there was a cheaper way, so we went to the tunnel. We had no problems there either, although the pipe would have been easier: we took it as a jumping puzzle.
    What you seem to have overlooked is your endless supply of bolts. Toss those at anomalies, and they go off. The lightning ones discharge, and need time to regain their charge.

    One last thing… perhaps I was playing on an older build, but at one point I cheated to play with the toys in the game, so I started off with the silenced machine gun during the early mission to clear out those bandits. I told the dude to let me go by myself, went prone in some bushes, then just started pegging bandits with the gun on single fire. Never killed any with a single shot, but though alerted they never found me.

  33. Shamus says:

    I’ve got patch 1.0005 (The fifth, I believe) which is the most recent. If the bad guys respawning behind yo was fixed in patch #3, then they must have broken it again.

    Re: Bolts & the tunnel anomolies. Yes, that’s exactly what I was doing. I’d toss a bolt, then sprint through. The anomoly would blast me anyway? This happened twice, and I assumed you couldn’t “dissipate” them that way. Keep in mind it’s an insta-kill, which sort of discourages experimentation. Maybe there were TWO anomolies close together. Maybe I was running too far and hitting one further in. In any case, just giving the player ONE anomoly to deal with at first would have been a more reliable way to “teach” this gameplay mechanic.

  34. Scourge says:

    First, there is quite a good starting armor right in the beginning of the game. You need to climb up the house near worlf, get on top of the house and then jump to the next house. There you ahve to walk around the top, somewhere in the roof are some planks missing and a few crates are there. Shoot them and in one of them is a stalker/military suit. This should really help in the beginning.

    Secondly, about the bridge. You can actually talk with the leader of those guys and they will let you pass for 500 RU I think.

    Thirdly, even when not scavenging every single piece of equipment and selling it can you rack up quite a lot of money (lots of people actually complained because they got the ‘I want to be rich ending’)

    Anyways, I wrote an FAQ for this game, you might want to check it out. It has some tips and you are always free to drop me an email if you need help with something inparticular (I still reply to emails people send me regarding this game and do my best to help them although I stopped playing, and updating, the guide loong ago. Most things still aply)

    Oh, and in the worst case (which sounds like it is) is the only real option left to mod the game. The only really plausible way to trigger god mode, yeah, without cheats sucks this game.
    There are rumors that there are some cheats but only in russian so far, some people are however supposed to work on those and change them to English.

  35. Zereth says:

    The anomalies in the tunnel have a pattern if you watch them. Sometimes they’re active, sometimes they aren’t, and you can make it through if you watch them and move carefully. I remember equipping all my anti-elec artifacts and having to make a run for it towards the end, though, but it was possible.

  36. Schmidt says:

    Shamus, I went and reinstalled S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (only time I’ll every put the periods in) to see if patch 1.005 really did bust the game (I played 1.003). If anything, things were much better than before.

    Odd, I never had any issue with the tunnel. I died once yes, but then I was at the area at night, and that makes the lightning anomalies much easier to see. There is a walk and stop, then walk some more then stop sorta pattern to it.

    To the east of the blockade there is the other way across, it involves radiation but three bottles of booze and a calm walk to wait for it to wear off was all it took to try that way.

    The Blockade was the toughest spot in this map, aside of the base to the south of the beginning area. Still, a level head, some cover, and picking up any of their SMG’s helped immensely. Or waiting for them to be distracted by either some loners, or mutants. When they were distracted, it was easy to rush and kill two or three before the mutants were dispatched and the enemy was able to focus on me.

    Money was never an issue, I had far in excess with little hauling. It turns out, that certain guns are worth immense amounts of money, and that coupled with the armor I found in hidden alcoves and nooks and crannies, made for a fairly simple process of tossing armor once it hit the halfway mark.

    The two things that bugged me were psuedoflesh dog tails, man those are scarce and since the image was so dark, you had to click on every dead dog just to be sure. That n bloodsucker tentacles. I hated fighting those things, they scared the crap outta me.

    I must wonder Shamus, is the poor framerate and graphics you are experiencing maybe making a harder game (and it is a harder game than most FPS’s, which was much of the attraction for me) seem worse than it really is? I do have myself a loverly 7900GTX, which makes this game quite pretty and smooth. I suppose some of the frustration I may have had in the game was removed when I could simply soak in the ambiance of the lands of Chernobyl.

    A pity for you, as it really is a nice looking and feeling game.

  37. K says:

    Heh, I had the exact same expirience, as my computer was a bit on the low end at that time. Due to sometimes low fps I got killed on a regular basis without being able to fight back. I dropped the game.

  38. John says:

    the trick with the tunnel is to not use any bolts at all – bolts make the anomaly discharge through the tunnel and get you. However they move through the tunnel in this pattern
    X X _ _ _
    _ X X _ _
    _ _ X X _
    _ _ _ X X
    X _ _ _ X
    X X _ _ _

    where X represents an active anomaly. There are two of these to pass through. Beware that the last one floats in the air and can be difficult to see. As far as knowing about going in and talking, if you try talking to all the stalkers you meet and asking for tips they tell you things like that. Oh and the reason its so difficult is the AI doesn’t scale. The best way early on is to use the viper on 2 shot mode and aim for the upper chest, you have a good chance of getting the head. Single shot AK is better, and best of all is a scoped obokan, use single-head shot or the two at the chest for best results. I found once I got the NATO weapons things pretty much fell down dead when i looked at them

  39. Jeff says:

    The tunnel anomalies aren’t one-hit kill, but do damage depending on their charge.

    The only one that’s one hit kill is the one that grabs you, twirls you while ripping you up, then spitting you out as a fountain of blood.

    Framerate may be a considerable factor, if it’s not smooth, it’s harder to do timing puzzles.

    Reminds me of trying to play GR:AWF2. I did fine with Advanced Warfighter 1, but the 2nd one I needed to turn down all the graphics until the grass and trees all were essentially cardboard cutouts. Except they SHOULD be foliage you can see through… and the AI still see through them. Glad I didn’t buy it. Just played on my friend’s computer (the owner).

  40. Clint Olson says:

    Given your experiences with this game, you might find Tom Smith’s ‘Dead Again’ to be amusing:

  41. Shishberg says:

    Kind-of sort-of on topic: this may be the bastard child of Mario and STALKER or something.

    It’s downloadable but I haven’t summoned the guts to try it yet.

  42. Curaidh says:

    “I've got patch 1.0005 (The fifth, I believe) which is the most recent. If the bad guys respawning behind yo was fixed in patch #3, then they must have broken it again.”

    Ok Shamus you got me now. I just downloaded Patch 1.0005 and I will play Stalker again. Not only to see if they “reimplemented” an old Problem, but also because all this talking about Stalker made me want to play again. ;)

  43. jbrandt says:

    Hm, I got through the lightning tunnel by throwing bolts too– they set off the anomaly, and then you have a few seconds to run forward and throw another bolt, and so on. It’s touchy, but workable. (I never found the pipe somebody else mentions. Dang.)

    I also finished off the guys at the bridge by hiding in the nearby tower and shooting them from a distance. Takes a lot of ammo and hiding, but you can finish off most of them from there.

  44. MikeSSJ says:

    I’ve only started playing some hours ago, but I pretty much encountered all the same problems Shamus mentioned.
    Eventually, I managed to make my way through the electric tunnel, and on my way back, I just jumped over the “plot fence” – very easy when standing on top of a train >_>

    Anyway – After some futile attempts at breaking through the barricade, I eventually got lucky. I arrived at night – only one of them was standing guard, on the opposite side of the camp, on top of that. The rest had clustered around the campfire.
    I threw a grenade at them, got two of them with the Shotgun as they tried to get away from it, and then it was me vs only 2 of them, one of which was heavily wounded and already on the ground, but not yet dead.

    I agree that this game is quite frustrating (I had to do the attack to free that one guy at the very beginning countless times >__>

  45. Takkelmaggot says:

    So, nearly two years later and with the distant memory of Shamus having trouble with this game when it was already in bargain bins, I picked it up and am giving it a whirl.
    Honestly, I’m having a good time. There have been frustrations, but not nearly at the levels Shamus described. (Oh, I’m playing the same version as he is, 1.0005.)
    For instance, careful timing and liberal use of bolts got me through the anomaly-filled tunnel on the first or second try. Later on I simply took to bribing the guards.
    But! I have several advantages our trustworthy Shamus did not. I heeded his warning about selling every piece of loot that came my way. (Loading things you can’t carry into a dead body, and simply dragging the body along, is an invaluable technique which has saved me lots and lots of trips.) I’m playing on a video card which would have been high end in 2007. And I’m using websites like the STALKER wiki and especially the Zone Survival Guide from time to time, which is sometimes an immense help. But this last bit is not a point in favor of the game; if people are turning to wikis and fansites to get through the game, the writers and designers left out something critical.

    Still! I’m having a good time. I like the combat, the open world, the atmosphere. I even took the time to read “Roadside Picnic” before I started playing the game, which is one of the reasons I took so long to get around to it. The game designers really did a good job crafting the world, I mainly wish some of it were a little more polished.

  46. Vibhor says:

    I obviously was late to the bandwagon but I am now playing the game because I was running out of good games to play.
    I must say, most of the problems you suggest do not exist in my version, and its unpatched/unmodded.
    The enemies have a hard time detecting me. I even managed to back stab quite a lot of bandits.
    Enemies also have pretty average accuracy, when they crouch at the lowest then they are able to get a few shots on me whereas I snipe them with a pistol (and an MP5 afterwards).
    Novice is so easy that its boring, I managed to kill an army of bandits(50-60) in an area where they kept coming from the irradiated areas.
    You also CAN change the difficulty on the fly as I saw an option in the menu but still stealth is completely useless.
    And I can assure you its an unpatched version because of the stalker suit in the rookie village.
    EDIT: I would also disagree with the statement of high system requirements.
    I have been running it on low graphics on my pc which was high end in 2001 and I am getting smooth gameplay but still, loading time’s a bitch.

  47. Trua says:

    It’s indeed 5 years late, but, oh my. This “review” is hilarious.
    Ironically, I ended up here while looking for some “no-quicksave-all-through” experiences about it, on a master difficulty mode. I played the game a couple years ago and reinstalled it a week ago.
    I’ve jumped on the occasion to also read your other posts about the game, and God, how full of hate you are.

    I’m not a FPS genius (oh my, so far from that), nor a fanboy, and I’ve been equally a roleplayer and a videogamer for… over 15 years now?
    So, well, to make it short: yes, you just sucked at it. Probably because you tried to play it the way you played Doom/Quake/Wolfenstein 3D.
    It doesn’t mean the game sucks, actually, it’s brilliant.

    The very fact that you failed to play it in a realistic, immersive way, while claiming to be a roleplayer, just make it way more pathetic, because this game is meant to be played with a brain, and a sense of logic and immersion.
    I’m actually pushing it as far as behaving in a realistic, in-character way: I’m limiting myself to travel with 2 rifles max, a backup handgun, and realistic gear (limited ammo, medkit, bandages, etc). And so far, it works, even with such limitations.

    Also, stealth works properly. I just checked 1 hour ago with the same patch as yours, cleaning half a base with a silenced rifle, one isolated guy after another. Until I missed a headshot, which eventually draw the attention of everyone else. Without a silencer, don’t think about it, because OF COURSE, after a few shots, you get a clue of where the sniper is, mainly due to, in real life: 1) the muzzle flash; 2) the sound; 3) the impacts. Even a silencer doesn’t protect you for long against that. That’s a normal behavior in real life, and the game try to cope with it. Deal with it.
    I think you watched/played too much infiltration movies/games and lost some sense of coherence and reality…

    Also, you’re not supposed to withstand gunshots, you’re supposed to avoid it. Your armor eventually fall in pieces? Duh. What do you think happen to a bulletproof vest in a real combat situation? Do you really think it survives dozen of shots without a scratch?
    Stalker is not a doom-like FPS with armor rejuvenation. Period.

    Also, I’ve encountered enemies openly circling me, they miss way more shots, exactly as when I’m doing it myself. And anyway, that’s always easier to hit someone staying still in front of you, even though you’re moving yourself.
    Have you ever tried doing paintball? If not, you should. To get real.

    Also, nope, enemies doesn’t respawn right behind you all of sudden. They weren’t there 30 seconds ago? Duh. Maybe that’s because they’re moving too? Does “AI” ring a bell?

    Also, your multiple deaths on the bridge/tunnel matter is funny as hell because you’re clearly warned about the military (and can speak with them first anyway), and taught to avoid anomalies in the tunnel by throwing your bolts at them.
    And your claim of a bad english dub to explain your failure is pathetic. Seriously. I’m not even a native english speaker, I played the game in english, and had no issue whatsoever (and I love the immersive russian accent btw).
    All I see in there is bad faith, and bad faith again, line after line…

    The main plot is easy to follow too. A 15 years old could see the difference between optional missions and the main storyline, going through important facilities, all having a link between them from the beginning to the end.
    I suppose it’s too hard to catch if you’re looking for a simplistic shooter and don’t bother to read and/or think about what you’re asked to do.
    Are you a roleplayer? For real?


    Whatever. You failing at something doesn’t mean that thing is flawed. It just mean that you fail at it. Most of the reviews on this game through the years -both amateur and professional- praised it. For a reason.
    Your inclination to think that your own experience allow you to do such ridiculous generalization is pitiful, a LOT of people loved it, some didn’t because it wasn’t their type of game, not because they whined it was shitty, as you do.

    I’ve always sucked at most Mario Kart games, maybe I didn’t play long enough to stick to the learning curve, maybe I just suck at it. Yet I acknowledge it to be a good serie, even though I suck at it.
    Well, maybe it’s time for you to accept your own flaws, rather to go mad, crying and whining about how unfair it is not to be good without learning to play. Some humility wouldn’t hurt you, boy.


    TL;DR version: Stalker is not Quake. Whine if you’re inclined to, but have the decency not to spit on game mechanics you’re unable to understand or learn. A lot of people did understand and learn them, and fully enjoyed the game.
    Also, drop the bad faith. You’re full of it, it’s everywhere, it’s obvious, it’s ridiculous, and it’s clearly your main issue.

    On a positive sidenote, your date analogy was funny. I guess that’s the only good part of this ridiculously whiny “review”.
    Love. <3

    Ps: Dude, deleting a post you don't like, because it's offering opinions and facts that differ from your dishonest and partial review, is pretty lame.
    Again, get some sense of humility. Or close your comments altogether if you can't suffer being contradicted when you're wrong.

    PPS: And after yet another deletion:
    My initial feeling was right then. You are so full of yourself that you're unable to cope with contradiction.
    That's both pathetic and funny. I feel sad for you though.

    1. Shamus says:

      Ha ha. Someone doesn’t like a game you like and it upsets you so you say mean things about the mean ol’ reviewer.

      Move on, kid. You’re not going to like the rest of this site, either, and I’m not going to change it for you.

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