For the last several days I have been playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow Of Chernobyl. It is my second playthrough and I am getting the impression of this game the best First Person Shooter I have ever played. And I'll explain you right away, why I think so.


Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl is a First Person Shooter game developed my an Ukrainian developer GSC Game World and published by THQ. It was released in 2007 and is the first game of the STALKER trilogy, others being Clear Sky and Call Of Pripyat. SoC is an open-world, non-linear, open-ended FPS, which, by not having elements like attributes, stats, skills, powers and experience, cannot be considered as an open-world RPG game. The game takes place around the year 2013 around the Chernobyl area called "The Zone", after a colossal fictional event had taken place, which started creating a radiated zone full of mutants, anomalies and artifacts.

NEXT UP: Gameplay Elements (All Of Them!)



An Open World - The whole world which you can explore in SoC is divided into many regions and to move from one region to another, you have to find the entrance (which usually is a road). But right after you enter the region, for example Agroprom, you can move pretty much everywhere the borders allow you to go. Borders are usually large fences and almost never invisible walls. Even dungeons have sometimes multiple paths that take you to your goal.

Story Is Not Linear - Right after the first cutscene, when the game starts, you don't even have to do the first quest. You can head out from the bunker you start the game (this is where Cordon's trader and main quest is located). During the time you play the game, you can do various side quests you can get from different NPC-s. Side quests have also a time limit, meaning you cannot do a quest forever. Side quests usually earn you money, better gear, weapons, armor, supplies. Side Quests vary from hunting down a particular NPC to collecting a special item to finding a certain artifact.

Many Endings - Pretty much from the very beginning of the game you start doing two main quests at once. Both get constantly updated in the first half of the game, but later on you actually have to choose to either pursue one goal or take on another objective. This will pretty much is the sign when you can start choosing endings, right after the part where one main quest won't update another.

Real-Time Inventory - Accessing your inventory in STALKER is pretty much like in Dead Space - It's all in real time. While you are sorting out your weapons, ammo, gear and supplies, you also maintain a vision of your eyesight and the game is not paused. Meaning, everybody can attack you while you are trying to find some bread to eat. Notice: This is something we should soon see also in SKYRIM.

Weight - Now weight is something that's pretty rare in FPS games. I think I don't even know a purely First Person Shooter, where items have weight. Well, in STALKER, everything you carry, has weight. The maximum amount of weight you can carry without great side effects is 50 KG. If it reaches 60KG, then you cannot move anymore.

Normally, the player character runs in a slow pace when you are standing. You can sprint too. But all your movement is affected by the total amount of your gear's weight. The more you carry, the less time you can sprint. Meaning, you lose your fatigue faster. If your gear weighs over 50KG then even slow running fatigues the player and when the fatigue gets really low, you cannot jump and when it reaches zero, you cannot move. Then you have to wait to regenerate fatigue (which is pretty fast).

NB! Everything has weight in this game: weapons, armor, ammo, medicine, food, artifacts, miscellaneous items...

Stealth - Stealth plays a major role in SoC. The level of your character's stealth is measured with two indicators: Noise and Light. You move softer when crouching and far more noisier when walking or running. Noise plays the biggest role in stealth: When running indoors, enemies can hear you even from a floor above and they start patrolling; but if you move softly, they may not hear you can you can approach them from behind. Light indicator is only activated if your are using the flashlight you are wearing on your head. It's useful to find your way in dark dungeons.

Radiation - 1st of 3 gameplay elements that can passively kill you in the game. You usually get radiated near a power line or at higher ground (like a hill). You also get radiated in areas that are surrounded with radiation signs (pictured above). Radiation will decrease your health - more advanced radiation poisoning will reduce health faster. Radiation can be cured with either Anti-Rad Drugs (has no side-effect) or Vodka (makes your vision blurry and you cannot walk straight).

Bleeding - 2nd of 3 gameplay elements that passively kill you in the game. You can get bleeding from getting shot or being attacked by a mutant, for example the pseudo-dog. Bleeding can be cured with either bandages or medkits (both also restore health). Bleeding, obviously, reduces life over a long period of time, much slower than radiation.

Hunger - 3rd of 3 gameplay elements that passively kill you in the game. Hunger is shown with the "knife and fork" icon. When this appears, it means that your character requires some food for survival. You can usually find food on other NPC-s, in traders' inventories or in some storehouses. There are sausage, bread and tin can food and soda drinks.

Day/Night Cycle - SoC has also a real-time cycle of day and night. When it's night, everything is much darker, you have problems seeing what's in the distance and it's common that mutants can pretty much scare you in open fields, when they jump out of grass right the moment when you aren't looking. And when it's dark, most of the NPC-s are using their flashlights to find their way. You can use it to take them down for far away.

NEXT UP: Weapons & Gear



Weapon Types - There are different types of weapons in the game and there are 6 slots for them:

1) Army Knife - Always in slot 1, this weapon does not have any weight and does not appear in the inventory. You can use this effectively on silent attacks, where you want to take down an NPC without other noticing your crime. It's also the best way to break down boxes, which may have some useful supplies inside.

2) Sidearm - You can put your sidearm, which is a pistol of some kind, to slot 2. You cannot use it for rifles. Sidearms are pretty much good for retreat fire, taking down mutants and for short-ranged indoor gunfight (where you can take cover). But for everything else, it's not useful.

3) Rifle - You can put any kind of your main weapons to slot 3. Weapons like shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, sub-machine guns and rocket launchers all go there.

4) Grenades - Grenades can be selected using slot 4. The type of grenade can be changed with the "change ammo" hotkey.

5) Binoculars - This can be used to look around the surrounding and discover NPC-s and mutants (the binoculars will automatically identify if the target is neutral, friendly or hostile).

6) Bolts - Bolts cannot be really used by weapons. They are mainly use to either attract the attention of enemies or test anomalies (mainly for finding a way through a maze of anomalies).

Weapon Modification - In Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl, it is possible to modify your weapons. You can find the parts to modify a weapon from already modified weapons or spare parts lying around somewhere. These parts include: two kinds of grenade launchers, two kinds of scopes, silencer. There are also weapons and armor in the game, that have been pre-modified and you can modify them even further.

For example, I found a modified weapon which had higher rate of fire than normal version of the same weapon has. Then I found a weaker weapon on one of the enemies I killed and it had a scope attached to it. I de-attached the scope and then added it to my already modified rifle. Now I have a scoped assault rifle with high rate of fire. And it works excellently even on long ranges. Since I can change the fire mode, I sometimes use it as a sniper rifle.

Weapon Stats - There are four kinds of stats each weapon has:

1) Accuracy - Higher accuracy increases the chance to hit an enemy in zoomed-in mode and reduces the spread area in normal mode.

2) Damage - Higher damage inflicts more damage to enemies per bullet

3) Handling - Weapons like sniper rifles have low handling, which means it's hard to keep them steady.

4) Rate Of Fire - A higher rate of fire decreases the time interval between two bullets. Meaning, you can shoot faster with every shoot mode.

Armor Stats - There are many stats that each armor has. The levels of stats depend on the durability of the suit and armor's class.

Impact - Indicates Melee Resistance

Rupture - Indicates Mutant Damage Resistance (like slashing and biting)

Explosion - Indicates the damage you receive from grenades and rocket launchers.

Firearms (Bulletproof Cap) - Indicates the resistance of gunfire damage.

Fire - Indicates Resistance to Fire

Electrical - Indicates Resistance to Electrical Anomalies

Radiation - Indicates Radiation Resistance

Shooting Modes - You can use your weapon in many shooting modes. There are four different shooting modes and the availability of shooting modes depends on the weapon. You can fire 1 bullet per shot, 2 bullets per shot, 3 bullets per shot or in Automatic Mode.

Ammo Types - There lots of different ammo types, some being such that I even don't know what they are used for. But the 3 most common ammo types are: Normal ammunition, armor-piercing ammunition, hollow-point ammunition. There are also Slug Rounds, Hydroshock etc.

Durability - Durability plays a moderate role in the game. Fortunately, if you are able to not take extreme amounts of fire, the items won't break down fast and you can use them for a long time. If a weapon loses durability, it's stats get worse and it might get jammed. If armor loses durability, it's resistance stats are reduced.

NEXT UP: World & Atmosphere