On the afternoon of April 12 in 2006, a massive explosion shattered the Chernobyl area. The Zone, as the area got to be known, was characterized by anomalous energy disturbances, rendering even the most advanced form of protective suits worthless to would be rescue teams. Months passed and nothing could be done. The military quarantined the area to prevent unauthorized entry and perhaps even reassure the local populace that the area was under control and confinement. Almost 4 years after the initial event, expeditions can now safely traverse several kilometers deep into the Zone. Among these are the Stalkers, poachers that enter the zone searching for artifacts and anomalous formations that are highly sought after by certain organizations and groups.
The player controls a Stalker, venturing into the Zone in order to acquire information, technology and artifacts to sell and possibly put a mysterious puzzle together. Avoiding the dangers within and the military because as a Stalker you are effectively a thief, and the army that has quarantined the area, don't take kindly to trespassers. Within the Zone you will have to detect and avoid the bizarre phenomenon's (anomalies) that plague the area, avoid or eliminate various kinds of mutants and you can even expect competition from other Stalkers
- Gigantic game world of the Zone of 30 square kilometers
- Free non-linear exploration with vast outdoor and indoor areas
- Constantly changing world of the Zone and unique life simulation system
- Unique types of weapons and enemy impact: gravitational weapons, psychotropic weapons, telekinesis, telepathy, taking under control
- About 30 types of weapons with weapon upgrades - optics or barrel-attached grenade launcher for your rifle to make it a super gun
- Strong non-linear story line with over 8 completely different endings
- Original creatures and their abilities: group intellect, telepathy, telekinesis with realistic communication with any sapient character
- Realistic AI and life simulation of game creatures and characters
- Trade of weapons, artifacts, equipment and control of vehicles
- Mind blowing graphics and weather effects powered by X-Ray engine
- Endless replay-ability owing to unique life simulation system
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: The Shadow of Chernobyl is based on the famous science fiction novel Picnic on the Roadside (Piknik na obochine, 1977) by Russian writers Arkadi and Boris Strugatski. In the book aliens have visited the Earth and left behind mysterious Zones which are extremely hazardous but also extremely profitable because the physical changes inside the Zones have altered the items left inside the Zone. These potential profits draw all sorts of people to the Zones and the people who go scavenging are called stalkers. There is also a famous movie adaptation of the novel by Andrei Tarkovski, but the game actually is much closer in concept to the book although instead of having numerous Zones around the world, the game s focused around the Ukranian town of Chernobyl, the site of the most severe nuclear accident in history. The story goes that in 2006 another incident of some sort happened and by 2012 the whole area is hazardous with mutated animals, bandits, soldiers who don't ask questions before shooting, and first and foremost, mysterious anomalies. These anomalies differ in their effects but they all have one thing in common - they are quite deadly. There are areas where the gravity is much stronger, others where the air is crackling with electricity etc. And there is also the radiation to worry about.
The player is one of the stalkers who has lost his memory in an accident. All he knows is he has a note in his PDA telling him to kill someone. And so the player is thrown to a village located on the outskirts of the Zone trying to figure out who he is and what the secret of the Zone is.
The game plays as a FPS but with a 30 square kilometer playing area where the player is free to roam (assuming he can survive). There are also lots of NPC characters he can communicate with and in this sense the game playes more like an RPG, although there are no attributes or skills to improve. Along with the main quest the player can do sidequests and the way the player acts has an effect on other NPCs. Some of these quests have time limits, some don't. The player can also modify his weapons and armour and has to carefully manage his inventory because not only is there a carrying capacity his equipment degrades as they are used. The player can also use the items, called artifacts, altered by the anomalies to his benefit. They offer different kinds of bonuses, but also have side-effects. For instance, an artifact could improve your bullet resistance but also increase your radiation level.
The game features ragdoll physics, destructible surroundings, HDR lightning, dynamic weather, day/night cycles and multiplayer for up to 32 players.
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