S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: SHADOWS OF CHERNOBYL
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 8, 2019
The time has come for me to take you, dear readers, on a trip through time and space once more. Now, I might seem a bit on edge, but this is mainly due to the fact that I've been craving an espresso for some weeks now and just can seem to get any. Contrary to what Dennis said, I know perfectly how to use an espresso machine, but seeing as how the new contraption he built doesn't actually brew anything like the rich, dark nectar of the gods that is espresso, I fail to see why he calls it an espresso machine...
Now, I'd order one on eBay if I could but that just won't work. If you guessed our new location from the previous episode of the Big Red Timemachine, you can probably guess why delivering it to our door might be a bit of a challenge, so I decided to stick with Dennis' "invention". After numerous unsuccessful tries, I only ended up with about 300,000 gallons of bubbling liquids of various funky colors, but nothing drinkable as of yet. Oh well, there's always next time, am I right? I'm not sure if Plutonium is the best stuff to use for making coffee; I mean, we could have a serious meltdown on our hands! Hmmm, nuclear waste... meltdown... that gives me an idea!
Please, ladies and gentlemen; step into our shiny Big Red Timemachine and strap yourselves in tight. We're going to travel to 2007 and see just what horrible things may occur if one is not careful with nuclear power... Let's take a look at S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadows of Chernobyl!
Released in March of 2007 for PC, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. paints a bleak and grim picture of a world, following a second disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Years after the first meltdown, people started coming back to the area surrounding Chernobyl, now called "the Zone", mostly for scientific reasons. Today, people are also coming back to the area, but now they are coming here for monetary reasons. You see, the second meltdown killed or mutated everyone in the Zone but left their, sometimes very valuable, possessions unharmed. As you can probably imagine, there are a number of people out there that never shy away from danger, as long as there's a good amount of Rubles to be made.
Some areas of the Zone are more dangerous than others, because they are irradiated by the last meltdown. When you enter such a region, you start to slowly take damage from said radiation which can eventually kill you. Wearing better suits or other protective gear can shield you from the radiation, but this gear has to acquired first, so be careful where you go. Another added danger comes from a series of events, following the second meltdown, that lead to the appearance of so-called anomalies throughout the area. These anomalies are dangerous and potentially lethal pockets of strange activity, where physics as we know them no longer apply.
Why then, if these anomalies are so dangerous, would anyone in their right mind go near them? Well, my friends, the answer is simple: money! A side-effect of these anomalies is that they produce something called "Artifacts"; powerful items that effect the user and are worth a lot of cash. They can be sold to traders and other Stalkers that roam the Zone, or you can use them to make use of their mix of positive and negative effects. For example, an Artifact might shield you from a specific type of damage, but will adversely effect your resistance against radiation, fire damage or things like that.
And, as if radiation and Anomalies weren't enough, you are also in danger of being attacked by the (now heavily mutated) previous inhabitants of the Zone. Wildlife and humans alike have been altered in horrible ways by the fallout of the meltdown and are usually very keen on ending your miserable life. To defend yourself from these mutants, you can use any weapon you can get your hands on and fill your enemies with lead. And even if you come across someone who isn't even a bit mutated, this does not mean you're safe. Always keep in mind that where there's money to made there are enemies to be made...
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadows of Chernobyl offered a huge playing environment, made up out of towns, military bases and vast tracts of wilderness. While you were able to go almost anywhere within a certain area, travel between areas was limited to pre-defined routes. Along the way, you came across a fairly big number of NPC's, with which you could interact and sometimes even trade stuff for money, or the other way around. The story of the game unfolded as you made your way through the ruined wasteland and discovered the hidden truth about the Zone bit by bit.
The game itself looked really good at the time, featuring expansive but detailed environments, expertly crafted characters and a weather system that was not to be sneezed at. It did suffer from some performance issues, but they were easily overlooked when also looking at the huge amount of ambition with which the game had been made. What are a few glitches when taking into account the sheer size of the game, the number of NPC's, the wildlife that, even when the player isn't even in the area, had calculated behavior-patterns, the gripping story and excellent gameplay and the (at the time) truly awesome graphics? That's right; next to nothing!
I remember playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadows of Chernobyl being a lot of fun. And not just some parts, but the entire game was well worth playing. It even managed to spawn one prequel, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Skies and one sequel: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in 2008 and 2009, respectively and now there's even talk of an actual S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2! That just goes to show how much the original game was loved, in spite of its minor flaws.
Speaking of loving something in spite of its (in his case many, many, MANY) flaws, I haven't seen Dennis in quite a while. I wonder where he could be? Last I saw him, he was dragging piles of timber around and muttering something about how he'd show them once and for all, or something... I didn't think anything of it at the time, seeing how he can be, to use the understatement of the century, slightly weird from time to time, but now I'm starting to get a bit worried... Oh well, worry-time is over, beer-time is here! See you all in two weeks!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: SHADOWS OF CHERNOBYL
CSD Game World & THQ