Remember the nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986? For most people that was an unmitigated disaster but for games developer GSC Game World that was the inspiration for a spooky first-person shooter. The third part of the saga has now hit the shops, so get your Geiger counter out and gingerly examine our S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat review.
The games designers have learnt from their decidedly unexciting prequel Clear Sky and given the fans of the original Shadow of Chernobyl more of what they enjoyed most, with improvements. The storyline in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat begins with the crashing of scores of military helicopters in the deadly Zone and former stalker Major Alexander Degtyarev is sent undercover to find out why.
As with the previous games, much of the action in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat is free roaming with three new huge areas to explore – the dried-up Pripyat River basin full of rusted ships, the shadowy Jupiter industrial complex and the abandoned city of Pripyat itself. The graphics, while still not up to Crysis level, have been made more photorealistic, especially when it comes to lighting effects and the frequent downpours.
Time of day plays a more central role, with some missions having to take place at night when mutants are at their most active. However, the new sleep mode in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat lets you recharge your energy and health. Many of your favourite freaky monsters are present, such as the scuttling snorks and tentacled bloodsuckers, with the addition of two new monsters – telekinetic Burers and Chimeras who leap out in ambush.
There are more than 70 side quests in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and most of them are vital to replenishing your meagre supplies of weaponry, food and medicine which will need upgrading as you progress. Although the faction wars of Clear Sky have died out, you’ll still need to make alliances, avoid robbery and hunt for the rare and valuable artefacts scattered around the map. The fearsome atmospheric anomalies can also shift position and you have limited time to seek shelter before lethal emissions destroy you.
If you do complete the game you can enter freeplay mode and complete the quests you omitted first time. The scope of this game is such that you’ll be reluctant to leave the bleak Zone before your eyes suffer meltdown.