THQ S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
- Effectively eerie atmosphere, interesting storyline, believable A.I.
- Requires a patch to run on Vista, slow loading times.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R is both an enthralling and scary experience set in a uniquely eerie landscape. However, the game is shipped with bugs and it requires a lot of in-game reading which can take the fun out of gameplay.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
With the word 'stalker' tattooed on your forearm, a PDA that says 'Kill Strelok' and nothing else on your person, you awaken in a radioactive wasteland unable to remember a thing. Set in the mutated heart of Chernobyl in the Ukraine, your mission is to find out who you are and what's happening in the Zone. It's not an easy mission, fraught with all kinds of lethal dangers -- and that's just from the toxic environment. When savage beasts and viscous anomalies enter the fray, you'll wish you'd stayed in your bunker.
The storyline in S.T.A.L.K.E.R has been left purposely vague due to your character's amnesia. You'll need to constantly refer to your PDA and talk to inhabitants to know what's going on. Characters rarely speak English and if they do, it's with a heavy accent, while the subtitles have a broken English quality which only adds to the experience of being lost in another country. Whether you find this frustrating or not will depend on how much you like movies like Memento -- nothing is what it seems and it will be ages before you get a handle on the plot.
As the game progresses, you can choose to collect the precious artefacts that dot the landscape, find out what's going on in the Zone and get your memory back, or simply wander through Chernobyl and admire the desecrated land left by the nuclear destruction.
For an action title, there is a lot of in-game reading to be done in S.T.A.L.K.E.R, which proves to be a bit of a problem. At times, the large paragraphs of text cannot be read to completion, either due to disappearing too quickly or a sudden burst of unfriendly fire redirecting your attention.
The artificial intelligence (A.I) is very good, with team members and enemies alike moving and dodging bullets, taking cover and firing over barriers -- even the animals know when to attack to their advantage and when to flee if they can't win.
Packing Your Bags
A lot of game time, like the popular RPG Oblivion, is spent rummaging through dead bodies for food, weapons and equipment. (One clever aspect of the game is that you must choose wisely what goes in your inventory as once it weighs over 50kg you will tire easily.)
Food must be consumed whenever a symbol showing a fork and plate appears above your status, otherwise your health will decrease, leading to death. The same applies to radioactivity, where you will die if you don't have the correct clothing, medication or er, vodka (because apparently, vodka protects from radioactive poisoning).
Unfortunately, there are many bugs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., both minor and major, and the game won't run on Windows Vista out of the box. Although there is a patch available to remedy these bugs, it will wipe your existing saved games during installation -- which we learned to our furious chagrin after completing half the game. It's therefore highly recommended that you install the patch before playing.
Loading times between saved games and levels can take from 15 seconds to one minute depending on your computer specifications. We would advise that your computer exceed the recommended minimum system requirements; otherwise you may come across many graphic and sound problems.
Visually, the game looks somewhat dated, a result, no doubt, of its extended development time. However, the battered, post-apocalyptic landscape is well depicted, and the impact of the disaster's effect is really hammered home. Helping this along are some excellent sound effects that dramatically ratchet up the tension in several places, particularly when it comes to several underground levels.
In the end, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is an immense treat that offers fresh and innovative gameplay experiences. If we had to level one complaint against the title, it's the fact that it's missing that little bit of extra polish that gamers have come to expect. This issue aside, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has done an excellent job creating its own niche in the genre.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Saints Row II is free on GOG, but not for long
- The original StarCraft and its beloved Brood War expansion are now free
- Xbox One Insiders get first crack at player-organized tournaments
- Meet the new Microsoft Edge: 5 key improvements with the Creators Update
- Microsoft will unveil Project Scorpio, the next Xbox, at E3
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPAutomation Test AnalystQLD
- CCSenior IT Project ManagerNSW
- FTSystems EngineerNSW
- FTMobile Studio Manager/ Mobile UX Manager - GAME CHANGER!NSW
- FTSenior System EngineerNSW
- CCSystems Specialist - Network Systems l Port MacquarieNSW
- FTICT Relationship Manager - Service Delivery EnvironmentNSW
- FTSenior Java DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Project Manager - NV1ACT
- CCBusiness Specialist - Data ManagementNSW
- TPLinux System AdministratorQLD
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystNSW
- FTFront End Web DeveloperACT
- FTStorage Engineer l HDSNSW
- FTTelecommunications Installation ManagerSA
- FTService Desk OperatorsSA
- FTBusiness Intelligence Analyst - Microsoft BI Stack - NewcastleNSW
- FTWFM Support Analyst (Kronos)NSW
- CCTelecommunication Business SpecialistVIC
- FTSystems Administrator - TelecommunicationsNSW
- FTWindows Dev Ops EngineerNSW
- FTField Engineer - Hardware RolloutsNSW
- FTProject Manager- RiskSA