Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an interview with GSC Game World’s Oleg Yavorsky on the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, which is due this fall (yeah right). While I know that opinions varied on Clear Sky – a game I now feel I was too hard on – I am a stalwart fan of the series and look forward to this latest installment.
It has always been my studied opinion that the STALKER games, each in their own unique way, come this close to pure awesomeness without ever actually hitting the mark. The original Shadow of Chernonbyl had many issues, from incoherency to bugginess. Clear Sky fixed many of the problems but introduced a number of missteps itself. To some it was a major disappointment, to others (including myself) it was a game that could or should have been better but was, all in all, one I enjoyed immensely.
Yavorsky promises that Call of Pripyat takes all that into account, so with some luck, we’ll see a game that comes ever closer to hitting the mark. The technology behind Call is still the 1.5 X-Ray Engine, presumably tweaked and patched to perform better; the developers also promise a new and improved interface (making it the third complete interface overhaul since the series began), time advancement, improved A-Life AI, and all-new locations to explore.
This last item is especially important, given how much territory you retraced in Clear Sky. Given that the game was a prequel, and one that followed a very specific character on a very specific trek, I can understand the need for repetition, but the truth is the Exclusion Zone is a big place and Pripyat was a big city and there’s plenty of locales left to visit. Call of Pripyat takes place after the events of Shadow, so there’s no real reason to use the same places again. Yavorsky also mentions that preliminary work has begun on a proper STALKER 2, though I’d bet we probably won’t see it until 2011 at the earliest.
Things that must be fixed in order for me to maintain my apologist’s attitude toward the STALKER series:
- Combat AI (go back to the old one)
- Engine performance
- Firearm accuracy
- Grenade spam
- Animal behavior
- Load times
- Zone transitions
- Weapon degradation
- Story nonsensicality
- Walking speed
- Detector equipment
- Anomaly movement
Wow, that’s a long list, and if I sat here for a while I could probably think of more. Why then do I love the STALKER games so much? Well, I’m a sucker for radioactivity, but chiefly it’s atmosphere. No game makes the bleakness and loneliness palpable the way STALKER does, and like so many other things, a good game is all about location, location, location.