Forum Overview :: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Call of Pripyat is like Fallout 3 by Fortinbras 08/29/2010, 12:13pm PDT
I played the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in the dark, with noise cancelling headphones on, and dynamic lighting on and it was almost as amazing an experience as playing The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, or Deus Ex for the first time. You get a pistol and a couple of magazines and chances are high you will fucking die on your first job for the trader killing those fucking bandits. That sawed-off shotgun saved my life at least 150 times in the first game hiding behind corners and letting the utterly stupid AI come around the corner to get a face full of buckshot. The Cordon to the Garbage might as well have been the distance between San Fransisco and New York. You didn't go out looking for artifacts or doing missions after the sun went down. Whenever night fell, you ran your ass off for the nearest garbage drum fire with 2 or 3 stalkers huddling around it, and sat there with a shotgun and a bottle of vodka and waited for morning. Going out in the pitch black darkness (made even worse when there was no moonlight: NO HORIZON CONTRAST) with nothing but a flashlight usually resulted in either death by anomaly or horde of rabid dogs. By the time you got to the 100 Rads bar you had enough scratch for a decent armored suit (or had found one) with night vision, and the distances between areas diminished, so you could jump from 100 Rads to the Wild Territory and back before a day had passed, no need to hide out. Still, encountering the Controller in the basement of the Research Center, and the Poltergeists in X-18 were terrifying. Until you realized they could be killed.

In Call of Pripyat, the zones are a lot easier to traverse, there's more content per square mile, but less square miles. You can cross a map in less than a day and be back to safety before the next blowout or before night falls. Or maybe it's just that I've been around the block with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. so many times already that the routine is old hat, I don't know. The noise/attention meter acts as an inadvertent hostile detector, killing the suspense. The scary part of STALKER was the only indication you had before your health bar started dropping that something was gnawing on your legs in the pitch black night was the growls and howls that monsters made. In addition there are no new surprises. No new monsters, aside from the psychic midgets and Chimeras. The psi-fuckery has been reduced, and radiation protection and psi-protection are not important at all.

Making things even less frightening is Nimble, the Smuggler (who you saved at the beginning of the first game, Call of Pripyat is full of these kind of minor characters from the first two games popping up again). Nimble can get you an Exoskeleton for 60,000 RU, available at the beginning of the game as long as you get the cash, along with the best weapons available in the game (FN-2000, H&K G36) for 10-20,000 each. And 60,000 RU is easy to make. Artifacts can be sold for 5000-10000 each, while repairs for gear and weapons is fairly cheap for everything except the Exoskeleton and the Clear Sky armor. There are three tiers of upgrades for weapons and armor, restricted by having to fetch basic tools/fine tools/calibration tools for the two techs in the game. The basic tools and fine tools can be gotten at the beginning of the game, but the calibration tools are only available in Pripyat, which means you can't upgrade the Exoskeleton so that it can run until late in the game, which is perhaps the only thing that prevents you from going all Navarro through it.

Aside from Pripyat, which is bare of any NPC's other than at the laundromat, Call of Pripyat feels more populated than the previous games. You're never far from a place you can run to if you get into deep shit, and you'll run into wandering STALKERs more often. Meanwhile anomalies are all neatly cordoned off into specific spots, which makes the Zone feel less hazardous than before. In the original game simply walking down a road could get you killed, with random hard to see gravitational anomalies placed in your path. If you walk along the roads in Call of Pripyat you'll never really encounter any hazards. All of the anomaly zones are treated much like the different signature buildings, like one more encounter or stop on your way, instead of being a constant problem. Collecting artifacts is much more mechanical as well. Every time a blowout occurs the artifacts repopulate their respective anomalies. Go to an anomaly area, whip out your PKE reader (the best of which actually tracks the anomalies for you, rendering the old throw-a-bolt method obsolete) and track the artifact, pick it up, move on. Granted, I'm glad that artifacts refresh now instead of simply stripping areas clean, but there's less challenge in going site by site and picking up a single artifact, than dosing yourself with anti-rads and saying a small prayer before you dash up onto the Garbage heap to try and find an artifact or two to sell for a paltry profit before you die of radiation poisoning.

Cashflow is very quick and constant throughout the game, instead of gradually increasing as you aren't reliant on merchants. The only real problem I had in the game was early ammunition issues, as the NATO ammo doesn't appear regularly until later, making me reliant on merchants to keep my gun stocked.

The story was enjoyable, though with the same awkward artificiality that is in every STALKER game. You play a Ukrainian Special Service agent, but he doesn't ever really act like one until the end. You might as well be playing a generic STALKER for all the personality conveyed in the dialogue. The entire plot situation seems very obnoxiously complicated considering the problem, and the ending, while it gives closure and resolves what happened to Strelok, doesn't add anything to the mystery of the Zone, and is not nearly as impressive as the finale of Shadow of Chernobyl, which featured HIND's and BMP's in a firefight with crazed zealots, and you in the middle trying to get into the power plant. The side quests are equally unimpressive, though their payouts and the places they take you are pretty nice, and there are a lot of quick travel options following the end of a side mission, or talking to random STALKERs in the field you can catch a ride with them for a small fee. Too bad the square mileage isn't impressive enough to make you appreciate these small touches. -3 points for no improvement in the storyline after three years and stilted dialogue. +3 points as a handicap because even expecting Ukrainians to hold down a steady job is asking a bit much, to say nothing of starting a successful game franchise in Eastern Europe.

All in all, I enjoyed Call of Pripyat, but for different reasons than I enjoyed the first game. I enjoyed coming back to the Zone decked out in heavy combat armor with a wicked assault rifle and laying down some indiscriminate justice on bloodsuckers and controllers instead of running in terror from them or huddling in the dark next to a campfire. I enjoyed buying a shitload of gear and weapons and upgrading them instead of constantly switching weapons that degraded with no way to repair them. Also while Pripyat is in the game, the Chernobyl plant is not. How can you have a STALKER game without Chernobyl? Minus two points. 8/10.

Wait, it's only 9.99$ on Steam? 10/10!
Call of Pripyat is like Fallout 3 by Fortinbras 08/29/2010, 12:13pm PDT NEW
    Re: Call of Pripyat is like Fallout 3 by Mr. Kool 08/29/2010, 12:34pm PDT NEW
    Bump so I can find it. NT by Ice Cream Jonsey 09/11/2010, 6:43pm PDT NEW
    Is it cool to start the series fresh with this game? by Mischief Maker 02/17/2014, 6:56am PST NEW
        That's a tough one. by Eurotrash 02/17/2014, 10:16am PST NEW
            SOC it is! Mod suggestions? by Mischief Maker 02/17/2014, 11:20am PST NEW
                Never tried mods. NT by Eurotrash 02/18/2014, 9:49am PST NEW
            Definitely the worst advice. NT by HE CALLS ME JOSEPH 02/18/2014, 1:37pm PST NEW
        No. Purchase the original. NT by WITTGENSTEIN 02/17/2014, 2:14pm PST NEW
        Re: Is it cool to start the series fresh with this game? by HE CALLS ME JOSEPH 02/23/2014, 7:36am PST NEW
            Isn't this exactly what my original review said? Only more succinctly? NT by WITTGENSTEIN 02/23/2014, 7:53am PST NEW
            Dude shouldn't really choose a STALKER game based on how polished and advanced by Eurotrash 02/23/2014, 10:42am PST NEW
            That's not the proper ending to Stalker 1. by Me 04/08/2014, 12:29pm PDT NEW
                Yeah, that's the bad ending. NT by Eurotrash 04/09/2014, 3:09am PDT NEW
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