STALKER: Call of Pripyat
AMD AMD 64 X2 5600+
AMD Radeon HD 4850
Call of Pripyat is the third installment of the STALKER series which bids an unpleasant return to one of the most unforgiving settings in the gaming world - The Zone. A place where if the humans don’t kill you, the mutants, anomalies or radiation will.
After a weak sequel to the diamond-in-the-rough cult classic Shadow of Chernobyl, Call of Pripyat was promised to return the franchise to its full chilling glory.
Like its predecessors Call of Pripyat offers players a terrifying journey through the perilous area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor called The Zone which is home to both humans and mutants alike. If you’ve ever played either of the two previous games you will know how punishing yet rewarding The Zone can be. The combat is difficult with enemies often taking much of your precious ammo to kill, enemies vary from basic human opponents to monstrous mutated hulks that charge at the player. Enemies aside, The Zone is full of radiation and anomalies which are naturally occurring elements that the player can easily wander into and die. Add to this an array of different factions all vying for control of The Zone with the player stuck in the middle, it is often very easy to find yourself dead from one of the many risks out there. From the description above it makes you wonder why a player would even leave the starting area, but The Zone is also ripe for exploration. Artifacts can be found throughout The Zone which are strange rocks that hold usual properties such as fire resistance or wound healing.
Intense fights will keep you on your toes.
Call of Pripyat can be considered as a slightly more story driven affair than previous STALKER games. It offers numerous more in-game cutscenes and a wider variety of missions to keep players entertained, as well as more straightforward writing and an ending which ties in well with the original game. You play as Alexander Degtyarev an undercover security agent issued with the task of disguising yourself as a Stalker (the Zones explorers) and to discover the fate of numerous military helicopters which entered the Zone never to be seen from again. The story isn’t communicated to the player all that well and is quite forgettable until the last few hours where the game reaches a tense climax. This is mainly due to the questionable voice work that adds little tension to the situation at hand.
Regardless of this players will still have an urge to explore the rich environment surrounding Chernobyl and Pripyat. The landscape is dotted with wooden shacks and caves for exploration, the ruined city of Pripyat is rich with goodies for the player to find (as well as enemies protecting them). Overhead storms rage as well as radioactive emissions that threaten to kill the player instantly unless they find shelter before the storms hit. This is a tense, unpredictable, and sometimes scary place where the next step could invite danger or offer reward. You get some forewarning of some attacks, such as the frenzied barking of mutated dogs before a pack of them descend upon you. But other times, more often than not, the darkness hides a shocking surprise such as an invisible stalking mutant or brain fried zombies.
Call of Pripyat is not an easy game, so you need to aim well, know your weapons strengths and weaknesses, and conserve your precious ammo. Human opponents put up a tough fight, so running in guns blazing is a quick ticket to the afterlife. The AI can be quite questionable however, something that hasn’t been fixed since the original game is the enemies ability to pinpoint your exact location in the pitch black after you knife one of their friends, all this without them having to use night vision goggles.
Non-standard zombies included...
The STALKER games are notorious for their buggy releases and Call of Pripyat is no exception. One of the most powerful and frightening enemies in the game is the crash to desktop monster which often strikes without warning from the shadows. Add to this some questionable AI and a few broken quest lines and the frustration grows. To counter this however the STALKER games have always had a strong mod community with the notable mention being the STALKER Complete Mod pack which fixes numerous bugs and tweaks the gameplay and weapons slightly in the fight for fairness.
Call of Pripyat may lack a lot of the initial charm of the original but it offers a lot smoother, structured adventure for players tweaking many of the grumbles from the original. In this sense it is far more manageable and easier to digest. A must play for STALKER and FPS fans alike.
- Design: An incredible RPG/FPS hybrid with depth and maturity
- Visuals: A great looking game even by today's standards with a very impressive
- lighting engine
- Music: An eerie soundtrack that fits the game perfectly.
- Gameplay: Challenging yet rewarding gameplay
- World: A huge, believable ripe for exploration
- Difficulty: A harcore game not for everyone
- Voiceovers: Questionable voice acting
- Bugs: Still not bug free, almost as if all CCP games come with them by default